The Best Thermal Paste of 2023

You can have the best CPU cooler around, but your CPU thermals can suffer if you use inadequate thermal paste. Aftermarket thermal paste can also drop your GPU temperatures, making thermal paste a vital part of every PC build.

What to Look for With Thermal Paste in 2023

When it comes to thermal paste, thermal compound, thermal grease, or TIM (thermal interface material), the cooling performance is the most critical part of the selection process, but it’s not the end-all-be-all. Other features, such as ease of application, viscosity, and how easy it is to remove the paste from the CPU IHS—integrated heat spreader that covers the CPU die—also play an important role.

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The best thermal paste doesn’t have to achieve the absolute best thermal performance, especially if you’re a regular user who doesn’t plan to overclock their CPU. A quality budget paste is plenty for most users, even those owning one of the best CPUs on the market. You should consider getting a high-end grease or maybe even a liquid metal thermal compound only if you demand the lowest temperatures possible or are into overclocking.

Also, don’t forget that while regular thermal pastes aren’t electrically conductive liquid metal compounds are. If even a tiny drop of liquid metal comes into contact with a component that conducts electricity, it’s game over for your CPU, GPU, or motherboard.

Our advice is that if you’re dead set on using liquid metal, contact a professional to do it for you or educate yourself extensively and do some practice runs before embarking on that risky adventure.

Concerning thermal conductivity values—forget about them. Thermal conductivity depends on temperature. The higher the temperature, the better the thermal conductivity, so it isn’t a standardized way of showing the performance of thermal paste or liquid metal. In a nutshell, those thermal conductivity numbers you see on some thermal pastes say nothing about their real-life performance because there isn’t an objective, fully standardized way of measuring it.

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Note that you can also use thermal paste to repaste your GPU. Thermal compounds used by GPU manufacturers are usually worse in quality than most aftermarket solutions. So, even if you own one of the best graphics cards it’s prudent to check the paste if you notice higher temperatures under load than usual.

A highly viscous paste with solid thermal performance is a good choice for repasting GPUs because CPU/GPU chips deform when heated, applying pressure to the paste and slowly pushing it outwards. This can create dry points on the CPU IHS or the GPU die, leading to higher temperatures and potentially dangerous hotspots. A highly viscous thermal paste is harder to «pump out» by the thermal warping of the CPU or GPU.

Using viscous paste is more important when repasting your graphics card because the GPU chip at the center creates direct contact with the heatsink—unlike the CPU chip, which the IHS covers.

Direct die cooling is also the name of the game in laptops because, in notebooks, both the CPU and GPU chips lay bare without a heat spreader to cover them. Because of this, you have to make sure to fully cover the GPU chip with paste and fully cover both the CPU and GPU chips with paste in case you’re repasting a laptop. Since the chip is bare, not covering a part with paste will create a dangerous hotspot that can lead to the chip frying itself.

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On the other hand, not covering the entire surface of the CPU heat spreader is not the end of the world because the die covered by the IHS will still dump waste heat onto the entire heat spreader. And if the paste doesn’t cover a small part of the spreader, the rest of the IHS will still transfer heat to the cooler.

Now that we covered the basics of thermal paste, let’s dive into our picks.

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How-To Geek’s product recommendations come from the same team of experts that have helped people fix their gadgets over one billion times. We only recommend the best products based on our research and expertise. We never accept payment to endorse or review a product. Read More »

Best Budget Thermal Paste: Noctua NT-H1

Noctua NT-H1 paste being put on CPU



✓ Affordable

✗ Not great for overclockers

✓ Excellent thermal performance

✓ Easy to apply and remove

The HT-H1 from Noctua is the best thermal paste for most PC builders. It’s affordable, readily available worldwide, has excellent thermal performance, is easy to apply and remove, and can stay in working order for years if you adequately store it.

This grease is also a solid universal choice for CPUs, GPUs, and laptops. We don’t recommend it to serious overclockers, but everyone else shouldn’t look any further. If you want an alternative, the MX-4 from Arctic is another excellent choice, albeit with slightly worse thermal performance.


Noctua NT-H1

Best Budget Thermal Paste

Most PC owners need look no further than the Noctua NT-H1. It’s affordable, easy to apply and remove, and features excellent thermal performance.

