Welcome to the definitive guide on the best thermal pastes for your PC. As a seasoned PC hardware expert with years of hands-on experience, I’ve tested and scrutinized a plethora of thermal paste products.
In this guide, I’ll share my top picks, each one thoroughly vetted for its performance, longevity, and ease of application. If you’re building a new PC, upgrading your current setup, or simply maintaining your system, choosing the right thermal paste is crucial for optimal thermal performance and hardware longevity.
Let’s begin and discover the best options available in today’s highly competitive market.
My top picks:
- Thermaltake TG-7 Extreme Performance – Best for High-Performance CPUs
- CORSAIR – TM30 Performance Thermal Paste –Best for Easy Application
- CORSAIR – XTM70 Extreme Performance Thermal Paste – Best for Longevity
- CORSAIR – XTM50 High Performance – Best for Budget Builds
1. Thermaltake TG-7 Extreme Performance
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The Thermaltake TG-7 thermal grease is a standout product in the realm of PC cooling solutions. My personal experience with this product has been overwhelmingly positive, particularly in its performance in bridging the gap between the CPU and its heatsink.
The inclusion of diamond powder in its formulation is not just a marketing gimmick; it genuinely improves the thermal conductivity. This was evident in the lower temperatures I observed during intensive tasks like gaming and video editing.
Not only did it keep the CPU cooler than some of its competitors, but this effect was consistent over time, suggesting a lasting thermal conductive efficiency. Another aspect of the TG-7 that deserves praise is its user-friendliness.
The application process is remarkably straightforward, thanks to the included spreader, which ensures a thin, even layer without any hassle. This is a boon for those who might be new to applying thermal paste or for seasoned builders who appreciate efficiency. Additionally, the thermal grease’s resistance to drying out and cracking is commendable. This durability means fewer applications over the lifetime of a PC, saving time and effort.
- Diamond Powder Integration: Enhances thermal conductivity.
- Longer Lifespan: Superior to standard silicon-based compounds.
- Ease of Application: Comes with a spreader for easy application.
- Enhanced Thermal Conductivity: Specifically designed for extreme performance.
- Optimal Protection: Provides effective CPU heat damage protection.
2. CORSAIR – TM30 Performance Thermal Paste
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The CORSAIR TM30 Performance Thermal Paste has been a game-changer in maintaining my computer’s performance. This product, true to its promise, offers exceptional thermal conductivity, primarily due to its ultralow thermal impedance.
This feature has significantly improved heat transfer from my CPU to the cooler, ensuring that overheating is effectively mitigated even under heavy loads. The fact that it’s designed to last for years without degrading is a testament to its quality and durability. It’s particularly impressive how it maintains its effectiveness, whether used with liquid or air cooling systems.
Applying the TM30 was a surprisingly straightforward process, thanks to its low-viscosity zinc oxide thermal material. The consistency of the paste made the application smooth and mess-free, which is a notable advantage for someone who isn’t a professional technician.
The packaging is also worth mentioning – each syringe contains enough thermal paste for multiple applications, which offers great value for money. Since using it, I’ve noticed a marked improvement in my computer’s temperature management, which has allowed for higher clock speeds without the risk of overheating.
- Enthusiast CPU Thermal Compound: Premium Zinc Oxide-based thermal compound for optimal thermal performance.
- Cools CPU and GPU: Suitable for installing new or replacing existing thermal compound on CPU and GPU to improve heat transfer and lower temperatures.
- Ultra-Low Thermal Impedance: Lowers CPU temperatures compared to common thermal paste.
- Easy Installation: Comes with an application stencil and spreader for easy application.
- Long Service Life: High-stability liquid compound that lasts for years without drying, cracking, or changing in consistency.
3. Corsair XTM70 Extreme Performance
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I often turn to the Corsair XTM70 when I need the job done fast, and it never disappoints. One of the standout features is its low viscosity, which made the application process straightforward and mess-free.
The paste is spread evenly and cleanly, thanks to the included applicator kit. This aspect is particularly crucial because an evenly applied thermal paste ensures optimal heat transfer from the CPU or GPU to the cooling system. I used it on my desktop’s Intel CPU, and the difference in thermal performance was evident.
The CPU temperatures were noticeably lower, suggesting that the thermal paste was doing an excellent job of transferring heat. Another aspect that I appreciated was the inclusion of cleaning wipes for cleaning thermal paste in the package.
This thoughtful addition made the removal of old paste from my processor and AIO (All-In-One) cold plate much simpler. It’s a small detail, but it significantly enhances the user experience, especially for those who might not have specialized cleaning equipment for PC components.
The thermal paste’s effectiveness with high-performance processors up to 250W TDP is another winning point. I observed that it maintained its performance even under heavy loads, which is crucial for anyone using their computer for intensive tasks like gaming or video editing. The quantity provided is generous, offering more than enough for multiple applications, which adds great value to the price.
- High Thermal Conductivity: Ensures efficient heat transfer from CPU/GPU to cooler.
- Low Thermal Impedance: Maintains lower temperatures even under high stress.
- Long-Lasting Stability: Designed to not dry out, crack, or degrade over time.
- Easy to Apply: Comes with an application stencil and spreader for a precise application.
- Safe for All Processors: Suitable for use on all CPU and GPU types.
4. Corsair XTM50 High Performance
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The Corsair XTM50 High Performance Thermal Compound Paste stands out as an exceptional choice for cooling solutions in PC builds. My experience with this product has been notably positive, especially in terms of its impact on the CPU and GPU temperatures.
