Keeping a laptop’s internals cool is a big concern for any computer enthusiast.
Even if you have the most efficient cooling system in place, you can’t get out of applying thermal paste.
You need to apply a thin layer of thermal paste to prevent air from getting trapped inside the nooks and crannies on the CPU surface and avoid heating.
Read on for the top five brands of thermal paste for laptops, their qualities, and what to consider when shopping for one.
Best Thermal Paste For A Laptop (Top 5 Brands)
1. Noctua NT-H2
Noctua NH-H2 thermal paste is one of the most successful products on the market, although it falls on the expensive side.
Although it’s relatively thicker and drier than other famous thermal pastes, it’s beginner-friendly and easy to apply and clean.
Noctua NT-H2 has zero settling time, with quick and noticeable effects as soon as you apply it.
Plus, it has a long-lasting effect, delivering great thermal conductivity for more than five years.
It’s also non-electricity-conductive since it doesn’t contain metal particles, with a novel structure that contains metal oxide microparticles.
Although the manufacturer hasn’t specified its thermal conductivity value, it operates at a temperature range of -50 to 200˚C.
With an impressive 4.8-star rating on Amazon, this product has satisfied customers who used it for water- or air-based cooling, overclocking, gaming, and CPU or GPU cooling.
It also comes with three isopropyl-moist wipes to help enable a clean application.
The 3.5g package is enough for three to twenty applications, depending on the area you want to cover.
If you don’t want to apply thermal paste a lot, it will be more than enough.
And it has a long shelf life because of its unique, stable formula.
You can keep it for three to five years without bleeding or drying out.
Arctic is one of the most reputable thermal paste brands famous for high-quality and reasonably-priced products.
It makes both thermal paste and thermal pads to serve different surfaces and cooling purposes.
Their thermal pastes include:
Arctic MX-2 is the first thermal paste in the Arctic MX series with the same key features as the later models.
It’s metal-free, non-corrosive, odorless, and easy to apply.
However, it’s a little thicker than MX-4 and MX-3.
Therefore, it needs a little bit of spreading using a toothpick or credit card.
That said, this doesn’t mean that it’s lower quality than the other two, but it’s especially useful to ensure the paste doesn’t run off the surface.
With more than 7,000 consumer ratings on Amazon, it has received a 4.5-star rating that shows its high quality.
Arctic MX-4 is among the most successful thermal pastes on the market, offering impressive performance at a great price.
It’s also highly durable, according to the manufacturer, lasting up to eight years.
The carbon microparticles used in this product can effectively fill the microscopic gaps on the surface of processor chips, creating an ultra-smooth surface to ensure the highest conductivity.
The highly consistent texture of the paste makes sure there are no air pockets between the paste and the surface, making it beginner-friendly.
The resealable packaging comes in eight sizes from two to 45 grams to fit your needs and prevent the product from drying out.
Arctic MX-5 built on the success of its predecessor, Arctic MX-4.
It’s even better in offering thermal conductivity using the new thermal compound consisting of carbon microparticles, leading to the thermal conductivity of six W/mK.
It’s also free from metal particles, making it non-electrical-conductive.
You don’t need to worry about short circuits, especially under high load.
3. Thermal Grizzly
Thermal Grizzly is another reputable brand with a wide range of thermal paste products.
Its main products include:
According to Thermal Grizzly’s official website, the Conductonaut is its most effective product in terms of thermal conductivity.
Since its thermal conductivity value is 73 W/mK, the highest value on the market, it’s perfect for overclocking.
It’s a liquid metal thermal paste featuring a special compound consisting of indium, tin, and gallium that delivers a high thermal conductivity.
However, since it’s metal-based, it’s not suitable for aluminum coolers because it will result in corrosion.
It’s very easy to apply with a syringe that perfectly fits any surface.
However, remember to use a very small amount of this product and apply a very thin layer to avoid slips.
It’s available on Amazon with a high star rating of 4.7 with highly satisfied customers and impressive cooling effects.
