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does thermal paste expire?

Does Thermal Paste Expire: Everything You Need to Know

People often ask us: does thermal paste expire? Thermal paste is a computer component with pretty much importance, and we can’t deny it. 

Computers can’t cool themself; hence people apply thermal pastes on CPU coolers to help heat transfer. In turn, computers dissipate heat in a better way. 

We apply the thermal paste in a small quantity. This means that one tube of thermal paste is enough to use four to five times.

The question is, what happens to the rest of the thermal grease? Does the thermal paste expire inside the tube, or will it stay good for the next few years? Well, this depends on some factors and the types of thermal pastes used. 

Good news: today, I have compiled a comprehensive guide to answer the questions; does thermal paste go bad? And does thermal paste expire? Let’s check it out. 

Why is Thermal Paste Important?

Thermal paste, also known as thermal grease, thermal compound or thermal gel, is a thick grey substance we apply on the CPU to help heat transfer within the system

The surface of the CPU, which may seem ideally even, is, in reality, an uneven surface with microscopic gaps on it. These tiny gaps trap air, acting as a thermal insulator preventing proper heat transfer within the system. 

The thermal paste goes into the microscopic gaps, eliminating air and helps proper heat transfer within the system. Without a thermal paste, your system may overheat. Prolonged periods of computer overheating can damage it and cause frequent shutdowns.  

Does Thermal Paste Expire?

Yes, thermal paste does expire, but it may take up to years for thermal pastes to go bad. Many factors affect the expiry date of thermal paste, including what company’s thermal paste you are using, is it metal, carbon or silicon, how long you have stored it and at what temperature you have stored it.

If you see thermal paste watery, hard or flaky, know that thermal paste has gone bad, so throw it immediately. If the thermal paste has dried up in the CPU, you need to replace the thermal paste. Remove it with an isopropyl alcohol pad and put on a new layer of thermal paste. 

Thermal paste generally takes around three years to go bad. If you have applied thermal paste on a gaming PC or a PC that plays high loads, there is a possibility that thermal paste dries up soon. 

We recommend you buying N-B Max Pro Thermal Paste. N-B Max Pro, unlike other thermal pastes, takes longer to expire. 

Nab Cooling promises five years of shelf life of N-B Max Pro. Also, this thermal grease takes around five years to dry within the CPU. However, if you apply it to CPUs that load heavier applications, it may take four years to dry.

Does Unopened Thermal Paste Go Bad?

To answer the question, does thermal paste expires in the tube? Yes, unopened thermal pastes can also expire. Check the expiry date on the thermal paste package before you apply it. 

In general, thermal greases take around four years to expire, but if you buy N-B Max Pro, it will work well for 5+ years after the manufacturing date. 

However, the unopened thermal paste may expire soon if you keep it under direct sunlight and at wet or humid places. Keeping it in extremely cold or hot spots may also cause the thermal paste to go bad faster.

How Long Does Opened Thermal Paste Last?

Open thermal paste has almost the same shelf life as an unopened thermal paste if stored correctly. If the opened thermal paste exposes to air or water, it will oxidise and go bad.

How to Check If Thermal Paste Has Gone Bad?

Are you wondering if your thermal paste has gone bad? Different manufacturers give different expiry dates for their thermal pastes. If you keep the opened thermal paste tightly sealed in a dry area, there are many chances that it won’t expire for many years. 

Below we have compiled a complete guide for you to check if the thermal paste has expired:

  1. Open the thermal paste and discard a tiny amount of grease at the mouth of the syringe.
  2. Push the plunger to get the more thermal paste out.
  3. Spread a small amount of thermal paste on a metal surface to check how consistent and smooth it is. 
  4. If the thermal paste is watery, separated, dry or flaky, it has expired. 
  5. However, if it comes out smooth and consistent, it is good to use. 

Also, read our guide: What is the best method to apply thermal paste?

How to Accurately Store Thermal Paste?

