Best Thermal Paste: Ultimate Guide to the Best Sellers Thermal Compounds

PC builders will agree when I say; thermal pastes are crucial for cooling your system. Even overclockers have to concur that you can’t do without a thermal compound for an overworked PC.

As it turns out, thermal pastes incredibly increase the performance of your heatsink. A thermal paste that helps lower the temperature of your CPU/GPU will improve its efficiency.

But you don’t just pick the first thermal paste that you find on the shelf. So, you always search for the best thermal paste available in the market.

Therefore, in today’s article, we’ll be looking at the best thermal pastes you can buy in 2018 for various applications. We’ll also answer commonly asked questions, and even learn how to apply thermal paste on your CPU along with some best CPU thermal paste.

Contents

Top 10 Thermal Pastes 2018 – Expert Choice

Thermal Paste TypeProsConsCheck Price
Tuniq TX-4Easy to apply Difficult to apply because it is very thickBuy now
Thermal Grizzly Conductonaut Metal Huge Performance Boost None if properly applied
Buy now
Collaboratory Liquid UltraGood for PCCannot be used with aluminium heat sinksBuy now
Thermal Grizzly KryonautCeramicSuperior Performance Expensive
Buy now
Gelid Solutions GC-ExtremeGood for PCNot good for overcloackingBuy now
Cooler MasterEasy to apply Not ideal for critical cooling systemsBuy now
Noctua NT-H1Good for OC None if properly applied
Buy now
StarTech Metal Oxide 5gram re-sealable syringe provides up to six applicationsNot ideal for overclocked PCsBuy now
ARCTIC ORACOProvides up to eight years of usePrice is higher than other competition productsBuy now
Arctic Silver 5Ceramic Excellent Performance Slightly Capacitive
Buy now

10. Tuniq TX-4 1ml Heat Conducting Thermal Compound Grease Paste- Best for Peak Performance

 

Tuniq TX-4 is the immediate successor of the X-3 model. It boasts better performance and application than the X-3. Every tech veteran will agree that this is an ideal pick if you are building your CPU. With a thermal conductivity of 6.53 W/Mk, this thermal paste conducts heat much better than most products in its class.

You get to have the thinnest possible application as it only requires a pea-size and you gain a low CPU operating temperature. This high-performance thermal compound provides sustained low temperatures which impact on the long-run performance on your CPU.

Tuniq X-4 is pretty thick, but it comes with an applicator. We suggest that you only use the applicator if the paste does not spread uniformly when you put the heatsink on top. The best way to test is if it’s going to form air bubbles is by using a plastic ‘cooler’.

The spreader allows even application while avoiding spills which may go over the CPU and damage essential components on the CPU. You’ll like that this thermal grease is not electrically conductive. This means it will not short your motherboard.

This thermal paste best buy enjoys a long lifespan as it won’t crack or dry out. It provides ideal heat protection for your CPU since it prevents heat damage. For a product that costs less than high-end silver thermal pastes, this product is best buy thermal paste.

What We Loved

  • Electrically non-conductive
  • Strong conductivity rating
  • Designed for overclocked PCs
  • Ideal for beginners
  • It is consistent on the processor’s surface
  • Drops CPU temperature significantly

What We Didn’t Like

  • Some users say it is difficult to apply because it is very thick, but using the applicator provides even application
  • The exact ingredients are not disclosed

 

9. Thermal Grizzly Conductonaut Thermal Grease Paste 1.0g-Best Liquid Metal Thermal Paste

Designed in a simple 1.0-gram syringe, the Thermal Grizzly thermal paste provides a simple application. It is intended for systems where thermal conductivity is crucial. This product offers 73 W/Mk thermal conductivity and thermal resistance of 0.0021 K/W.

Thermal Grizzly Conductonaut is mostly recommended for experienced PC builders. This is because it is a metal-based thermal compound based on a eutectic alloy. It delivers superior heat conductivity for large-scale cooling systems. This unique mixture contains gallium, tin, indium, etc. All these metals have very high thermal conductivity. As such, they provide long-term reliability and excellent stability.

Some of these metals are liquid at room temperatures while others are not. They allow the paste to remain consistent so that it won’t dry out over time. It works well with air coolers but works even better with liquid cooling systems.

This is another easy-to-apply thermal paste. It spreads quickly using the applicator, and you can apply it close to six times before ever needing to replace it. You’ll want to be extra careful as being a metal-based compound, any spill on the motherboard will result in a short circuit.

