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Based on the answers on this question, I'll probably go buy some new thermal paste. Unfortunately, the marketplace is flooded with spiffy-sounding products at wildly varying prices. I might just go to the local store and buy whatever mid-range product they happen so sell, but before I just do something stupid I'd like to learn more:

  • What material should the paste be made of? Does it matter?
  • How important is the heat conductivity? Are there big differences?
  • For anything less than bleeding-edge systems, does the choice of paste actually matter? Why?

What specifics should sway me to spend more (or less!) money on thermal paste?

This question is for reassembling a mid-range system. I'm sure that high-end overclocking gurus would very likely choose products that aren't necessary for mainstream customers.

Update: the price range for a small container is only €3-€6 so buying the best is easily affordable. I'd just like to understand if there's any sense in that; learning never hurts.

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    +1 This is how all "shopping questions" should be written. Well done.
    – Nifle
    Commented Aug 8, 2011 at 15:12
  • takes a bow Tack så mycket! Commented Aug 8, 2011 at 15:14
  • At first I thought you'd asked about toothpaste.
    – user541686
    Commented Aug 9, 2011 at 6:33
  • @Mehrdad is there a better word? edit: oh I see there's a [thermal-paste] tag! I'll update my question. Commented Aug 9, 2011 at 7:34
  • @torbengb: Oh sorry, I didn't mean to say anything was wrong with the title -- it was just a comment on my mistake. Don't feel like you should change anything. :)
    – user541686
    Commented Aug 9, 2011 at 7:40

1 Answer 1

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If you're looking for a mid-range system you're not planning on overclocking or doing anything weird with, you could get away with the store-brand paste, or whatever is cheapest and looks easiest to apply.

Any paste that isn't made of jello and sand should be capable of handling the thermal needs of a middling system.

The most reputable brand is probably Arctic Silver. And you should be able to find a single-use cartridge of this for pretty cheap.

However, any product made by a brand that also makes cases and coolers should be OK as well. They have reputations to uphold and so are highly unlikely to release a truly horrible product.

Regarding specifics: Diamond grit? Expensive and pointless. Gold-dipped Salmon Roe? In cooling paste? You just want the cheapest tube from a reputable brand applied properly under a capable fan.

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    Paste isn't that expensive. Just go ahead and shell out for the Arctic Silver, another $5 isn't going to kill anybody who can afford the parts to use it on.
    – Shinrai
    Commented Aug 8, 2011 at 15:33
  • I got a syringe of Arctic Silver V a few years ago for $9 and it is awful. It has been doing much worse than the small container (sort of like a mini version of a cold-cream container) of Startech paste that I got for ~$5-6 which worked terrifically until I eventually ran out.
    – Synetech
    Commented Aug 9, 2011 at 5:46
  • @Shinrai: Monster Cable apologist!
    – paradroid
    Commented Aug 9, 2011 at 8:10
  • It may not matter of the CPU is BGA, but for AMD CPU's with pins, there were recommended products. You needed to be able to eventually break the seal, and some formulations practically welded the heatsink to the CPU.
    – mckenzm
    Commented May 19, 2022 at 12:03

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