In recent years the DIY computer has become something of a common occurrence. Jumping back a few years everybody was buying pre-built.
Moving into the future, though? You aren’t cool if you bought it. One of the most important components to any good build? Thermal paste.
Thermal paste creates a connection between a component that generates heat and a heat sink. Designed to ensure maximum heat transfer they can keep your shiny computer parts ticking over even under heavy load.
Any processor in the modern day age will run at a decent temperature even if the cooler is stock. Thus, if you are having issues, with an overheating the first place to look is the thermal paste.
It is often one of the most overlooked things to purchase. But it can seriously increase the lifespan of your device and open up a new world of overclocking fun.
For those who have never built a computer before? The main use for thermal paste is cooling your CPU. However, from time to time, GPU’s might also need a lease of new life with a fresh tube of thermal paste.
Now, one last thing before we jump into talking about all of the products on the market. How do you use thermal paste?
I think that if I could explain it in a simple way, less is sometimes more. Don’t be over generous with thermal paste as it can bleed over the edge of the component and end up everywhere.
Luckily, depending on the type of compound you are using, most of them are non-conductive when it comes to Electricity.
Thermal Paste Buying Guide
With so many products on the market it can be tough to choose the right one on your own, and these are the things you should be looking for when purchasing your next thermal compound.
Many of the products on the market might seem very similar, given that the description is usually grey, but the composition of a thermal compound can result in problems with your components. For example, any paste that is based heavily around metals can cause conductivity issues.
Grams for £
One thing that most other articles didn’t really explore was the price per gram. The amount that you put on a CPU won’t change much between brands, so whilst one might cost £5 for 1g, another brand will cost £5 for 5g. If you do a fair amount of building then purchasing a high cost per gram thermal paste might not be the best choice.
Setting / Bedding
People might say how they let the paste bed for X amount of hours. Some of the thermal compounds don’t truly settle for a few weeks after initial installaiton.
Some of the thermal compounds come with an alcahol cleaning kit which is great to get your rig ready for the next batch of thermal paste.
Alphacool Silver Grease
Designed to be the entry level thermal compound for general use. Alphacool brand this product as the thermal paste that everyone needs for their daily builds.
This particular thermal paste can be purchased in a few sizes, ranging from 0.5g to 100g. At the current price this is a good thermal paste for everyday use.
Based on a silicone base, the thermal compound has trace amounts of silver to ensure thermal transfer without being electrically conductive.
Akasa Pro-Grade 460
Based on a silicone base the Pro-Grade 460 thermal paste offers a maximum thermal conductivity of 3.3w/mK.
Designed to be non-conductive you can rest assured that your components won’t be damaged.
Considering the price and the sheer amount of thermal paste you get, this is a decent budget option.
The AK-455-5G is based around a silicone design. Offering thermal conductivity without the worry of damaging anything electrical.
Shipped with a plastic card to ensure even distrubition it is a great choice for those seeking the full package.
Offer thermal conductivty of 2.4 W/mK and an operating range of up to 200C it is suitable for most uses.
Arctic Ceramique 2
The Ceramique is a unique blend of ceramic fillers which makes it thermally conductive without electrical conductivity.
Using a blend of aluminium oxide, zinc oxide, and boron nitride it provides a thin application that offers a great spread.
Unlike some of the other products on the market this does not contain any conductive materials.
One of the oldest and most long standing names in the thermal paste industry, MX2 is considered to be one of the best on the market.
It provides an easy and safe to use application and like some of the previous pastes, is non-conductive, non-capacitive, and even non-corrosive.
Rated for up to eight years, this is the go to thermal paste when you can’t decide!
A step up from the MX2 compound, the MX4 offers some of the best heat dissipation on the market.
This is a more premium product sitting at the top of Artics comprehensive range of thermal pastes.
“The ARCTIC MX-4 continues to be overclocker’s ultimate choice when choosing thermal compound.”
Artic Silver 5
Those who know the thermal paste game will know this one. Made using 99.9% silver it was designed to be an affordable yet high performing thermal paste.
This particular paste contains zero silicone which makes it a little trickier to spread but offers some serious thermal conductivity.
With this paste you need to break it in over 50-200 hours to ensure maximum adhesion. On the market this is regarded as one of the best thermal pastes that you can buy.
Arctic Silver Alumina
If you are looking for a thermal compound that was made to last, the Aluminia is a thermal adhesive.
