Best thermal paste in 2023

Keeping you CPU cool is essential if you want a working PC. If you want some of the best thermal paste around, here are your options.

Thermal paste is critical in keeping processor temperatures low. It’s what ensures the most effective transfer of heat between the chip itself and the metal block attached to the socket. Some of the best CPU coolers will come with thermal paste already applied, but we’ve compiled a list of our favorite thermal pastes in case you need to reseat the CPU or remove the cooler for some reason.



Our top thermal paste picks for your CPU

Arctic MX-6 Best overall

Keep your CPU cool with this thermal paste

The Arctic MX-6 is the direct successor to the popular MX-5 thermal paste solution. It’s promised to deliver an uplift of 20% in thermal performance with increased viscosity. If you want the best overall thermal solution for your CPU, this is it.

Electrically conductive No Density 2.6 g/cm³ Viscosity 45,000 Poise Operating temperature -50~150 ℃ Color Grey Price per gram $2.12 Pros

  • Great thermal performance
  • Easy to work with


  • Not the best for HEDT applications

$6 at Amazon $9 at Newegg

Arctic is a fairly popular brand when it comes to PC cooling solutions. You may have heard of them while searching for thermal paste, but the brand also makes CPU coolers, and case fans, among many other things. The Arctic MX-2 and MX-4 have been extremely popular thermal paste solutions for many years before the brand decided to bring the next iteration in the form of Arctic MX-6. The MX-6 is available in sizes ranging from 2 to 8 grams, and it comes in a resealable packet to prevent the paste from drying over time as it’s waiting to be used again after, say, a year.

The best thing about MX-6 is that it’s easy to apply the paste on the CPU IHS. It’s important to maintain the right amount of paste since you don’t want to have too much paste on the IHS as it may result in less thermal resistance. Remember, we’re merely trying to fill the gaps between the CPU IHS and the CPU cooler’s contact plate. The Arctic MX-6 has a viscosity of 45,000 poise. The thermal conductivity is obviously a lot lower than that of the metals like aluminum or copper, as it should be. You may find other thermal solutions on the market with a higher thermal conductivity of, say, around 14W/mk.

The Arctic thermal paste can be used with any and all kinds of processors and is not limited to any particular CPU. You can use it on both mainstream and HEDT CPUs too. In fact, the same paste can also be applied to GPUs as well. While the Arctic MX-6 may not be one of the more affordable options on the market (most thermal solutions won’t require shelling out a lot of money), but the price per gram is quite competitive in the Arctic’s case. It is also durable for 5 years, which is higher than a lot of other options on the market.

Noctua NT-H1 Runner-up

An excellent CPU thermal paste

The Noctua NT-H1 is a highly reliable thermal paste solution you can find right now. It works well even for extreme overclocking conditions.

Electrically conductive No Color Grey Pros

  • Just as good as the Arctic MX-6
  • Long-term stability


  • Slightly more expensive

$9 at Amazon $10 at Newegg

Noctua caters to a very specific set of users who demand high-performance cooling while keeping the noise output to the lowest possible. That’s why we’ve added Noctua CPU coolers to the list of the best CPU coolers on the market. Many of these coolers come with the company’s NT-H1 thermal paste, a brown-colored tube. The Noctua NT-H1 is known to be one of the best thermal pastes on the market, and it’s our second-best pick for the best thermal paste you can buy right now. It offers an impressive set of features that many other thermal paste solutions on the market lack.

The Noctua NT-H1 doesn’t have a break-in period which means it’s good to go right from the moment you install the CPU cooler and boot the system. The Noctua NT-H1 is also not electrically conductive, meaning there’s no danger of short circuits from the paste making contact with the motherboard PCB or any other components that are installed on the board. The Noctua NT-H1 is also one of the few thermal paste solutions on the market that’s also suitable for compressor cooling. This means you can use this paste while using sub-zero cooling methods to achieve extremely high overclocking speeds.

Noctua says the NT-H1 consists of a hybrid compound of different micro-particles, specifically optimized for use in PC environments. The NT-H1 paste is also proven to achieve solid results when it comes to cooling different processors. This is suitable for use across different CPUs on the market including even high-performance HEDT chips like an AMD Ryzen Threadripper.

Thermal Grizzly Hydronaut Best for liquid cooling

The best paste for your water-cooling loop

Thermal Grizzly’s Hydonaut is a fantastic thermal paste for those looking to add a fresh coat of paste to their CPU. It also comes with an applicator tool for free.

