Following on from our previous ‘Which is the best thermal paste’ article and testing we did back in 2015, I decided to create another; this time with a current-gen Intel Core i7-7700K processor and with a couple more thermal pastes added into the mix. Thermal paste is a very important ‘component’ for ensuring efficient and optimal thermal conductivity between your heat sink and your processor…but why? Here are some common questions along with answers to those questions to further understand why thermal paste is important.
Why is thermal paste needed?
The short answer, an element of physical contact is needed to transfer heat efficiently between the heat spreader and the heat sink. Thermal paste essentially plugs the gaps which allow for better heat transfer.
What will happen if I don’t use thermal paste?
This isn’t such a straightforward answer, but more of an explanation of why thermal paste is so important. First of all, that super smooth heat spreader on your CPU has loads of micro imperfections which allow air pockets to build thus ruining the efficiency of your cooling. Another problem is that different types of metal such as aluminium, copper, and brass all have different expansion properties when heated up and cooled down. Thermal paste bridges the gap and fills in all those miniature imperfections creating a tight seal, meaning that the thermal conduction is optimised in a way which is efficient. If you don’t use thermal paste, will your system overheat? Probably! Will it pack up and die? Probably not right away, but heat and extreme builds up of heat can have a negative effect on the longevity of most electronic products; CPUs are no exception here.
What is the best thermal paste to use?
It really depends on the type of cooling you are using. My recommendations are different based on if you’re using conventional cooling methods such as air, water and even sub-zero; liquid nitrogen and dry ice. What I will say though is for air and water cooling, most of the ‘decent’ aftermarket thermal pastes will have a couple of degrees Celsius between them…aside from those with high thermal conductivity ratings such as liquid metal.
Different types of thermal paste consist of different materials; some are better than others in terms of thermal conductivity. A good example is liquid metal against ceramic based pastes. The liquid metal not only plugs the gaps better between the IHS and the CPU cooler, but it also features better conductivity meaning more heat can be transferred per application than other types used. The drawback to liquid metal paste however is the application can be messy, the paste is more expensive and overall, some people just prefer to go with the easiest route; I don’t blame them in all honesty!
Now those questions have been answered, now you will maybe understand why thermal paste is an important tool in ensuring adequate and good thermal transfer between your CPU cooler and of course, your processor. That is why I spent around 30 days (in total) comparing and testing 26 of the top thermal pastes on the market with the Intel Core i7-7700K processor to see which reigned supreme…and which failed to deliver on their marketing.
What is the best thermal paste to use for the Intel Core i7-7700K processor?
Below is my video comparing the aforementioned 26 thermal pastes and the results are pretty conclusive
You can purchase (for a good price and usually the cheapest) most of the thermal pastes that have been tested by clicking the links below; not only is thermal paste important as I have explained, but having the right one that’s cost effective and of course offers good performance is more important than using cheap generic paste; as I have proved.
Alpenfohn Permafrost – http://amzn.to/2kwbmem
Cooler Master Mastergel Pro – http://amzn.to/2lB9QIC
Cooler Master E2 – http://amzn.to/2lBqOqd
Xigmatek PTI – http://amzn.to/2lBesi5
Akasa Pro Grade 460 – http://amzn.to/2kdZ8e8
Cooler Master Mastergel Maker Nano – http://amzn.to/2kwbBpM
Cooler Master Mastergel – http://amzn.to/2kgmESM
Cooler Master E1 – http://amzn.to/2kwfgDY
CooLaboratory Liquid Copper – http://amzn.to/2kghMgI
Arctic MX-2 – http://amzn.to/2lB3Csa
Cooler Master High Performance – http://amzn.to/2kgfLB0
JunPus DX1 – N/A
be quiet! DC1 – http://amzn.to/2kdZvp2
Gelid GC Extreme – http://amzn.to/2ke4pSM
EKWB Ectotherm – http://amzn.to/2ke2I7W
Arctic Ceramique 2 – http://amzn.to/2kwmyYj
Cooler Master Generic – N/A
Thermalright Chill Factor 3 – http://amzn.to/2kgidrm
Noctua NT-H1 – http://amzn.to/2ke2sWx
JunPus D9000 Extreme Cold – N/A
CooLaboratory Liquid Pro – http://amzn.to/2kgmDye
CooLaboratory Liquid Ultra – http://amzn.to/2lzxmF0
IC Diamond 7 Carat – http://amzn.to/2lzuoAC
Generic Thermal Paste – N/A
Kingp!n Cooling KPC Paste – N/A
Thermal Grizzly Kryonaught – http://amzn.to/2kwjifu
If you want to see any thermal pastes added to the next round of testing, let us know in the comments below! If you’re a company looking to have your thermal paste added, then feel free to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org – I hope that I answered some of your questions and I hope you enjoyed our ‘what is the best thermal paste’ video comparison.
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