Computers generate a lot of heat as all electronic devices do. This heat must be dissipated somewhere so that it can perform as per the requirements. Heat dissipation is the job of the heat-sinks which are mainly attached to the processor and the graphics card. However, two solid surfaces cannot transfer heat efficiently due to microscopic imperfections. Therefore, a liquid substance must fill those micro-gaps in the two 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 which has 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. We will not be discussing liquid metal thermal compounds in this article as they are not suitable for an average consumer and can lead to terrible failures because of their sensitive nature.
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. 1g packing can be used 2-3 times for 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, should stay away from this as the temperature differences from the other cheaper high-end compounds is not worth the price.
Cooler Master is a well-known brand for various computer products especially the cooling solutions. MasterGel Maker Nano is a thermal paste which gives a great challenge to Kryonaut in terms of performance. It contains nanodiamond particles which have 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 Nano comes in only 1.5ml packaging which is equal to 4-grams of substance. It is enough for about 10-12 applications on medium sized processors. This thermal compound comes with a grease cleaner and a scraper which makes the application very comfortable. Some people complain that the diamond particles cause scratches on the bare silicon but it is only a rumor and Cooler Master has completely negated the statement and it can be used both on silicon or the heat spreader of the CPU.
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. The company claims about 18-degree improvement over normal thermal paste that comes with Intel processors.
Noctua is a brand famous for their high-quality CPU coolers and fans. Noctua NT-H1 is a very old thermal compound which is still kicking due to high performance. It is a hybrid thermal compound with various microparticles leading to a thermal conductivity of 8.9 W/m.K and a density of 2.4 g/cm³. This thermal compound also comes with the company’s CPU coolers. It has a temperature limit ranging from –40°C to 90°C for a long period of time.
Noctua NT-H1 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 if the heat-sink does not spread the thermal compound on the entire surface area.
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 a 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 also another reason for its fame 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 I stated earlier, spreading it properly on a GPU core is a must. 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.
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Prices taken/valid at the time of review.