High-performance thermal paste fills the microscopic imperfections between the surfaces of electronic components and heat sinks to improve heat transfer. By reducing the resistance of this interface, it prevents overheating in devices and maintains optimal performance for a longer lifespan.
There are several factors to consider when choosing the best thermal paste for your system. The most important one is the specific gravity, which is a measure of the density of the paste. Generally speaking, thicker pastes offer better performance, but they can also be more difficult to work with and clean up. Another important factor is the atomic number of the silicon particles, which is a measure of the thermal conductivity of the material. The higher the value, the better the thermal conductivity.
Some newer thermal compounds use liquid metal, which outperforms traditional pastes in some scenarios by up to ten degrees Celsius and can be applied quickly with minimal risk of accidentally splashing it around your PC’s innards. The downside of these products is that they are electrically conductive and corrode aluminum, which can seriously damage your components. There are also graphite thermal pads, such as those offered by IC Graphite, which are more like traditional pastes in terms of application and can offer similar performance but aren’t electrically conductive.
The best thermal pastes feature a moderately viscous, stable compound that is easy to apply and resists runs or drips, and they are generally well-suited for users of all experience levels. Some examples include Thermal Grizzly Kryonaut, Arctic MX-4, Cooler Master High-Performance Thermal Paste, and the CORSAIR TM-30. Another option is a carbon-based thermal compound, such as the one offered by Arctic Silver Ceramique or the Corsair GC-Extreme.