Best Thermal Paste 2021: Review Buying Guide
Welcome to our article dedicated to the thermal paste. As you know, one of humanity’s great evolutionary leaps occurred when man was able to master fire. It allowed him to cook food, protect himself from wild beasts, keep warm, and illuminated him at night. Today, as inhabitants of the technological age, what we need to master is heat. Especially in our IT equipment.
Some components of our computers, such as the CPU, give off heat simply by being in operation and this is normal. The problem arises when the heat rises to excess, as it could damage the equipment. Therefore, it is essential to pay attention to the cooling system, in particular one of its main elements: the thermal paste, the protagonist of our guide today.
The most important things in a nutshell
- Conductivity is a very important aspect to keep in mind when choosing a thermal paste. Metal-based thermal pastes are highly heating conductive, so they are very popular. However they are also conductors of electricity, so they are not as safe as others.
- Before choosing a product you need to evaluate the amount of thermal paste needed. Some manufacturers offer the possibility to choose between syringes with different quantities. Keep in mind that a large amount of pasta is not normally required to fulfill its function. If you have too much leftover, it could deteriorate when you want to use it again later.
- One of the basic purchase criteria is the material from which the thermal paste is made. This feature will affect aspects such as price, conductivity, or safety. There are different types of thermal pastes depending on the material they are made of, for example, those based on metal, ceramic, or silicone.
The best thermal pastes on the market: our selection
Thermal paste is a great ally in the fight against high temperatures in our computers. Its function is to transmit the heat produced by, for example, the processor or graphics card to the heatsink. If you are thinking of buying this product you are in the right section. Here we present a selection of the best thermal pastes on the market.
- Users’ favorite thermal paste
- The best thermal paste for those with multiple devices
- The best thermal paste for the less experienced
- The preferred thermal paste for gaming
Users’ favorite thermal paste
Arctic MX-4 thermal paste is one of the best according to reviews released by those who have used it. It is made with carbon microparticles, free of metals. This feature offers additional safety against short circuits, as it does not conduct electricity. According to its manufacturers, the Arctic MX-4’s endurance is 8 years, which makes it a great investment.
It enjoys almost only positive reviews and is considered the best thermal paste available ever.
The best thermal paste for those with multiple devices
If you need to change the thermal paste to multiple devices and are therefore looking for a product with an excellent quality/price ratio, this solution can be for you. It is a 45g pack of pasta made up of microparticles of carbon, complete with a scoop and kit for cleaning the surfaces.
Being the same seller as the previous product, the reviews are common and therefore positive for the excellent quality of the thermal paste.
The best thermal paste for the less experienced
The Cooler Master thermal paste is ideal for beginners, as it has a less full-bodied consistency and includes a palette to be applied. It contains nanodiamond particles and a quantity of 1.5 ml of the product even if it is available in other formats.
The post-purchase opinions are very positive and it is considered, like the previous product, among the best options available on the market.
The preferred thermal paste for gaming
The low viscosity and high thermal (non-electrical) conductivity of CS Lab’s paste can be very useful to gamers, as they demand great performance from their devices. Thanks to its carbon microparticles, it quickly transmits the heat of your CPU to the heatsink. The content of the syringe is 10 grams.
Reviews confirm the excellent utility for gamer devices, including Playstation, computer, and even iMac.
Shopping Guide: Everything you should know about thermal paste
To keep equipment running well and prevent deterioration of its components, it is essential to keep the cooling system in good condition. The thermal paste is a fundamental part of the correct functioning of this system. But why? What exactly is its function? We will address these and other issues in this section.
What is thermal paste?
Some PC activities, such as graphic designing, video editing, or playing video games, require high performance from our device. Therefore, with extra effort, some components, such as the CPU, can overheat.
This is why it is important to have a good cooling system. Otherwise, the operation of the computer may be adversely affected. They may even burn those components once they overheat. Thermal paste, whose more exact name is heat conductive paste, is one of the elements that help fight the high temperatures in our computers.
But what exactly is it? It is a type of putty that is placed on the metal plate located above the graphics card or processor. Its function is to prevent air pockets between this component and the heat sink. These air pockets could be harmful to the equipment, as they would prevent the fan from expelling the generated heat properly.
How many types of thermal paste are there?
