5 Best Thermal Pastes of 2018 – A Buyer’s Guide and Reviews

Just like how easy you could risk your CPU or GPU with the wrong thermal application method is how likely you will screw your investment if you are not paying enough attention when picking the best thermal paste.

After going through every nook and cranny to find the best thermal paste, we present you 5 thermal pastes that will surely meet a gamer’s cooling standards.

The big names you have been hearing over and over are carefully reviewed and evaluated to ensure that your purchase is on point. Go through the items below to see the smallest of differences and make self-evaluations to pick the best one for your thermal cooling requirements.

1. Thermal Grizzly Kryonaut

Breakdown of Top 5 Best Thermal Pastes of 2018

nametypeitem weightelectrically conductivethermal conductivity ratingRating
#1Thermal Grizzly KryonautThermal Grizzly Kryonaut Thermal Paste 0.16 ouncesNo 12.5 W/mk4.5/5
#2Cooler MasterGel Maker NanoCooler MasterGel Maker Nano Thermal Compound 1.12 ouncesNo 11W/mK4.5/5
#3Arctic Silver 5Arctic Silver 5 Thermal Paste 0.123 ouncesYes 8.9 W/mK4/5
#4Noctua NT-H1Noctua NT-H1 Thermal Compound 0.16 ouncesNo 8.9W/mK4/5
#5Arctic MX-4Arctic MX-4 Thermal Compound 0.16 ouncesNo 8.5W/mK3.5/5
#1

Thermal Grizzly Kryonaut

TECH SPECS

  • Type
    Thermal Paste
  • Item Weight
    0.16 ounces
  • Electrically-Conductive?
    No
  • Thermal Conductivity Rating
    12.5 W/mk

If you’re leaning towards overclocking your rig past their limits, then this bad boy here is what you need. It has a high wattage per meter-Kelvin of 12.5, perfect for overclocking purposes. For regular use, this is not recommended at all. Its price, along with the capabilities of the thermal paste, will be put to waste if you are not going to overclocking your rig.

The manufacturer is also considerate enough to include a spatula or a spreader to keep your hands from doing the dirty work of spreading the paste. Once you have this set, you can forget about getting a new thermal paste.

The fact that this has a high conductivity rating for a thermal paste is what makes it our personal pick. It also is capable of working with cold temperatures of -50C, making them a perfect pair for liquid nitrogen setups.

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#2

Cooler MasterGel Maker Nano

TECH SPECS

  • Type
    Thermal Compound
  • Item Weight
    1.12 ounces
  • Electrically-Conductive?
    No
  • Thermal Conductivity Rating
    11W/mK

The Cooler MasterGel Maker Nano is specifically designed to meet and effectively compete with a number of mid-range liquid metals in the market with its wattage per meter-Kelvin of 11.

It uses industry grade diamond particles, the reason why it is lightweight, easy to apply, spread, and remove. It also is what secures you can avoid erosion and auto-oxidation overtime.

If you run a high-performance CPU or GPU or plan to run a liquid nitrogen setup, this surely is an investment you will never regret as this easily handles temperatures of -50C to 150C easily. There is no need for a settling time or a curing time to get the best temperature output.

The fact that this performs great for its price is what makes it an investment you need to take, especially if you find Thermal Grizzly Kryonaut to be off your budget range.

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#3

Arctic Silver 5

TECH SPECS

  • Type
    Thermal Paste
  • Item Weight
    0.123 ounces
  • Electrically-Conductive
    Yes
  • Thermal Conductivity Rating
    8.9 W/mK

Arctic Silver 5 has been on the market for many years now. Still, it is capable enough to compete with new products in the market with a conductivity rating of 8.9W/mK. This is all thanks to its fine silver particles, which is what makes it highly conductive in terms of transferring heat.

The Arctic Silver 5, however, is unique. This is because of the fact that it still is introduced as a ceramic TIM even with the fine silver content of 99.9%. However, manufacturers of Arctic Silver 5 still opts consumers to be careful enough not to spill it on the motherboard.

It boasts an improvement in temperature readings after the curing phase, which, actually shows little difference in temperatures by then. No matter the case, with a high conductivity rating of 8.9W/mK, going for the Arctic Silver 5 surely is an investment you will find worthy of your time and money.

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#4

Noctua NT-H1

TECH SPECS

  • Type
    Thermal Compound
  • Item Weight
    0.16 ounces
  • Electrically-Conductive?
    No
  • Thermal Conductivity Rating
    8.9W/mK

The development of Noctua NT-H1 was initially introduced as a bundle along with Noctua CPU coolers. It was then changed to allow builders and use Noctua NT-HT1 to pair it with other aftermarket coolers.

The goal was then aimed to compete in line with Arctic Silver AS5 by addressing its flaws and downsides.

Compared to the Arctic MX-4, temperatures are observed to be 2C cooler. Noctua NT-H1 also boasts the fact that they are perfect, and possibly the best for overclocking purposes. Being able to handle temperatures between -50C to 150C is what makes them perfect for liquid nitrogen setups as well.

