10 Best Thermal Pastes 2021 (Updated)
Do you know a CPU/GPU running at high-temperature results decrease in performance?
So for ideal performance, you need to make sure that the heat conduct through CPU or GPU to heatsink/cooler. For heat conduction, you need to apply the thermal grease on the processor. Buying not only a better quality thermal compound is imperative but also applying it in the right manner. Moreover, the selection of best thermal paste also depends on your use like for over gaming pc or overclocking the consideration might be different for average users.
Well, you are at the very right place where we can help you to understand all types of compounds, what our recommendations are and how to apply it correctly.
Do not confuse between following terms like thermal grease, CPU grease, thermal compound, heat sink paste, thermal gel or thermal gunk, all of them are same and used interchangeably.
Types of Thermal Pastes
First off, you need to know different types of pastes which is helpful for better understanding and decision making. The thermal grease can mainly categories into two types “Conductive” and “Non-Conductive”. The non-conductive type usually includes zinc and silicone while conductive type contains copper, silver aluminum substances.
Applying a non-conductive mixture is really easy even if you are dealing with it for the first time in your life. But with Conductive thermal compound, you should take some extra care while applying because these are electrically conductive and contact with any metal component on the motherboard or with microprocessors pins can cause damage. Don’t be worry about this as we will guide you through how to apply the paste in right manners.
Metal-based greases are much efficient when compared to non-metal, therefore, good for overclockers and hardcore gaming PCs. Also usually slightly cost higher than the zinc or silicon-based compounds.
How Thermal Compound Works
There are chances where process surface and heatsink are connecting properly. The contacting surfaces may look pretty flat but in reality, these are rough when observing through the microscopic eye. So here thermal compound used as a medium so to transfer the heat efficiently from processor to heatsink or cooler. That is why thermal grease usually includes ingredients such as silicon and zinc etc.
How to Remove the Thermal Paste
So if you just buy a new processor then skip this step otherwise if you are re-applying the thermal gunk, then you need to remove the previous material for re-application.
Removing paste is an effortless process you just need 99% isopropyl alcohol. Simply pour some isopropyl alcohol on a small piece of clean fabrics and then carefully wipe out the compound.
How to Apply Thermal Paste?
There are multiple methods to apply the TIM such as Pea, X, Spread, Dot, and Line etc. Although every method results in almost the same performance, the thing you need to care that not to put too much quantity or too less.
The compound can be spread over the processor surface or you can put a dot and when you press the cooler or heatsink over it will automatically spread. Also, for making application easier, some manufacturer even offer facilitating tools like spreading stick.
Another good method is to pour a line or an X that will surely do its job. Here keep in mind that the heat outflow also depends on the cooler or the heat sinks.
Now without further ado let’s move on to the best thermal pastes available in the market.
Arctic MX-4 – Best Non-Capacitive Thermal Past
Arctic is the rapidly growing finest quality manufacturer of TIM. It is one of the best carbon-based thermal compounds that is free from any metal ingredient and quite efficient to conduct the heat from the processor to heat sink with almost 8.5W/mK conductivity rating. Applying the grease on the respective unit is extremely easy due to its syringe shape design. Put a plop in the middle of the surface, make sure it covers most of the central area.
The Arctic MX-4 costs around $6 and can last up to 6 years. Candidly speaking, MX-4 surely does its job very well, but for something heavy-duty like overclocking, there are some other options available you may try.
Noctua NT-H1 – Great Thermal Grease of 2021
Noctua NT-H1 is made of hybrid computed that’s the mixture of Zinc Oxide and metal mix. It is grey colored, thick and dry paste that requires no time for setting. You might face some difficulty due to its drier characteristics so to spread over the unit put a slight drop (almost rice grain size) at the center of the CPU and twist it when mounting heat sink. The syringe contains 1.4ml quantity which is sufficient up to 15 applications.
Noctua NT-H1 works very well for overclocking, overloaded CPUs and heavy gaming rigs. It can hold up to 3 years even operating at peak -50˚C to + 110℃ temperature which is brilliant. NT-H1 is also one of the cheapest solutions for overclocking which lasts for incredible lifecycle.
Arctic Silver 5 – Top Rated Silver-Based Thermal Compound
Here is the popular Arctic Silver 5. This one provides an outstanding solution for better heat conduction and is favored by most of the users. Although with the introduction of new mixtures some compounds have an advantage over it but still it’s an excellent option for overclocking and something like that.
The filling of micronized silver and ceramic particles keep your processor calm and work smoothly. As name signify its major component is 99.9% silver. Like most of the standard quality thermal greases, it features 8.9 W/Mk conductivity. The effortless application makes it easier to apply even if you are trying it for the first time.
Thermal Grizzly Kryonaut is another excellent thermal goop that can shave off temperature of your CPU surely. Unlike most of the grease compounds, Grizzly has 12.5 W/mK rate which ensures perfect heat transfer toward the heat sink. You may find it pricey compared to the Arctic Silver 5, but it’s much efficient solution for overclockers and worth buying.
