Gaming Rigs in 2018 are amazing machines, capable of performances you wouldn’t believe. And as you might have guessed, being a workhorse isn’t easy; if you want your gaming rig to stay amazing, then you need your CPU to stay in tip-top shape for as long as possible. And that’s why, you need to make sure you’ve picked up a prime thermal paste and applied tit properly to your CPU.
The importance of a good thermal paste is almost as important as what CPU you picked out. Luckily, there are several great options for you to choose from. Remember; you don’t want to skimp out of the good stuff in favor of a cheap thermal paste in order to save a few dollars. If you want the best, you have got pay for it. Here are the best CPU Thermal Pastes of 2018.
- Renowned premium-grade thermal compound for optimal heat-transfer from the CPU or GPU to the heatsink; more than 150 awards and recommendations
- The high-end thermal compound to reduce temperatures on PC applications and electronics
- 3.5g pack for around 3-20 applications (depending on CPU size, e.g. ~3 applications for TR4, ~20 for LGA1151)
Overall rating: 4.7 out of 5
The best CPU thermal paste of 2018, is Noctua NT-H1 thermal paste. Cheap, and with outstanding performance, you couldn’t ask for anything more in a thermal paste.
With the Noctua NT-H1, you can expect about 15 drops of thermal paste before it runs dry, although you will not need nearly as much as 15 drops for a single CPU of course. You shouldn’t use more than 2, so this will last you for quite a while.
The application is very simple, so even someone building there very first gaming rig will have no time applying this to their CPU. Simply add a single drop to the center of your CPU, and you should be good to go.
Another great thing about thermal paste, is that the best products have practically no drawbacks. The Noctua NT-H1 thermal paste is no different. As long as you apply it properly, there are no cons to this product whatsoever.
- Very easy to apply
- Top-in-class performance
- Zero burn-in time
- As long as you apply it correctly, there are none
- 99.9% pure micronized silver
- Non-electrically conductive
- Will not separate, run, migrate or bleed
- Thermal conductance: >350 000W/m2 degreesC (0.001 inch layer)
- Easy to apply and remove
Overall rating: 4.7 out of 5
Coming in at second place, is Arctic Silver 5 thermal paste. An old reliable for years, Artic Silver 5 thermal paste is an excellent thermal paste choice. It is unique in using silver as a base, which is uncommon in the current market.
Like the Noctua NT-H1 thermal paste, it is very easy to apply and as far as performance goes, it is pretty much neck and neck with Noctua NT-H1. When it comes to overclocking however, Noctua NT-H1 has a slight advantage.
As is the case with most thermal paste, the Arctic Silver 5 is very easy to apply so you shouldn’t have any issues there. The only problem with Arctic Silver 5, is that the burn-in time is pretty long; I’m talking 50, to as much as 200 hours before you can expect prime performance. 200 hours seems longer than it actually is, but given that our number one pick has no burn-in time, there was no way we could put the Arctic Silver 5 in the top spot. It is still a great CPU thermal paste and well worth using.
- Excellent performance
- Easy to apply
- Fairly lengthy burn-in time
- BETTER THAN LIQUID METAL
- THERMAL COMPOUND
- SAFE APPLICATION
- HIGH DURABILITY
- EASY TO APPLY
Overall rating: 4.8 out of 5
In third place, is Arctic MX-4 thermal paste. The Arctic have been around the block for a long time in the world of computers, and the Arctic MX-4 is arguably their best thermal paste. It improves over their MX-2 and MX-3 variants in terms of performance and application ease. As a non-metal compound, it is not electrically conductive, so neophytes rest easy.
A common complaint with their previous thermal paste, is that they were not easy to spread. The Arctic MX-4 is still not the absolute easiest in class to spread, but it has gotten a lot better. Arctic MX-4 also lags behind the competition when it comes to overclocking, but not enough to dismiss it as a great thermal paste option.
- Easy to apply
- Great performance
- Not “the” easiest to spread
- Not the best when it comes to overclocking
Overall rating: 4.5 out of 5
Odd name aside, Thermal Grizzly Kyronaut thermal paste is an excellent choice for gamers. Particularly, if said gamers are interested in the best overclocking possible. Although not the best overall thermal paste, when it comes to overclocking. Thermal Grizzly Kyronaut is best-in-class.
Thermal Grizzly Kyronaut is easy to apply, and so long as you don’t get the application wrong, you should expect no drawbacks at all. At least that’s what the box says. There does appear to be some burn-in time, but not as much as the Arctic Silver 5 thermal paste.
When it comes to temperature decreases, the difference between the best thermal pastes is so marginal, that they are barely noticeable. So, if you aren’t particularly interested in the best possible overclocking your rig can churn out, then you don’t need to get the Thermal Grizzly Kyronaut thermal paste. It is the most expensive thermal paste on the list, and a single syringe is only a single gram of the stuff, so keep that in mind.
- Best for overclocking
- Easy to apply
- Some burn-in time
- Thermal Grizzly Conductonaut is a liquid metal thermal compound based on a eutectic alloy. Our special mixture of metals like tin, gallium, and indium, Conductonaut excels with a very high thermal conductivity and excellent long-term stability.
- Thermal Conductivity73 W/mk Viscosity0,0021 Pas
- Density 6,24g/cm3 Temperature 10 °C / +140 °C Content1 g
Overall rating: 4.5 out of 5
Liquid metal options when it comes to thermal compounds, are a fairly big risk, big reward deal. Arguably, when it comes to peak performance, liquid metal beats out standard thermal paste. But as a downside, it’s a lot harder to apply, and if you mess up, it’ll be more severe of a setback than with thermal paste.