Thermal Grizzly Kryonaut being put on CPU
Thermal Grizzly



✓ Fantastic thermal performance

✗ Not the greatest choice for GPUs

✓ Easy to apply and remove

✗ Expensive

✓ Excellent choice for extreme overclocking

✓ Made for high-end CPUs

The Thermal Grizzly Kryonaut isn’t the absolute best thermal paste on the market with regard to thermal performance. However, the combination of its features makes it the best choice for overclockers and people who want to have the lowest thermals possible. Overall, this is the best thermal paste for your CPU.

The Kryonaut is easy to apply and remove since it isn’t very viscous and can stay between your CPU and heatsink for years without losing moisture. It can work with GPUs, but since it’s only slightly viscous, we recommend getting something thicker, like our pick for the best GPU thermal paste.

The difference between the Kryonaut and the Kryonaut Extreme is less than one degree Celsius with the Extreme being 40-50% more expensive. In other words, the Extreme isn’t worth it. If you’re looking for an alternative and don’t care about the price, the PK-3 from Prolimatech has a higher thermal performance but is also double the price compared to the Kryonaut.


Thermal Grizzly Kryonaut

Best High-End Thermal Paste

The Thermal Grizzly Kryonaut is an impressive, high-end thermal grease made for extreme overclocking.

GELID GC-Extreme on pink background



✓ Perfect for GPUs

✗ Can be a bit hard to remove

✓ Impressive all-around thermal performance

✓ Highly viscous

✓ Affordable

The GELID GC-Extreme is a highly viscous thermal grease with pretty solid thermal performance and competitive pricing. It’s perfect for GPUs since it’s resistant to the pump-out effect and is highly stable over long periods. In other words, you can use it for years to cool your graphics cards, and it will stay wet and creamy.

High viscosity can make it a bit of a hassle to remove, but that’s something you have to live with if you want the best thermal compound for your GPU. Other viscous thermal compounds we recommend include the Thermalright TFX as well as our pick for the best laptop thermal paste, featured right below.


Gelid GC-Extreme

Best Thermal Paste for GPUs

If you’re looking for a viscous, thick paste that’s perfect for GPUs and direct die cooling in general, get the Gelid GC-Extreme.

Shin-Etsu MicroSi thermal paste 5-pack



✓ Impressive thermal performance

✗ Expensive

✓ Perfect for direct die cooling

✓ Comes in five syringes, increasing its shelf life

If you want to reapply thermal paste to your laptop’s CPU and GPU, the Shin-Etsu MicroSi X23-7783D is one of the best thermal greases you can get. This highly viscous thermal paste is perfect for direct die cooling. On top of that, it comes in five tiny syringes, , thus preventing the grease from drying out.

While it’s a fantastic choice for laptops and GPUs due to its high viscosity, the Shin-Etsu MicroSi X23-7783D is a bit hard to remove and quite expensive. If you don’t want to spend that much, our best GPU thermal paste pick will do the trick. If you don’t want to deal with thermal grease at all, the phase-changing—solid when cold, liquid when your CPU and GPU are hot and under load— PTM7950 material from JOYJOM, made explicitly for laptop cooling, is a great alternative.


Shin-Etsu MicroSi X23-7783D

Best Thermal Paste for Laptops

This is one of the best thermal compounds on the market and a perfect choice for laptops. The Shin-Etsu MicroSi X23-7783D is expensive but its impressive thermal performance justifies the price.

Thermal Grizzly Kryonaut Extreme
Thermal Grizzly



✓ Ridiculously good thermal performance

✗ Very tricky to apply

✓ Achieves noticeably lower temperatures than any regular thermal paste

✗ Quite pricey

✓ Fantastic performance with CPUs, GPUs, and laptops

✗ Not made for extreme overclocking

✓ Easier to find and buy than most other liquid metal thermal compounds

In the world of liquid metal thermal compounds, the Thermal Grizzly Conductonaut Extreme reigns supreme. This is the absolute best liquid metal thermal solution you can get, and while it’s very expensive, it can dramatically drop your CPU or GPU temperatures compared to even the best regular thermal pastes.

Aside from the price, another major downside of the Conductonaut Extreme, as well as every other liquid metal thermal compound, is that you can’t use it for extreme overclocking—liquid hydrogen and liquid helium overclocking—because metal freezes at sub-zero temperatures and becomes ineffective at cooling the thing it’s supposed to cool.


Thermal Grizzly Conductonaut Extreme

Best Liquid Metal Thermal Paste

If you want the absolute lowest CPU and GPU thermals and don’t care about the price, get the Thermal Grizzly Conductonaut Extreme.

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