Heat Sink Thermal Compound—Best Options | 2017

Dissipating the heat generated by the CPU during data processing, especially that stems from heavy workload environment, is a major factor for maintaining the peak performance of the CPU and keeping it healthy for a long time. To achieve this purpose, the CPU must operate at a reasonably low temperature in order to offer the best possible performance, and picking a cutting-edge heat-sink thermal compound/paste plays here an undeniable significant role that can’t be underestimated.

Best Heat Sink Thermal Compound/Paste

On our Best CPU Thermal Paste 2017 Guide—which is a well-structured and deeply-researched article—we laid out the best heat sink compounds as of today that offer the highest level of efficiency, based on strict criteria of selection. We provided each item with a quick review as well to make it easier for the reader to find what suits them best. So, we strongly advise you to visit that page if you wish to go through extended details on this subject.

Otherwise, here’s a quick reference of the top heat-sink thermal compounds:

Any of the above thermal pastes work great for all kind of heat-sinks, except the liquid metal type, it’s not compatible with aluminium heat-sinks.

The need of a high quality heat-sink thermal paste

To realize how important a thermal paste/compound is to the heat sink in order to function properly, you need to understand first the process of heat dissipation between the CPU or GPU and heat sink, and how a thermal paste effectively optimizes the whole operation with its specially purposed features.

How does a thermal compound work

the important of heat sink compoundA thermal paste/compound works as a medium between the heat-sink and the CPU in order to help the transfer of heat from the CPU up to the heat sink. A thermal paste is used in-between the two surfaces to fill the microscopic gaps on them in order to offer the best thermal contact between the two surfaces.

Always keep this in mind- the processor is under the CPU cooler and applying force would damage the contact pins on the socket. These have the potential to conduct heat much more effectively than existing materials. Production and material costs usually dictate how the product is designed and fabricated. The three thermally conductive pastes above all use a unique mixture of advanced poly-synthetic oils that work to provide three different functional phases. Therefore, the usage of a thermal paste is so important for the heat-sink to function properly. Otherwise, your CPU will overheat and might burn out. This will increase performance even more.

When you attach the retention ring initially, turn the screws only enough to make a firm connection; don’t screw them down tightly yet. Why would you ever go with the H100i over the H115i? Make sure you have enough case fans and that they are not set up in a competing configuration. Alternatively, you can go to the waterblock first, then to your radiator and back. Be sure you get things lined up correctly the first time, as you may not get a second try.

What kind of heat-sink paste is recommended for overclocking?

As far as overclocking is concerned, you don’t need to panic about which thermal paste to pick for this purpose. Just any of the list above can work great for this goal. Of course, what do I know? In addition to the sticker covering practically the entire contact area between the processor and the heatsink, it was also using the cooler in Figure 7, which uses graphite as the heat conductor. Before you remove the CPU cooler, make sure to clean the motherboard using the air blower balloon or with an anti-static brush. Before applying any new thermal interface material, you’ll need to clean off the CPU and heat sink base with some Arctic Silver ArctiClean or Akasa TIM cleaner on a lint-free cloth. Using a heatsink paste properly will prevent some serious issues that might occur to the overall cooling system. Keep these materials in mind as we take a look at the new products Benchmark Reviews has collected for this round-up article, beginning with our first contender.

Choosing between the different brands of heat-sink compounds

heat transfer between CPU and heat sinkThere are so many heat-sink compound brands in the market and choosing between them is quite difficult and time consuming for the majority of users. The best method we advise of is to read reviews of trustworthy experts who tested many types/brands of thermal pastes and reached their own conclusion with recommendations. We just did that all in our best thermal paste 2017 guide. These three phases make Arctic Silver’s products stand out as it makes application much easier and maximizes cooling efficiency over the life of your LED(s).

The first stage starts when the thermal material first comes from the syringe. The more area that the heatsink has touching the CPU/GPU, the better it will perform. Slip the Kühler H2O 620 heat-sink pod through the retention ring. Well, at 280mm long and 140mm wide, the H115i is too large for many cases. It is never okay to use a CPU cooler without a layer of thermal paste between the cooler and the CPU.

Improving heat management

Neither provides a clear performance improvement over the other, so do whatever looks good to you and fits easily. Peel off one piece of protective film, lay the exposed side of the pad down squarely onto the processor (it should stick a bit). Remove the other piece of protective film, and install your heatsink. If you own Intel Core i7 7700k CPU, you better read our article in this regard. I just have the same computer I’ve had for 11 years, and can play games like Skyrim on high settings with just a graphics card upgrade I did about 5 years ago.

Other problems that we frequently see are broken processors – mainly Athlon XP and Sempron socket 462 processors – due to mistakes during cooler installation (putting the cooler in the wrong position or using too much strength when attaching the cooler), and people who substitute the thermal paste with toothpaste, liquid silicone, olive oil, glue, etc. This is the best way of making sure the dust doesn’t come in the middle and stick where it shouldn’t during the process.

Applying thermal compound to heat sink surface

The steps of applying a thermal paste to heat-sink or CPU surface are too easy to the extent that they don’t need a savvy to fulfil them.

