Computers

Best Thermal Paste for CPUs 2021: 90 Pastes Tested and Ranked

Choosing the best thermal paste may sound simple, but a dizzying array of options can turn this seemingly easy choice into a time-consuming task. Thermal paste is designed to minimize microscopic air gaps and irregularities between the surface of the cooler and the CPU’s IHS (integrated heat spreader), the piece of metal which is built into the top of the processor.

Good thermal paste can have a profound impact on your performance, because it will allow your processor to transfer more of its waste heat to your cooler, keeping your processor running cool. Choosing the best thermal paste is also important if you plan on overclocking your rig to its fullest. Even the best CPUs can often hit slightly higher overclocks if they’re paired with a good thermal paste. 

Performance enthusiasts often swear by a favorite brand of paste, but new recipes crop up from time to time. We’ve conducted extensive testing of some of the top thermal pastes on the market, and if you’re on the hunt for more exotic pastes that are off the beaten path, we also have plenty of historical data below covering 90 different pastes (and yes, we’ve even tested toothpaste).

CPU Die and IHS

(Image credit: Tom’s Hardware)

Thermal paste can go by many names, such as “thermal compound,” “thermal grease,” or “TIM” (Thermal Interface Material). Most pastes are comprised of ceramic or metallic materials suspended within a proprietary binder which allows for easy application and spread as well as simple cleanup. 


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