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What are the different types of thermal pastes

What are the Different Types of Thermal Pastes?

There are hundreds and hundreds of different types of thermal pastes in the market. Until you are an expert, you won’t see much difference in all of those. Where some pastes label themselves metal-based, others are known as non-metal, carbon, or silicone.

What are these thermal pastes, and does it make a difference what paste we use? If yes, then what pastes should you buy for efficient heat transfer?

Nothing is an issue anymore. Today, I will tell you how all of these thermal pastes are different and which one you should buy. Let’s check them out. 

What are Thermal Pastes and Why Do We Need Them?

Thermal paste, thermal grease, and thermal compounds are all names of the same substance. This substance is heat conductive and works as a heat transfer between two surfaces. 

The CPU, coolers, and heatsinks all have surfaces with microscopic gaps. These gaps trap air which act as insulator, preventing proper heat dissipation. 

Thermal paste flows into these small gaps, eliminating any air, and works as a heat conductor. This way, the CPU efficiently dissipates heat and runs smoothly. We need thermal pastes to avoid the system overheating and collapsing.  

You will have super fun reading our article on 7 myths about thermal paste

Different Types of Thermal Pastes – Pros and Cons Included

There are six different types of thermal pastes, and they all vary when it comes to thermal conductivity, electric conductivity, density, and price. 

Knowing which one is important for your system is essential. You can’t just apply a thermal paste with a low heat conductivity value to a system that heats a lot. 

Metal-based Thermal Paste

It is one of the most common and old types of thermal paste. Usually, it contains silver and aluminum as both of these metals are outstanding conductors of heat. It is best for applications that quickly heat up.

People sometimes mix these with ceramic thermal pastes to help control temperature fluctuation. 

Pros:

They are extremely good at heat conduction as they contain metals that are naturally good conductors of heat. 

Cons: 

These pastes contain electrically conductive metals, so they may cause short circuits within the circuit if leaked. Also, they are capacitive and challenging to apply. You need to use electric tape on the surrounding components to avoid short circuits due to leaking.

Advice: 

If you are looking for good thermal conductivity, choose metal-based thermal pastes. Do not use it if you are applying the thermal paste for the first time.  

Liquid Metal-based Thermal Paste

These are only rare liquid metals that are outstanding conductors of heat. They work just like thermal pastes do, filling air gaps on the surfaces to help heat transfer. The difference is when it comes to what these products contain. 

Most of the time, liquid metal thermal paste contains gallium – a metal with a low melting point, so it is liquid at room temperature.

Pros:

It offers smooth and fast pace running and transfers heat eight times faster than regular thermal paste.  

Cons: 

You cannot use it with an aluminum heat sink as aluminum and gallium may react. Besides, it is difficult to apply because it is a liquid, so I recommend using it only if you are an expert.  

Additionally, liquid metals are costly compared to other thermal interface materials, and if it leaks to the surroundings, it may cause severe system damages due to its electrical conductivity. 

Advice: 

If you want excellent heat conductivity or find thermal interface material for systems that heat up very rapidly, this is the best option.
Note: only use this option if you are confident enough that you will apply it evenly without it leaking. 

Ceramic-based Thermal Pastes

These thermal greases are so far the most common pastes in the market. Made from ceramic, these pastes are widely available and used. 

Pros: 

It is not electrically conductive, making it safe even if it spills; it is affordable, easy-to-apply, and the best option for quickly heated systems. 

Cons:

It won’t offer a significant decrease in the system’s temperature, making it inefficient for high-heated systems. 

Advice: 

If you are applying thermal pastes for the first time, this option is good to go. 

Carbon-based Thermal Pastes

Carbon-based thermal pastes contain tiny carbon fibers and are just like ceramic thermal paste when it comes to conductivity. 

Pros:

They are easier to apply as they have good density. They have a longer lifespan, are not electrically conductive, and are the best option for beginners.

Cons: 

It is not a very effective heat transfer product. 

Advice: 

If you are applying thermal pastes for the first time, this option is good to go. 

Diamond Carbon-based Thermal Pastes

Do you know that diamonds are five times effective heat transfer than silver? Well, this will make this diamond carbon-based thermal paste a super-effective heat transfer paste because it contains diamond powder. Also, it won’t scratch the surface. 