  • It’s worth noting that if you use the ArctiClean kit, you’ll then need to apply the cleaner from bottle two to your heatsink and CPU and wipe them clean with a fresh lint-free cloth.
  • If there’s one thing our recent 33-Way Thermal Interface Material Comparison article has taught me, it’s how the advice freely handed-out in discussion forums can often be wrong.
  • The consistency is thin and engineered for easy application, making spreading it around on your heatsink a breeze.
  • When you lap your heatsink, and you do a good job of it, you will require even less thermal pastes, as these imperfections have got even smaller.
  • Tabs on the heat sink will slip between retaining tabs on the ring.
  • Make sure your case is compatible with 280mm radiators before choosing this model.
  • If you do, the heat will not transfer properly from the CPU to the cooler, and the CPU will eventually get hot enough to cause permanent damage.

Keep in mind you may have to tweak this setup once you actually start connecting your tubing, but at least get a good idea of where you expect everything to go.

Therma options involved

This shows really well that less is more! Make sure you remove the RAMs, graphic card and any add-on cards. Both the CPU and heatsink base should now be spotless, with no residue. After we wrote the article, many enthusiasts argued that spreading out the TIM with a latex glove (or finger cover) was not the best way to distribute the interface material. This initial phase has a cure time of about 5 minutes, you should plan on spreading it and placing your LED in under that time so it doesn’t harden before you have the LED in place. Once your CPU is nice and clean and you have your TIM, now it’s time to apply it. Rotate the heat sink slightly, until the heat sink tabs align with the retention ring taps.

Approved heat sink paste types

applying a thermal paste to heat sink surfaceAddressing the heat sink paste types requires us to understand that not all thermal pastes work for every heat sink. Liquid metal pastes, for instance, are strongly NOT recommended for aluminum heat-sinks. Unfortunately, many cases will require you to mount a 280mm cooler on the front panel rather than the top, which isn’t optimal for thermal management. The liquid cooling system passes the coolant through a “water block,” which is essentially a fluid-cooled heat sink. Next, collect all your hardware and rinse it out. You should put as less as possible on it but still cover the whole surface! Clean the motherboard area, including in corners around the motherboard, in RAM, PCIe slots and headers.

Going for a thermal pad

Thermal pads are known to be worse in performance if compared to thermal pastes, and we don’t think any high-end computer system would venture with using these pads over their sibling pastes. Using TIM cleaner eliminates contamination from old TIM applications, ensuring that the new layer of TIM works as effectively as possible. Most answers from both the professional reviewer industry as well as enthusiast community claim that you should use a single drop “about the size of a pea”. Well, we tried that advice, and it turns out that maybe the community isn’t as keen as they thought.

The second phase starts after you place your LED star and during the LEDs initial use. On a high-end heat sink, you need something that can drive the most of performance out of the heat sink, and a thermal paste generally fails in this position. On the CPU, thermal compound should only be applied to the top of the core. Then, while holding the heat sink firmly with one hand, gradually tighten the screws, alternating between them every few turns, until all four screws are firmly seated.(If you plan to install the Intel version–the RTS2011LC–onto a socket 2011 motherboard, you may want to hold the heat sink in place, lower the detached retention ring over the heat sink so that the tabs align, and then screw it into place.

History of heat-sink pastes/compounds

The need of using a medium between the CPU surface and heat-sink appeared when the experts noticed that there’s a huge thermal transfer impediment between the two surfaces that results in a failed attempt of a proper heat dissipation, due to the existence of lots of microscopic gaps on both surfaces that ought to be filled for the best results. If extreme simply isn’t good enough, then step up to the mind-bending H320 X2.

  • The surface of the water block must be thermally mated to the chip in the same manner as a heat sink, otherwise you’ll be cooling the water block, but not the chip.
  • For your waterblock, tubing, and reservoir, this is as simple as just running some distilled water through it and dumping it out.
  • Blow air through the heatsink as much as possible so that the dust on the heatsink will not fall on the processor when you’re removing it.
  • This stage allows for the thermal paste to thin even more, filling in the microscopic valleys where the surface is not covered.
  • The core is the raised rectangle in the center of the CPU and is highlighted in red in the photos below of AMD and Intel CPUs.
  • Clean heat-sink surface before applying a thermal paste

    rounded heat sink shapeMake sure to properly clean the surface of CPU and heat sink before applying a thermal paste. That’s because dirt or dust will have negative effect on the thermal transfer process. Of course it’s hard to know how much is enough to cover the whole surface (exept you use the smooth spread mothode) when you can’t see it spreading like in this test, so just make shure you don’t use too much like you see with the “Rize dot” and the “2x Rize dot” method. Now that your CPU looks shiny and new, it’s time to listen up, as this is the important bit! The image below is of a few frozen peas beside a small BB size drop of OCZ Freeze TIM.

    Clearance between the retention ring and heat sink on the RTS2011LC is very tight.) Once the heat sink and the radiator are attached, connect the radiator-fan power connector and the heat-sink pump connector via an adapter link. A heat sink thermal compound can work great on clean surfaces and would offer the best results. It comes from Swiftech, which is well-known in custom-cooling circles for its huge range of high-end cooling components. Find out why the CPU is overheating and correct the issue. Your radiator, however, is a bit more complicated. You still trust those guys coming into the web and teaching people how to apply the paste. Use a brush to clean the fan blades, especially the part underneath it.


    Picking the right high-end thermal paste/compound for your heat sink is a wise step to take. A thermal paste will fill the microscopic gaps that exists on the surface of CPU and heat sink providing the best thermal conductivity between the two surfaces. So make sure you have picked the paste that you can trust for your high-end rig.