15 Best Thermal Pastes for CPU You Can Buy

Thermal Paste, also known as Thermal Compound or Thermal Interface Material (TIM), is a very integral product required for cooling PC Hardware. It ensures proper cooling of your CPU (Processor) or the GPU (Graphics Card). There are many great thermal paste options available in 2022. In this buyer’s guide, we show you the best thermal paste options available. You can use these for your CPU, as well as for replacing the thermal paste in a GPU. Multiple brands such as Cooler Master, Arctic, Deepcool, and Alphacool have come out with many new and innovative thermal compounds. In this guide, we have researched on all of them to tell you about the best ones on the market. After selecting a thermal paste from this guide, you can follow our installation tutorial of thermal paste on a CPU.

Things to Remember Before Buying Thermal Compound

1. Thermal Conductivity

Thermal pastes often list a certain thermal conductivity specification, that is measured in W/mK. This stands for watts per meter kelvin, and the higher this number goes, the better the thermal conductivity is. However, this isn’t the only metric for judging performance. There are thermal pastes with lower thermal conductivity, but better temperature results than others.

For example, Arctic released the MX-5 with a 6 W/mK rating when the previous MX-4 had 8.5 W/mK. Did it perform worse? No, the MX-5 is better by a thin margin in many test results. Our guide includes branded enthusiast-grade thermal compounds, that are guaranteed to perform well. Our budget picks may also have a good thermal conductivity, but take that specification with a grain of salt. Basically, pick accordingly and don’t base your entire decision based on thermal conductivity alone. Get the best thermal paste you can afford – defined by your personal needs such as performance and quantity.

2. Price and Number of Applications

Different thermal pastes are priced differently, based on their target market. You will be able to buy certain top-quality thermal pastes from our list, under the $10 USD price point as well. But, you will only get them in small quantities (1 gram to X gram) that work for 3 to 5 applications. This is mostly based on how big your CPU’s surface area is.

As an example, the new Intel 13th-Gen Raptor Lake Processors need more thermal paste for adequate cooling. The AMD’s Ryzen 7000 Series Processors also require a proper amount of thermal paste. Read our thermal paste installation guide for the right guidance on this step. There are other budget options too, which will give you a good quantity that is suitable for keeping something long-term.

3. Make Sure Your CPU Cooling Is Adequate

Make sure you invest in a good CPU cooler first. Before deciding to buy an expensive thermal compound, it’s important to have an adequate cooler which makes a major difference in your temperatures, versus a flagship thermal compound. The cooling capacity is defined by your CPU cooler way more than a thermal paste’s quality.

4. Check For Electrical Conductivity

Most thermal compounds on the market are not electrically conductible. However, some others are, and you must keep this in mind. While installing thermal paste on your CPU, a neat installation is always preferred. But, if your thermal paste is in fact electrically conductible, you must be aware beforehand. When spilled on any PC component, an electrically conductible thermal paste can result in damage because of shorting. Hence, clean up the residue with isopropyl alcohol if needed. Don’t leave residue in the case of non-conductive thermal compounds either.

15 Best Thermal Pastes to Buy in 2024

  • Quantity: 2 to 8 grams
  • Thermal Conductivity: Unspecified, Better than MX-5 (6 W/mK)
  • Electrically Conductive: No
  • Viscosity: 45000 poise

The Arctic MX-6 is the #1 pick for best thermal paste to buy in 2022. Given its versatility, and Arctic’s proven track record of thermal paste products, this one is the most recommended option for users looking to buy a new thermal compound. The MX-6 can be used on CPUs or GPUs with ease, with good results reported by users no matter what the scenario. Arctic says the compound can be applied on laptops and consoles as well. Arctic’s MX-6 is not electrically conductive, so you can install it with ease.

The viscosity of this thermal paste is quite high, so the material is quite thick rather than soft. Arctic does say it is designed to be consistent for an easy application, so users shouldn’t have much trouble while installing the thermal paste. We also really like the new color, compared to the older blue the new compound comes in an attractive aqua look.

