The Ultimate Guide to Choosing the Best Thermal Paste for Your CPU in 2024

Thermal paste: it’s one of those items that doesn’t get much credit or appreciation until your system temperature starts rising and lights go off, alerting you that you have a problem. So, as 2024 beckons, it pays to take a deep dive on the vital necessity of thermal paste and get familiar with the best the market has to offer. Whether you are an experienced system builder or making your first foray into component mixing, this guide is your starting point for ensuring your CPU is keeping cool and operating at its peak.

Why Thermal Paste is a Must-Have for Your CPU

Before we dive into our picks, let's review why thermal paste is so important. A CPU generates quite a lot of heat, and that heat needs to find an efficient pathway to be transferred, usually to a heatsink or other cooling solution, to keep a machine running smoothly and in proper working order. Thermal paste, a conductive paste that fills microscopic gaps between the CPU and the cooler, is an effective way of making sure that the heat moves from one to the other. It's a straightforward solution, but the right or wrong paste can make a real difference to the machines that use it.

Top Thermal Paste Picks for Peak CPU Performance

Arctic MX-6: Best Overall Thermal Paste

First off, the Arctic MX-6 gives you 20 per cent more thermal conductivity than the previous generation of thermal grease. Thanks to its higher viscosity than traditional silicone-based greases, the MX-6 is easy to apply, eliminating the need for messy spreaders, perfect for that cold CPU.

  • Pros: Outstanding thermal performance; easy application.
  • Cons: Pricing may deter some, especially for HEDT setups.

Noctua NT-H1: The Runner-up Champ

Noctua’s NT-H1 is a good balance of performance and longevity. It’s likely your CPU’s best friend on the long journey of extreme overclocking.

  • Pros: Excellent thermal dynamics; reliable over the long term.
  • Cons: Slightly higher price point.

Thermal Grizzly Hydronaut: Best for Water Cooled Systems

If you’re dipping your toes into the world of water cooling, the Hydronaut is the motherboard for you; it has been designed to work in a liquid-cooled system and is perfect for use with both CPUs and GPUs.

  • Pros: Exceptional longevity; suited for high-performance computing.
  • Cons: Premium price tag.

Corsair XTM50: Perfect for Beginners

If you’re new to PC-building, this Corsair XTM50 kit includes a CPU stencil and a spreader, so you can’t go wrong spreading.

  • Pros: Simplified application; effective thermal performance.
  • Cons: Better value options are available.

Cooler Master MasterGel Regular: Easiest Application

Easy to apply and featuring a sealed tube, the MasterGel Regular is a no-hassle, works-every-time thermal base for novices and pros alike.

  • Pros: User-friendly syringe design; comes with grease cleaner.
  • Cons: Pricier than some alternatives.

Understanding Thermal Pads: An Alternative to Paste

Thermal pads go another step beyond thermal pastes, requiring little to no installation for reinstallation, and are ideally suited for people who would rather avoid paste-related messiness. Thermal Grizzly’s Carbonaut is version that won’t degrade over time, making it great for either CPUs or GPUs.

  • Pros: Hassle-free installation; reusable.
  • Cons: Performance may not match that of high-end pastes.

Making Sense of Thermal Solutions

When it comes to thermal pastes or pads, it all depends on your needs, preferences and the demands of your system. If it’s absolute performance and overclocking that you’re focused on, then the premium products that offer the very best thermal conductivity and performance might be the way to go. But if it’s about expedience or ease of application, since they can be a bit messier compared to thermal pads, then user-friendly options will do just fine – especially as they now generally perform as well as the stuff you used to need a doctorate to use.

Keep in mind that any thermal solution that keeps your CPU cooler will prolong its life and improve its performance. Use a quality thermal pad or paste and you won’t regret it – your system will run smoother for longer.

About Thermal Paste

At the most basic level, thermal paste is a thermal conducting mixture put between a CPU and its cooling solution, filling microscopic gaps at the CPU and cooler faces to create the best thermal conductivity, and therefore heat dissipation, possible. If you take the time to buy and apply a good thermal paste, your system will run smoother, cooler and be less likely to have issues, whether you’re a gamer, a creative professional or someone who just wants their PC to work well.

Jun 16, 2024
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