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The Best Thermal Paste in 2018

Best Thermal Grease

We’ve rated, reviewed, & compared 7 of the best thermal paste compounds currently available. Whether you’re using a stock cooler or a third party cooler, these thermal pastes will keep your CPU cool.

While most first-time system builders understand the importance of cooling in their computer system, a lot of them don’t realize the positive impact that using the right thermal paste can have on the temperatures of their processor. In this post, we’ll go over what thermal paste is and why it’s important. We’ve also listed seven of the best thermal paste compounds currently available.

Ultimately, most third party thermal paste options are all fairly close to each other and so you really can’t go wrong with any of the options below.

Common Thermal Paste Questions

1. What is Thermal Paste/Compound?

The thermal paste that system builders use on their processors/heat sinks is a compound that helps better transfer heat from your processor to your heat sink so that your heat sink can dissipate more heat from your CPU, thus keeping it cooler.

The reason why thermal grease is used is that if you were to put your heatsink directly on top of your processor, without any sort of conductive buffer in between them, there would be air gaps and spaces between the two. Without thermal paste to create a more even contact between the CPU and heat sink, those air gaps and spaces reduce the amount of heat that gets transferred between the two components, which results in your processor running at higher temperatures.

And, the higher the temperature your processor runs, the shorter its lifespan will be.

The Different Kinds of Thermal Pastes and Compounds

There are three common types of thermal paste: metal, ceramic, and silicon.

Metal-Based Thermal Paste

Metal-based thermal pastes are typically made up of metals such as aluminum or silver. Since they are metal, they have the highest thermal conductivity of all the different types of thermal grease and, therefore, offer the lowest temperatures.

However, the downside of metal-based thermal compounds is that because they are metal-based, that also means that they conduct electricity. The danger of this is that, if you were to accidentally apply too much metal-based thermal grease on the back of your processor and it spilled out onto the circuits of your motherboards, there is the potential that those circuits will short and your motherboard will be damaged as a result.

So, the bottom line is that if you do want the best cooling possible, a metal-based compound is your best bet. But you do need to be sure you know exactly how to apply the thermal paste correctly to avoid damaging your components.

Ceramic-Based Thermal Paste

If you don’t want the potential dangers that come with metal-based thermal pastes, your next best option is a ceramic-based thermal paste.

Unlike metal-based thermal compounds, ceramic thermal pastes do not conduct electricity and, therefore, do not pose the threat of damaging your motherboard’s circuits if you spill it.

However, while ceramic-based thermal pastes do an adequate job of transferring heat from your processor to your heat sink, they do not perform quite as well as metal-based compounds.

Still, though, the difference in cooling between metal and ceramic-based compounds is typically less than a few degrees. And, ultimately, for the majority of users, that difference isn’t big enough to make metal thermal pastes a significantly better option that ceramic pastes.

Carbon-Based Thermal Paste

Like ceramic thermal pastes, carbon-based thermal compounds also do not conduct electricity and, therefore, do not pose the threat of damaging your motherboard.

And, like metal-based thermal greases, they offer better cooling than ceramic-based thermal pastes. In fact, the most popular carbon-based thermal paste (ARCTIC MX-4) actually outperforms one of the more popular metal-based thermal compounds (Arctic Silver 5.)

So, if you’re looking for the best of both worlds (performance and safety), you might want to consider a carbon-based thermal paste.

It should also be noted that, some thermal paste compounds (like our very own EGC High-Performance Thermal Compound) are a mix of metal and carbon to create a sort of hybrid option. If you want to read up more on thermal paste, check out the Wikipedia page.

2. Do I Need Thermal Paste?

The short answer to the question of “do I need thermal paste” is, yes, you do. Thermal paste will provide better heat dissipation between your processor and your heatsink by eliminating any gaps and spaces that exist between the two components.

However, you don’t necessarily need to purchase a third party thermal paste. This is because pretty much all CPU fans and heat sinks (whether they are the stock fans, or an after market option) already come with a thermal pad pre-applied.

These pads, as you probably could have guessed, do not perform on par with the thermal pastes listed on this page.

They do provide adequate enough thermal transfer, but for anyone who is looking to extend the life of their system, or who just wants to ensure their system runs as cool as possible, you definitely will want to get a third party thermal paste.

3. What is the Best Way to Apply Thermal Paste?

Ask any number of system builders which application method they prefer and you will likely get a handful of different answers.
That’s because there is more than one way to apply thermal paste in a way that produces ideal results.

Rather than write about the different methods that people use to apply thermal paste to the back of their processor, the Linus Tech Tips video below compared a variety of methods (the dot method, the line method, the x method, the finger spread method, the spiral method, applying too much, and applying too little) to see which one worked the best:

The result was that none of the methods showed any difference at all in terms of cooling. So, ultimately what this means is that there really is no one way to properly apply thermal paste.

Any of the methods covered in the video above should work (as long as you apply enough thermal paste.)


