One of the most important, yet often overlooked, components of a computer is the thermal paste. Thermal paste is used on PC components that run hot, like the CPU and GPU, in order to fill in small gaps between the chip and the heatsink in order to better conduct heat from the chip to the heatsink.
Over time, thermal paste can dry out and become hard, which can impede its ability to transfer heat. This, in turn, can cause your CPU to run hotter, which can lead to thermal throttling, thereby decreasing your CPU’s performance.
Also Read: How to Lower Your CPU Temps
So whether you’re looking to build a new PC, or you want to help breathe some new life into an older computer, using a great thermal paste is a must. But which one should you use? We’re here to help you find the best thermal paste for your CPU, so you can get the most performance out of your PC.
Quick Look: Top Modem Router Combos
Thermal Grizzly Kryonaut
BSFF Thermal Paste
Thermal Grizzly Carbonaut
Thermal Grizzly Conductonaut
*For more information on the thermal paste above, click the “Read Review »” link and you will skip to our overview of that router. To see our Honorable Mention picks, keep scrolling down.
1. Thermal Grizzly Kryonaut
The best thermal paste for your CPU
- Silicon / Aluminum
- 12.5 W/mk
Many thermal compound brands have come and gone, but one that’s at the forefront of nearly every PC builder’s builds over the last decade is Thermal Grizzly. And when it comes to standard, non-conductive thermal pastes, the Thermal Grizzly Kryonaut is possibly the best around.
This silicone-based thermal compound utilizes nano aluminum particles to effectively transfer heat between the CPU and the heatsink, making it a great conductor of heat, without being electrically conductive. In fact, with a thermal conductivity of 12.5 W/mk, it’s among the most thermally conductive thermal compounds on the market, with few others edging it out.
But it’s not all about thermal conductivity – with a great viscosity, and years of brand recognition, it’s a tried and true option. Sure, it costs a little more than other brands. But it has the performance to back up its slightly higher price. Overall, if you’re looking for a standard thermal compound, then you’ll definitely want to grab a tube of Thermal Grizzly’s Kryonaut.
2. BSFF Thermal Paste
Best carbon-based thermal paste for your CPU
- 13.9 W/mk
When it comes to thermal paste, there are quite a few different types, with liquid metal being the most thermally efficient. However, due to the electrical conductivity of liquid metal, most people opt for an electrically non-conductive thermal paste. Perhaps the next most thermally efficient type of thermal paste is a carbon-based paste, and with the BSFF Thermal Paste, it’s easy to see how that’s the case.
The BSFF Thermal Paste has an impressive thermal conductivity rating of 13.9W/mk, making it the most thermally conductive paste on our list that isn’t liquid metal.
In addition to its excellent performance, it’s also beginner-friendly, and comes with extras to make the job easier. These extras include a spatula, CPU templates to help prevent messes, alcohol wipes, and a finishing card.
Overall, this is an exceptional thermal paste if you want the best performance out of your CPU without messing with a riskier liquid metal alternative.
3. Thermal Grizzly Carbonaut
Best thermal pad for your CPU
- Carbon Thermal Pad
- 62.5 W/mk
Thermal paste is a staple in any PC build, but it can be a pain to work with. That’s where thermal pads come into play. Thermal pads serve the same function as thermal paste, but are much easier to work with, since they are pads you cut to size. They’re also more durable than thermal paste is.
The caveat is that thermal pads are often less thermally conductive than thermal paste is. But that isn’t always the case. With high-performance thermal pads, the inverse can actually be true, and pads like the Thermal Grizzly Carbonaut are a great example of this.
The Thermal Grizzly Carbonaut is a carbon-based thermal pad that offers an insanely high thermal conductivity rating of 62.5 W/mk. Just like with the BSFF thermal paste, carbon-based thermal compounds are excellent heat conductors, making them a great choice for high-performance CPUs.
In addition to the spectacular thermal conductivity, the Thermal Grizzly Carbonaut is also dead-simple to use – just cut and place. And unlike thermal pastes, this will not dry out over time, making it reusable for many years.
