Determining the type of thermal paste you use for your build can be tricky. With many different thermal paste manufacturers, types, and price ranges, it can be tricky to pick what type of thermal paste you need for your build.
So the question still stands. Does the type of thermal paste you use really matter for your PC?
If you are looking to overclock and tweak the settings of your CPU, then it matters what type of thermal paste you use because every thermal paste is made differently. A good thermal paste has effective cooling properties that will keep your CPU cool under a lot of stress.
In most cases, though a standard set of thermal paste will do the trick just fine because all thermal paste are made to do their job of keeping your CPU or GPU cool while it is under a load.
What is more important than the type of thermal paste you use is how you apply it. I have written an in-depth article that talks about the best way to apply your thermal paste and how often you should re-apply it.
What Are The Different Types of Thermal Paste?
There are many different types of thermal paste you can use for your PC, so picking the right one can be a difficult decision.
Depending on what thermal paste you buy, some will have more effective cooling properties than others. Some thermal pastes tend to be more viscous, while some are more liquidity. The viscosity of the thermal paste will help it seep in through the tiny microscopic cracks that are on both your CPU and CPU heatsink.
Blocking these cracks will prevent heat from getting through to your CPU, but thermal paste that lacks viscosity can tend to get very messy, and if it leaks off of your heatsink, then it can cause damage to other parts of your PC, most commonly your motherboard.
Conductive Thermal Paste
Next, you have thermal pastes that are very conducive to electricity because they have microscopic bits of silver built-in with the thermal paste.
This silver tends to be very conducive to heat and electricity as well, so even though it has very effective cooling properties if not applied right it can get on parts of your PC that are very sensitive to external electric currents that will be damaged due to the conductive properties these types of thermal pastes have to electricity.
Although this is very unlikely to happen, it is still important to note for the safety and longevity of your computer.
So, unless you don’t trust that you will do a good job applying your thermal paste, or you’re the type of person to apply a really big amount of thermal paste to your CPU, then I would usually recommend using a type of thermal paste that contains microscopic pieces of silver in it, in order to get the greatest benefit out of your thermal paste.
Currently, the thermal paste I use is Arctic Silver 5, which is one of the top-rated thermal pastes on the market, which also contains silver bits inside, and let me tell you that I’ve been using this thermal paste for over 4 years and it has been working wonderfully.
Non-Conductive Thermal Paste
Then you have non-conductive thermal pastes. These thermal pastes are usually made from carbon or ceramic, and although these pastes aren’t as conductive as ones that contain silver bits they are also a lot safer for your PC, so it won’t be a big deal if you spill a few drops of thermal paste here and there.
Due to the nature of this type of thermal paste, it will usually leave your CPU one to two degrees hotter than using the other type of thermal paste, but this isn’t that big of a deal unless you are looking to do a lot of overclocking and experimenting with your CPU clock speeds.
Most typical stock CPUs will run just fine at a safe temperature using any type of thermal paste so you don’t need to worry that much.
The Cost of Thermal Paste
Thermal Paste usually tends to be fairly inexpensive. Prices usually range from around $2 to upwards of $20, so affording an effective container of thermal paste is usually not an issue.
You should note that the more expensive the thermal paste is the more conductive it is probably, but you should make sure to check the review and ratings before buying them.
The top thermal paste brands to look out for are Noctua, Cooler Master, Grizzly, and my personal favorite Arctic.
Noctua and Cooler Master are very well-known brands that manufacture a variety of different computer components you can use for your PC.
Whereas Arctic and Grizzly, or more focused on specific manufacturing really well-made thermal paste to keep your CPU temperatures down and cool.
The thermal paste from Noctua I would recommend would be the Noctua NT-H1 it’s a really good budget paste coming in at only $2.26 per gram, it has no conductivity, but it does the job and it is a decent thermal paste for someone building your PC for the first time.
For Cooler Master, I would go with the Cooler Master MasterGel Pro V2, which is a fairly conductive thermal paste and comes in at a nice $2.57 per gram.
Next, are the two brands I would highly recommend buying because their primary focus is on creating really well manufactured thermal paste.
Starting with the brand Arctic I would recommend either going with the Arctic MX-5 thermal paste as it is the best all-around thermal paste or the Arctic 5 silver which is highly conductive and effective at transferring heat away from your CPU.
Is Expensive Thermal Paste Worth It?
Most often than not buying more expensive thermal paste is not worth it, as it will only give you a 1-2 degree difference which is really not that noticeable. And if you are having problems with your CPU overheating it is probably due to your poor cooling system then it is your thermal paste.
If you are worried about your PC overheating then you should spend the extra money on a better cooling system, rather than spending it on expensive thermal paste.
Is It Ok To Use Cheap Thermal Paste For Your CPU?
Yes, it is just fine to use the cheap thermal paste to cool your CPU. Most thermal pastes do the trick just fine.
you just have to make sure that the thermal paste is effective and well made, which can easily be checked by looking at the reviews of that specific thermal paste.
How Many Grams of Thermal Paste Should You Buy?
You really don’t need to apply that much thermal paste to your CPU. For a typical CPU you only really need to apply the amount of a grain of rice to your CPU. This size is equivalent to less than half a gram of thermal paste.
Therefore, you really don’t need to buy that much thermal paste even if you are looking to build multiple rigs.
A typical container of thermal paste usually comes with 3.5 grams of thermal paste and that is more than enough thermal paste.
Does Thermal Paste Fix Overheating?
Thermal paste can help prevent overheating, but that shouldn’t be your primary concern if your PC is overheating.
A computer that is overheating is most likely due to a poor cooling system, so if you are dealing with an overheating pc then you should upgrade your cooling system as a whole and a good set of thermal paste should be there as an add on to aid the cooling system.