The Best Thermal Paste for Cooling Your CPU

EGC Thermal Paste Packaging

If you’re looking for the best thermal paste compound to use on your processor or graphics card, this section has a list of seven different options you can choose from.

These options range from metal-based compounds to ceramic-based compounds to carbon-based compounds.

And, each option ranges in its overall performance as well as the price it comes in at.

Ultimately, the performance difference between the options listed below are not too significant in the grand scheme of things and for most people, any of these thermal pastes will get the job done.

*The first option is our very own EGC High-Performance Thermal Compound. I have decided not to include it in the list of the other options as, of course, we are biased to our own product. Ultimately, I wanted to make sure to separate our own product from the other excellent options on this list. If you want to read reviews of our thermal paste, you can read them here.

SPONSORED
EGC Thermal Paste EGC High-Performance Thermal Paste
  • 4 Grams
  • 5.15 W/mk
  • Easy to Apply
  • Comes w/Spreader

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TECH SPECS

AMOUNT 4 grams
CONDUCT 5.15 W/mk
SPREADER Yes
COLOR Grey
WEIGHT 0.2 ounces

EGC High-Performance Thermal Paste

Our own brand of thermal paste, EGC High-Performance Thermal Paste, comes in a 4g tube and includes an application stick (no more using credit cards to spread your thermal paste!)

The compound is made up of 45% metal oxide, 45% carbon compounds, and 10% silicone compounds. And, it’s thermal conductivity is 5.15 W/mk.

We think the product works well… but of course, we would say that. Our customers agree, though.

Currently on Amazon, our thermal paste has received over 50 reviews and has accumulated 82% 5-star reviews, 14% 4-star reviews, and 4% 3-star reviews. Nobody has given it lower than 3-stars.

So, if you are looking for some solid thermal paste to use in your upcoming build, we’d be thrilled if you tried out our product (and let us know what you think, as well.)

EGC Thermal Paste EGC Thermal Paste Packaging EGC Thermal Paste Application Stick EGC Thermal Compound

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Thermal Paste Comparison Chart (Click ‘Read Review’ to Expand)

Thermal Grizzly Kryonaut Thermal Grizzly Kryonaut
  • 1 Gram
  • 12.5 W/mk
  • Easy to Apply
  • Comes w/Spreader

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TECH SPECS

AMOUNT 1 Gram
CONDUCT 12.5 W/mk
SPREADER Yes
COLOR Grey
WEIGHT 0.2 ounces

Thermal Grizzly Kryonaut Review

Thermal Grizzly’s Kryonaut grease is widely considered as being one of the best thermal compounds available on the market.

It has a solid 12.5 W/mk thermal conductivity and has won awards from overclocking.guide, eteknix.com, and tech-critter.com to name a few.

And, in a lot of performance tests, Thermal Grizzly’s Kryonaut compound leads, or comes close to leading the competition in terms of CPU temperature in idle and under load.

The price is pretty steep (1 gram costs ~$12), but if you’re looking to eek out every last degree in order to keep your CPU as cool as possible, you might want to use Thermal Grizzly’s Kryonaut thermal paste.

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Noctua NT-H1 Noctua NT-H1
  • 1.4 millileters
  • 2.49 g/cm³ (S. Grav.)
  • Long-lasting
  • Comes w/Spreader

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TECH SPECS

AMOUNT 1.4 millileters
CONDUCT n/a
SPREADER No
COLOR Grey
WEIGHT 0.2 ounces

Noctua NT-H1 Review

If you’re looking for another high-end thermal paste option, look no further than Noctua’s NT-H1 thermal compound.

Noctua has established themselves as one of the leading manufacturers of PC cooling components (fans, heat sinks, etc.), so it is no surprise that they have one of the better compounds available on the market.

The specifics of the compound are not revealed, so it’s tough to say what the paste is made up of. However, the NT-H1 thermal compound consistently ranks among the best thermal pastes out there in the handful of benchmarks that have been done.

And, unlike Thermal Grizzly’s Kryonaut, the NT-H1 is quite a bit more affordable..

In the end, the NT-H1 thermal grease is yet another solid option if you are looking for a quality thermal paste for your upcoming build (or upgrade).

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Gelid Solutions GC-Extreme Gelid Solutions GC-Extreme
  • 3.5 Grams
  • 8.5 W/mk
  • Easy to Apply
  • Comes w/Spreader

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TECH SPECS

AMOUNT 3.5 Grams
CONDUCT 8.5 W/mk
SPREADER Yes
COLOR Grey
WEIGHT 1.3 ounces

Gelid Solutions GC-Extreme Review

Gelid Solutions is a little  bit of a lesser known brand, but their GC-Extreme thermal compound is one of the better options on the market.

The GC-Extreme comes with 3.5 grams of thermal paste (which is plenty for most user’s needs), sports an 8.5 W/mk conductivity, and comes with a handy application stick.