Nevertheless, you get around 8-10 degree temperature drop which is fantastic if you are overtaxing your CPU. More so, for gaming consoles, Thermal Grizzly will work with excellence for heat dissipation.

What We Loved

  • High thermal conductivity at 73 W/Mk
  • The blend of metals is highly consistent to ease the application process
  • Handles overclocking with efficiency with temp drop of 8-10 degrees
  • Provides long-term stability

What We Didn’t Like

  • Not great on specifically cold conditions like compressor-based cooling systems
  • It is conductive so you will need to keep it away from the motherboard

8. Collaboratory Liquid Ultra Thermal Paste CPU Processor Grease- Best Grease-Based Liquid Metal Thermal Compound

If you are tired of regular thermal pastes, then you’ll appreciate the upgrade brought about by the Collaboratory thermal paste. This is liquid metal thermal paste which boasts a blend of metals including gallium, tin, silver, zinc, indium, bismuth, and rhodium. Like most metal-based thermal compounds, this product can improve heat conductivity which gives up to an 8-degree temperature drop.

This is more than you need, more so if you are using delidded CPUs. It is designed for serious overclockers whose CPUs do not have a soldered integrated heat spreader. These are most of the CPUs available today, and they will perform great when you use the Collaboratory thermal compound with them.

This product is wetter than most thermal pastes. As such, it provides a sleek application. Some people find it annoying, but this could be easier when you use a commercial brush. You just need to place the heat sink over four lines, and the paste will spread evenly. The application process comes with a few do’s and don’ts which we figured must be the reason why it can be annoying.

Another thing: this product should not be used with aluminum heatsinks as it contains gallium. The metal will corrode the aluminum.

What We Loved

  • Liquid metal is stable when rapidly heated or cooled
  • Moves large amounts of heat from the CPU to the heatsink
  • 100% metal applies quickly using a commercial brush
  • It comes in a retail package with the necessary application and cleaning accessories

What We Didn’t Like

  • Cannot be used with aluminum heat sinks
  • Needs expert use as it is metal-based

7. Thermal Grizzly 1.0 Gram Kryonaut Thermal Grease Paste- Best Thermally Conductive Ceramic Thermal Paste

The Thermal Grizzly Kyronaut thermal paste is a competitive thermal compound. It is an application dream for both novice and savvy tech users. At 12.5W/Mk thermal conductivity; you have a product that is ideal for overworked CPUs. This could be your gaming computer, or if you are running challenging applications, this thermal paste will see a temperature drop of about 6 degrees.

Since it is not electrically conductive, you don’t need to worry about short-circuiting your motherboard. A little spill will be a matter of wiping off since any residue that will be left will not damage expensive hardware.

It is also in an easy-to-apply 1.0gram syringe. You can choose to use the applicator or apply a small amount and let the heatsink do the spreading due to heat. This model will work great with overclocked PCs as it can withstand heat of up to 5720F. Thermal Grizzly Kyronaut can also thrive on extremely low temperatures like those based on nitrogen cooling.

Again, this thermal compound contains zinc oxide and minute nano aluminum. The contents create a uniform platform where you can easily place the heatsink. Not to mention, these compounds allow for more prolonged usage.

Thermal Grizzly is not the most budget-friendly thermal compound, but it sure does its work correctly.

It is recommended to use this thermal paste with copper heatsinks as it could damage non-copper ones.

Structured to remain in liquid state for up to 1760F, the Thermal Grizzly Ceramic grease paste is an excellent pick for overclockers and hardcore gamers.

What We Loved

  • Provides four applications with a 1.0-gram syringe
  • Simple application process with or without an applicator
  • Works effectively over a wide temperature range
  • High thermal conductive at 12.5W/Mk for a ceramic paste

What We Didn’t Like

  • Does not work with non-copper heatsinks
  • Comes at a higher price than competitive brands

6. Gelid Solutions GC-Extreme Thermal Compound TC-GC-03-A- Best Thermal Paste on a Budget

If you want a safe option that will work equally great, then you better get your hands on the Gelid Solutions GC-Extreme. This compound is non-toxic and non-curing. It makes for longer effectiveness especially if you don’t want to keep changing thermal pastes.

GC Extreme’s composition is unique albeit not disclosed. It is tailored to a lower price point than the Kyronaut, but it performs at nearly the same thermal conductivity at 8.5W/Mk. It offers real-world cooling performance more so if you are an overclocker.

We like that the GC extreme is also not electrically conductive thus any spills will be easy to clean off. Applying this compound is a breeze for first-timers and veterans alike. Its light consistency allows for simple application whether you have an applicator or not.