It comes with a stick to spread the paste over the cores and compatible with other appliances such as PS3 or 4. Bottom line is if you’re just an average user then you may don’t need to spend on this, Arctic Silver works great for you. On the other hand for some heavy purpose like hours of gaming and overclocking, Grizzly Kryonaut perform impressively.
MasterGel Maker Nano-High performance Compound
MasterGel is an excellent and powerful thermal conductive paste offered by Cooler Master. It is a grease based paste with a conductivity of 11 W/mK that is considerably higher than many others. It contains fine Nano Diamond particles that can hold, as per the manufacturer, -50 to 150℃ which is quite impressive.
Moreover, the viscosity nature of this heat paste makes its application super easy. It has zero electrical conductivity and works compatibly with liquid nitrogen cooling. In a nutshell, MasterGel has a positive reputation in the market that has premium quality and cutting-edge performance at competitive pricing tag.
Coollaboratory Liquid Pro – Best High-End TIM for Ultimate CPU/GPU Performance
For some heavy duty performance here is Coollaboratory Liquid Pro. It is a composition of liquid metal compounds and considered as a tremendous attentive to thermal grease. You will notice an improved performance due to substantial fall in temperature because of its competency to 80 W/mK thermal conductivity. Although you must keep in mind while using liquid metal due to their gallium alloy properties, do not use with aluminum-based heatsinks.
You may find it a bit costly, but it surely has the edge over conventional pastes and worth your money. So with such an effective solution, it can drop temp 20° to 25°C allow you to enhance the performance by overclocking. Here it is recommended do not use the excess quantity with a mindset of better performance because a small drop can do the job more meritoriously.
Thermal Grizzly Conductonaut – Recommended Thermal Grease for Overclocking
Thermal Grizzly is a popular name growing rapidly in the thermal compound market. The mixture comes in a long nose syringe. With 73 W/mK conductivity rating, Grizzly Conductonaut is the best compound you can hands on in the market and is the most efficient to pass the heat. It can be helpful to decrease approximately 12° that enable you to go beyond the limit of overclocking.
Although you might be mindful while putting on the unit. Due to its material composition do not use it with an aluminum heatsink to avoid any damages. Furthermore, as it is a metal paste so take extra care because it’s electric conductive. Other than that Grizzly Conductonaut is probably the best thermal paste for overclocking and other heavy uses.
If you’re looking for affordable and less expensive thermal grease for CPU and GPU then choosing Thermaltake TG-7 will be the great decision. The mixer of diamond powder quite efficiently transfers the heat between CPU to heat sink at 3.3 W/mK. But for ultimate performance, we recommend “Coollaboratory Liquid Pro”. It’s highly suitable (80 W/mK) for PC’s built for extreme performance such as hardcore gaming or 3d rendering.
TG-7 is capable enough to handle average temperature ranging from -50° C to 250°. Coming with 4gram of packing and in gray color, it’s quite easy to apply just like other pastes. It’s non-conductive as well as silicon-free so lasts longer than the standard TIM. At only $7.99, it can be used for ten appliances easily. Plus, the diamond powder also enhances the lifespan by preventing dry outs and cracks.
Compared to above Thermaltake TG-7, Innovation Cooling Diamond has almost the same TIM ingredients but a bit efficient with 4.5 W/mK heat conductivity making it the best thermal paste alternative to other cheap products. It’s non-conductive until doesn’t influence with foreign materials. Keep in mind; you’ll notice a significant or peak performance after two hours as it doesn’t require too much time to get settled.
Costs similar to most of the other products but comes with 1.5gram which is quite lower. The combination of premium class compounds such as Diamond Powder, Carbon Black, Polymeric Dispersant Trade Secret, and Methoxy remains efficient for years. When applied carefully, you can easily use for 3 to 4 devices.
Last but not least, Gelid Solutions is also a well-known brand when we talk about the best thermal compounds available in the market. Applying it on any surface whether it’s the CPU or GPU is deadly simple, thanks to syringe packing. Despite not the most efficient but good enough to convey the system heat toward cooling system at 8.5 W/mK rate. So, your computer will run smoothly under intense loads.
It’s easy to apply even first time users can also get the job done correctly due to non-bleeding and non-conductivity characteristics. You just have to squeeze a little bit on the processor surface (in the center), place and press the heatsink to separate the paste – And that’s it.
Conclusion – What’s the Best Thermal Compound?
So applying a good quality paste will surely decrease the processor heat hence increase performance. Most of the thermal pastes usually last for 3 to 5 years until the next replacement. Although the above mentioned are the recommended options currently available out there but deciding on the one might be overwhelming.
In brief, if you do not make heavy use of your computer, then Arctic MX-4 is good to grab. On the other side if you need a non-conductive heavy duty performer for gaming and overclocking Noctua NT-H1 can hold approximately 3 years at a peak -50˚C to + 110℃ temperature.
Like before said the electrically conductive pastes are the outstanding solutions and clearly outperform the conventional compounds. Thermal Grizzly Conductonaut and Coollaboratory Liquid Pro are the best thermal pastes helping you to boost the performance considerably. But due to their conductive properties, these should be handled by pro users.
We put our utmost efforts to makes this guide fully helpful for all types of users. If you face any problem regarding thermal compounds feel free to ask in the comments.