With a thick and drier paste appearance, spreading is surprisingly easier. Also, there is no need for settling time. Because this is 2C cooler than MX-4 is the reason why I gave it a higher rating.

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#5

Arctic MX-4

TECH SPECS

  • Type
    Thermal Compound
  • Item Weight
    0.16 ounces
  • Electrically-Conductive
    No
  • Thermal Conductivity Rating
    8.5W/mK

The birth of the Arctic MX-4 is supposed to follow the footsteps and success of the Arctic Silver 5.

Optimization and tweaks, along with the absence of fine silver particles, are among the reasons why the non-conductive Arctic MX-4 has been sought after in the market by a number of builders. The fact that this also is easier to spread was inspired by the flaws and drawbacks of the Arctic MX-3.

Tests also have shown superiority in Arctic MX-4 over Arctic Silver 5, even with the difference of conductivity rate of 8.5W/mK vs Arctic Silver’s 8.9W/mK.

Overclocking with MX-4 requires more power to keep up with the heat, a reason why they are not advisable if you want to overclock your CPU or GPU. Strong proofs of showing great performance for regular use is the reason why MX-4 earned its place as among the best thermal paste in our review.

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What is Thermal Paste?

Thermal paste basically is the grey substance you see between your CPU and heatsink or your GPU and heatsink. The fact that they conduct heat up to 100 times better as opposed to air is what makes them essential for every computer build, especially you are inclined towards overclocking your rig.

They are called by many names and below are among the common ones:

  • Thermal Interface Material
  • CPU grease
  • Thermal Goop
  • Heat Paste
  • Thermal Gel
  • Heat sink compound
  • Thermal compound

There are more on the list. You can read more about the difference of thermal grease, paste, and pads to have a better understanding of how each differ from type, brand as well as temperature output. Reading it first allows you to accurately choose which from the 5 best thermal paste works for you.

Types of Thermal Paste

Thermal Interface Materials(TIMs) are designed to meet specific needs. This is why you could find different types of TIMs such as:

  • Metal Based TIMs
  • Ceramic Based TIMs
  • Silicon Based TIMs

Metal based TIMs are the most conductive types of thermal paste with the main ingredient being fine metal particles. Although they are able to produce and register lower temperatures at most, they also are electrically conductive.

This is the reason why it is best to keep metal based TIMs from touching your motherboard.

Ceramic Based TIMs may not be as highly conductive as opposed to their metal based TIMs counterparts in terms of transferring heat, but they are safer in general. This is because their main ingredient is composed of ceramic, which is not electrically conducting, making it safe even when you spill on your motherboard.

Silicon Based TIMs are pre-applied thermal interface materials you can find on thermal pads. They may be really easy to apply compared to the other types of TIMs but can’t really compete in terms of performance and keeping temperatures low.

Things to Consider When Buying a Thermal Paste

What Will You Be Using The Thermal Paste For?

If you need a thermal paste for your CPU or GPU, you want to make sure you are choosing the right one for your needs.

If you want to overclock your CPU performance or your GPU performance, a thermal paste that has a high thermal conductivity rating is best.

On the flipside, regular CPU and GPU usage will be better off with a cheaper thermal paste that does a good job at keeping temperatures low.

Are You A Beginner, Intermediate or An Advanced Builder?

If you need a thermal paste for your CPU or GPU, you want to make sure you are choosing the right one for your needs.

If you want to overclock your CPU performance or your GPU performance, a thermal paste that has a high thermal conductivity rating is best.

On the flipside, regular CPU and GPU usage will be better off with a cheaper thermal paste that does a good job at keeping temperatures low.

Consider the Price

If you are specifically tight in budget and you what to spend a few dollars to other components that matter, then this is a great time to consider evaluating the price of the thermal paste.

With varying options to choose from, to save money by sparing a few degrees can be made. A good way to go around the flaws is to check our guide on how to reduce CPU temperatures.

Final verdict

If you want to overclock your CPU or GPU and exceed their limits, I would suggest you get Thermal Grizzly Kryonaut. This ensures their temperatures are kept at low levels, both in an idle state and in a loaded state.

In case budget is a concern, but you still want to overclock your rig, the Cooler MasterGel Maker Nano should help you with your goals without having to spend a fortune. With a thermal conductivity rating of 11W/mK, the assurance that you stay within cooler temperatures should not be of a concern.

Average users, on the other hand, as well as beginners, will find Arctic Silver 5 and Arctic MX-4 a smart decision to take. Apply the thermal interface materials and you can forget about them, at least until your next build or your next CPU upgrade.

Regardless the thermal paste or compound you will get, the need to make sure you are doing the right method of application is very important. Don’t risk your purchase and check our detailed guide on how to correctly apply thermal paste to your CPU or GPU to avoid complications.

There are various types of applications you may have heard of, and a detailed evaluation of the difference in temperature output should give you a heads up which method is most effective.

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