Pros:

Diamond carbon-based pastes are very effective when it comes to heat transfer. It is electrically insulative and non-capacitive. It has a low viscosity, which can help fill potential gaps and has more excellent stability. The diamond in it is powder thus won’t scratch the surface. 

Cons:

Diamond carbon thermal pastes are very expensive as compared to other thermal pastes. 

Advice:

If you want extreme thermal conductivity and have a good budget, you should go for this option. 

Silicon-based Thermal Pastes

As the title says, these pastes contain silicone. These usually come applied to thermal pads.

Pros:

Silicon-based thermal pastes have a good density which helps them spread evenly without leaking, making them easy to use. They have an excellent thermal conductivity value making them suitable for heat transfer. 

Additionally, these pastes offer a wide range of operating temperatures, making them compatible with many CPU systems and VGA cards. Also, they are electrically insulative

Cons:

Silicon-based pastes are comparatively expensive than other pastes. 

Advice:

Silicon pastes are all-rounders. They offer maximum thermal conductivity and are safe to use on any system as they are not electrically conductive. Easy application makes them suitable for newbies and experts. 

How do I Choose Thermal Paste?

Before choosing a thermal paste, you need to consider many factors that efficiently work as a heat transferer between surfaces without causing any potential damage to the system.

Heat Conductivity

An excellent thermal paste’s heat conductivity should be well enough to decrease the CPU temperature significantly. 

If a thermal paste is metallic, its heat conductivity value should be 70W/mK, and if it is non-metallic, any value between 6W/mK and 10W/mK will work well enough. The more thermal conductivity value a substance has, the better heat it conducts. 

Electric Conductivity

A thermal paste shouldn’t be electrically conductive. Electrically conductive pastes have the potential to cause short circuits within the system and damage it. 

Suppose it leaks to surroundings and to the area, which will cause damage when exposed to electricity, the electrically conductive thermal paste will carry electricity to that area. 

Density

Is thermal paste too thin? It will leak into the surroundings. Is it too thick? It may not spread properly. 

You need a thermal paste with a density that won’t allow it to leak to its surroundings and spread evenly on the surface, offering complete coverage. 

Are you wondering what the best method to apply thermal paste is? Read our comprehensive guide here

What is the Best Type of Thermal Paste?

To choose the best thermal paste, you need to keep in mind three essential factors – heat conductivity, electrical conductivity, and density. 

A compound with excellent thermal conductivity, poor electrical conductivity, and a proper density that is neither too thick nor too thin makes the best paste.

I advise you to use silicon-based thermal pastes as they are an all-rounder. They will spread evenly, are safe-to-use, widely compatible, and are electrically insulative. All these qualities make silicon-based thermal pastes the best among all.

N-B Max Pro – The Best Thermal Paste

Nab Cooling’s best product to date – N-B Max Pro is the best thermal paste you will ever use. It is a silicon-based product with a density value of 3.73g/cm³, which won’t leak and evenly spread to the surrounding. 

Its electrical insulation property makes it ideal for many systems. Also, N-B Max Pro has a thermal conductivity value of 8.5W/mK, which helps it properly transfer heat and keep the system’s temperature down. 

Additionally, N-B Max Pro has a wide range of operating temperatures that are -45℃ to +180℃, so you can use it on any CPU you want.

Read more about the best thermal paste – N-B Max Pro

Guess what? With every N-B Max Pro package, you get an applicator, a spatula, an alcohol pad, and a microfiber cloth absolutely free. 

Read more about Unboxing N-B Max Pro.

This will save you money and save you time, which you would have spent finding good quality microfiber cloths and thermal paste spatula or applicators. 

Final Words

If you have to choose from those hundreds of different thermal pastes, you should keep in mind all the factors that make a thermal paste great. I would recommend you using silicon-based thermal paste, that too, only N-B Max Pro. 

N-B Max Pro’s qualities make it different from all other thermal pastes. With such a fantastic heat conductivity value, it is an excellent thermal paste that is non-toxic, non-corrosive, environmentally friendly. It won’t damage your CPU because it is not electrically conductive. 

Your system’s health depends on which of these different types of thermal pastes you choose for it, so you better choose wisely. 

Do you have any other questions? Feel free to contact us

Thermal Paste

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