Thermal paste is a very important compound; it improves the conduction of heat from the CPU to the heat sink, so that none of the heat generated by the computer remains trapped within it. Thermal paste that’s dry or otherwise insufficient won’t adequately conduct thermal energy, meaning that the CPU’s temperature will be higher than it should. In general, thermal paste is very cheap and is available at a broad range of prices and quality. Here, we’ll talk about the best brands of thermal paste on the market. This document will be updated each time a new type of thermal paste comes on the market.
Types of thermal paste
With ceramic components: This type of thermal paste is usually made of quartz sand (silicon oxide) and/or zinc oxide in additional to other components and is usually white. One example of this kind of paste is the Arctic Silver Ceramique 2, which is made mainly of quartz sand.
With metallic components: These are made of aluminum and/or silver, yield better results than ceramic pastes, are more expensive, and usually are silver or dark grey. An example is the famous Arctic Silver 5, which is made almost exclusively of silver, aluminum oxide, zinc oxide, and ceramic particles.
Diamond: Made of diamond dust and/or carbon fiber, these are usually more expensive and effective than the kinds we already discussed. An example of this kind of paste is the Artic Cooling MX-4, which is made of carbon particles and other components. Another example is the IC diamond 7, which is made generally of diamond dust. Both of these achieve a 2- to 3-degree difference compared to the Arctic Silver 5.
Liquid metal: Thermal pastes made with liquid metal are usually more expensive and effective than those previously mentioned. They’re made almost entirely of gallium and (an important note) can’t be used on aluminum; if you put liquid metal on an aluminum heat sink, next day there won’t be a heat sink. It’s also important to remember that liquid metals also conduct electricity, so one mistake and we may end up ruining our computer. These kinds of thermal paste are very good, but they’re for a very specialized consumer–usually overclockers or enthusiasts seeking the best performance possible.
Classification, from worst to best.
- Basic thermal pastes (Office, navigation, PCs family)
- Cooler Master IC Value V1
- Artic Silver Ceramique 2
Medium thermal pastes (Gaming, professional, good margin for overclocking)
- Artic Cooling MX-4
- Noctua NT-H1
Advanced Thermal Pasta (Extreme Overclock; not recommended for normal use)
- Gelid GC Extreme
- Antec Formula 7
- IC Diamond 7
- Coollaboratory Liquid Ultra