Computers generate heat. To regulate heat, they come with coolers or heatsinks. Unfortunately, the built-in stock CPU coolers are of poor quality. They do not give you an ideal performance. This is particularly true if you’re running programs that require high computational power of the CPU. As a result, you run into the danger of overheating and damaging your system. Sure, you can use an additional CPU cooler, but there’s one other less expensive and more effective way.
Of course, we’re talking about CPU thermal paste. It’s a thermally conductive compound you apply between the CPU and its heatsink. Thermal paste prevents air gaps and speeds up the heat transfer between these two points. So, if you want to get the best thermal performance out of your CPU, consider purchasing a quality thermal paste. For your ease, we have listed down reviews of the five best CPU thermal paste available in the market. Have a look down below!
1. Noctua NT-H1
Of course, the best of the best thermal paste is Noctua NT-H1, and it’s not just because of the brand name. The NT-H1 offers several benefits that trump competition, such as superior performance, low cost, and easy application. Besides, it has also been very consistent in a uniform spread on chip surfaces in our experience.
The paste is made of thick particles, making it slightly dry. But it also makes Noctua NT-H1 a breeze to apply. It remains very stable during higher temperatures in the long run. You don’t have to spread it before installing your heatsink. Afterward, use tissue paper or a dry towel to clean up any mess. No need for Alcohol cleaning. Additionally, the thermal grease is a non-corroding and non-conductor of electricity, making it perfect for all types of heatsinks.
There is quite a generous amount in the syringe, 3.5g, to be exact. Therefore you will have plenty to use if you mess it up a couple of times. The recommended use time on the CPU is five years, and you can store the syringe for as long as three years after opening it up.
That said, Noctua NT-H1 is a magic thermal compound. It’s great not just for overheating but comes in handy for overclocking as well.
Buy Here: Amazon
2. Arctic Silver 5 AS5
Coming in second is another age-old name in the thermal paste world. AS5 is the choice of professionals for high-end machines, and we can see why. In our experiments, it brings down temperatures by 10 to 20 degrees, making your computer stable at higher frequencies.
It’s made almost entirely of micronized silver, which explains why it’s such a good heat dissipater. Silver is also less abrasive and harsh than other micronized materials. It’s viscosity changes are less subtle and certainly more effective.
There’s one problem, though. This particular paste does come with a settling time attached. So keep it in mind when starting the application process and plan accordingly. Also, although the material is non-conductor, it’s slightly capacitive. If you’re not careful when applying, it will spread outside to smaller components on the die and create trouble.
If you’re looking for a powerful CPU thermal paste, AS5 is the right choice. With one syringe containing a 3.5g compound, you are plenty covered for four to five repaste jobs. Not to mention, a low price point makes this purchase a total bargain.
Buy Here: Amazon
3. ARCTIC MX-4
If you want an Arctic Silver thermal paste but can’t wait for it to settle down, go for MX-4. No, wait game! It’s an updated version of the bestselling Arctic Silver thermal paste. Effective for CPU as well as GPU, it’s also one of the best Carbon-based thermal pastes out there.
Inside the package, there is a spatula for spreading the paste. Yeah, you can apply with the syringe itself, but we loved that extra help. The gooey paste leaves a hair thick, transparent layer. Moreover, the compound is metal-free and non-conductor, eliminating any danger of short-circuiting your components. The viscosity seems about ideal.
In contrast to silicone and metal thermal pastes, the MX-4 is highly durable. As per Arctic Silver, a good spread of this magic ointment can last for as long as eight years. If that’s true, this paste can outlast your desktop!
Though not suitable for overclocking, Arctic Mx-4 is great for cooling down your power hunger monsters. Though this thermal compound is comparatively expensive than AS5, the durability and better cooling performance are spending some more.