The MX-6 is available in quantities ranging from 2 to 8 grams. There are selective variants that are available with cleaning wipes and an applicator tool too. This is a brand new offering by Arctic, released quite recently and it supposedly fixes a few quality control issues that existed in some batches of Arctic MX-5. Because of this, they have discontinued the MX-5 officially naming MX-6 as the successor and replacement. While it is available until stocks last, we don’t recommend the MX-5 since Arctic themselves have introduced a successor. Hence, as an alternative, the MX-4 is a viable choice and you can grab it on discount compared to the latest model. The Arctic MX-4 will continue to be sold, and seems to be unaffected by the discontinuation of the MX-5 model.

Versatile for any use (CPU/GPU)None as such
Top-notch performance suitable for any system
Value option among premium category
Known to last long

Buy from Amazon ($6.79)

  • Quantity: 3.5 to 10 grams
  • Thermal Conductivity: Unspecified, Better than NT-H1 (8.9 W/mK)
  • Electrically Conductive: No
  • Viscosity: Unspecified, 5000 poise for NT-H1

Noctua is a leading brand in PC Cooling solutions. They are a well known manufacturer of excellent system fans, air coolers, and also thermal pastes. This NT-H2 thermal compound is their latest entry into the market and it improves upon the previous-gen NT-H1 slightly, with a better thermal conductivity. While they don’t define how much better it is, you can have a look at the NT-H2 vs H1 performance comparison here. The key takeaway here is that it’s an all around better performer, with the maximum observed difference being 2 degrees Celsius.

The difference is more apparent on CPUs with larger surface areas, such as the new Intel 13th Gen Raptor Lake Core i9-13900K or AMD’s lineup of AM5 Socket Ryzen 7000 Series CPUs. This thermal compound is risk-free to install, by being non-conductive to electricity. They do not include an applicator, and Noctua believes it spread so well that you don’t need one. There are cleaning wipes available in other variants.

The NT-H2 is easy to spread, with a higher viscosity level that prevents it from being runny like the last model. The recommended usage time as per Noctua is 5 years, which is insanely long. Usually, people ‘need’ to replace their thermal paste every year – intensive use of the PC can dry up their thermal compound easily. But with Noctua, you may get away with not replacing the compound for a long time.

Still, we recommend you keep the PC clean of dust & debris for maintaining the overall cooling potential. This thermal paste is highly recommended coming from such a reliable brand, with the last-gen model being quite successful too. On discount, the NT-H1 is also a great alternative for many users. Noctua NT-H2 is available in 3.5 gram and 10 gram quantities. You can perform 20 normal CPU installations with it. But, for new CPUs with larger surface areas, you can use the thermal compound until 15 CPU installations.

Versatile for any use (CPU/GPU)None as such
Top-notch performance suitable for any system
Value option among premium category
Known to last long

Buy from Amazon ($12.95)

3. Thermal Grizzly Kyronaut (Leading Performer)

  • Quantity: 1 to 10 grams
  • Thermal Conductivity: 12.5 W/mK
  • Electrically Conductive: No
  • Viscosity: 1200-1700 poise

Thermal Grizzly Kyronaut is a well known thermal paste that enthusiasts love. While most users don’t specifically need to buy this thermal paste, it is definitely great for people looking to get the lowest thermals. It’s not the most versatile option, since it has reportedly caused issues when applying it on GPUs. Thermal Grizzly says that it is resistant to drying out, with a specially designed composition that includes nano-aluminum and zinc-oxide. According to TG, it does not start drying out even at 80-degrees Celsius. Still, it is aimed towards overlockers who push for the maximum performance look for pure thermal performance in their selection.

Not every user is aiming for that, so the Thermal Grizzly Kyronaut is a bit of a hit or miss depending on your use-case. Reportedly, the Kyronaut dries out easier than other thermal pastes as observed by users who replaced the compound after a full year of use. There are other options on this list that will remain more liquid (not dried-out) even after a year, so pick the Kyronaut only if pure thermal performance is your main goal. The overclocking champion der8aeur also uses the Kryonaut as his choice for high-end builds.

Users getting this paste should be aware that because of its unique composition you might need to replace it more often. There is a good chance that it will remain a stable solution if your active CPU temperatures are below 80-degrees Celcius, so analyze your load temperatures after installing the Kyronaut thermal paste to understand whether or not you need to replace it actively. This thermal paste is also quite low in viscosity, with a silicon-free structure.