Although it may seem a rather trivial element, in reality, there are different types of thermal pastes, whose main feature that differentiates them is the material they are made of. Those made with a metal base are today the most requested by users. Below we explain in detail the different types of pasta that exist.
- Metal-based: it is composed of particles of some metals, such as aluminum, silver, or copper. Its great advantage is that it provides high thermal conductivity, which is why it is an industry favorite. However, since it is also a conductor of electricity, it can cause some problems for the safety of the equipment.
- Ceramic-based: its main component is ceramic powder. It is a very cheap type of thermal paste which, however, is less durable in efficacy than the metal-based one, hence its lower price. Its advantage, however, is that it does not conduct electricity.
- Silicone-based: it is mainly composed of silicone. This material is a good conductor of heat. On the other hand, it is a not very durable thermal paste, which is why it must be replaced regularly to avoid losing its effectiveness.
- Based on silicates: its main component is silicon. While it helps conduct heat, it is not as effective as the previous types.
- Liquid metal: it is the most modern and its main components are metal oxide and tin. It is quite efficient, but its use is only recommended for advanced users. Its application is not easy and you could damage your device.
How often is it advisable to change the thermal paste?
Over time, the thermal paste deteriorates. Its liquid component evaporates with use and may solidify. When this happens, the thermal paste stops performing its function, preventing the heat from reaching the heat sink properly, with the possible negative consequences that this could entail.
How often? First of all, it depends on the type of pasta you use and it is quality. It also depends on the use you make of the computer and the ambient temperature. One way to know if the paste has deteriorated is to check the temperature of the device.
If it is very high, it is probably time to change the thermal paste. Some experts recommend changing it every year. Others recommend doing it every three or five years. Some manufacturers ensure that their products last up to eight years. The truth is that it is an inexpensive element, which should be changed before any fundamental component is damaged.
How is thermal paste applied?
In principle, the application of thermal paste is not a particularly complicated task. However, we recommend that you consult an expert or view a tutorial before opening the device. In order not to waste too much time searching, we have included a guide below, which, although it is not the only possible method to apply thermal paste, is one of the simplest.
While it’s a relatively cheap item, you don’t have to be seduced by the first option you find. It is important to choose thermal paste with care and taking into account some fundamental aspects. Below you will find what we believe are the most important criteria in choosing the best thermal paste for 2021.
As explained in the previous section, there are different types of thermal paste depending on the materials they are made of. This will significantly affect other characteristics of the pasta, such as its price, but not only that. The material will also affect the duration of the paste’s effectiveness and its conductivity.
For example, metal-based thermal pastes have a higher degree of thermal conductivity. This is a very positive feature. However, as we said, they also conduct electricity, which is not as good in terms of safety. On the other hand, ceramic-based ones do not conduct electricity, but they last less. You should evaluate which one suits you best according to your needs.
With this criterion, we refer to the duration of the thermal paste. This will affect how often you should replace it. Typically, a thermal paste works well for three to four years. However, some experts recommend changing it once a year and, with intensive use, even more often. Again, it all depends on your needs.
As we explained, the function of the thermal paste is to transfer the heat generated in the processor or graphics card to the heat sink. Therefore, the higher its conductive capacity, the better. Copper-based thermal pastes are among those that conduct heat best. Aluminum ones are also highly conductive, but not as much as copper ones.
Liquid thermal pastes also have a high ability to transmit heat to the heat sink, but as we have seen, they are more difficult to apply so they are recommended for more experienced users. The danger of this type of paste is that if it is not applied correctly, some components of the computer could be damaged.
This aspect is related to the surface on which you want to apply the thermal paste or to how many devices you need to intervene. Some brands sell between one and forty-five grams. You need to evaluate the amount of paste you are going to use. If you have too much leftover, it may lose its effectiveness over time and not be useful when you want to use it again. Usually, a small amount is more than enough for a computer.
Some models include a small spoon in the package to evenly distribute the thermal paste on the surface to be treated. It all depends on how you want to apply it. Some people choose to use the syringe and place the heat sink directly so that, with the pressure of the same, the paste spreads out on its own. However, other people prefer to distribute it manually.
If this is the case, a thermal paste that includes a scoop is the best option for you. After applying the paste, you can spread it with this small spatula to create a thin and even layer. Then you can place the heatsink on top of it.