Their thermal paste has received good reviews from Techpower Up and is the thermal paste of choice of Matei Mihatoiu, who won the MSI Master Overclocking Arena EMEA in 2011.

The price is a bit more expensive than some of the other options on this list, but you get plenty of thermal paste, an application stick, and a compound with a good thermal conductivity.

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ARCTIC MX-4 ARCTIC MX-4
  • 4 Grams
  • 8.5 W/mk
  • Easy to Apply
  • Carbon-Based

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TECH SPECS

AMOUNT 4 Grams
CONDUCT 8.5 W/mk
SPREADER No
COLOR Grey
WEIGHT 0.2 ounces

ARCTIC MX-4 Review

ARCTIC’s MX-4 thermal compound is another one of the more popular options available. And, not only is it one of the better-performing thermal pastes available, but it is also carbon-based and, thus, is one of the safer options as well.

The MX-4 comes in a variety of volumes including, 4 grams, 8 grams, 20 grams, and 65 grams. It also has an 8.5 W/mk thermal conductivity.

Although it does not come with an application stick, it is definitely one of the better priced thermal pastes available.

It’s also gotten high praise from DragonSteelMods, HardwareReview, and Kit Guru.

Ultimately, if you’re looking for one of the best carbon-based thermal pastes currently available (or just one of the best thermal pastes period) then the ARCTIC MX-4 should definitely be considered.

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Arctic Silver 5 Arctic Silver 5
  • 3.5 Grams
  • 350,000 W/m2
  • Easy to Apply
  • 99.9% Silver

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TECH SPECS

AMOUNT 3.5 Gram
CONDUCT 350,000 W/m2
SPREADER No
COLOR Grey
WEIGHT 0.2 ounces

Arctic Silver 5 Review

With nearly 6,000 reviews on Amazon (which are overwhelmingly positive) Arctic Silver 5’s AS5 thermal paste is easily the most popular compound on the market.

It has a 350,000 W/m2 thermal conductivity (a different measurement than W/mk) and comes in a tube containing 3.5 grams of compound.

It’s also among the better priced option on this list. Although, it doesn’t quite stack up to some of the more expensive pastes on this list in benchmarks.

Still, though, for the majority of users, the Arctic Silver 5 thermal paste is plenty good enough to keep your CPU running at adequate temperatures.

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Prolimatech Pk-3 Nano Prolimatech Pk-3 Nano
  • 5 Grams
  • 11.2 W/mk
  • Easy to Apply
  • Comes w/Spreader

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TECH SPECS

AMOUNT 5 Grams
CONDUCT 11.2 W/mk
SPREADER Yes
COLOR Grey
WEIGHT 0.2 ounces

Prolimatech Pk-3 Nano Review

Prolimatech’s Pk-3 Nano thermal paste is another lesser known option. However, it has a high thermal conductivity (11.2 W/mk) and is one of the better performing compounds currently available.

It’s an aluminum-based thermal paste that is non-conducive to electricity (and therefore poses no threat to damaging your motherboard) that comes in a 5 gram tube.

While it is one of the more impressive options on this list in terms of thermal conductivity and the amount you get, it is also one of the more expensive options.

And, as it isn’t a very popular compound as of now, there aren’t any benchmarks available to see how it stacks up against some of the other options listed above.

Ultimately, you can’t go wrong with the Prolimatech Pk-3 Nano thermal grease, but you will pay a bit more for it.

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Cooler Master High Performance Cooler Master High Performance
  • 4 Grams
  • 0.8 W/mk
  • Easy to Apply
  • Silicone-Based

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TECH SPECS

AMOUNT 4 Grams
CONDUCT 0.8 W/mk
SPREADER No
COLOR White
WEIGHT 0.2 ounces

Cooler Master High Performance Review

Finally, we have Cooler Master’s High Performance thermal paste. Despite it being a silicone-based thermal compound, it still performs decent enough.

And, because it is dielectric, it can be used for a variety of purposes (such as on chipsets on your motherboard, or your graphics card).

The thermal conductivity isn’t the best (0.8 W/mk), but the compound is affordable and will work well enough for most users.

Ultimately, if you’re looking for a cheap thermal paste that is good enough to get the job done, Cooler Master’s High Performance thermal paste might be your best bet.

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Do You Need Thermal Paste?

If you are looking to build a new computer, upgrade your processor, or are just looking to get better temperatures from your CPU, you’ll probably need some new thermal paste.

In the guide above, I’ve covered seven of the best thermal pastes (eight if you count EGC’s thermal paste) currently available to help you pick out the right compound for your needs.

So, if you’re looking for some solid thermal grease to help keep your temperatures down, try one of the options above.


Hey, I’m Brent. I’ve been building computers and writing about building computers for a long time. I’m an avid gamer and tech enthusiast, too. On YouTube, I build PCs, review laptops, components, and peripherals, and hold giveaways.

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