Heat dissipation is the job of the heat-sinks which are mainly attached to the processor and the graphics card of a computer, however, two solid surfaces cannot transfer heat efficiently due to microscopic imperfections. Therefore, a liquid substance must fill those micro-gaps in these surfaces to enhance the thermal conductivity. With an increase in the Thermal Design Power (TDP) of graphics cards and processors in the last few years, especially when overclocked, the importance of the thermal compounds has become twice-fold.
The better the thermal compound, the better the heat will dissipate, providing a lot of advantages. Also, the functionality of many products nowadays is directly dependent on the temperature. The lower the temperatures, the higher the clock speeds can be achieved especially in unlocked processors.
That is why, in this article, we will be looking at the best thermal pastes for your PC build. This is to ensure that you can buy the right compound without a lot of hassle.
1. Thermal Grizzly Kryonaut
Best Non-Conductive Compound
- Provides best performance of all thermal compounds
- Great for extreme overclocking
- No settling time is required
- One of the densest thermal compounds
- Quite pricey for an average consumer
Thermal Conductivity: 12.5 W/m.K | Temperature Limits: -250˚C to + 300℃
Thermal Grizzly is at the pinnacle of success in thermal compounds. Thermal Grizzly Kryonaut, being their top product in non-capacitive thermal compounds, is a terrific product showing great results. It is the best thermal paste in terms of thermal conductivity among the non-capacitive thermal compounds, with a reading of 12.5 W/m.K making it an absolute beauty in the eyes of overclockers. It has a density of 3.7 g/cm³, thermal resistance of 0.0032 K/W and a temperature limit range of -250˚C to + 300˚C which is more than enough for consumers.
Thermal Grizzly Kryonaut comes in packaging of 1g, 5.5g, and 11.1g. The 1g packing can be used 2-3 times for a medium-sized processor. Users who use thermal pastes on different components should consider the bigger package since it is more efficient in terms of price. This thermal compound comes with two spreaders in case if the user loses one.
It is only recommended for extreme overclockers who do not want to compromise on temperatures no matter what the price. An average consumer, who does not overclock to the extreme, might want to look at some of the cheaper options.
2. Cooler Master MasterGel Maker (Latest Edition)
Ease of application
- Provides very close performance to Kryonaut
- Can be applied with ease
- Nano Diamond particles could cause abrasion
- Performance degrades over time
- Not very competitive in terms of price
Thermal Conductivity: 11 W/m.k | Temperature Limits: –10°C to 140°C
Cooler Master is a well-known brand for various computer products especially the cooling solutions. MasterGel Maker is the rebranding of the original Cooler Master MasterGel Maker Nano and gives a great challenge to Kryonaut in terms of performance. It contains nanodiamond particles which have a very high thermal conductivity. It has a thermal conductivity of 11 W/m.K which is more than most of the high-end compounds. It has a density of 2.6 g/cm³ and a temperature limit ranging from –10°C to 140°C.
MasterGel Maker comes in only 1.5ml packaging which is equal to 4-grams of substance. It is enough for about 10-12 applications on a medium-sized processor. This thermal compound comes with a grease cleaner and a scraper which makes the application very comfortable. There are some complaints that the diamond particles cause scratches on the bare silicon, however, Cooler Master has completely negated this statement.
Overall, this thermal compound is a great alternative to Kryonaut and can be considered instead if you want to save a bit of money.
3. Gelid Solutions GC-Extreme
Best Value Compound
- Non-Corrosive & Non-Curring
- Comes with Gelid applicator
- Provides great results for overclocking
- Beats thermal compounds with higher thermal conductivity
- Can become sluggish if the heatsink not applied quickly
Thermal Conductivity: 8.5 W/m.K | Temperature Limits: –45°C to 180°C
Gelid Solutions GC-Extreme is also a well-known product to the overclockers due to its high performance. The manufacturers claim it to be non-corrosive, non-toxic and user-friendly. It has a thermal conductivity of 8.5 W/m.K and is electrically non-conductive so users do not need to worry if a drop of paste falls on the motherboard or other sensitive components. It comes with a temperature limit ranging from –45°C to 180°C.
Gelid Solutions GC-Extreme comes in 1g, 3.5g, and 10g packs. It comes with an applicator to spread it easily however the application can be a little tricky as it can dry up quickly if the heat-sink is not attached soon. However, if properly applied, it can yield great results. There are records of up to 18-degree improvement over normal thermal paste that comes with Intel processors.
Overall, Gelid GC-Extreme might not seem great on paper but works wonders for overclocking and a lot of professionals are keen on using this thermal paste.
Arctic MX-4 is one of the cheapest high-end thermal compounds available in the market. It is a great product containing carbon micro-particles leading to the thermal conductivity of 8.5 W/m.K. It is one of the most selling thermal compounds as most of the people are looking to buy high-end stuff at a low price. There is another reason for its fame as well, which is that this thermal compound can last up to 8-years without degradation which is an impressive amount of time. It has a density of 2.5 g/cm³ like most of the high-end compounds.
Arctic MX-4 comes in 2g, 4g, 8g, 20g and, 45g packs giving the customer a lot of choices. It does not come with a spreader which is fine to use with an IHS on a processor but as we stated earlier, spreading it properly on a GPU core is a must. As for the performance is concerned, this thermal compound shall not be used for extreme overclocking but still, provides far better results than the stock thermal compounds you would get from the manufacturers like Intel.
Overall, it is probably not the best thermal paste in terms of performance but if you are looking for the best bang for the buck, it will not disappoint you.
Noctua is a brand famous for its high-quality CPU coolers and fans. Noctua NT-H2 is a new thermal compound which is a successor to the previously known NT-H1. NT-H2 is a hybrid thermal compound with various microparticles. While NT-H1 had a thermal conductivity of 8.9 W/m.K and a density of 2.4 g/cm³, NT-H2 has a density of 2.81g/cm³, although the thermal conductivity is unspecified (should be around 9 W/m.K. Do note that Noctua is still sending NT-H1 with their coolers, which is why you can get the NT-H2 only through the stores.
Noctua NT-H2 comes in 3.5g packing though no spreader is included in it. However, the company claims that it spreads very well under the pressure of heat-sink and does not need a spreader, also leading to lower application times. This is fine for a processor with IHS but to use it with a graphics card or a processor without IHS, the user should spread the compound properly because graphics cards do not have an IHS generally and not spreading the compound on the bare silicon can be fatal, especially now that the NT-H2 has even higher density than the NT-H1.
Overall, Noctua NT-H2 is very slightly cheaper than the Cooler Master MasterGel Maker, although provides similar or sometimes better results, and it requires a bit of expertise to gain this advantage due to high viscosity of the compound.