What is The Best Thermal Paste to Purchase in 2017?

cageymaru

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As computer enthusiasts we're often tasked with suggesting computer components to friends, family, coworkers, etc. Thermal paste is one component that seems small, but can make a huge difference especially when overclocking. The website Play3r has published their findings of a thermal paste shootout that they conducted this year. Using 26 different thermal paste compounds, they were able to find a few winners based on use case. A person overclocking on air wouldn't necessarily want to opt for the time and expense of a liquid metal paste. But if that person was wondering what they are missing out on performance wise by skipping the liquid metal pastes, then this is the review for them!

Personally I'm happy to see how well the Noctua NT-H1 did. I have a tube sitting unopened on the shelf as I wait for a motherboard to show up.

It really depends on the type of cooling you are using. My recommendations are different based on if you’re using conventional cooling methods such as air, water and even sub-zero; liquid nitrogen and dry ice. What I will say though is for air and water cooling, most of the ‘decent’ aftermarket thermal pastes will have a couple of degrees Celsius between them…aside from those with high thermal conductivity ratings such as liquid metal.

Now those questions have been answered, now you will maybe understand why thermal paste is an important tool in ensuring adequate and good thermal transfer between your CPU cooler and of course, your processor. That is why I spent around 30 days (in total) comparing and testing 26 of the top thermal pastes on the market with the Intel Core i7-7700K processor to see which reigned supreme…and which failed to deliver on their marketing.
 

mesyn191

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Supposedly some of the top tier pastes also have short effectiveness compared to the "crap" white goop or other TIM that comes stock on many HSF's so there is that to consider too.

And by short I mean like 6 months or so. The other "crap" stuff won't have the same thermal conductivity but you can leave it on for years without issue.

If you're always messing with the cooling you won't care about this issue but if you're a "once n' done" type then this sort of thing matters.
 
D

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Things I have noticed that is never considered when doing TIM tests. Viscosity of paste in relation to roughness of base, it seems thicker pastes do better on some rougher bases or not so clean heat pipe direct contact bases, while super thin pastes work better on lapped base/IHS. Outside of that and metal pastes, most TIMs see a change of 1-2C, which I consider to be close to the margin of error when considering application and HS/WB seating etc etc along with possible room temp variation. Lots of them measure room temp based on AC, but don't measure air temp right around the computer, myself, when stressing something, it might be 2-5F hotter close to the PC vs the rest of the room, my PC room it self you can feel the temp change walking into it (two gaming PCs, Pfsense box and server).
 

mdburkey

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I have a great big tube of Arctic Silver 5 in my fridge, used it in my build last November.... it's still made & sold, no idea why it wasn't on this comparison...
I fix and assemble stuff professionally, and I've used almost nothing but AS5 for years and have had nothing but good results out of it. I've also used quite a bit of Shin-Etsu stuff over the years and always found it to work well too (it's been my second choice when out of AS5).

Why he skipped AS5 in the review is beyond me.
 
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AS5 has been the only paste I've applied on ANYTHING I've ever worked on. Been doing this for years and I'm not about to change something that works quite well.
 

The_Heretic

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Well obviously he says the word obviously 17 times in the first 5 min. Which obviously means I must have watched it at least twice. :)
 

Nenu

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Only 6C difference between the very worst crap paste and the best normal paste.
Another 3C or 6C going to liquid metal.
Problem with liquid metal is it degrades and is a pain to clean up.

I'm on Gelid Extreme, its the best paste I've used.
Not going liquid metal, especially on a delid.
 

Pusher of Buttons

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I thought AS kind of went away because if you're going to use something conductive you can get better results with other products, and likewise get the same results and not have to worry about shorting anything with other pastes?

I mean, I used it on my old T-bred build back in the day directly on the core with no issue, but last few builds haven't been very OC friendly so just used Ceramique
 
D

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I thought AS kind of went away because if you're going to use something conductive you can get better results with other products, and likewise get the same results and not have to worry about shorting anything with other pastes?

I mean, I used it on my old T-bred build back in the day directly on the core with no issue, but last few builds haven't been very OC friendly so just used Ceramique
AS is not electrically conductive.
 

-Strelok-

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AS is not electrically conductive.
They have this slight warning, although I'm assuming it's not really relevant in most cases.

While it is not electrically conductive, the compound is very slightly capacitive and could potentially cause problems if it bridges two close-proximity electrical paths.)
 

Bandalo

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I've been using the same tube of Noctua NT-H1 for a couple years now. Nice to see it's holding up so well. Especially since it was only $5-6 then, and it's still in the same price range.

Unless you're going liquid metal, it looks like it really doesn't matter what you use. A 2-3C difference between the best and worst is pretty insignificant in the long run.
 

Nenu

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AS is not electrically conductive.
It is capacitive so can create a leaky circuit between 2 pins if either of them has high frequency on it.
Considering this is a PC, thats pretty common.

I killed a gfx card about 15 years ago with Arctic Silver by getting it on the memory legs.
It wouldnt clean out. Each clean resulted in different weirdness on screen.
Once it gets underneath the chip, its toast. Its easy to make it go there trying to clean it off.
 

Sircolby45

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Feb 13, 2017
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I've been using the same tube of Noctua NT-H1 for a couple years now. Nice to see it's holding up so well. Especially since it was only $5-6 then, and it's still in the same price range.

Unless you're going liquid metal, it looks like it really doesn't matter what you use. A 2-3C difference between the best and worst is pretty insignificant in the long run.
I use the same. Noctua paste is cheap, easy to apply, and works fantastically.
 

Hielo_loco

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I like Tuniq TX-4! I´ve applied it without issue to a few computers in the past couple of years.
 

magoo

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Noctura NT-H1 is all I use, went there from AS5.

No "cure" time, easy to use and will keep in a drawer for years.
 

Nenu

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Almost anything wet and extremely thin will work until it dries out.
Jizz would be better than water long term.
 

dragonstongue

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I Use MX3 myself, works well, easy to clean, easy to apply, lasts a long time, and was when I bought it $2 less expensive than others like say AS5 which tends to dry and flake after awhile not to mention more of a pita to clean up.

I use MX3 on cpu as well as gpu for core and vreg works very well(works awesome if a drop of this with a drop of superglue to attach ram sinks) not sure how it would fair for liquid cooling applications or exotic, but works very well IMO for standard air. heard great things about the prolimatech one as well as Gelid one. for me is a cost for performance and usability thing :)
 

AaronGant

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Supposedly some of the top tier pastes also have short effectiveness compared to the "crap" white goop or other TIM that comes stock on many HSF's so there is that to consider too.

And by short I mean like 6 months or so. The other "crap" stuff won't have the same thermal conductivity but you can leave it on for years without issue.

If you're always messing with the cooling you won't care about this issue but if you're a "once n' done" type then this sort of thing matters.
when I search I just find so many opinions. Is there somewhere with good information about lifetime of the paste?
 

Trimlock

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Here to pimp AS5 as well. This stuff can be quite sticky so I'm very careful with it but I bought it (I think..) back in 09 and still have the same tube in the same drawer. I've used this stuff A LOT, was thinking of upgrading to different paste for my next build since I've had this tube for so long but I'll stick with it I think.
 

Snowdog

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When I was putting the Air Cooler on my Q9400, I just bought a tube of generic white compound at the HW store. Works good enough for me. Still working well OC to 3.2GHz for 8 years straight.
 
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