This product will provide around 5-degree temperature drop. It is excellent with heat sinks with high mounting pressure and also nitrogen-based coolers. It has no problem dissipating heat to your cooler allowing efficient performance for your CPU, chipset, or even VGA.

What We Loved

  • Non-curing, non-toxic, and electrically non-conductive
  • Affordably priced for a grease-based compound
  • Allows novice users to apply it without worrying about spills
  • Includes a plastic applicator
  • Works well in extreme temperatures
  • It works with nearly all types of heatsinks including aluminum ones

What We Didn’t Like

  • You cannot tell how much is left through the opaque syringe
  • Its heat drop is not the best for extreme overclockers

5. Cooler Master High-Performance Thermal Paste (HTK-002-U1)- Best Silicone-Based Thermal Paste

Although the Cooler Master is new to producing thermal compounds, this company has been around manufacturing PC chassis and coolers. Their best seller must be this high-performance thermal paste which contains thermally conductive elements filled with heat conductive metal oxides.

This thermal paste excels in temperature stability as it operates effectively up to 3500 F. It is quite stable seeing that it will not bleed or run at low or high temperatures. It is excellent for normal workloads since it is silicone based. The grease applies uniformly to make a positive seal that provides improved heat transfer from your CPU, VGA card, or chipset. You’ll get better performance from your devices as it cools them down to cover more workloads.

The dielectric nature of this thermal paste means you are good to use even when you are new to using thermal compounds. A little spill will not open doors for electrical malfunctions for expensive hardware. Even better, the thermal compound has an excellent viscosity which makes it super easy to spread. It also comes off easily without cracking.

If you tend to overwork your CPU now and then, the Clean Master High-Performance thermal paste will ensure it does not come at a cost. It is not overpriced for a product that is effective in many applications.

What We Loved

  • 11W/Mk thermal conductivity
  • Soft and gluey form makes it easy to apply
  • Effective temperature range of up to 350F
  • Does not dry out or crack; stable at high and low temperatures

What We Didn’t Like 

  • Not ideal for very demanding applications and overclocked PCs demanding critical cooling systems.
  • Just enough for a few jobs

4. Noctua NT-H1 Thermal Compound- Best Thermal Paste for Overclocked PCs

Perhaps the only thermal paste that ticks all the boxes for the ideal thermal paste is the Noctua NT-H1. This thermal compound showcases high performance from the very start. It is not electrically conductive, it does not have a break-in period; and it provides years of stable performance.

First, your CPU/GPU is not in any danger of short-circuiting. You will not need to be an expert to know how to apply this thermal paste. Its consistency allows for the most popular pea-size application where the heat sink will not form any air bubbles.

You will love the heat difference it makes in regular applications, and more so when used in overtaxed computers.

The Noctua NT-H1 has a thermal conductivity rating of 8.9W/Mk. This is much like the Arctic Silver 5. It is designed to be extremely useful and even comes close to outdoing what the Arctic S5 has to offer. Its temperature range is between -580-3020F. It makes it possible to also work with liquid cooling systems.

What We Loved

  • It is ceramic-based; hence it is non-conductive and non-capacitive
  • It does not need waiting for it to settle in
  • Easy usage without a plastic applicator
  • Best for beginners and expert PC builders
  • Enjoys minimum thermal resistance

What We Didn’t Like

  • It has a storage time of only two years
  • It is a bit expensive

3. StarTech Metal Oxide Thermal CPU Paste Compound- Best Thermal Paste for Normal Workloads

If your computer is overheating because of watching too many Youtube videos or over-browsing, the StarTech Metal Oxide thermal compound seems like a nice pick. It has a thermal conductivity of only 1.9 W/Mk/. This will not make much of a difference if you have overclocked your computer. That’s why it is highly recommended for normal CPU usage.

The metal-based compound contains a metal oxide with negligible electrical conductivity. This indicates it is still capacitive when around metal compounds. You should also take care not to spill it on motherboards. That’s why you should use a small amount when replacing old thermal grease.

The 1.5gram tube can provide from 4-6 applications on small CPU cores. It is a stable compound over wide temperatures to ensure efficiency of your heatsink. It thermally bonds to the CPU which allows better performance than silicone-based compounds. As it draws heat away from the CPU, it protects the cores which keep your computer working correctly.

This compound comes in a re-sealable syringe applicator. It ensures proper storage as you can close it after use and place it where it needs to go. This thermal paste is approved for stable performance in the long run. You can depend on its thermal conducting capabilities for everyday use of taxing applications.