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Thermal conductivity 0.0076 K/W Electrically conductive No Viscosity 140-190 pas Pros

  • Will last a long time
  • Great for liquid cooling and GPUs


  • Pricey

$10 at Amazon $14 at Newegg

It’s difficult to ignore the thermal solutions from the house of Thermal Grizzly while discussing thermal paste. It’s a well-known brand that specializes in thermal solutions, and they have a bunch of different options ranging from thermal grease, thermal pads, liquid metal, and more. Thermal Grizzly is known to have some of the best thermal solutions on the market, although your mileage may vary. We’ve picked Thermal Grizzly’s Hydronaut thermal paste. The company calls it thermal grease, but that’s just another name for these thermal solutions.

Thermal Grizzly says its Hydronaut paste is suitable for most PCs, including overclocked ones. The company has a bunch of different thermal pastes in its product stack, but we think this is one that most people should be looking at, as it offers what we think is the best price-to-performance ratio. The company says Hydonaut has a thermal conductivity of 0.0076 K/W and doesn’t conduct electricity. The Thermal Grizzly Hydronaut has a viscosity of 140-190 pas, which means it’s more of a paste than a liquid.

This means you’ll most likely need an applicator to spread the paste on the CPU IHS. Thankfully, Thermal Grizzly makes it easier for you by bundling one in the package. Thermal Grizzly has a silicone-free structure which means it has very low weight and a high degree of flexibility. This theoretically means it should be easier to apply this paste compared to some other paste that tends to be as hard as chewing gum. Thermal Grizzly says Hydonaut is based paired with high-end PCs with sophisticated cooling solutions, so this is a fantastic option to consider if you have a heavy-duty machine.

Corsair XTM50 Best for beginners

Perfect for building your first PC

The Corsair XTM50 is the easiest of them all when it comes to installation. You get a CPU stencil and a spreader included in the box, making it easier for you to install the paste.


  • Good thermal performance
  • Easy to apply to a CPU


  • May struggle with high TDP
  • Not the best value

$15 at Amazon $15 at Newegg

In addition to a wide variety of coolers, memory modules, PC cases, etc, Corsair also sells a thermal paste. The XTM50 is meant for high-performance processors and it’s one of the best thermal pastes you can buy right now. It’s obviously very efficient when it comes to cooling but we picked it for the ease of use. The Corsair XTM50 high-performance thermal compound is the only item in this collection that comes with an application stencil and spreader. Yes, it comes with a stencil to make sure you don’t have to worry about spilling the paste on your CPU socket or other surrounding components. All you have to do is place the stencil on the CPU IHS, add a sizable amount of paste to the IHS, and use the spreader to evenly spread the paste.

The XTM50 paste by itself has low viscosity, so can also just use the ‘Dot method’ to apply the paste and let the mounting pressure do its thing. But if you’re too worried about applying using that method, then the bundled stencil and spreader make it very easy to get things done. In theory, you can use any application method for a compound with low viscosity, but the stencil makes it that much easier to apply. It’s for new builders who don’t necessarily have the technical know-how of properly applying thermal paste and how improper application can have a lasting impact on the overall performance of the CPU.

The Corsair XTM50 is available in only one size which means you don’t have the luxury of choosing a small quantity. According to Corsair, the ultra-low thermal impedance of the XTM50 compound makes it better than most other cooling solutions on the market. Alternatively, you can buy the XTM30 compound from Corsair, however, it doesn’t come bundled with the stencil and the spreader and you’ll have to rely on traditional application methods for applying the paste on the CPU IHS. Both thermal solutions from Corsair are made out of zero volatile compounds and are non-conductive too.

Cooler Master MasterGel Regular Easiest application

You’ll never make a mess with this thermal paste

The Cooler Master Mastergel Regular is a reliable thermal paste solution. It comes with a flat-nozzle syringe for easy installation and also grease cleaner to easily remove the existing coat of paste.

Thermal conductivity 5 W/mk Electrically conductive No Density 2.5 g/cm³ Color Grey Pros

  • Super-easy to install
  • Good thermal performance


  • Pricey

$18 at Amazon $12 at Newegg

Applying thermal paste solution on the CPU IHS isn’t particularly difficult. It’s a straightforward process in which you eject a sizable portion of the compound on the IHS and let the cooler’s mounting pressure do its trick. That said, the last thing you want is to add less paste and end up with an uneven distribution of the compound on the IHS. That’s when the Cooler Master MasterGel Regular paste enters the scene. One of the best things about this particular thermal paste option is that it comes with a flat-nozzle syringe. This syringe design makes it very easy for the user to apply the paste and even spread it on the IHS.

You can also do the same using a small spatula but being able to do it easily without having to use an additional accessory makes the entire process that much easier. Building a PC can already be quite overwhelming for a lot of people and we think every bit helps in making it a smooth and easy experience. Another thing we like about the Cooler Master MasterGel Regular is that it also comes with a grease cleaner. This grease cleaner that’s included in the package comes really handy for those who are upgrading their PC and need to reseat the CPU or the cooler. Cleaning the existing coat of thermal paste and applying a fresh coat is extremely important every time you reseat the cooler.

