What is The Best Thermal Paste 2017? – Thermal Paste Comparison

What is the best thermal paste 2017

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

Best thermal paste Best thermal paste

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 contact@play3r.net – 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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    • There is nothing dodgy about it if that’s what you mean, they never sent the paste in for review and I had ran out of budget to purchase some. It will 100% be included in the next one as they have said they would send some 🙂

  1. Would be nice if this article keeps being updated with TIMs as and when they are reviewed. My hope for inclusion is the ProlimaTech PK3.

    • We usually update it every quarter, but that depends on the TIM samples availalbe. I’ll get Gav to add ProlimaTech PK3 to the list.

  2. No Artic Silver 5? AS 5 is the benchmark that everyone is familiar with. To leave it out COMPLETELY invalidates this comparison.

    • I wouldn’t say it invalidates this comparison – but I get your point. I’ll make sure it’s included in the next update.

  3. I agree but only to a minimal extent about AS5, as it had reigned so long as the go to TIM. For anyone not completely out of the loop that era ended about a decade or so ago. Anyone using AS5 less than 5 or 6 years ago is not an enthusiast.

    However, the absence of Conductonaut and Phobya LM is inexcusable. Not only because this is supposedly about the “best TIM” which is obviously the LM’s yet you have one company’s LM products tested, but more importantly​ because conductonaut is THE BEST thermal paste in existence based on the agreggate of testing, with Phobya LM beating out CLU more often than not. If they didn’t send it to you it’s up to you to include it yourself if you want to be taken seriously. It shouldnt take comments on the internet to realize leaving out the top two tims renders an article on the best tims somewhat meaningless, and it’s up to you to decide if saving $9 and sending TG a message was worth it.

    • Being fair, AS5 was still a goto because it never went bad whilst still providing great temps. Although with newer pastes that probably isn’t applicable anymore.

  4. That being said I appreciate the review, if it was done scientifically and it’s results are valid then any data such as this is beneficial for consumers and the community in general (you can add this to my 1st comment 😀 )

    • The problem we have is where to draw the line if we start buying products to test; then of course there is the cost which is no small consideration when talking about the sheer number of TIM products out there. Also with each item taking 24 hours to test it becomes a logistical nightmare as well as tying up a test station for so long

  5. You did a really nice job especially by including the new products. Having cheaper alternatives available than dated ones is a good thing. I’m quite surprised to see CM mastergel perform so good. People should realize that arctic silver and similar products are dated now and there are better alternatives available at a competitive price atleast here in India

  6. Would like to see if IC Dimond 24 gets any better marks than IC Diamond 7 and how it stacks up against AS5. Just getting into this thermal paste thing see AS5 everywhere and IC coming highly recommended by Linus tech tips.

    • Unfortunately there’s simply too many variants of Thermal Interface Material to reliable get a sample from every manufacturer, we’re also limited by what is available in the UK and sadly by cost as well, so only those companies who wanted to take part in this rundown were included as well as a few samples that we already had lying around in the office. It also takes a full 24 hours to test each paste, so imagine how long you’d be waiting for the review if we tested 100+ brands 🙂

      • So you didn’t properly cure the thermal compounds then?

        This test isn’t %100 accurate if that is the case

  7. Wow, you guys forgot the two most popular aftermarket pastes on the market…. AS-5 & MX-4.

    Why??? If you don’t test these, most people won’t give all your hours of test results a second look or consideration…

    • Answered this question a hundred times 😛

      1. AS-5/MX-4 are 2 of hundreds of thermal pastes on the market, sure they are popular, but for the testing purposes of the article/video, we had limited budget and those companies who didn’t want to send their pastes for testing were omitted.
      2. After we did the testing, they decided they wanted to send them in afterall, so they will be included in the next wave of testing. They certainly don’t beat the pastes at the top of the chart though, despite how “popular” they may be 🙂

  8. Hey good stuff. Would be good to see the results when no paste is applied as a control (with cleaned and buffed contacts of course). I have long suspected that the cheapest, no-brand pastes can make no difference or even make the situation worse.

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