What We Loved 

  • High-quality metallic solution
  • Great stability in a wide range of temperatures
  • 5gram re-sealable syringe provides up to six applications
  • Silver contents have negligible electrical conductivity

What We Didn’t Like 

  • Not ideal for overclocked PCs
  • Spills should be avoided on the motherboard and other processor components

2. ARCTIC ORACO- MX4000 1-BL MX-4 Thermal Compound Paste- Best Carbon-Based Thermal Paste

This thermal paste was created to succeed the very popular Arctic Silver 5. It is a carbon-based thermal compound which does not contain metal or in this case silver. Its thermal conductivity is at 8.5W/Mk which is slightly lower than the Silver 5.

This product offers better performance in terms of the break-in period as it does not require hours before it starts working properly. MX-4 outlasts many meta-based thermal compounds as it has a durability period of eight years on your CPU/GPU. It gives you value for money even though it is very affordable.

MX-4 is pretty easy to use for beginners. Electrical conductivity is not an issue since it does not contain any metal particles. Any exposure to electrical pins will not result in short-circuiting. As such, no damage of any sort will occur.

We like that it is soft making it easy to spread. You will not need a credit card or spatula to get coverage the MX-4 thermal compound. Arctic ensures you only need a pinch and the paste will spread uniformly on the CPU’s surface.

This product is made to be more effective, easier to spread, and cheaper to access. We hope it will provide excellent heatsink performance for your specific needs.

What We Loved 

  • A carbon-based compound is non-conductive and non-capacitive
  • Provides up to eight years of use
  • Does not require a curing period
  • Provides quiet running for your computer

What We Didn’t Like 

  • Price is still slightly higher than other competition products
  • Extreme overclockers may find it does not provide great cooling for crucial cooling needs

 

1. Arctic Silver 5 Thermal Compound-Best Overall

The Arctic Silver 5 is what we’d call a legendary for many PC builders. It remains one of the most sought compounds after many years of use with only a few improvements. The use of 99.9% micronized silvers propels its performance to the top of the game. Although the compound uses silver as its primary component, this paste is ceramic-based.

Arctic Silver 5 has a remarkable thermal conductivity at 8.9W/Mk. It performs better than the GC Extreme but not as good as the Kyronaut. However, it is non-conductive; hence great for use by beginners. The quality of this thermal paste speaks for itself as it does not bleed, run, or migrate. It has longer stability more so if you don’t move your CPU often.

You’ll appreciate that it does not contain any silicone and it works great at high temperatures and running of demanding applications. The fine silver particles transfer heat at very high levels which gives high cooling without bringing anywhere near the snags brought about by liquid metal.

Keep in mind that the Arctic Silver 5 will take about 200 hours before it settles in. You should also avoid spilling the paste onto other PC components as it is still capacitive meaning it conducts electricity though very little when in contact with metal compounds.

Nevertheless, you get a very stable compound that can be used with compressed fluid setups and liquid nitrogen.  If you are getting the 3.5-gram tube, you’ll have enough paste for about 6-10 large CPU core applications, 10-15 small CPU applications, or 2-5 heat plate applications.

What We Loved

  • Uses pure silver particles
  • It is not electrically conductive
  • Provides 3-12 degrees temperature drop
  • Enjoys absolute stability and will not run, separate, migrate or run

What We Didn’t Like

  • It should be kept away from leads, pins, and electrical traces
  • It needs up to 200 hours break-in period

 

Buying a Thermal Paste: A few Points to Remember

What is a Thermal Paste?

A thermal paste is a chemical compound that has high heat conductivity. It works to improve a heatsink’s performance after you install the heatsink on a CPU/GPU or video card. It fills micro spaces between the CPU and heat sink to prevent entrapment of air which may lessen the effectiveness of the heatsink.

Thermal pastes conduct heat 100 times better than air; thus when you eliminate airspaces, your heatsink will work as intended.

Types of thermal Pastes

There are three types of thermal pastes.

  • Metal-based

These are the most popular as they have the highest thermal conductivity. These compounds use lots of metal particles in the paste which result in high heat transfer. Metal-based thermal pastes are suitable for hardcore gamers and overclockers.

Metal-based thermal pastes are electrically conductive. They need very little application and extra caution not to spill the compound on the motherboard.

  • Ceramic-based

These compounds perform nearly as well as metal-based thermal pastes. They consist of thermally conductive material, but they are electrically non-conductive. They are best if you are just learning how to apply the thermal paste since if you use too much, the excess will cause a short circuit in the processor.

