Last updated: Friday, January 25, 2019
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 2019.
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, thermal compound, and a variety of other names, 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.
Simple enough, right?
But the importance of thermal paste can’t be stressed enough! Since the grooves between the processor and the heatsink aren’t perfectly 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, you need to be sure that all of the heat is moving away from your internals. It’s crucial to the safety, stability, and performance of your system!
Thermal Paste Guide Part II: How to Use Thermal Paste
It’s a pretty straight-forward process, but there are lots of little things to watch out for. CPUs are delicate and you’ll need to gently apply any paste. 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, insert the CPU into the motherboard.
From there 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!
Choosing the Right Thermal Paste
There are 2 main types of thermal pastes: conductive and non-conductive. Conductive pastes are generally metallic-based, while non-conductive pastes use a variety of materials.
Conductive pastes contain:
- & other metals
Non-conductive pastes contain:
- & other materials
Conductive pastes usually offer slightly better performance given that metal conducts electricity, but it’s often more expensive and more challenging to apply. That said, there are still many good non-conductive thermal pastes that offer stellar performance.
The best thermal pastes are comprised of varying materials and it really comes down to choosing what’s right for you.
To help you on your way, we’ve curated a list of the best thermal pastes of 2019 to kickstart your next project. We’ll look at pros and cons and assist you in finding the perfect paste for your rig!
Top 7 Picks: Best Thermal Paste of 2019
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.
Consumer Rating: 4.5/5
The Thermal Grizzly Kryonaut is a solid choice with great reviews and stellar performance.
- Maintains excellent thermal conductivity for powerful performance across a spectrum of applications.
- The material is a unique blend of nano-aluminum and zinc oxide that interacts with the heat sink for great dissipation.
- Marketed as a powerful option for high-performance setups, the Kryonaut is perhaps the best thermal paste for overclocking.
- Parent company is German, and their website isn’t available in English. Customer support may be an issue.
Verdict: A solid choice, with a unique proprietary blend and fantastic performance.
Consumer Rating: 4.7/5
A highly rated thermal paste that offers strong performance and ease of use.
- A hybrid mixture of various compounds, the Noctua Thermal Paste is a powerful multi-purpose thermal solution.
- Noctua’s ceramic paste blend makes for simple application without the worry of short-circuiting or costly mistakes.
- Long-lasting lifespan means you can expect consistent performance for several years of use.
- Quality control issues have been noted as an issue among a handful of users.
Verdict: The best thermal paste for CPU performance and stability.
Consumer Rating: 4.6/5
Featuring a silicone-based material, the Cooler Master Thermal Paste will level up your cooling system for an unbelievable price!
- Versatile compound is suitable for a number of uses, including CPUs, chipsets, VGA cards, mainboards, and more.
- Easy to use with a unique applicator that spreads evenly and provides a great foundation for a cooling attachment.
- Cooler Master’s unique blend works great under a wide spectrum of temperatures, leaving your system cool and ready to go!
- The paste has been around for a long while, and the shelf life only lasts about 2 years. Be sure to check your packaging to be sure you received a recent product.
Verdict: Given its versatile nature, the Cooler Master thermal compound is the best thermal paste for laptops!
Consumer Rating: 4.7/5
The Arctic Silver 5 is a conductive aluminum-based thermal paste for high-performance projects.
- In addition to aluminum, the Arctic Silver 5 contains a variety of materials including silver, zinc-oxide, and boron nitride!
- Unique applicator allows for a perfect spread over CPUs and will cover up to 16 square inches of heatsink surface.
- The Arctic Silver 5’s special formula is engineered to thin out during application then thicken and set for easy application and powerful performance.
- There are many mentions of the product’s exterior packaging being subpar, so be careful when opening any shipments of the Arctic Silver 5.
Verdict: The Arctic Silver 5’s unique blend makes it the best liquid metal thermal paste available.
Consumer Rating: 4.4/5
Thermaltake TG-7 takes a different approach and carves itself a place as the best cooling paste for everyday users.
- The TG-7 blend formula includes a diamond powder base for incredible thermal conductivity and great durability!
- Has a very long lifespan compared to similar offerings, and is backed up by a comprehensive warranty.
- Thermaltake makes applying the paste a breeze with a friendly syringe applicator tip and a consistent flow.
- Has a lower heat transfer and isn’t the best for super high performance systems.
Verdict: A great offering, Thermaltake’s TG-7 offers the best thermal grease for CPUs.
Consumer Rating: 4.4/5
Spouted as a polysynthetic paste, the ThermalCoolFlux is an ultra-affordable thermal paste that guarantees fantastic results!
- Very high thermal conductivity means you’ll get great performance even under high-strain moments of use.
- Fantastic thermal paste that’s perfect for permanent builds as well as quick fixes if your old thermal paste fails.
- ThermalCoolFlux is the best cheap thermal paste (pricewise) coming in at just over one dollar per tube!
- The tubes are small and don’t hold a lot of material; expect one solid use from each tube.
Verdict: Perhaps the best heatsink paste on our list, the ThermalCoolFlux thermal paste is an excellent choice for a variety of uses.
Consumer Rating: 4.9/5
The highest rated thermal paste around, the Arctic MX-4 is one of the best thermal pastes of 2019.
- Composed of high quality microparticles made from carbon, the Arctic MX-4 dissipates all heat from the CPU.
- Metal-free material means that there’s no danger of short-circuiting or electrical damage to CPU during application.
- Incredible performance and ease of application makes the MX-4 one of the best non conductive thermal pastes.
- While a fraction of the amount sold will suffice for most applications, the large tube means that the MX-4 will span many projects!
Verdict: A thermal paste with an eight year durability rating and an affordable price.