Looking for the best thermal paste? If you’re setting up or fixing any part of your cooling system, getting the right paste is critical for optimum performance. After all, you need to make sure that your CPU stays nice and cool. And that’s where thermal paste comes in.
The best thermal paste transfers the excess heat from your CPU to the heatsink and leaves you with a high-functioning rig. If you’re hoping to get the best bang for your buck, we’ve put together a list of the best thermal pastes of 2020. Let’s get started.
Zoom Out: Comparison Table of the Best Thermal Paste
We’ve curated this table of thermal pastes to showcase the best options on the market. The products are listed in price ascending order and categorized by type and amount. For a closer look at each variation, check out the Zoom In section below.
|Arctic Silver 5||Micronized Silver||3.5 grams|
|Noctua NT-H1||Hybrid||3.5 grams|
|Cooler Master HTK-002||Silicone||2.5 grams|
|Thermaltake TG-7||Hybrid||4.0 grams|
|Grizzly Kryonaut||Nano-Aluminum||1.0 grams|
|Arctic MX-4||Carbon Micro-Particles||4.0 grams|
Zoom In: A Closer Look at the Best Thermal Paste of 2020
We’ll be going over a variety of pastes, all unique in their performance and capacities. Check out the pros and cons and find the best fit for your setup.
Manufacturer: ThermalCoolFlux | Type: Silicone | Amount: 7.5 grams | Price: 💰
Perhaps the best heatsink paste on our list, the ThermalCoolFlux thermal paste is an excellent choice for a variety of situations. This is especially true given its versatile polysynthetic makeup, which provides added safety and security for your components. Spouted as a top-notch polysynthetic paste, the ThermalCoolFlux is an ultra-affordable thermal paste that guarantees fantastic results!
✔ Perfect for permanent builds & quick fixes
✔ at $1 per tube, ThermalCoolFlux is the best cheap thermal paste
✔ High thermal conductivity offers stellar performance under high-strain moments
✘ The tubes don’t hold a lot of material
✘ Not quite as good as higher priced options
Manufacturer: Arctic | Type: Micronized Silver | Amount: 3.5 grams | Price: 💰
The Arctic Silver 5 is a conductive micronized silver-based thermal paste for high-performance projects. It boasts a cutting-edge blend that acts as an optimal conduit for all your important projects. How’s it work? Well, the Arctic Silver 5’s special formula is engineered to thin out during application, then thicken and set for easy spreading and powerful performance. Overall, it’s among the best liquid metal thermal pastes available.
✔ Affordable option with easy applicator
✔ Cover up to 16 square inches of heatsink surface
✔ Contains a variety of materials, including silver, zinc oxide, and boron nitride
✘ Thick applicator tip
✘ Subpar external packaging
Manufacturer: Noctua | Type: Hybrid | Amount: 3.5 grams | Price: 💰
The Noctua NT-H1 is a highly rated thermal paste that offers strong performance and ease of use. Though ceramic-based, this paste features a hybrid mixture of various compounds, making it a powerful multi-purpose thermal solution. The verdict? It’s the best thermal paste for CPU performance and stability.
✔ Long lifespan for several years of use
✔ Easy application without the worry of short-circuiting or costly mistakes
✔ Hybrid blend combines natural and synthetic materials for powerful performance
✘ Older formula
✘ Quality control issues
Manufacturer: Cooler Master | Type: Silicone | Amount: 2.5 grams | Price: 💰
Featuring a silicone-based material, the Cooler Master Thermal Paste will level up your cooling system for an unbelievable price! And given its versatile nature, the Cooler Master thermal compound is the best thermal paste for laptops. Overall, an excellent option from a brand known for its high-quality products.
✔ Versatile compound is suitable for various uses
✔ Unique blend works great under a wide spectrum of temperatures
✔ Excellent applicator spreads evenly and provides a great foundation
✘ Only 2.5 grams
✘ Shelf life only lasts about 2 years
Manufacturer: Thermaltake | Type: Hybrid | Amount: 4.0 grams | Price: 💰
The Thermaltake TG-7 takes a different approach, marketing itself as one of the best cooling pastes for everyday users. This is all thanks to its easy application, long storage life, and powerful blend. Naturally, it’s a great offering and likely the best thermal grease for CPUs and common use alike.