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In terms of specifications, the Cooler Master MasteGel Regular thermal paste has a thermal conductivity of 5 W/mk, which is more in line with a lot of other options mentioned in this collection. The company also sells a premium version of this particular paste with thermal conductivity of 11 W/mk. This paste is grey in color and its density is 2.5 g. We had absolutely no issues applying the paste on the CPU. The overall performance of the solution has also been pretty solid as we’ve encountered no abnormalities in the CPU temps. We’ve used this particular paste for many of our builds and it’s been a reliable option.

Cooler Master, as we mentioned earlier, also sells a premium version of the paste called the MasterGel Maker. There’s also the MasterGel Pro version, which is again, slightly better than the MasterGel Regular. We’re mainly looking at the difference in thermal conductivity and density, so you might want to check those options too depending on your budget. The Cooler Master MasterGel Regular, however, is good enough for most users and it works without any issues. The application process is also quite simple, making it a great option for those who are new to the world of PC building. This particular thermal paste is readily available on the market, and you can hit the link below to find the best price for it online right now.

Thermal Grizzly Carbonaut Best thermal pad

High efficiency meets incredibly easy installation

Thermal Grizzly’s Carbonaut is a thermal pad, allowing it to be easily installed and reused without requiring replacements for longer periods of time. It’s a good but pricey option for cooling your CPU and/or GPU.

Thermal conductivity 62.5 W/mk Electrically conductive Yes Pros

  • Great for those who don’t like paste
  • Easy to install


  • Risk of tearing the pad
  • Not the best performance

$13 at Amazon $13 at Newegg

You may have heard of thermal pads being used by many as a replacement for thermal paste. That’s entirely normal because thermal pads are also highly efficient. Thermal pads are primarily used on M.2 SSD modules. As such the heatsink or the motherboard shroud covering the M.2 SSD module holds thermal pads to dissipate the heat produced by the modules. It works the same way as thermal paste, except these are solid pads as opposed to pasting or liquid solutions. We think the Thermal Grizzly’s Carbonaut is one of the best options on the market. This can be used on both processors and GPUs too. The application of thermal pads involves placing the pad on top of the CPU IHS, thereby filling the gap between the IHS and the heatsink.

There’s no danger of dropping extra paste onto the CPU socket or other sensitive areas on the motherboard. Thermal Grizzly’s Carbonaut also promises not to get old, which means you probably don’t have to apply a fresh one as often as you would in the case of thermal paste. They are ideal for graphics cards and applications where disassembly is required. Laptops are also a great example here. Applying a fresh coat of thermal paste on laptops can be too tiring since the disassembly process involve you dismantling the entire laptop. Since they don’t degrade as much as thermal paste, you can just apply them and forget.

You get a large thermal pad in a packet of Thermal Grizzly Carbonaut. You can then cut the appropriate size that suits your needs and save the rest for future applications. It’s proven to work efficiently on both CPUs and GPUs. In fact, the Thermal Grizzly Carbonaut is just as efficient as the Thermal Grizzly’s Kryonaut or Hydonaut thermal paste. Some people have also used these thermal pads for overclocking and the performance seems to be on par with most thermal paste on the market. The best thing about the thermal pad is that it’s reusable which means you don’t necessarily have to use a fresh pad after installing a new CPU or a cooler.

Thermal Grizzly Conductonaut Best liquid metal

The best option for enthusiasts

The Thermal Grizzly Conductonaut is a liquid metal thermal solution for enthusiasts looking to get their hands dirty with sophisticated builds involving overclocked CPUs.


  • Excellent performance
  • Includes all required tools


  • Do NOT use with aluminum heatsinks
  • Slightly more difficult to apply

$18 at Amazon $18 at Newegg

The CPU, just like many other PC components, has evolved a lot over the years. A lot of CPUs on the market are now capable of hitting crazy peak frequencies when overclocked under favorable conditions. Our standard thermal paste is good for most use cases but you may have seen some enthusiasts use liquid metal as thermal solutions. Liquid metal thermal paste solutions are highly efficient and are used to tame some of the most powerful CPUs on the market running at extremely high frequencies. We’re talking frequencies above 5Ghz at a sustained rate, which is a lot higher than what most CPUs are advertised to push.

Thermal Grizzly is one of the few manufacturers that sell consumer-grade liquid metal thermal paste. In typical TG fashion, it’s called Conductonaut. It’s essentially a liquid metal thermal paste that’s developed for applications with a high degree of efficiency. The website clearly mentions how it’s meant for “experienced users” who know what they’re doing. Liquid metal, in case you don’t know, is electrically conductive. Also, the fact that it’s liquid, makes it really hard to apply. You have to be careful not to spill liquid metal over any other component including the motherboard, CPU socket, etc. It could lead to short-circuiting and component failure.