  • Silicone-based

These thermal pastes are embedded on thermal pads that attach directly to the processor or heatsink. These type of thermal compounds do not work as great as metal or ceramic-based models.  They usually require using with cooling kits.

How much Thermal Paste Should you Apply?

Heatsinks will not work efficiently without thermal paste. When you are upgrading your CPU or building a PC, you’ll want to apply new thermal paste to the processor.

Uneven thermal paste application or applying a teeny tiny amount may result in differences in how your CPU cores run. Some cores may be hotter than others; thus affecting heat dissipation in the CPU.

For a single application, you only need to a small tube of about 1.5g, but if you are going to be applying to many CPUs, then you’ll want to invest in a large tube as it is economical.

Thermal pastes are in either tubes or syringes. When looking for a more precise application, a syringe will do. Only a small is needed to avoid spills. In most cases, a pea-sized amount will do for standard processors.

Applying Thermal Paste: Which is the best method?

The essence of thermal paste is to create the coolest running temperature for your CPU.

There are like six popular methods of applying thermal paste. These include the spreader, line, X-method, double line, triple-line, and the pea method.

  • Spreader Method

In this method, most people use a credit card or commercial brush to spread the thermal paste on the processor. A common problem with this method is that the paste is likely to spill when you put the heat sink on it.

  • Line Method

This method is popular on Intel CPUs. It involves drawing a vertical line across the surface of the HIS. You should take care not to cross beyond. This process is then followed by installing the heat sink.

  • X-Method

This methid requires squeezing the paste such that you draw two lines that form an X on the processor. This is followed by applying the cooler which will spread the paste by squeezing into it.

  • Pea Method

We like the pea method the most as it only involves squeezing a small amount more like a pea-size in the middle of the processor and applying your heatsink on top. Do not spread the thermal paste as it will spread itself when you use the cooler.

Here’s a quick video on the best way to apply thermal paste.

How to Remove and Reapply Thermal Paste

You’ll have to remove old thermal paste before applying a new one.

What you’ll need.

  • Isopropyl Alcohol

You’ll need at least 70% but 99% if possible will be great. You can purchase this from any pharmacy or supermarket.

  • Microfiber cloth

Dab the cloth in the alcohol and rub it in the thermal paste. This will remove the thermal paste without leaving any fibers like if you used paper towels.

To reapply the thermal paste, you’ll need to go over the same steps in applying thermal paste through the pea method.

Best Non-Capacitive Thermal Pastes 2018

Non-capacitive thermal compounds have low dielectric constants. This means they are electrically non-conductive and you should not worry if the paste touches electrical components or pins.

From our list, we’ve identified the Thermal Grizzly Kryonaut, Gelid Solutions GC Extreme, Arctic MX-4, and Cooler Masters as non-capacitive.

Why do modern high-performance systems produce more heat?

Every electric operation produces heat. High-performance applications produce heat as a byproduct thus it is inherently unavoidable.

Technological advancements have made it possible to use complex internal components for running complicated tech. These systems are built to be high-performance to facilitate the need of the type of technology being used. This increases the amount of heat output produced by modern CPUs, GPUs, ODDs, and HDDs.

The increase in electrical current and electrical input creates friction which results in heat as the byproduct of the process.

Why would you need a thermal paste?

A new CPU comes with its ideal thermal paste applied between the heat sink and the processor. This application should last a few years when the CPU is new. But if you are handpicking different chassis for your system, you’ll also need to select the ideal thermal paste to go with the cooler.

You will also need new thermal paste if your CPU and cooler have seen many years of usage. Chances are the thermal paste is already gunky which may be affecting how well the CPU is cooling down.

Overclocked PCs need the use of appropriate thermal paste to counter the effects of increased heat output as a result of demanding applications.

So, which is our pick for the top best performer?

These thermal paste brands are top rated with the Arctic Silver 5 winning the hearts of many. It has an ideal thermal conductivity for most needs. It allows temperature drops of up to 12 degrees for components that need cooling.

The Arctic Silver 5 has a break-in period which brings us to another top performer, the Arctic MX-4. Though from the same brand, MX-4 does not require a curing period and it will work as soon as you apply it.

If you are an experienced user, the Conductonaut is a great option, while beginners will love using the Thermal Grizzly Kryonaut.

For whichever purpose you have in mind, these thermal pastes got you covered.

Conclusion

Whether you want to build your PC or looking for better heatsink performance, this list brings it all into perspective. We hope you have all the information that you need as you pick your next thermal paste.

These brands follow the needs of users from hardcore gamers to high-performance systems. With these models, you can be assured of quality, reliability, and practicality.

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