Have you opened thermal paste and are now wondering how to store it until the subsequent use? Worry no more. Here is how you can accurately keep thermal paste to avoid it from going bad:

  • Once you have used thermal paste, twist its cap back tightly.
  • Put the capped thermal paste in a ziplock bag.
  • Once you have pushed the plunger in to take thermal paste out, do not pull it back. Pulling the plunger back will allow air to go in, which will oxidise the thermal gel. 
  • Do not store thermal paste under direct sunlight, in extremely hot or cold places, or wet or humid areas. 
  • Attic and basements have extreme temperatures, so you better avoid storing thermal pastes there. 

We have compiled a guide on 7 myths about thermal paste you should immediately forget. Before you get your hands on thermal paste, you should definitely read this. 

Choose the Best Thermal Paste: N-B Max Pro

As I said before, the expiry date of thermal pastes depends on many factors. Unlike other thermal paste, N-B Max Pro stays suitable for a longer time. This silicon-based thermal paste wins the race of both the shelf life of thermal paste and how long it takes to dry within the CPU. 

Choosing N-B Max Pro will save you money, energy and time you will spend buying and putting on new thermal paste every year. Just put it once, and your computer is good to go for the next five years. 

Besides, it comes with an applicator, spatula, isopropyl alcohol pad and microfiber cloth absolutely free, offering the most convenience to its users. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Are you still wondering if the thermal paste expires or degrades? The frequently asked questions will help you find out. 

How Often to Replace Thermal Paste?

If you don’t open the CPU and remove the heatsink, the thermal paste can go good for four years, five years if you are using N-B Max Pro

Suppose you decide to remove the heatsink before four years. In that case, it is better to change thermal paste because removing the heatsink may produce air bubbles in a thermal paste. The air bubbles may act as a thermal insulator preventing heat transfer. 

If you have bought a pre-built PC, I would recommend changing its thermal paste yourself as a precautionary measure. Doing this will help you get better CPU performance. 

Does Replacing Thermal Paste Make a Difference?

Yes, replacing thermal paste does make a difference. CPUs with new thermal paste work a lot faster and produce much less heat than CPUs with dried thermal pastes. 

Also, read our guide: Everything you need to know about thermal pastes

Does Putting Too Much Thermal Paste Harm the CPU?

Yes, putting too much thermal paste will affect temperature regulation. It may also leak into the surroundings causing issues in the system. 

If the thermal paste is metal-based or liquid metal, it will cause a short circuit within the CPU if leaked due to its electrical conduction property. 

However, if the thermal grease you apply is electrically insulative and leaks to the surroundings, it may stick to the motherboard and pins, causing them to stop working. 

How to Check If My Old Thermal Paste is Working?

If the CPU’s temperature remains the same and does not fluctuate, your old thermal paste has not yet expired and is properly working.

My Thermal Paste Hasn’t Dried Yet, But My CPU Processor Is Still Overheating; what To Do?

There are many other reasons except thermal paste drying that causes the CPU processor to overheat. If the CPU cooler is not mounted correctly, it may cause the CPU processor to heat. 

Besides, dust and dirt may have caked your CPU, making it overheat. If this is the issue, you should clean the system, including the radiator, fans and dust filters. 

When Does Thermal Paste Need to Be Reapplied?

Yes, you need to replace thermal paste when the thermal paste wears out – it dries inside the CPU. In most cases, you don’t need to reapply thermal paste for four years, but it still depends on the load on your CPU at the end of the day. More the load, soon it dries, and then you need to reapply thermal paste. 

That’s It

Does thermal paste expire? Well, now you have an answer. Yes, thermal paste does expire after a specific period. 

However, other factors such as storing temperature, exposure to air and humidity level where you kept the paste may cause the thermal paste to expire soon.

You better store thermal grease at room temperature in a dry place. Make sure to cap the syringe tightly. We recommend using N-B Max Pro as this thermal paste won’t go bad for five years straight after its manufacturing date. 

For any other questions, feel free to contact us. We would love to hear from you. 

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