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Due to a complex application method, it’s advised not to mess with liquid metal unless you know exactly what you’re doing. The application involves dropping small quantities of liquid metal on the CPU IHS and carefully spreading it using a piece of cotton. This will make sure you’re not spilling over any extra liquid metal outside the IHS, thereby saving yourself a lot of trouble. Building a PC doesn’t have to be more complicated than it already is, so it’s best to stay away from liquid metal thermal paste if you don’t know what you’re getting into. Thermal Grizzly, however, makes it easier by bundling all the required items in the package including applicators.

On top of that, liquid metals can’t be used with aluminum heat sinks since the Gallium in them reacts with aluminum. That’s not really an issue since most heat sinks (remember, not all) are made of copper which is nonreactive with the liquid metal. That being said, the high risk pays off in meaningful ways the liquid metal provides up to 73 W/(mK) thermal conductivity. It’s much higher than the 0.5-12.5 W/(mK) thermal conductivity provided by conventional thermal pastes.

A lot of high-performance machines, mostly pre-built computers use liquid metal. These pre-built systems from OEMs are built by “experts” who have their ways of working with liquid metals. Then again, there’s no way to tell how efficiently they’ve applied liquid metal to the CPU. It’s also a good practice to open up these pre-built PCs to check if they spilled any liquid metal on the motherboard or other components. You may be able to claim a replacement unit in that case, which you should. Liquid metal, however, cannot be used with compressor cooling methods, so you’ll have to stick to other options like the Noctua NT-H1 if you’re dealing with those kinds of sophisticated builds.

Arctic Silver 5 Best value

Silver-based performance for your CPU

The Arctic Silver 5 happens to be one of the most premium solutions on the market. It’s made using 99.9% pure silver to maximize the particle-to-particle contact area.


  • Great value
  • Decent thermal performance


  • Can get a little messy

$7 at Amazon $7 at Newegg

Artic’s Silver series is extremely popular among enthusiasts. The Silver series has also been around for quite some time now and the company has managed to keep it relevant in the space by adding newer, better variants to match the current standards. The Arctic Silver 5 is currently one of the most popular thermal paste solutions on the market. It’s a high-density polysynthetic silver compound that’s known to be very effective in a variety of builds. It contains micronized silver and several other thermally conductive ceramic particles to offer a high level of performance and stability.

The Arctic Silver 5 happens to be one of the most premium solutions on the market. It’s made using 99.9% pure silver, or so the manufacturer claims. Arctic says the paste uses three unique shapes and sizes of pure silver particles to maximize particle-to-particle contact area and thermal transfer. Maintaining good contact is the key to having a good quality paste and Arctic achieves that with premium compounds. It also contains over 88% thermally conductive filler to add more weight to the substance. In addition to micronized silver, Arctic also uses sub-micron zinc oxide, aluminum oxide, and boron nitride particles. All these compounds work together to improve overall performance. They also help the paste offer long-term stability.

Arctic Silver 5’s consistency is engineered for easy application. The paste doesn’t contain any silicone, so it has low viscosity compared to some other paste in this collection. The compound thins out during the initial use to make it easier for users to apply it on the CPU IHS. Low viscosity also ensures the best physical contact between the heatsink and the CPU IHS. It thickens slightly over the next 50 to 200 hours of use before reaching its final consistency for long-term stability. This means Arctic Silver 5 has a break-in period, unlike other compounds like Noctua NT-H1. This isn’t necessarily a deal-breaker, though. In fact, most users prefer this behavior of the paste as it allows for easy installation.

This particular thermal paste is not electrically conductive. Arctic Silver 5 is relatively safer. However, it’s still a good idea to keep it away from electrical traces, pins, and leads. Silver 5 is slightly capacitive and it could potentially cause problems if it bridges two close-proximity electrical paths. The Arctic Silver 5 is available in two sizes — 3.5 and 12 grams — and you also get an applicator tool with it. Its thin consistency should ideally make it easier to install but it doesn’t hurt to use the applicator, especially if you’re dealing with thermal paste for the first time. You can check the availability of the compound using the link below.

Choosing the best thermal paste

We believe that the majority of PC builds should be using the Arctic MX-6 thermal paste for cooling the CPU. It’s not too expensive, offers good thermal conductivity, and is easy to work with. There are some excellent thermal pastes available, which is where our other recommendations come into play, but the MX-6 from Arctic is brilliant for cooling anything up to an Intel Core i9 and AMD Ryzen Threadripper.

Arctic MX-6 Best overall

The Arctic MX-6 is the direct successor to the popular MX-5 thermal paste solution. It’s promised to deliver an uplift of 20% in thermal performance with increased viscosity. If you want the best overall thermal solution for your CPU, this is it.

$6 at Amazon $9 at Newegg

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