The TG Kyronaut is available in 1 to 10 gram quantities. The starter model is only good for two applications if your CPU is a recent one like the Intel 13th-Gen Raptor Lake. Even then, depending on the exact quantity you use, the starter variant Being quite dense, it is tougher to install compared to other options and you must ensure that you are spreading it evenly while installing the CPU cooler. They also include an applicator tool with the product package, and you can use it to distribute the thermal paste from the center towards the edges for an even covering over the processor’s surface area. The thermal compound is also not electrically conductive, so its application is quite safe.

Used for intense overclocking by enthusiastsSlightly expensive
Leading thermal performance suitable for the highest-end systemsCPUs that run beyond 80° C actively could dry up the thermal compound earlier
Includes applicator toolNot suited for GPUs as per user experience
Viscosity makes it quite hard to install

Buy from Amazon ($8.99)

4. Prolimatech PK-3 Nano Aluminum (Best Expensive)

  • Quantity: 1.5 to 30 grams
  • Thermal Conductivity: 11.2 W/mK
  • Electrically Conductive: No
  • Viscosity: 5000 poise

The Prolimatech PK-3 Nano is a unique thermal compound with a premium price. It has nano particles embedded in its composition, that supposedly act as ‘fillers’ for the minor air gaps between the processor and heatsink. This thermal compound is known within the enthusiast community, and the quality is simply excellent here. There are almost zero caveats with this thermal compound, apart from the fact that its smaller quantities are often out of stock and the 30g pack costs quite a lot. While this might be out-of-range for many, if you can afford it and want a thermal compound with zero issues & long term reliability, this is the one to go for.

The PK-3 Nano has higher viscosity than the earlier PK-2 variant, making it a thick paste rather than soft. They do include an applicator tool if needed, and you may use it for a smoother installation process. The thermal compound is also not electrically conductible. This thermal compound also does not dry out easily and will remain to be in a stable for extended, long term use. The packaging for it comes in a bright orange color, so the product does stand apart from other options. In terms of quantity, the PK-3 Nano comes in up to 30 gram quantities, and the smallest one available is 1.5 grams. However, the smaller quantities aren’t usually available. We also recommend the other options from this brand such as the PK-2, since they are available for better prices compared to the latest variant.

Versatile for any use (CPU/GPU)Expensive
Top-notch performance suitable for any systemSmaller quantities often out of stock
Innovative composition with nanoparticles
Known to last long
Appealing for long-term use with up to 30-gram quantity option

Buy from Amazon ($51.20, 30g)

  • Quantity: 4 to 100 grams
  • Thermal Conductivity: 17 W/mK
  • Electrically Conductive: No
  • Viscosity: 35~220*103 (mPa.s)

The Alphacool Apex is a new enthusiast-grade product, well known in the circles for its extremely high thermal conductivity of 17 W/mK. By combining the thermal conductivity with its unique composition, the Alphacool Apex is one of the best performing thermal pastes, period. The compound is imbued with nano particles that are designed to fill in microscopic gaps that exist between the CPU and the heatsink. The paste is quite thick with a high viscosity, and Alphacool recommends an applicator tool to be used for perfect application. This is not included in the packaging though. This viscosity has been designed for easy application in high-contact pressure scenarios.

This thermal compound is also available in bigger quantities, such as 20g/50g/100g containers. This makes the product a great choice for people who would like to purchase a good product for long-term usage and keep performing thermal paste replacement in any of their devices. It comes in a minimal, neat black syringe with blue accents of the logo. This thermal paste is a good high-end option for any purpose such as gaming consoles or graphics cards. It’s also not electrically conductible making it quite safe during installation.

Versatile for any use (CPU/GPU)Expensive but worth it for enthusiast/high-end users
Used for intense overclocking by enthusiastsNo applicator included, viscosity makes it hard to spread
Leading thermal performance suitable for the highest-end systems
Up to 100 gram quantity making it suitable for long-term

Buy from Amazon ($16.55)

  • Quantity: 2 gram
  • Thermal Conductivity: 9 W/mK
  • Electrically Conductive: No
  • Viscosity: Unspecified, referred to as ‘balanced’

The Cooler Master CyroFuze Violet is their best offering, and a product that was released just this year. This high-end offering from CM is a purple colored thermal paste, and the box packaging looks quite attractive. The specially designed composition includes nanoparticles that help with ‘superior heat conductivity’. CM also says that this thermal paste won’t dry out, and has a non-corrosive as well as oxidation resistant formula. They also include an applicator tool as well as cleaning wipes for a neat installation. The viscosity hasn’t been mentioned, but it is described to be quite ‘balanced’ by being neither too loose nor too thick. While this should perform really well, there are other options with slightly better thermal performance. This makes the CM CyroFuze Violet a great premium option for most people, but not for the ones who are interesting in pure thermals.