The Kryonaut is another popular and high-performing product by Thermal Grizzly.
It’s silicon-based and contains aluminum and zinc oxide to allow for better cooling effects.
It has a thermal conductivity value of 12.5 W/mK, making it a preferred product among hardcore gamers.
With a 4.8-star rating on Amazon, customers highly recommend it, although some have warned against fake products, so make sure to purchase it from an authorized seller.
4. Cooler Master MasterGel Maker
The MasterGel Maker by Cooler Master is packed with innovations, from the compound materials to the design.
This thermal paste comes in a syringe with a flat nozzle that makes applying the product a breeze.
This way, you don’t need to spread the paste using any other tool or object.
With a thermal conductivity value of 11 W/mK, it fits many cooling purposes with high performance.
The paste contains nanodiamond particles that prevent oxidation and corrosion and deliver a smooth and lightweight texture that spreads out easily.
These particles make the paste easy to penetrate the tiniest gaps inside any surface, increasing its conductivity.
MasterGel Maker also prevents short-circuiting since it doesn’t contain any metal components and has non-curing features.
The product has a 4.5-star rating on Amazon, with many customers satisfied at the reduced temps after applying the paste.
However, some customers were dissatisfied with the quality of the paste, complaining about its dry texture.
5. Corsair XTM50
Corsair is another high-performance thermal paste that contains zinc oxide for optimum conductivity.
It comes with an application stencil and spreader that make it easy to apply.
Plus, the low-viscosity texture makes sure it reaches the tiniest pores inside the heatsink or CPU’s surface.
After applying the paste, you don’t need to wait for it to set in as it uses the heat from the CPU to settle.
You can turn on your system and quickly see the drops in temps.
The texture has a perfect viscosity that’s neither too thick not to spread nor too thin to run over.
It has received a 4.8-star rating on Amazon, showing its high quality and amazing performance.
However, some customers have complained about it being too liquid when they open the bottle.
They recommend shaking the bottle before use and letting some of the thermal paste out of the bottle.
Then you can apply it to the surface.
Our Top Pick
All of the thermal pastes recommended in this article have above-average qualities and can stand the test of time amazingly well.
However, our best pick is the Noctua NT-H2 because of its price-to-performance ratio.
It doesn’t contain any liquid parts, comes with great consistency and viscosity, and Amazon customers love it.
It’s also easy to use and comes with pads that make cleaning and removing the old paste a breeze.
What To Consider When Purchasing Thermal Paste
With so many different brands of thermal paste out there, it may be difficult to choose the best product for your purposes.
To make things more complicated, not every thermal paste is good for every situation, purpose, and system.
You need to consider a wide range of factors before purchasing one.
Viscosity, or density, is one of the most important features of a thermal paste, as it can affect how neatly you apply the paste.
It refers to the thickness or thinness of the paste and determines how effectively it can connect the heatsink to the CPU.
The key is to find a paste not too thin and not too thick so that it doesn’t leak or become hard to spread.
Viscosity is directly related to ease of use and installation.
It affects the methods and tools you use to spread the paste as thick and thin pastes need different tools and techniques.
In addition, different viscosity pastes need different amounts to have the same effect.
The main materials used in the thermal paste are vitally important as they should fit the surface you want to apply it on and your experience level.
Liquid metal pastes are the least suitable types for beginners and most surfaces.
That’s because they contain metal parts that can damage and corrode your processor pins.
Even if you immediately clean the spills off the CPU pins, you may not prevent damage completely.
These metallic bits also make the paste electrically conductive, creating short circuits and damaging your system.
When choosing the right thermal paste, silver, aluminum, copper, and gallium are the names to avoid, especially if you’re inexperienced.
However, if you can manage the paste and apply it skillfully, you want to opt for these materials because they make the paste more durable with better performance.
Ceramic-based or silicon-based pastes are the best for beginners as they’re much safer than liquid metal pastes.
They’re not conductive and don’t corrode metal surfaces.
