Digital Trends may earn a commission when you buy through links on our site.

Best thermal pastes of 2020

Whether you are building your own gaming rig or making some serious upgrades to a professional workstation, a good thermal paste can do wonders for your system temperatures. Our favorite is Noctua NH-H1 a high-end heat paste that can help keep your components cool without drying out over time.

It’s not the only great option out there though. For more budget-friendly versions, or ones designed to work with different heatsink materials, check out some of the alternatives below. These are our favorite thermal pastes of 2020..

Hint: Try to buy your heat sink before you pick a thermal paste. Then check online to see if there are any brand recommendations for what thermal paste to use, or what paste materials are suggested.

The best

Noctua NT-H1

Noctua’s NT-H1 paste is one of the best around for pure thermal energy transfer, helping to knock off up to two degrees from most CPUs. This super reliable paste is simply one of the best options for building or repairing computers, especially for amateurs who may not yet have a lot of experience with thermal pastes but are confident enough to use them.

The NT-H1 formula also gets excellent marks for usability, with an easy-to-apply consistency. It’s easy to clean when dry, and is designed to not corrode. It’s one of the smaller amounts at 3.5g, but this is ideal for users who are only intending on one application, and the price is highly affordable, too!

Note that this paste lasts for about 3 years without use, which is very high for a thermal paste. Many pastes have a shorter lifespan and you need to use them more quickly or replace them. This is also why it’s a bad idea to rely on thermal pastes that you happen to find in a kit, since there’s a good chance they could be outdated.

The rest

Thermal Grizzly Kryonaut

Thermal Grizzly has a few excellent thermal pastes on the market, but our favorite is Kryonaut, a high-end paste designed for the most serious applications and experienced users. It’s extremely conductive at 12.5 W/mk (higher than almost all pastes on the market), and can move heat easily and quickly across even large or complex cooling devices, including water-cooling systems.

While this paste may be overkill for some, it’s one of the best pastes around in terms of its cooling potential and is a favorite among gamers and overclockers. That is reflected in the cost, which is high for just a single gram of the paste. But if you want the most out of your machine and are already heavily invested in overclocking or tweaking performance, it’s certainly worth the price.

Arctic Silver 5

A traditional and still very popular paste, Arctic Silver 5 is another ideal option for PC work. As the name suggests, the compound is made of tiny silver particles suspending in a ceramic solution. Silver, as you may remember from science lessons, is highly conductive, so it’s not a surprise that Silver 5 has a reputation for being a great conductor. The paste is smooth and easy to apply, but it does have a longer curing time of several hours, so be prepared to be patient when you are ready to use it.

Arctic MX-4

This particular Arctic paste is created from carbon microparticles that have great thermal conductivity and a formula slightly updated in 2019. The carbon is designed to help make the paste’s properties last for longer than materials like silicon, although with such a new paste we’ll have to wait to see if Arctic’s claims hold true. However, this paste does have excellent quality out of the gate, and can even surpass pastes like Arctic Silver 5. The catch is that it can be a bit runny compared to other pastes, so it may take a little more experience to use.

Gelid GC-Extreme

Gelid’s GC-Extreme is a good choice for those who want a higher-end product but aren’t really invested enough to get something at the very top like the Kryonaut. GC-Extreme is still a very great paste and will likely outperform most other paste options, but it’s in the affordable range. It’s good to keep on hand if you make frequent computer upgrades or have a larger project and want a very effective paste to see you through. Note that this price is for 3.5 grams.

Editors' Recommendations