The premium Zinc Oxide-based formula of the XTM50 is evidently effective, as I observed a significant reduction in thermal readings post-application. This was particularly noticeable during high-performance tasks where the CPU is under considerable load.
The improvement in heat transfer efficiency compared to other common thermal pastes I’ve used was apparent, leading to a more stable and cooler operating environment for my desktop. What further enhances the user experience is the ease of installation. The included application stencil and spreader are practical tools that simplify the application process, eliminating much of the guesswork and potential mess.
The XTM50’s low viscosity is another boon, allowing it to fill microscopic gaps and channels on the CPU surface, ensuring optimal thermal contact. Additionally, the long service life and stability of the compound, without drying or cracking, is a big plus, offering peace of mind for a prolonged period.
The non-conductive nature and absence of volatile compounds add to the safety aspect, making it a worry-free choice for any PC enthusiast. All in all, the Corsair XTM50 is a top-tier thermal paste that combines performance, ease of use, and safety in one package.
- High-Performance Composition: Designed to prevent components from overheating, ensuring efficient cooling.
- Syringe Design: Facilitates simple and precise application, especially on delicate parts.
- Ultra-Low Thermal Impedance: Enhances cooling effectiveness by efficiently conducting heat.
- Generous Quantity: Contains 5 grams of paste, sufficient for covering several surfaces.
- Precision Tip: Offers high accuracy during application, ideal for intricate thermal interfaces.
How to Make the Right Choice
Knowing about the nuances of selecting the right thermal paste can significantly impact your computer’s performance and longevity. This section will highlight what features you should look for when browsing for thermal paste.
Types of Materials Used
Different types of thermal pastes vary in conductivity and safety. Metal-based ones, like those with silver, conduct heat well but risk short circuits due to electrical conductivity. Ceramic and silicon-based pastes, less conductive, are safer for CPU transistors as they’re non-conductive.
Viscosity and Application Ease
Viscosity refers to the thickness or fluidity of the thermal paste. A paste with the right viscosity is easy to apply, spreads evenly, and forms a thin layer between the CPU/GPU and cooler. Too thick, and it won’t spread properly; too thin, and it may not fill all the microscopic gaps.
Different pastes may require different application methods. Some are spread manually, while others can be applied directly in a dot or line and spread under the pressure of the cooler. Consider your comfort with these methods when choosing a paste.
Longevity and Durability
All thermal pastes degrade over time, losing their effectiveness. This degradation can be accelerated by high temperatures and frequent temperature fluctuations. Understanding a paste’s expected lifespan can help you plan maintenance schedules.
Resistance to Pump-Out Effect
The pump-out effect, where the thermal paste is pushed out from between the CPU and cooler over time, reduces effectiveness. Pastes with high viscosity and those designed for long-term stability are more resistant to this effect.
Compatibility and Safety
Not all thermal pastes are compatible with all coolers. For example, some metal-based pastes should not be used with aluminum coolers due to corrosion risk. Ensure the paste you choose is compatible with your cooler’s material.
As mentioned, some thermal pastes possess electrical conductivity, posing a risk if they come into contact with other components. This concern extends to CPU threads and their operational speed, making careful application crucial.
Price and Value for Money
While high-end thermal pastes offer superior performance, they often come at a higher price. Determine your budget and balance it against the performance you need. For most users, a mid-range paste offers a good balance between cost and effectiveness.
Quantity and Reusability
Consider the quantity of paste you’re getting for the price. If you plan on maintaining multiple computers or anticipate needing to reapply the paste, buying in larger quantities can be more cost-effective.
Can I mix different types of thermal pastes?
It’s not recommended to mix different types of thermal pastes. Each paste has a unique composition, and mixing them can alter their thermal properties, potentially reducing their effectiveness. Always use a single type of paste to ensure optimal heat transfer.
How often should I replace the thermal paste on my CPU or GPU?
Typically, thermal paste should be replaced every 2-3 years. However, this can vary based on the quality of the paste, your computer’s usage patterns, and environmental factors. If you notice higher temperatures or thermal throttling, it might be time to reapply the paste.
Is there a difference in thermal paste application for CPUs and GPUs?
The basic principle of applying thermal paste is similar for both CPUs and GPUs: a thin, even layer to facilitate heat transfer. However, the amount and specific application method might vary slightly due to the different sizes and shapes of CPU and GPU surfaces.
Do I need to clean the old thermal paste before applying a new one?
Yes, it’s crucial to completely remove the old thermal paste from both the CPU/GPU and the cooler before applying a new layer. Use isopropyl alcohol and a soft cloth or paper towel to gently clean the surfaces.
Can thermal paste expire if unopened?
Yes, thermal paste can expire even if it’s unopened. Most pastes have a shelf life of about 3-5 years from the date of manufacture. Check the expiration date and store it in a cool, dry place to maximize its lifespan.
Does the color of the thermal paste affect its performance?
The color of the thermal paste does not affect its thermal conductivity or performance. Colors are typically due to the materials used in the paste but are not indicative of quality or efficiency. Focus more on the paste’s material composition and thermal properties rather than color.
Selecting the right thermal paste is a critical decision for any PC builder or enthusiast. The products I’ve recommended in this blog post represent the best in the market, each excelling in thermal conductivity, ease of application, and durability.
Remember, a high-quality thermal paste can significantly enhance the performance and longevity of your PC components. By choosing any of these expert picks, you’re ensuring that your PC runs cooler, more efficiently, and remains reliable for years to come.