The thermal paste only comes in one size. It is not electrically conductive, and with its balanced viscosity it should be quite easy to apply. This is a unique option that feels like a breath of fresh air, and CM does have good reliability. Alternatives from this brand include MasterGel Maker, MasterGel Pro V2, and some others. We recommend those as well, and we have personally used the MasterGel Maker for our Core i9-13900K review. Not having other quantities seems like a missed opportunity, because 2 grams is only good for about three to five CPU installations if they are processors with big surface areas like the AMD Ryzen 7000 Series CPUs.

Versatile for any use (CPU/GPU)Only one quantity available
Top-notch performance suitable for any systemNew entry in the market, less user experience
Beautiful packaging and purple-colored thermal compound
‘An-hygroscopic’ composition, designed to prevent drying out

Buy from Amazon ($11.68)

7. CORSAIR XTM70 Extreme Performance (Current Best from Corsair)

  • Quantity: 3 grams
  • Thermal Conductivity: Unspecified
  • Electrically Conductive: No
  • Viscosity: 1000 poise

CORSAIR made quite a comeback with their XTM70. This new thermal paste is a high end option with a demanding price tag. They brand it as an ‘extreme performance’ thermal paste, so let’s get into what makes it so premium. The proprietary composition is designed to be one of the best, giving extremely good thermal results and through user experience we can confirm this. Several stencils and cleaning wipes are part of the applicator kit, which makes the installation process quite better. According to Corsair, the low viscosity should help with installation. Combined with the stencil kit, this thermal paste does have a very unique way for the user to install their thermal paste, and with their process it ends up being the cleanest possible installation.

While you can use this thermal paste for a decent number of CPU installations, the quantity being restricted to only 3 grams is one of the disadvantages of this product. They do target it towards extremely high-watt processors that go beyond 250W, so it is clearly one of the most premium thermal compounds available on the market. Compared to the previous XTM50, with which users had many negative experiences, they have evolved this one quite a lot and made it a very appealing option to people with high-end systems. This new product by CORSAIR is definitely a great pick for any system. Similar to others, this one is also not electrically conductive. Being quite new, we cannot speak for its long-term reliability and ability to not dry-out, but the overall outlook by the users is quite positive.

Versatile for any use (CPU/GPU)Only one quantity available
Leading thermal performance suitable for the highest-end systemsExpensive
Includes stencils, applicator tool, and wipes for installation process
Major improvement over last iteration (XTM50)

Buy from BestBuy ($23.99)

7. Deepcool EX750 (Current Best from Deepcool)

  • Quantity: 3 to 5 grams
  • Thermal Conductivity: 6.2 W/mK
  • Electrically Conductive: No
  • Viscosity: Unspecified

Deepcool EX750 is branded as an ‘enthusiast-grade’ thermal compound. It is their highest end offering, and the brand has been well known for PC cooling solutions like AIOs, Air Coolers, and more. The EX750 is targeted to be one of the best, and you do get a high-performance thermal compound for a good price with this one. Deepcool says it is viable for any use, such as for CPUs or GPUs. The thermal conductivity is pretty decent at 6.2 W/mK. It’s quite a smooth paste, resembling the structure of gel. It will evenly spread by installing the CPU cooler in a careful manner.

They have designed the composition to be highly stable in the long term, and its also not electrically conductive. Still, being a new product we cannot speak for sure about its long-term reliability in your PC. As we said before, it is Deepcool best offering and their other options such as the Deepcool Z10, Z9, Z5 and more. These are all great options which do last long in people’s systems, so their leading offering should also do well in terms of being resistant to drying out.