Buy Here: Amazon
4. Cooler Master Nano-tech Diamond Particle Thermal Paste
When a relative unknown thermal paste makes it to our top five list, you know it’s something special. The Cooler Master new Edition master gel maker provides exceptional thermal conductivity (4.5W/(m·K) to be exact). And the best thing is, you can use it with CPUs, GPUs, and even other chipsets to keep the temperature under control. Want to cool down your PlayStation 4? Try cooler master thermal paste!
The syringe has a unique design, distributing precisely and even spread. No need for a scrapper to apply. The non-curing and non-electricity conducting characteristics help avoid short-circuiting, oxidation, and erosion in the long run.
As for the drying time, there’s none. Simply apply it to your computer component, and you are good to go. The syringe remains usable for 2-3 years, but the 1.5ml compound drains out rather quickly, thanks to how useful it can be.
The adhesive made of nanodiamond particles is lightweight and super easy to apply. It’s not too thick and not too runny either. Yes, it sticks well, but keep in mind that it doesn’t harden. Therefore, we don’t think it will hold the heatsink in place. We were also slightly disappointed by just 1.5ml compound in the syringe, considering it’s comparatively expensive.
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5. Startech Metal Oxide Thermal CPU Paste
Here’s another lesser-known and just as effective thermal paste for your CPU overheating woes. The Startech’s thermal oxide CPU paste is a silver-based compound, just like AS5, but comes at half the price. It gives the heatsink a more secure connection and lowers the temperature by about 10 percent — not great, but still good.
Although the syringe is really small, the paste quantity is more than enough for 4 to 5 applications depending on the area. Easy to apply, and the substance remains gooey for a long time, unlike silicone-based gels that turn into a solid mess.
As it’s a liquid, you have to be super careful not to spread it on other components. The plunger applicator takes some care of that. But unfortunately, there’s no spatula in the package to help with the spread.
While it’s certainly effective, we didn’t notice any drastic drops in CPU temperature. So if you are a gamer, this compound isn’t for you. However, regular everyday users will certainly get the most bang out of their bucks.
Buy Here: Amazon
Buying the Best CPU Thermal Paste
When going for a thermal paste, keep these things in mind.
The composition of the thermal paste can affect your purchase in two ways. If it’s metal-based, you have to handle it with care as it’s electrically conductive. It can also corrode your circuits and damage your expensive gaming motherboard. Likewise, liquid metal pastes are generally non-conductive. But they can corrode an aluminum heatsink. So if you opt for a liquid metal paste, make sure your cooler or heatsink is made of nickel-plated copper.
Settling Time and Thermal Cycles
Some CPU thermal pastes do not require any settling time, you’re good to run your PC soon after applying the paste. However, other pastes need proper settling time. Still, others need to go through proper thermal cycles before they become fully operational and effective. Generally, the higher the viscosity, the more time and thermal cycles it will take to settle in all the nooks and crannies fully.
When it comes to specs, you will see two terms on the label: Conductivity and Specific Gravity. The conductivity of a thermal paste is measured in watts per meter kelvin (W/mK). Higher this value, the more conductive it will be. Specific Gravity measures the viscosity. Higher this value, the more fluid and easy to apply your paste will be. With that said, your results can vary depending on how you’re applying the paste.
Amount to Apply
The amount you’re applying will depend on the size of your component. Desktop processors are comparatively larger. Whatever the size, your end goal is to get a paper-thin layer of the thermal paste over your component. To give you a rough estimate, a standard AM4 or LGA 1151 processor chip can utilize 3-4 rodeos of a 1.5gram syringe. On the other hand, bigger chips like Threadripper or LGA2066 will require larger 3.5gram syringes to cover the entire component properly.
In the end, the choice for the best CPU thermal paste boils down to your needs. Different pastes are used for different purposes. Therefore, keep your needs and their purpose in mind. For instance, If you’re setting up the best gaming laptop, consider opting for a paste that works great with overclocking. Using the wrong paste will result in disappointment, or even worse, damage your components.
Hope you enjoyed our buyer’s guide. Comment below for any suggestions. Till next time!