Best Thermal Paste for Bare Core

What is the best thermal paste for a bare core?

  • Arctic Silver 5

    Votes: 28 57.1%
  • Ceramique

    Votes: 17 34.7%
  • Other (Please Specify)

    Votes: 4 8.2%

  • Total voters


Dec 7, 2004
I have heard mixed things about the best paste to use on a bare core. The common first answer that springs to peoples minds is AS5. BUT, i have heard several times that Ceramique has been known to be better on a bare core. Now there is a new paste by Coolermaster called Nano Fusion too which i'll keep my eye on. What do you think?
Theres so much talk on this. Everyone has their own opinion but, in my experience, ive used AS5, Ceramique and Shin etsu. All 3 seem to give almost identical temps..

I will say, AS5 is good and popular. Costs about $6.50 total shipped at As well is a little conductive if thats a problem for you. A great compound.

Ceramique is good. Pretty close identical temps to AS5, ive actually seen reviews where ceramique was 1-2C cooler. Ceramique is non-conductive. Costs about $4.50 total shipped at

Shin etsu is great but more for experienced people. Its a bit harder to work with. But is also more professional. Hard to find and costs probably slightly more than AS5. However, this stuff cools the best out of these 3.

Hope that helps at all heh. You really cannot go wrong with either.
Never heard of nano fusion... I use ceramique because I have 66g of it lol. I hear it's better than AS5 but either way we're talking a 1c difference here at most.
I have always used a variant of Arctic Silver, seems to always help a tad on my temps.
yeah, Ceramique all day long, cheap, works just as well as the "uber silver stuff" and not electrically capacitive like the silver stuff

contrary to popular belief, AS5 is not akin to the second coming of Christ ;)
Exactly thats why I posted. AS5 is way overrated. People think its the end all solution. It is great but I think others deserve attention as well. Theres alot of great choices. Shin etsu and ceramique are great as well.

nobody_here said:
yeah, Ceramique all day long, cheap, works just as well as the "uber silver stuff" and not electrically capacitive like the silver stuff

contrary to popular belief, AS5 is not akin to the second coming of Christ ;)
Voted "other"

After testing about every thermal paste I could find, my personal favorite is Shin Etsu X23-7783D. Definitely takes a more refined technique to apply. But it gives me the best temps on my bare AthlonXP cores. And is much easier to clean up than AS5.

For those interested, Shin Etsu can be found here.

"Best" can be very subjective. The differences in temps between the respective pastes
falls within the margin of error from different system configurations & application techniques.
Only YOU can determine which is "best" for your particular set-up.
Legal crap ......

1] - All views expressed here are strictly the opinion of the poster.
2] - Poster has no affiliation with Shin Etsu or the seller above.
Budwise said:
so which of the Shin Etsu's would be best on a bare core?
From the MicroSi lynk provided above we can see that X23-7783D has the best thermal conductivity.
Plus the formula includes evaporative chemicals which make it easier to apply than the other offerings.

Just remember ... Shin Etsu takes a more refined application technique. Which is why many get unfavorable temps IMO.
SE is less viscous than the popular AS5, so as a result any excess SE paste will not squeeze out the sides.
Legal crap ......

1] - All views expressed here are strictly the opinion of the poster.
2] - Poster has no affiliation with Shin Etsu or the seller above.
just an update, i am now using the Shen Itsu on a bare core, and without breaking in at all (been running for about 10 minutes under load) it is roughly .5-1C cooler than the AS5. Hopefully i will get some further temp drops as some have said happens with SE...
plenty of thermal compounds out there, and the difference between the best and the worst usually has more to do with how well it whets the surface than how thermally conductive it is.

that lovely, Al destroying "liquid metal" thermal compound likely does so well simply because it spreads thinner than the competition.

i've been told that indium foils are about the best that you can do, if you have the bucks for them. it's a really soft metal that can be made into a really thin foil that whets the surface adequately and has something like 10x the thermal conductivity of any paste. you can't get it on as thin as a paste, but the superior conductivity makes up for it.
Ceramique: It actually performs better than silver, after the wear-in, and it's easier to apply, and cheaper.
Looks like you'd need the 2" × 2" × 0.005". At $103 for 5 that's roughly $20 per CPU.
Not too awfully bad if a few people get together & split the cost. Being on a solder page,
it might be prudent to check if it's PURE Indium first.

Let us know how it goes.
Technically speaking, Silver is one of the best metallic conductors of heat. At 429W/(m k) it's much better than gold at 320W/(m k). Copper's up there closer to 400W/(m k). The problem with gold leaf is it's malliability, think of how easy it'd be to create air pockets with that stuff. On that note however, something I think would be fun to try is Gallium metal. It melts at about 30'c... you could melt the stuff, swab it on the core with a q tip, let it solidify and go to town. Course... it'd probably be aweful at transferring heat till it re-melted, which might be just long enough to fry your processor (as it's thermal conductivity rests near 8W/(m k) when solid...)

oh yeah, I vote AS ceramique, because it's really cheap... 1'c or so just doens't make a difference to me.
Good one Arcygenical . It's a common misconception that Gold is the superior thermal & electrical conductor.
It is Gold's resistance to oxidation which makes it useful for electrical connections.
Automotive airbags are a prime example. The auto maker can't have the sensor contact
points corroding, thus preventing a good electrical connection.

Re: malliability. Actually, that should be a desirable trait since it would be more likely
to work it's way into the tiny imperfections in the surfaces under pressure.

* Periodic Table - Thermal Conductivity *

** Silver = Ag ... Copper = Cu ...Gold = Au ... Aluminum = Al ... Indium = In **

As we can see in the table above, Silver is the best thermal conductor, followed closely by
Copper. We can also see Indium has nowhere near the thermal conductivity of the above.
The reason Indium is used is because it is soft and would fill any microscopic voids in
the CPU and heatsink better than a harder metal.
Ahh, that makes sense now, but assuming one would want to create a thermal interface with a sheet of metal foil, wouldn't a fair bit of force be required to force the foil into said microscopic cracks? More than the standard 75lbs of retention force on, say, an AMD 64 HSF?

PS. What I meant about air pockets with gold leafing essentially comes from the fact, that well... that stuff folds very easily... Assuming you could get it on completely flat (almost impossible, I've only used the stuff once because of this) It'd probably work very well, but the inevitable folding and scrunching (especially if you ever moved the HSF and tore the sheet!) would probably lead to your downfall.
the reason that indiom foil is so desirable is that it is soft.....really soft.

it's nothing special in terms of thermal conductivity so far as solid metals go, but it's so malleable that even moderate pressure will force the foil into the pits on the surface.

i don't think this foil would be at all worth the effort on a proc with IHS installed, though. the IHS is allready less than flat, and if you're using a copper contact plate, having the IHS in there only creates more contact resistance, additional path length, and makes heat pass through an added thickness of thermal compound where the IHS dishes in at the center. the IHS is great if you're using an Al 'sink since it vastly reduces spreading resistance and reduces the impact of the thermal compound on performance.