The EX750 is available in up to 5 grams, which is slightly better than some other options in this list which are very good thermal pastes but they are not available in higher quantities. With the 3 gram quantity, you can get up to 6 CPU installations (for the bigger sized Raptor Lake/AMD 7000 Series CPUs), and at least double that number for standard CPU installations. Deepcool does say it is made with ‘industrial grade’ quality, and getting those kind of products in this price range is actually quite rare. It comes in a minimal looking blue colorway, but this is a recent design shift and you might not get the same packaging or color in the retail unit. You also get an applicator tool in the packaging.

Versatile for any use (CPU/GPU)Cannot speak for long-term reliability (dry-out)
Top-notch performance suitable for any system
‘Premium’ category thermal compound available at affordable price
Includes applicator tool by default

Buy from Amazon ($9.99)

8. Gelid GC Extreme

  • Quantity: 1 to 10 grams
  • Thermal Conductivity: 8.5 W/mK
  • Electrically Conductive: No
  • Viscosity: 85000 poise

Gelid Solutions is a major brand well known by the overclocking & PC enthusiast community. The GC-Extreme is their highest-end thermal paste offering, and it has been used by the winner & finalist of MSI Master Overclocking Arena EMEA 2011. So, it has been around for quite some time and people do love the GC Extreme for its sheer thermal performance. People have also used this one for replacing thermal compound on their GPU. The GC Extreme does very well as a versatile thermal compound, and it is a well known option that’s been out for a while that even enthusiasts & overlockers do use.

In terms of thermal conductivity, the GC Extreme sits at 8.5 W/mK. It isn’t electrically conductible and is also designed to be resistant to corrosion. The viscosity makes it quite a thick paste, but they do include an applicator for easier installation. The quantities available range from 1 to 10 grams, so this is a solid option for buying and stocking up on thermal paste for your system. We don’t recommend this thermal paste for laptops, but for CPUs and GPUs it ends up being a great option. The drying-out process for extreme performance-focused thermal pastes like this one can happen earlier than some other options, like the Arctic, but we do think this is a fine option for people specifically looking to overclock or the ones who don’t mind changing out their thermal paste more often.

Versatile for CPU & GPUMight need to change thermal compound more often
Leading thermal performance suitable for the highest-end systemsNot for laptops
More affordable than other extreme-performance products
Up to 10 gram quantity making it suitable for long-term

Buy from Amazon ($4.99)

10. Thermalright TF9

  • Quantity: 1.5 to 2.9 grams
  • Thermal Conductivity: 14 W/mK
  • Electrically Conductive: No
  • Viscosity: 85000 poise

Thermalright TF9 came out in 2022, so its another new option on the list. This brand makes several thermal paste products and has been around for quite sometime. The TF9 is a great option with overall performance meeting the same standards you’d expect to see in a quality thermal paste product. It is quite suitable for any build, and has a high thermal conductivity of 14 W/mK. Their thermal pate composition is made up of materials that don’t include metal, oil solvents, and is designed to be completely non corrosive. This thermal paste mentions an operating range of -250 degrees to +380 degrees (Celcius) and that’s actually quite high. It also isn’t electrically conductible, making it safe during installation.

The TF9 comes in either 1.5 to 2.9 gram quantities, and we wish that it came in more quantities because it is quite an affordable thermal compound with good overall performance too. It also comes with an applicator tool by default. The thermal paste has a viscosity that makes it quite thick, and somewhat sticky. In this scenario, we recommend mounting the cooler carefully rather than using the applicator to spread it around, because the thermal paste would end up sticking to the applicator tool itself. Since it’s a new product we cannot speak for its long term reliability.

Versatile for CPU & GPURelatively new option, may not be suitable for laptops & consoles
Top-notch performance suitable for any systemNot available in higher quantities
Affordable priceViscosity makes it hard to spread, material is quite sticky
High thermal conductivity in this price range

Buy from Amazon ($4.59)

11. IC Diamond 7 Carat Electronics Grade

  • Quantity: 1.5 to 4.8 grams
  • Thermal Conductivity: Unspecified
  • Electrically Conductive: No
  • Viscosity: Unspecified

The Innovation Cooling Diamond 7 Carat Thermal Compound has been around for quite some time, and is well known for its unique composition. The material includes ‘purified synthetic micronized diamond’, which has a conductivity of 2000-2500 W/mK. The thermal compound itself does NOT offer the same conductivity, but it’s just that the composition has embedded ‘micronized’ diamonds in it. These micronized diamonds have a very high conductivity and make the composition an innovative key part of this thermal paste. The brand says that being electronics grade, the IC Diamond Thermal Compound is safe to use in a variety of products – including CPUs/GPUs, gaming consoles, and laptops.