But if you manage to apply it right, liquid metal is a go to when it comes to the very best of gaming rigs. The performance of Thermal Grizzly Conductonaut is simply amazing, and you will definitely see a difference between this, and your standard thermal paste. The temperature drops and cooling efficiency simply can’t be compared.
The biggest problem with Thermal Grizzly Conductonaut, as with all liquid metal options, is right in the name; liquid. It is far harder to apply than thermal paste, so I would not recommend this for first-time gaming rig builders. It requires extremely precise application. Since it is liquid based, if you apply too much, it’ll get everywhere and make a mess of things. If you apply too little, it’ll be too thin and it won’t work effectively. It’s hard to apply, and hard to spread, and like the Thermal Grizzly Kyronaut, there’s only 1 gram worth here. That makes it really easy to run out if you mess up the process.
When it comes down to performance, Thermal Grizzly Conductonaut, is arguably the best. Liquid metal compounds have higher capability ceilings than thermal paste, but when it comes down to it, this is overboard for most gamers. I would only consider this option if you have an absolute beast of a gaming rig, and if you know what you are doing. If you have an entry-level gaming rig, just stick to easier to apply thermal paste.
As is the case with most of Thermal Grizzly products in this field, the Thermal Grizzly Conductonaut is also pretty expensive. Definitely only for the top-class gamers out there.
- Top liquid metal choice
- Excellent performance
- Not easy to apply
Q. What is thermal paste?
A. Thermal paste is a thermally conductive compound used to bridge the gaps between a heat source, like a CPU, and a heat sink. Thermal paste help improve the efficiency of your heatsink and help keep your CPU cool.
Q. Why is thermal paste needed?
A. Thermal paste is needed because as great as heat sinks are at their jobs, they aren’t perfect. Pretty much every heatsink has little gaps along the edges where pockets of air can get through and tamper with performance. Thermal paste is used to get rid of those gaps, which will improve overall performance.
Q. What kinds of thermal pastes are there?
A. There are generally two kinds of thermal pastes: non-conductive thermal pastes and conductive thermal pastes. The difference between the two, comes down to the bases used for the compounds, and that conductive compounds are electrically conductive and can cause electrical shorts if you are not careful.
Q. What’s the difference between thermal paste and liquid metal paste?
A. Liquid metal paste is extreme; It’s way harder to apply than standard thermal pastes, and it is more expensive. Not only that, but It’s a lot riskier to use since if you mess up then, your CPU might be screwed. Generally, speaker, liquid metal compounds are strictly for people obsessed with overclocking.
Q. Why should I use thermal paste?
A. You should use thermal paste because it improves the performance of your gaming rig tremendously. Your CPU will come with a small amount of stock thermal paste already applied, but stock thermal paste isn’t very good. Not only that but there also typically isn’t an adequate amount of stock thermal paste applied to maximum performance. Without thermal paste, your CPU will get hotter, and your cooling tech won’t perform as well as it should. The lifespan of your rig can decrease significantly without thermal paste.
Q. Does it matter how much thermal paste I use?
A. Yes. When it comes to thermal paste, less is more. Thermal paste is crucial to enabling your gaming rig to run as best possible performance, but if you use too much, the paste will act more like a blanket. It should be something that helps performance, but with too much, it’ll be a detriment.
Q. How much thermal paste should I use?
A. Again, less is more. One or two drops of thermal paste is typically more than enough. Keep in mind, that most syringes of thermal paste will contain anywhere from 10-15 drops of thermal paste. Unless you want to ruin your CPU, do not use an entire syringe of thermal paste.
Q. What is burn-in time?
A. You know how with new shoes, you often have to “break them in”? A burn-in time when it comes to thermal pastes is essentially the same thing. Burn-in time is the time it takes from the first application of thermal paste before you will see a maximum performance from the said thermal paste. Some thermal pastes have a burn-in time of as much as 200 hours, so a lot of people tend to go for thermal pastes with little to no burn-in time.
Q. Do thermal pastes with longer burn-in time perform better in the long run?
A. No. It’s easy to think that a thermal paste that takes longer to settle in will perform better than ones that work straight away, but the truth is, they don’t. The difference in performance between the top thermal pastes is very minimal.
Q. Should I leave thermal paste in just the center of the CPU, or spread it around?
A. Most users, prefer to spread their thermal paste around their CPU. But as stated earlier, keep in mind that less is more. Spreading is preferred and often recommended, but don’t spread so much that your thermal paste becomes a blanket, or you will be doing more harm than good to your CPU.
Q. What is the worst that can happen if I misapply thermal paste?
A. If you incorrectly apply your thermal paste, you can expect to see the performance of your system drop, not improve. And if you are really unlucky, you will see hundreds of dollars going down the drain and tech ruined. SO be careful.
Avoid liquid metal compounds unless you really care about overclocking:
This has been stated earlier, but unless you really care about overclocking, and have a top of the line gaming rig, liquid metal compounds are more trouble than they are worth. They’re more expensive than thermal paste, much harder to apply and spread, and generally, overkill for general gamers. Peak overclocking performance can only be obtained via use of liquid metal, but if you don’t care about overclocking, give liquid metal a pass.
Don’t be afraid to ask for advice or follow gaming rig building tutorials:
Screwing up building your gaming rig, could set you back a few hundred dollars and maybe even put you off the entire gaming rig building experience. And that’s no good! Not only will a gaming rig serve you well during your time PC gaming, but successfully building a rig also induces a tremendous sense of satisfaction in yourself. So don’t be afraid to consult some tutorials on how to build one! Better that than waste your time, and your money.