It offers great cooling performance but once bonded it lasts for a lifetime.
Oddly enough they recommend keeping it in the fridge between uses, which is odd we know.
Based on a silver compound, the AK-450 offers incredible thermal conducitivity whilst minimising bleed.
Offering up to 9.24 W/mK of thermal conductivity it is regarded as one of the best thermal pastes on the market.
Antec Nano Diamond
Antec are well known for their cooling products, but I wonder how many of you reading this article knew that they also made some pretty awesome thermal paste?
Based on a few reviews this particular compound is up there for thermal transfer capability. Installation is simple, we recommend the pea method to ensure maximum coverage.
For those who are after something that is a little more premium? Give this a few weeks to bed in and you’ll be very happy with the results.
Coollaboratory Liquid Copper
Looking for the best of the best? Careful what you wish for. This particular paste has a silicone base which includes micro copper particles. This does mean that the paste is prone to conducting electricity.
With this particular product, it is hard to find the thermal conductivity. However, it is designed to handle the highest heats possible and offer the best durability on the market.
Designed around a silicone matrix, it can withstand over 800 Celsius. Sometimes this is even used in industry applications.
In the package, you get a small amount of the product, so we recommend taking your time with the application of this thermal paste.
It can be used with any device so long as you are careful.
Coollaboratory Liquid Pro
Regarded as one of the best thermal pastes that money can buy.
Liquid pro is well known within the overclocking circles for being one of the best thermal pastes.
Please note that installing this will make your brain ache.
It consists of 100% metal for maximum thermal conductivity.
Coollaboratory Liquid Ultra
The ultra version of this product comes with a cleaning kit.
Regarded as one of the best thermal pastes on the market it offers insane thermal conductivity, however, that does come with a price.
Designed with a 100% metal compound if you get this on any electrical components you will most likely regret it.
Cooler Master Generic
Coolermaster has their generic brand thermal paste which is built around a silicone formula.
This particular thermal paste contains all of the heat conducting elements that you would expect and should be okay if you have a little spill.
Cooler Master MasterGel
The latest addition to Coolermasters ever expanding range of products.
Consisting of nano diamond particles it ensures maximum thermal conductivity.
Insane 11 W/mk thermal conductivity.
Cooler Master HTK
HTK is the more budget friendly option from Coolermaster.
Able to hold its own against reasonable tempratures there should never be a time when this paste won’t set.
It is a decent price and should be considered for the more general builds, like office computers.
Save the Liquid Ultra for your gaming rig.
Cooler Master IC-Essential E1 Thermal Paste
One more incredible thermal compound from Coolermaster aimed at the budget user.
It features a non conductive design which makes it fantastic for new users who are concerned with getting thermal paste on their motherboard or damaging something.
Included in the price is also a handy cleaner to ensure that the CPU is completely ready for the application of thermal paste.
A company well known for creating some of the finest watercooling blocks on the planet.
It is no surpise that they also create some really good thermal compounds.
This particular thermal compound can be found in all of the kits, but can also be purchased online.
Gelid GC Extreme
Well known for their crazy products, Gelid designed this particular one with the overclocker in mind.
Combine awesome performance with an easy application and the result is a great thermal paste.
The Gelid GC paste actually entered the scene when it was used with LN2 at the EMEA.
Often considered one of the best on the market.
IC Diamond 7 Carat
Designed for the complete cooling performance addict.
This particular product has ground up diamonds in the compound.
One of my favourite companies for their constant innovation of the PC cooling industry.
They don’t have several pastes on the market, because in Noctua’s own world? This is the best product on the market, why would they reinvent the wheel.
Jokes aside it is one of the best products on the market if you don’t want to spend a huge amount but want thermal conductivity that is out of this world.
Thermal Grizzly Kryonaut
This company definitely appeared out of nowhere and has created some of the best compounds on the market.
It is pricey but from what most users say? It offers some of the biggest leaps in temparatures, but that does come with a cost.
Thermal Grizzly Aeronaut
The aeronaut is another one of the grizzly compounds, although it is hard to say what is actually in them, once again there are no complaints from users.
Thermal Grizzly Conductonaut
One more thermal paste that made it onto the list. In truth, all of their productives have never really had a negative review. Most users love how easy the application is, and the results speak for themselves.
Thermalright CF III