The IC Diamond 7 Carat is also designed specifically to prevent pumping out (when the thermal paste squeezes out of the CPU’s surface area overtime), and overall it’s quite a premium thermal paste product. The particles of this thermal compound measure up to around 1 micron, and they say this design has made it so that the thermal paste retains liquid form better, instead of of drying/pumping out. They assure the user about the stability, and that it wouldn’t bleed or separate in normal conditions. This thermal compound does have a curing time, and they say it takes about 2 hours after which the thermal compound will perform at its best. The IC Diamond 7 is available in quantities ranging from 1.5 gram to 4.8 gram, and the starter variant is good for three to four CPU installations of big-size CPUs like the Intel 13th Gen Raptor Lake Lineup.

Versatile for any use (CPU/GPU)Slightly expensive
Top-notch performance suitable for any system
Premium thermal compound with diamond particles imbued the composition
Known to last long

Buy from Amazon ($10.99)

12. SYY 157 Carbon-Based TIM

Quantity: 2 to 40 grams
Thermal Conductivity: 15.7 W/mK
Electrically Conductive: No
Viscosity: 2000 poise

The SYY 157 is a reasonably priced, high performance thermal paste. The composition is infused with carbon particles, and is completely metal-free & non-conductive. The thermal conductivity is also quite high at 15.7 W/mK, and for what it offers at the price this is clearly a great option for many users. The durability is supposedly great too, with the SYY 157 product page mentioning that it does not degrade because of the composition being metal & silicone free. They say you don’t need to apply thermal paste for 4 years once installed, but we would recommend checking up on temperatures at load every few months to verify you’re running within the same margins.

This thermal compound is available in quantities ranging from 2 to 40 grams, and with the starter variant you can get through five to six big-size CPU installations, like the AMD Ryzen 7000 Lineup. They also include an applicator tool in the package, and even a ‘protective plate’ that is positioned on top of the CPU’s surface area when its installed on the board, after which thermal paste can be neatly spread & installed over the processor. The viscosity of this thermal paste makes it quite thick, so it is in fact difficult to spread, but thick thermal pastes also result in better results in high-pressure mounting scenarios.

Versatile for any use (CPU/GPU)None as such
Top-notch performance suitable for any system
High quantities available
Lasts up to 4 years according to manufacturer
Includes applicator tool by default

Buy from Amazon ($8.88)

13. NAB Cooling NB Max Pro

Quantity: 3.5 gram
Thermal Conductivity: 8.5 W/mK
Electrically Conductive: No
Viscosity: 8500 poise

NAB Cooling’s NB Max Pro is a budget oriented thermal paste, and overall it is one of the best performing budget thermal pastes available in the market. With a thermal conductivity of 8.5 W/mK, this is a better budget thermal paste than many other options with absolutely abysmal conductivity specs. While it isn’t everything to go by, we only included good options on this list which will work for any system, rather it be a high-end one or something mid-range. The brand also mentions that it does not dry out easily, and lasts for four years after application. In fact, they also say that you don’t have to change this thermal paste every 6 months, so this factor makes it a great option for users looking for a budget-centric, high-performance thermal paste option that also works for long-term.

The viscosity of this thermal paste makes it quite thick, which makes it harder to spread. But, with the included applicator tool, people can have really easy installations. The recommended way is to simply carefully install the CPU cooler keeping in mind that the thermal paste spreads evenly over the processor’s surface area. The NB Max Pro is available in a single quantity only, of 3.5 grams. This is good for around 10 to 15 normal-sized CPU installations.

For really high-end systems, or even something that’s mid-range and above, you could go with better options for your thermal paste, but honestly this one would work completely fine too. That doesn’t mean you should simply get this, it just means that this thermal paste is quite a competent product while being in the budget category. but It’s also great for buying a backup thermal paste, or if you’ve run out and don’t have a major budget, this is a solid option and the brand ensures the users that their product is designed well to prevent drying out.

