Common question: does putting a 15W/mK thermal pad on my CPU make a difference? Usually, beginners are unsure of which thermal pad they should buy and why. Are you one of them? No worries, we have prepared this guide for you.
This guide consists of a detailed account of thermal conductivity, how it makes a difference, an honest comparison of the best listed thermal pads, and some frequently asked questions that may help you understand thermal pads better.
So let’s dive deeper into the topic and understand if a 15W/mK thermal pad makes a difference.
Why Are Thermal Interface Materials Important?
Thermal interface material is as important as any other hardware of the computer system. The heat-producing surfaces (such as semiconductor devices and heat-sink), which may appear smooth when looked at with the eye, have tiny air gaps that trap air and act as insulators to prevent heat transfer.
The thermal interface material is put between the two heat-generating surfaces. It fills the insulative air gaps, conducts heat, and helps it dissipate out of the computer system. You need to note that each thermal interface material is specific for each CPU surface.
Understanding The Importance of Thermal Conductivity
Thermal conductivity refers to an ability of a material to conduct heat. Heat conductivity depends on the material used. For metal-based thermal interface materials or liquid metal, the thermal conductivity value is high.
However, metal-based interface materials are dangerous as they may cause short circuits within the CPU if leaked. Other thermal interface materials manufactured from diamond, silicon, ceramic or other materials have relatively low thermal conductivity value but are safe to use.
Does More W/mK Mean Better CPU Performance?
Yes. W/mK stands for watts per meter kelvin. The higher the W/mK value, the more energy interface material can absorb from the CPU and dissipate to a cooler device. The more the thermal conductivity value of a thermal interface material, the more efficient it is.
How Do I Choose Thermal Pads?
Before you choose a thermal pad, you should look for the following features:
High Thermal Conductivity
Numerous companies are selling thermal pads with conductivity values ranging from 1 W/mK to 20 W/mK (non-metal thermal pads). The thermal conductive pads with a lower value will not help much in heat transfer.
Hence, to load heavy applications and games, the thermal pad should have a thermal conductive value of 12 W/mK or higher.
An electrically insulative thermal interface material is a potential danger for the computer system because it may cause a short circuit within the CPU.
No, you don’t need to pay additional costs to get a good thermal pad because many companies have started manufacturing highly thermally conductive and safe thermal pads for computers at a low price.
The material type of a thermal pad shows how smooth it will be and how better it will conduct heat. Generally, metal-based thermal pads have a higher thermal conductivity value but can cause hazards within the device.
You should choose a non-metal thermal pad, a silicone thermal pad, to be precise. It is safe to handle and will quickly melt into the air gaps.
Easy to cut
An excellent thermal pad shouldn’t be too hard, sticky, or too squishy because it will make cutting them difficult.
Note: We cut thermal pads to help them fit on CPU surfaces.
The thermal interface pad you choose should be non-curing, odorless, non-toxic, anti-static, and fire-retardent. These qualities will decrease the chances of computer-related hazards.
Wide Operating Temperature Range
Wider the operating temperature range, more the devices a thermal interface material is compatible with. Typically, an excellent thermal pad should have an operating temperature range of -50℃ to +200℃.
As you only need to change thermal pads every few years, they should have a greater shelf life. This will help avoid the extra costs of buying a new pad every time.
Although many believe that thermal pads are relatively easier to apply than other thermal interface materials, we can’t deny the fact that some low-quality thermal pads still give us a tough time while installing them. An excellent thermal pad should be easy to cut and install.
Before you buy a thermal pad, you need to check the thickness of the gap you want to fill. We recommend you buy a pad slightly thicker than the gap because when applied, the thermal pad softens and thins somewhat to go into the void.
Must read: Thermal pad uses: everything you need to know.
Nab Cooling’s NB Supermax — A 15W/mK Thermal Pad
Nab Cooling, when launched, had a single principle; use expertise to create an extraordinary paste that beats all other thermal pastes in the market and that too, at an affordable price.
We feel honored to tell you that our thermal pad 一 NB Supermax is one of the very few non-metal thermal pads in the market with a thermal conductivity value of 15W/mK. This conductivity value makes it an ideal thermal interface pad for devices that generate a lot of heat.
Manufactured with silicone and other non-metal, non-curing, and safe-to-handle materials, NB Supermax won’t cause any harm to your computer system. Additionally, it is fire-retardant, anti-static, odorless, and won’t wear.
Some of the features you will not find in any other thermal pad except NB Supermax include its superior composition, enhanced multilayer matrix, and ability to hold extra ooze that, unfortunately, other thermal pads leave after a few years.
NB Supermax has a wide operating temperature range; -60℃ to +220℃, which makes it best for any device, including GPU cards, memory chips, VRM, analog ICs, micro-controller units, heatsinks, LEDs, laptops, DVDs, high-temperature SMD components, chipsets, consoles, game stations, large PCB surfaces, motherboards, add-on cards, and other densely packed electronic devices.
To know more about NB Supermax, read this.
- It comes in six different thickness; 0.5mm, 1.0mm, 1.5mm, 2.0mm, 2.5mm, 3.0mm
- It is a 90mm x 50mm silicone thermal pad, which can fit most CPU surfaces without cutting it.
- Ambient temperature of 26℃.
