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The 10 Best Thermal Pastes for CPUs and GPUs in 2023

Thermal paste plays a critical role in heat transfer and dissipation for computer components like CPUs and GPUs. As processors become more powerful, having a high-quality thermal paste is crucial to maintain stability and prevent overheating or thermal throttling.

In this comprehensive guide, I‘ll cover the top 10 best performing thermal pastes in 2023 specifically for use with CPUs and GPUs. I evaluated numerous market-leading pastes on factors like:

  • Thermal conductivity – Ability to efficiently transfer heat
  • Viscosity – Consistency and ease of application
  • Longevity – Stability over time without drying out
  • Electrical conductivity – Risk of short circuiting components
  • Value – Performance weighed against cost

I‘ll provide a quick overview table of the top recommendations first, then dive deeper into what makes each thermal paste stand out. Let‘s get started!

Quick Comparison Table

Product Type Thermal Conductivity Electrically Conductive Easy Application Longevity Value
Prolimatech PK-3 Traditional paste 9 W/mK No Moderate Excellent ~πŸ’²πŸ’²πŸ’²πŸ’²
Thermal Grizzly Kryonaut Traditional paste 12.5 W/mK No Easy Very Good ~~~~πŸ’²πŸ’²πŸ’²πŸ’²
Cooler Master MasterGel Pro Traditional paste 11 W/mK No Very Easy Good ~~πŸ’²πŸ’²
Noctua NT-H1 Traditional paste 6.4 W/mK No Easy Very Good ~~πŸ’²
Thermal Grizzly Conductonaut Liquid metal 73 W/mK Yes Hard Good ~~~~πŸ’²πŸ’²πŸ’²
Phobya Liquid Metal Liquid metal 82 W/mK Yes Very Hard Moderate ~πŸ’²πŸ’²
GELID GC-Extreme Traditional paste 8.5 W/mK No Moderate Good ~~πŸ’²πŸ’²
Shen-Etsu MicroSi Traditional paste 4.5 W/mK No Hard Excellent ~πŸ’²πŸ’²πŸ’²
ARCTIC MX-4 Traditional paste 8.5 W/mK No Very Easy Excellent ~~πŸ’²πŸ’²
Arctic Silver 5 Traditional paste 8.7 W/mK No Moderate Excellent ~πŸ’²

Now let‘s take a deeper look at each recommendation.

#1 Pick: Prolimatech PK-3

The Prolimatech PK-3 thermal paste is my top overall pick for its excellent thermal performance, stability over time, and competitive value. It uses an innovative nano-aluminum compound to achieve thermal conductivity up to 9 W/mK, handling demanding CPUs and multi-GPU gaming rigs. I like that it requires no special curing or break-in period. The thick consistency helps prevent pump-out issues seen with thinner pastes. Application is moderately difficult but worthwhile for the impressive cooling capabilities. For enthusiasts seeking max OC potential, the PK-3 is hard to beat.


  • Great 9 W/mK thermal conductivity
  • Thick consistency prevents pump-out
  • No break-in period required


  • Relatively difficult application
  • Not electrically conductive

Bottom Line

With excellent thermals, stability and competitive pricing, the Prolimatech PK-3 is a top-performing thermal paste perfect for high performance builds.

#2 Pick: Thermal Grizzly Kryonaut

The Thermal Grizzly Kryonaut paste is known for having exceptional thermal performance rivaling liquid metal compounds. It achieves an incredible 12.5 W/mK thermal conductivity thanks to a patented structure of 80% air pocket free filler materials including diamond powder. Despite the ultra high performance, it does not conduct electricity making application safe and easy. For max thermals on air and water cooling rigs alike, the Kryonaut is a top contender. Just be prepared to pay the premium price tag.


  • Best-in-class 12.5 W/mK thermal conductivity
  • Non-electrically conductive for easy application
  • 7-year shelf life


  • On the expensive side
  • Not quite as longevity as ceramic pastes

Bottom Line
The Thermal Grizzly Achieves category-leading thermal performance to maximize your overclocking potential.

#3 Pick: Cooler Master MasterGel Pro

The Cooler Master MasterGel Pro is an exceptional option I recommend for its ease of use and application. Its structure makes for smooth, even application without much mess or difficulty. Coming in at 11 watts per meter Kelvin of rating, it offers thermal performance that meets and beats several premium pastes. While not chart-topping, it keeps pace with liquid metal alternatives at a more modest price. For those who value a frustration-free installation experience without compromising too much cooling potential, the MasterGel Pro is a leading choice.


  • Very easy to apply evenly
  • Affordably priced
  • 11 W/mK thermal conductivity rating


  • Hot components may cause minor pump out
  • Not the highest performing for extreme OC

Bottom Line
With a very balanced feature set of performance, application and value, the Cooler Master MasterGel Pro is easy to recommend for most users.

Liquid Metal Compounds

Liquid metal thermal pastes made of gallium alloys represent the cutting edge in thermals, achieving conductivity of over 70+ W/mK. However, they have some unique caveats to consider before applying:


  • Extreme thermal conductivity 70W/mK+
  • Made for competitive overclocking
  • Can drop load temperatures significantly


  • Challenging and risky to apply
  • Conductive – can short components if spilled
  • Can corrode aluminum heatsinks

Keep these factors in mind when deciding if a liquid metal compound makes sense for your build. Ensure your heatsink base is nickel-plated copper and take precautions for spill containment. Used properly, these can enable record overclock frequencies.

#4 Pick: Noctua NT-H1

The Noctua NT-H1 proves you don‘t need to spend a lot to get a quality thermal paste good enough for mainstream builds. It offers a balanced feature set of decent 6.2W/mK thermal conductivity, easy non-messy application, and excellent 5-year longevity before drying out. While it won‘t break overclocking records, Noctua‘s trusted reputation guarantees reliable performance for air and water cooling setups alike. As a moderately-priced, jack-of-all-trades thermal interface, the NT-H1 is hard to beat.


  • Very easy application
  • 5-year shelf life won’t dry out
  • Great value for performance


  • Thermal conductivity is just average
  • Some pump-out over time

Bottom Line
Noctua‘s NT-H1 offers excellent value and worry-free reliability.

Tips for Applying Thermal Paste

  • Less is more – a pea sized dot in the center is usually sufficient
  • Avoid air bubbles for maximum contact
  • Slowly twist the heatsink when mounting to spread paste evenly
  • Clean off old dried paste thoroughly before reapplying
  • Reapply fresh paste if temperatures start consistently climbing


I hope this breakdown gives you a better understanding of the thermal paste landscape so you can select the right solution for your use case and budget. Performance needs and risk tolerance play a big role. Ultimately any quality paste applied properly will see significant gains over not having any. Stay cool and game on!

Let me know if you have any other questions. Happy to help fellow PC building enthusiasts make informed decisions on advanced cooling methods.