Versatile for any use (CPU/GPU)Not available in higher quantities
Dependable performance suitable for mid-range to low-end systems
Will perform competently even for high-TDP CPUs
Lasts up to 4 years according to manufacturer

Buy from Amazon ($4.99)

14. Halnzlye HY 880 1g Thermal Compound

Quantity: 1 gram
Thermal Conductivity: 5.15 W/mK
Electrically Conductive: No
Viscosity: 12500 poise

The HY 880 thermal compound is a great budget-centric thermal paste option for mid-range to low-end PCs. With a thermal conductivity of 5.15 W/mK, it might be decent enough for high-end PCs too but for those we’d recommend something better. You get ten syringes of 1 gram each with this thermal paste, which makes it a very economical purchase. The overall performance is good enough that if someone needs a thermal paste in bulk, and will be using it for several PCs, this is actually one of the sensible options to get. This will work really well for office PCs too.

The viscosity of this thermal paste makes it quite easy to spread, and it feels more liquid than thick. It comes with two applicators in the package so overall, one of the best value options in this segment. It is also metal-free and non-conductive, and the composition is described to be a ‘super carbon nano-grade silicone grease’ which sounds like it’s a silicone based thermal paste with carbon particles imbued. Compared to many horrible options in this segment that you should definitely avoid, this one is a reliable choice to make. Users have had positive overall experiences too.

Dependable performance suitable for mid-range to low-end systems, and also office PCsBetter to use other options for GPU
Comes with two applicators
Manufacturer ensures long-term durabilityMight not be as reliable in long-term durability as marketed
Easy to apply and spreads well
Quantity is more than sufficient for long term use

Buy from Amazon ($9.99)

15. Thermal Grizzly Carbonaut (Thermal Pad)

  • Quantity: Up to 38 x 38 x 0.2 mm
  • Thermal Conductivity: 62.5 W /mK
  • Electrically Conductive: Yes
  • Viscosity: N/A

The Thermal Grizzly Carbonaut is a unique option on our list, because it is not even a thermal paste in the conventional sense. A thermal paste is used as a material that is spread and exists between the processor, and the heatsink, for efficient transfer of heat. This carbon-based thermal pad is used for the same reason, and is installed the same way. You simply position the thermal pad on top of the CPU, after cutting it to the exact size needed, and proceed to install the cooler on top. The Carbonaut here has a temperature range of -250 to 150 degrees Celcius, which is quite high. The thermal conductivity of a thermal pad is also several times higher, at 62.5 W/mK. The way it interacts with the processor & heatsink is different though, so this extremely high thermal conductivity doesn’t translate directly into better thermal conductivity between the two surfaces.

Do remember that this thermal pad is an electrically conductible TIM (thermal interface material). You must be careful with where traces of it might go where your motherboard is, and generally avoid contact with the thermal pad against the motherboard’s surface. So what are the other advantages you get with a thermal pad? The consistency in performance remains the same over the years for a thermal pad. You can also re-use it on a different PC or after upgrading your computer. Since it is a thermal pad, there is absolutely no question of ‘drying-out’ either. Basically, if used correctly and not tampered with, a thermal pad can last the user for as long as they maintain it. This is an excellent alternative to thermal pastes, but it doesn’t perform as great as the best options from our list.

Still, because it is an overall decent performer, and since the change in overall temperature performance isn’t too drastic, it actually works out quite well for many users and their mid to high-end systems. You can use this thermal pad in any PC as long as the thermal performance requirement isn’t too high, so if your CPU already runs pretty cool and you don’t need to overclock it – a thermal pad is a great option. The application method is so easy that it takes essentially no time to line up the pad and install your cooler.

Unique product with easy installationPerformance is slightly lower than thermal pastes
Dependable performance, suitable for any system with sub-80 degree load temperaturesInstallation might require precision cutting to the surface area of your CPU
Essentially lasts forever, cannot dry out (15 years estimated)
Suitable for CPU or GPU use, but only if temperatures are acceptable

Buy from Amazon ($15.99)

Is it OK to run a CPU or GPU without thermal paste?

No, it is unsafe to use a system without thermal paste. The thermal paste’s existence is what ensures that stable cooling is happening from the heatsink to the processor’s surface area. Without it, the PC will crash as soon as it starts overheating, as a protection mechanism from overly high temperatures.

What is the right amount of thermal paste to use?