- It won’t attract dust.
- It helps the CPU runs cool.
For best results, follow the installing guide below:
- Cut the thermal pad according to the dimension of the surface you want to apply it on (if needed)
- Remove plastic film from one side of the thermal pad.
- Gently press the uncovered side on the surface.
- Remove the plastic film from the other side.
- Install the system.
Comparing Nb Supermax With Four Best Listed Thermal Pads
Best Performance Overall
|Thermal Conductivity Value (W/mK)||15W/mK|
|Other Features||Safe to handle.|
Comes in 6 thicknesses; 0.5mm, 1.0mm, 1.5mm, 2.0mm, 2.5mm, 3.0mm.
Wide operating temperature range -60℃ to +220℃.
|Conclusion||Extremely heat conductive.|
Different thicknesses allow it to fill different-sized gaps.
Best to use for a wide range of devices.
Safe to use for beginners.
Best Electrically Conductive
|Name||Thermal Grizzly Carbonaut Thermal Pad|
|Thermal Conductivity Value (W/mK)||62.5W/mK|
|Other Features||Operating temperature range of -250℃ to +150℃.|
Extremely thin; 0.2mm.
|Conclusion||Extremely thermally conductive.|
Has a wide operating temperature range which is suitable for many devices.
Not safe for beginners.
May tear due to the extreme flexibility.
It is very thin, which doesn’t make it suitable for many devices.
Best For Expert Use Only
|Name||IC graphite thermal pad|
|Thermal Conductivity Value (W/mK)||35W/mK.|
|Other Features||Available in two sizes; 30mm x 30mm and 40mm x 40mm.|
Wide operating temperature range -200℃ to +400℃.
|Conclusion||Excellent thermal conductivity but not as good as other metal-based thermal pads. |
A wide operating temperature range allows running heavy devices.
Not suitable for beginners as it is electrically conductive.
Best For Beginner Use
|Name||Arctic thermal pad|
|Thermal Conductivity Value (W/mK)||6W/mK|
|Other Features||Safe to handle.|
Operating temperature range of -40℃ to +200℃.
Available in two sizes; 50mm x 50mm and 145mm x 145mm.
Comes in 3 thicknesses; 0.5mm, 1.0mm, 1.5mm.
|Conclusion||Safe to use for beginners.|
Not as effective as other thermal pads.
It has a low operating temperature range, hence, it will be compatible with fewer devices.
Best Non-Electrically Conductive
|Name||Fujipoly SARCON XR-m Thermal Pad|
|Thermal Conductivity Value (W/mK)||17W/mK|
|Other Features||Available in two sizes; 60mm x 50mm.|
Available in two thicknesses; 0.5mm and 1.0mm.
Operating temperature range of -50°C to +150°C
Safe to use for beginners.
It has a lower temperature range.
Hence, it will not be compatible with many devices.
The highly sticky surface makes it difficult to apply
FAQs — How Does A 15W/mK Thermal Pad Create a Difference?
Are you still confused about why to choose a 15W/mK thermal pad? Don’t worry. These routinely asked questions will help you understand.
Can I stack five 3W/mK thermal pads to increase the thermal conductivity value to 15W/mK?
No, stacking thermal pads will decrease the thermal conductive ability instead of increasing it. When you stack thermal pads, it induces air gaps between surfaces which acts as insulators.
The more thermal pads you use, the larger the air gaps induced. Even if you stack them carefully, it will never increase the heat conductivity.
Is a thermal paste better than thermal pads?
No, it is not. It was a traditional belief that thermal pastes could act better than thermal pads. However, with advancements in technology, companies have started developing effective and safe thermal pads.
These thermal pads provide extreme thermal conductivity, just like thermal pastes. It will not be correct if we say any of these thermal interface materials is better than the other.
How often do you change the 15W/mK thermal pad?
Every four years. No matter whatever value of thermal conductivity you choose for the thermal pad, you need to change it every four years for the best results. However, if you are using a low-quality thermal pad, you will have to change it every 1-2 years.
What thickness thermal pad should I buy?
Before deciding on thermal pad thickness, measure the gap you want to fill with the interface material. The gap may vary from surface to surface.
We recommend you buy a thermal pad that is slightly thicker than the gap you want to fill because once you apply a thermal pad, it melts into air gaps and slightly reduces in size.
Are thermal pads reusable?
No, once applied, you cannot reuse thermal pads. They will act more as an insulator than as a conductor because they induce air gaps when reused.
When you remove a thermal pad, you should clean the surface with alcohol wipes and a microfiber cloth to ensure no traces are left behind.
Conclusion — How Does A 15W/mK Thermal Pad Make a Difference?
Yes, buying an electrically non-conductive 15W/mK thermal pad makes a huge difference because you are getting two benefits; high thermal conductivity and safe handling.
Many thermal pads with high conductivity value are metal-based, making them unsuitable for many people because they may harm the CPU. However, this is not the case with NB Supermax.
NB Supermax has all the qualities an excellent thermal pad should have, ranging from high thermal conductivity and non-electrically conducive to having a wide operating temperature range and being safe to handle.
So wait no more and order yours now to get the best CPU temperatures because your CPU should be as excellent as you are!
Do you have more questions? Feel free to contact us here.