What Is Thermal Paste And How Does It Work – When building a PC, you’re more excited about the new processor, graphics card, and RAM than the thermal paste tube you bought. However, thermal paste is very important for the health of your computer, without it your PC won’t last long! Let’s explore what thermal paste is and how it works.
What Is Thermal Paste And How Does It Work 2023
Thermal paste (also known as thermal grease or thermal compound) is a substance that is applied between the processor and the heat sink. You can buy small tubes of thermal paste at electronics stores, sometimes with a small trowel called an applicator.
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When you build a PC, you will need thermal paste so that your PC can run smoothly. Some CPU coolers come with pre-applied thermal paste so you don’t have to use them again. However, some people don’t want to apply any brand of thermal paste except their favorite brand.
The role of the thermal paste is to help transfer heat away from the CPU and to the cooler. The heat sink then dissipates heat from the hardware. This keeps the CPU cool, especially when it comes to heavy processing or work.
You may also come across the term “stock thermal paste.” This type is a thermal paste that is applied by the manufacturer, as in pre-built machines. However, some manufacturers skimp on the ingredients and use compounds that are not very effective at conducting heat. Because of this, people often change the brand of thermal paste they trust.
How Does Thermal Paste Work?
CPUs can get very hot, so it’s important to draw heat away from them as quickly as possible. Unfortunately, the air is a terrible conductor of heat, so there needs to be as little air as possible between the CPU and cooler for optimal transfer.
If you get into a computer, you’ll notice that the heat sink is pressing the CPU hard. This seal may look good enough to stop air coming in, Unfortunately, even strong pressure is not enough to let the air out.
The surface of the CPU and the contact plate of the cooler is covered by small indentations and gaps. If not closed properly, this gap allows air between the processor and the heat sink, thereby reducing the efficiency of heat transfer between the two.
This is where thermal paste comes in. Not only is it a good conductor of heat, but it can also penetrate small cracks and grooves on hardware surfaces. This creates an airtight seal and increases the rate of heat transfer.
Do We Need Thermal Paste?
You might think that thermal paste is less important in PC builds than the processor or power supply. While the computer will boot without thermal paste, the problem will persist while you are using it!
Without thermal paste, there is no optimal heat transfer between the CPU and the heat sink. Thus, the CPU gets a lot hotter if you don’t use it. If the CPU gets too hot, it will overheat and result in stuttering from throttling, blue screens, and sudden shutdowns.
While buying thermal paste is the least attractive part of a computer, it’s a must-have. This allows the heat sink to do its job better and keeps your computer cool.
If you’re wondering if you need thermal paste because you’re worried about messing up your expensive new processor with gray goop, try getting a cooler with pre-applied paste. Pasta may not be the best type on the market, but it makes installation easier.
How to Apply Thermal Paste?
Given the importance of thermal paste, there is a very volatile debate about the best way to apply it. If you surf the internet, you will find theorems, strategies, and suggestions for applications.
The simplest application method is to place a bean drop in the center of the processor. Then, attach the heat sink to the processor, applying pressure to all four corners evenly. This ensures that the thermal paste is sandwiched and evenly distributed along the surface.
If your thermal paste comes with an applicator, you can use it to get an even distribution. Some people like this method to ensure a perfect spread before they clamp the cooler on the processor. Some methods talk about line-based applications that span across the entire processor core. Of course, you have to know where the cores are on the processor, so it’s not for everyone.
What is the Best Thermal Paste Brand?
Choosing the best thermal paste is quite difficult because everyone has a different opinion about which one is best for them. However, you can choose the best brand by looking at the test results and basing your decision on the raw data. To check the efficiency of the thermal paste, the first test measures the idle temperature of the computer. Then, they apply a brand of thermal paste to the processor. The computer is then put through a stress test.
The tester checks the max processor temperature during the stress test. They then compared the stress test temperature with the idle temperature from before. The smaller the difference between the idle temperature and the stress test temperature, the better the thermal paste at dissipating heat.
To see the best thermal paste brands, try this benchmark spreadsheet and look for the compound with the lowest temperature change. The spreadsheet will also note if the paste brand is difficult to apply, so be sure to note that if you’ve never used thermal paste before.
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While the thermal paste is not required to start the computer, it is very useful for keeping the temperature low. Therefore, you should always apply thermal paste when building a computer, even if the internet can’t agree on the best way to distribute it!
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