Of course, there is one big caveat to this thermal pad – it’s electrically conductive. It is certainly much easier than working with liquid metal, but because it’s electrically conductive, you need to take extreme caution when applying it to your CPU, making sure not to make contact with any other components on your motherboard.
4. Thermal Grizzly Conductonaut
Best extreme thermal paste for your CPU
- Liquid Metal
- 73 W/mk
Metal is such a great conductor of heat, it’s better able to transfer between the CPU and heatsink. But because of the tiny gaps between your CPU and the heatsink, thermal paste is necessary to create contact between the CPU’s heat spreader and the heatsink, allowing for heat to transfer. That’s why when it comes to keeping your CPU cool, the absolute best option you have is a liquid metal thermal paste, like Thermal Grizzly’s Conductonaut.
Thermal Grizzly Conductonaut offers superior thermal conductivity compared to other types of thermal paste, and is perfect for when you want to do some extreme overclocking with a liquid-cooled system. With an extremely high thermal conductivity rating of 73 W/mk, it’s over 5 times more thermally conductive than the BSFF Thermal Paste, the highest rated, non-liquid metal alternative on our list.
Of course, Thermal Grizzly’s Conductonaut isn’t for everyone. Because it’s liquid metal, that means it’s also electrically conductive, meaning that a single stray drop of liquid metal on your motherboard or in your CPU socket could mean costly repairs. That means you need to be extra careful, and that if you aren’t into overclocking, you’re probably better off with a non-electrically conductive thermal paste.
5. Prolimatech Pk-3 Nano Aluminum
Honorable Mention #1
- Aluminum / Zinc
- 11.2 W/mk
If you’re in the market for a more traditional thermal paste, and you want excellent cooling performance, then you should definitely check out the Prolimatech Pk-3 Nano Aluminum Thermal Compound.
This aluminum and zinc oxide based thermal paste is a chart-topping thermal paste that can easily outperform other tried and true thermal pastes from the likes of Arctic Silver and Noctua. Offering a thermal conductivity of 11.2 W/mk, it ranks third on our list among other traditional thermal pastes for the best thermal conductivity.
But where it really shines is in the value it offers, with a phenomenal price for the amount of thermal paste you’ll receive. It’s also a non-curing thermal paste, meaning that it won’t dry out over time like other thermal pastes do.
Overall, if you’re looking to snag a large tube of thermal paste to use on a lot of computers, then you can’t go wrong with this thermal paste from Prolimatech.
6. IC Diamond 24 Carat
Honorable mention #2
- Diamond Powder
- 4.5 W/mk
For many years, IC Diamond was the king of cool when it came to thermal compounds. And while it’s no longer sitting on the throne as the best in class, this diamond in the rough is still a solid choice with the IC Diamond 24 Carat Thermal Compound.
This thermal compound is actually quite special in that it’s mostly composed of diamond powder, which boasts a much higher thermal conductivity than many metals that are found in normal thermal pastes. In the tube, it’s 92% diamond powder, and after it’s applied and properly dried, constitutes 94% of the total paste, making it a rich choice for cooling.
Of course, there are some caveats. Not only is it a bit more expensive than other thermal compounds, but it’s not the best for use in parts that will see frequent thermal paste re-applications, since it can cause scratches on the CPU. It dries out a bit quicker than other thermal pastes, requires 10 minutes of drying time before you re-attach the heatsink to the CPU, and will take about 2 hours or so of priming to reach peak cooling efficiency.
However, whether you’re looking to add a little bling to your tricked out gaming PC, or you just want to stick to a trusted brand, the IC Diamond 24 Carat thermal compound offers great thermals and is an excellent choice.
Keep Your Hot CPU Running Cool
Thermal paste is an important part of your PC, and helps to keep hot components cool by allowing for better heat transfer between chips and their heatsinks. That’s why if you’re looking to get the most out of your CPU, you’ll want a good thermal paste to help achieve optimal cooling performance.
Also Read: Best CPU Coolers Right Now
We’re a big fan of Thermal Grizzly Kryonaut, but there are plenty of other great options available. If you need next-level performance, you might consider a liquid metal paste. Or maybe you want to avoid paste altogether and go with a thermal pad. Whichever you choose, you’ll definitely see an improvement in CPU temperatures.