✔ Friendly syringe applicator tip
✔ Long lifespan backed up by a comprehensive warranty
✔ TG-7 blend includes a diamond powder base for incredible thermal conductivity and durability
✘ Lower heat transfer
✘ Not ideal for super high performance systems
Manufacturer: Thermal Grizzly | Type: Nano-Aluminum | Amount: 1.0 grams | Price: 💰
The Thermal Grizzly Kryonaut is a solid choice with great reviews and stellar performance. It features a unique proprietary blend of nano-aluminum particles for unrivaled performance and conductivity. And though it comes in single-gram tubes, the extra expense is well worth the enhanced experience.
✔ Blend of nano-aluminum and zinc oxide
✔ The Kryonaut is perhaps the best thermal paste for overclocking
✔ Excellent thermal conductivity for powerful performance across a spectrum of applications
✘ High price & low volume
✘ Parent company is German, and their website isn’t available in English
Manufacturer: Arctic | Type: Carbon Micro-Particles | Amount: 4.0 grams | Price: 💰 💰
The highest-rated thermal paste around, the Arctic MX-4 is one of the best thermal pastes of 2020. Not only that, but it boasts an eight-year durability rating for unbeatable quality and overall effectiveness. Though it’s the highest priced option on our list, the micro carbon blend is worth the added expense and still comes in at around $10 per tube. A must-buy.
✔ Composed of high-quality micro-particles made from carbon
✔ Metal-free material means that there’s no danger of short-circuiting or electrical damage
✔ Incredible performance and ease of application makes the MX-4 one of the best non-conductive thermal pastes
✘ Highest priced option
✘ Large tube may be more than you need
Thermal Paste Guide Part I: What is Thermal Paste?
We know that thermal paste works by transferring the heat from the CPU to the heatsink. But how exactly does this process work?
Thermal paste, also known as thermal grease or thermal compound, is used to create better conductivity between the microprocessor (like the CPU) and the heatsink.
A heatsink basically takes the excess energy from the processor and dissipates it out and away from the unit. From here, the heat is picked up by a fan or other cooling apparatus, swept away, and your system maintains a healthy temperature.
But the importance of thermal paste can’t be stressed enough! Since the grooves between the processor and the heatsink aren’t entirely even, thermal paste acts as a conduit for better heat transfer. It absorbs all the energy and makes sure it only flows into the heatsink, not any of your computer’s critical circuitry.
This is especially important for gaming PCs. Think about it. If your CPU is overclocking at a breakneck pace, all that excess heat must move away from the internal components, or you’re risking critical failure. It’s crucial to the safety, stability, and performance of your entire system.
Thermal Paste Guide Part II: Choosing the Right Thermal Paste
There are two main types of thermal pastes: conductive and non-conductive. Conductive pastes are generally metallic-based, while non-conductive pastes use a variety of hybrid materials.
Conductive pastes contain:
- & other metals
Non-conductive pastes contain:
- & other synthetic materials
Conductive pastes typically offer slightly better performance (given that metal conducts electricity), but the tubes are a little more expensive and challenging to apply. That said, there are still many suitable non-conductive thermal pastes that offer stellar performance.
The best thermal pastes are comprised of different materials, and it comes down to choosing what’s right for your rig.
Thermal Paste Guide Part III: How to Use Thermal Paste
It’s a pretty straight-forward process, but there are lots of little things to watch for. PC components are delicate, and you’ll need to apply any paste gently. Also, you’ve got to make sure that you’re working with a fresh slate by cleaning all your components before beginning. Just be mindful, and you shouldn’t run into any trouble.
To begin, you’ll gently (very gently) want to take your thermal paste and apply a small pea-sized amount onto the center of your CPU.
Take your heatsink or cooler and press it onto the paste, making sure that it spreads evenly over the surface. You can carefully and ever-so-slightly rub the two surfaces together for an even spread.
Once everything is fully coated and put together, you should be good to go! Easy!