Updated at: 28-04-2022 - By: Leo Hall

Are you familiar with the terms thermal paste, thermal grease, and thermal pads? Thermal paste is a must-have for any PC gamer or PC user who cares about speed and stability. If you talk to different people, you may hear terms like thermal paste, thermal goop, thermal grease, and so on. This can be a little perplexing. Do you really need to use any of these things?

Turns Out You Do – Here’s Why

Thermal paste aids in heat conduction, as the name suggests. As a result, the vents are able to quickly and efficiently dissipate the heat that has built up in the spaces between them. Because you don’t want your computer to overheat, it’s evident why this is so vital. Excessive stress on your PC, like running many programs at once, can lead it to overheat and eventually shut down, just as in a car. You may not be able to switch your PC back on at all if it happens frequently enough!

Distinctions Between the Three

Confusion abounds at this point. All of these terms refer to the same thing: thermal paste, thermal grease, and thermal goo. You should keep this in mind. You can also call it thermal compound, heat sink compound or even CPU grease. In fact, there are many different names for it. All of these terms refer to the same thing, so pay attention when you hear them.

Thermal Paste, Grease, Pads [2022 Guide] - GamingScan

There is, of course, the option of using a heat pad. This one, however, is distinct from the others due to its thicker texture. It’s a lot easier to apply because it’s solid. Air gaps are created when a material is too thick or too prone to molding. It’s important to keep in mind that the purpose of these goods is to keep the air in and direct the heat in one direction. A decreased ability to cool down is a result of air gaps.

What’s Better? It’s Depends on How you Use It

I believe this question has already been answered in the previous chapter. Thermal goop and thermal pads are the finest options if you’re looking for the best outcomes. The thermal pad has a few downsides, such as the fact that it isn’t designed for long-term use. The heat will eventually cause that pad to deform, necessitating a new one. When you do something with the heat sink, such as removing it from the casing for some side work, this is likely to occur.

Just remember that using both at the same time is not recommended. Thermal goop is what you should be using. In the event that you’re utilizing a pad, use it. Your PC won’t get more efficient by combining the two. The opposite will occur, and you may find yourself in need of computer repair sooner rather than later.

How to Apply Thermal Paste, Grease, or Goop

Because of this, thermal paste is the best solution here. It’s now up to you to figure out how to get it onto your computer. Here are the answers:

Purchase the paste that you’ll need.

The paste itself is available in a variety of forms, with various prices depending on the manufacturer. Your decision relies on what you intend to perform with the computer…. Zinc oxide and silicone are the primary materials needed for the most basic of tasks. If you plan on overclocking your computer, you’ll need a more durable motherboard. Choose goop that contains copper, gold, or silver traces. In order to transport heat from one part to another, they’re extremely conductive. In addition to ceramics, the goop has a variety of other substances. If you don’t plan on conducting any heavy-duty work on your PC, you can get away with using a basic thermal paste.

Make sure the surface is clean and sanded.

Clean the area where you plan to apply the paste. The goop will be compromised if any dirt and filth is left behind. Sanding the region between the heat sink and the processor is also a common practice. Is that area rough and bumpy to the touch? The application of thermal paste would be more efficient and less time consuming if the surface were smoother. To avoid harming the surface, use only fine-grit materials for this task.

Now, things get a little more complicated because there are two different cooler types to choose from in the market today. You have both the circular and the square. It’s not difficult to create a circular typeface:

  • Get some goop and spread it around the cooler’s circumference. Be aware that this should be a very minimal amount. Think of a rice grain as an example. In fact, using too much thermal paste will only contaminate portions of your computer that you don’t want it to contact.
  • Attach the heat sink gently once the goop has been applied. Make sure to apply even pressure as you lay it down. Because of the pressure, the goop spread will be equally distributed over the region.

