Summary and conclusion
Summary and conclusion
Choosing the right thermal paste is a very important step that most people completely overlook. However, believe it or not, the decision that you make does matter a lot when you are building a new computer. Since there are so many brands on the market, there is an obvious confusion that makes things difficult for the average user. And when that happens, people pick the cheapest thermal paste they can find.
Although buying thermal grease is a fairly simple and straightforward process, the really baffling moment comes when you end up facing a heap of different companies selling products that promise huge differences. In truth, the differences between these options are not really that big; and as long as you bought something made by reputable brands like Noctua, Cooler Master, Arctic, or Thermal Grizzly, you are good to go.
One important side note here, the choice of thermal paste can make a huge difference when overclocking. If that’s the case, and you’re on the edge of stability, then every degree counts. Keeping our little disclaimer in mind, we would still like to recommend a couple of products.
Thermal Grizzly Conductonaut offers the best performance, but you need to remember that it’s a liquid-metal compound, so it simply is not 100% safe to use. It might embrittle aluminum surfaces and react with cold plates, resulting in chalky disintegration of the two connecting metals. If you have a nickel-plated IHS, then the liquid metal is fine. The gallium compound does not react with nickel, so it’s a non-issue in terms of corrosion and performance. Copper heatsink plates are mostly OK as well. They might stain with Conductonaut (heavily), but performance remains unaffected. For high-end setups, Thermal Grizzly Kryonaut will be fine, as it’s always at the top of the charts. It’s not electrically conductive, but quite expensive.
Other than that, products like Arctic Cooling MX2/MX-4 or Noctua NT-H1 will be fine for most regular users (and they’re relatively inexpensive, too). Usually, you lose 2-3 degrees comparing to the top thermal pastes when using them, but they're cheaper. Cooler Master Mastergel Maker and Be Quiet DC1 also perform well but does carry the price tag that goes along with it.
When you’re looking at where to buy thermal paste, there are a wide variety of options. Remember to carefully consider pricing and your own needs. TIM matter more when you plan to tweak your processor. We're not going to give away awards here as the application will differ per PC, functionality and build. Our charts are the base guideline for you as to what you may expect in performance, and how much you are willing to spend on the product.