The amount of thermal paste needs to be adjusted accordingly to your CPU’s surface area. Generally, a reasonably sized dot in the center of the CPU or a single thick line works pretty well. Bigger CPUs need at least twice as much thermal paste compared to normal sized CPUs, and the AMD Threadripper or Intel Xeon CPUs require almost a gram worth of thermal compound on their surface area for proper cooling.

Is high quality thermal paste worth it?

Yes, a higher quality thermal paste is generally more reliable. They have lesser chance of drying out, separating, or changing their consistency after persistent use. Taking the new Arctic MX-6 for example, the manufacturer states that it lasts till five years without drying out. A budget thermal paste might also last long, but the options in that range tend to have caveats and generally don’t feature the same quality control.

What is the best thermal paste for a GPU?

For any thermal paste that you buy, it’s important to research on the experience of users with installing the specific thermal compound on their GPU’s die. This differs from product to product, and because certain top-end options aren’t suited for use in direct-die GPU application, the user must research beforehand to confirm the best thermal paste for their GPU.

What thermal paste to choose?

For most users, the thermal pastes that are versatile in nature such as the Arctic MX-6, Noctua NT-H2, etc. are the best options. The major, branded thermal paste options available in the market all tend to perform within margin. Some have slightly better overall thermals, so if you have a specific use-case such as overclocking and don’t mind replacing the thermal compound often, the enthusiast-grade thermal paste options are better suited for you.

How often should I replace thermal paste?

Thermal paste should be replaced every year, as a rule of thumb. Depending on which thermal compound you used, it might dry out easier compared to other options, so the best method to access how often you should replace thermal paste is to observe your temperatures. If the temperatures aren’t that great, you might need to replace the thermal compound every few months.

Does thermal paste expire?

Thermal paste can ‘expire’ by drying out which makes them useless. Make sure you store your thermal paste in its original packaging and completely seal it off from the external environment, with the included cap. A thermal compound stored for 5+ years may still be viable to use, as long as the composition hasn’t dried out.

Is liquid metal better than thermal paste?

Liquid metal is actually superior to any thermal paste, simply because the composition allows for better & more efficient transfer of heat. Liquid Metal is another form of TIM (Thermal Interface Material) just like thermal paste. We do recommend completely researching into how suitable liquid metal is for your scenario, because using liquid metals require you to be extremely careful in terms of the installation process.

Comments 9
  • some bloke in a shirt says:

    how does a graphite thermal pad with a thermal conductivity rating of 62.5 W /mK perform lower than paste at say 8.5 W /mK?
    it doesn’t make sense and sounds like bias or miss information.
    scientifically 62.5 W /mK is should perform far better than 8.5 W /mK paste by a large margin.
    liquid metal is 130W /mK.

  • Sylluck says:

    Hi, thank you for these tests, having tested quite a lot of thermal paste, which you have tested, I quite agree, with your comments. For some pastes with a very thick viscosity, I recommend heating the syringe gently with a hairdryer to improve spreading. Thank you for a job well done.

  • Robb Johnson says:

    The prices listed for these are not accurate. When you click on the links to the Amazon website, the prices are about 20-25% higher than what’s claimed in the article…and this article was written a month ago(by the time I’m reading it.) Gotta love hyper-inflation, right? smh.

  • Sunny Chan says:

    TF8 should be the best thermal paste to date. 13.8W/m-k.
    Just bought it.

  • Matt King says:

    Conductonaut is not thermal paste/grease. It’s liquid metal, and therefor comes with additional caveats to it’s use. Please research all products before purchasing and using.

  • Aravindsrihari B V says:

    Ordered this thermal paste Antec Formula X Thermal Paste from an e-commerce website. Please let me know how it performs if anyone has used it before.

  • Геннадій Пімахов says:

    I’ve already bought I for a i5-2450M & Radeon HD 7470 in HPp Pavilion, but it’s not applied yet…

  • DC says:

    “The Arctic Silver 5 as the name suggests, is made out of 99.9% pure micronized silver.” – No it isn’t – the silver used in it is 99.9% silver (why wouldn’t it be?) – it doesn’t state how much actual silver is in the mix – probably around 5%.

    • Mahesh Naik says:

      5 % is. too much. Reminds one of gold sheets (varakh) on sweets.They make beggars out of buyers but still get impressed consumers.

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