Carbon-based thermal paste is also a good choice because it doesn’t contain any metallic bits.
3. Thermal Conductivity Value
Thermal conductivity refers to the thermal paste’s ability to conduct heat from the CPU to the heatsink.
Measured in watts per square meter (W/mK), it’s a significant indicator of the thermal paste’s effectiveness.
The higher this value, the better and more effective the thermal paste is.
Thermal conductivity is closely related to the main compounds used in the paste, with liquid metal types having much higher values.
Metallic pastes can have a thermal conductivity value as high as 70 W/mK, while this value is 4–10 W/mK for non-metallic types.
4. Thermal Design Power (TDP)
Thermal Design Power is a CPU trait, but it can affect your choice of thermal paste.
It shows how much power the CPU consumes and how much heat it will generate as a result.
The more CPU power consumption, the higher the TDP and the heat generated.
The thermal paste that you choose has to handle the amount of heat generated by the CPU effectively.
5. Physical Conditions
The physical conditions surrounding your system can play a significant role in your choice of thermal paste.
For example, if your system is in a hot room, you’ll need a much more powerful thermal paste.
A well-ventilated room with a cool ambient temperature can make your job of cooling down your system easier.
Another physical trait you should consider is the general temperature generated by other system components.
For example, if your internal components, such as the GPU, generate heat or your fans aren’t efficient, you’ll need a more powerful thermal paste.
6. Quantity And Volume
The amount of thermal paste in each container may not be a vital issue if you want to use it for one system and one time.
Even with the lowest volume on the market, any thermal paste will do because you won’t need more than a pea-sized amount.
You should go for the lowest volume available in such cases since you won’t need the paste again soon, and it may dry out.
However, if you need the thermal paste for more than one system and component, you may want to consider the volume and how many times you can apply it.
Some manufacturers offer different sizes and volumes to fit different quantity needs, and most thermal paste tubes will be enough for over a dozen projects.
You need to consider the thermal paste’s shelf life and service life.
Most thermal pastes have a shelf life of two or three years.
If you have a thermal paste that’s older than this period, you need to throw it away.
They change color, become dry and thick, and may even develop bad odors.
Plus, since the shelf life regards the lifespan of the thermal paste in the unopened state, you need to make sure that the product hasn’t been sitting on the store’s shelf for a long time.
That’s why it’s better to buy the product from a large, busy store with a fast turnover.
After applying the thermal paste to your CPU or GPU, you can expect it to last between two and eight years.
However, in most cases, especially for high-quality brands, the actual lifespan is more than the length suggested by the manufacturer.
Although thermal paste is an essential factor in maintaining the health of your system, you don’t need to break the bank to purchase one.
You can find a lot of high-quality brands for less than $20.
Most of the brands recommended in this post have a reasonable price-to-performance ratio, and even if they seem a little overpriced, you can see it as a long-term investment in the health of your processor.
Thermal Paste Vs. Thermal Pad
Your choice of thermal paste also depends on your experience level and how you can handle a sensitive job like applying thermal paste.
If you aren’t careful while installing the paste, you may end up damaging your CPU pins due to thermal paste leaks.
That’s why some experts advise beginners to use thermal pads instead.
Thermal pads are much easier to apply because they don’t need specific considerations to avoid leakage or spills.
All you need to do is to place the pad on the right part of the intended surface.
However, they don’t offer the same degree of heat conduction.
Plus, no matter how carefully you install the pad, you can’t ensure there’s no gap between the pad and the surface.
As a result, air pockets will form, which can reduce heat conductivity.
Neither of them is a one-time solution, meaning you need to remove them if you want to replace or relocate the heatsink.
When it comes to lifespan, thermal paste is the winner.
That’s because of the materials these products are made of.
The thermal paste hardens after application, making it more wear-resistant than pads made of soft or spongy materials.
Therefore, if you don’t plan to change the thermal product often, you may want to go for the more durable yet cheaper thermal paste.
However, if you want to avoid mess and cover larger areas, pads are the way to go.