Restart the computer after you have left it alone for a few minutes. The perfect coating will be damaged if you try to lift any section of the seal. If you’ve followed the following instructions to the letter, you shouldn’t have any issues with the project’s execution or outcomes.

thermal pad vs. thermal grease - NabCooling

What about a square-type cooler? This one a bit trickier.

  1. In an X shape, place the paste on the cooler’s side.
  2. Use a plastic finger shield to apply the paste evenly across all surfaces.
  3. When the paste barely covers the metal, you know it’s done correctly. Ascertain that the substance is applied uniformly.
  4. Attach the rest of the components and start the PC when you’re satisfied.

It’s critical to keep your PC cool if you want it to run at peak efficiency. There is such a thing as too much thermal paste, so if you must choose, go with the less. If you use too much, you risk damaging other components, but if you use too little, your cooling will be less effective.

Types of Thermal Paste

Best Ceramic-Based TIM

According to the chart, silicon-based TIMs are those that are commonly available on a ready-to-use basis. In terms of performance, these aren’t the best TIMs out there, but they’ll get the job done for most people. When it comes to overclocking, we recommend using one of our top picks.

Idle and load state temperatures are shown in the graph below. There is a wide range of variation in temperature output, not only between the various types of TIMs but also between the various manufacturers.

Other Types of Thermal Interface Materials vs Thermal Paste

Thermal Pads vs Thermal Paste

Thermal pads are also available for purchase. Even though they are simple to install, thermal paste is superior because it is better at conducting heat. It is possible to find them in pre-built PCs or in stock.

Thermal Tapes vs Thermal Paste

The name may have come up in conversation. Thermal pastes and greases are different from thermal tapes. Thermal adhesives of this type allow your chipset and heatsink to adhere to each other.

Use this only if you are confident in your abilities. In other cases, the circuit may not include mounting pins or a locking mechanism. When the heatsink and circuit are separated, it’s an excellent moment for employing thermal tape.

What Is Thermal Paste/Thermal Grease?

In the first place, we’d want to make it clear that thermal paste and thermal grease are interchangeable terms for the same product. Thermal paste, heat paste, and heatsink paste are all examples of thermal paste, but thermal paste is the most common.

In other words, what does thermal paste do?

As previously stated, efficient heat transmission from the component that creates heat to the heatsink is required for effective cooling. Heat spreaders and coolers aren’t precisely flat or smooth anymore. This causes air pockets to form between the two surfaces.

And because air is horrible at transferring heat, these air pockets can have a major impact on cooling performance, which can be remedied using thermal paste.

Thermal Pads vs Thermal Paste: Best Solution for Mounting Heatsinks on a PCB | Blog | Altium Designer

When applied to the CPU/GPU heat spreader and heatsink, thermal paste acts as a sealant, allowing no air to enter or leave the system. Up order to ensure efficient heat transfer, it fills in all the small holes in the metal.

Some thermal pastes are better than others because they have a better thermal conductivity. Metal-based or metal-tinted pastes are the most thermally conductive, as are pastes with traces of metal. If too much paste is used and it gets into the CPU socket (for example), this could result in some hardware damage.

In contrast, you have carbon or ceramic-based pastes that do not contain metal or conduct electricity. Because there is no chance of hardware damage, they may be more tempting to folks who are new to PC construction or who are simply anxious about their safety when using them.

Even while these coolers don’t transmit heat as well, a few degrees of CPU temperature increase isn’t going to hurt your performance unless you’re heavily overclocking.

What Are Thermal Pads?

Thermal pads, on the other hand, accomplish the same thing as thermal paste. While they are both made of thermally conductive materials like silicon, the fact that they are solid sheets makes a difference.

Thermal pads have the advantage of being more convenient to use because they may be trimmed to the exact size needed for your application. As long as you don’t overdo it with the paste, you don’t have to worry about cleaning off the old dried-up paste when you replace the heat spreader and heatsink.

But the obvious drawback of heat pads is that they are constructed from solid material. As a result, they are less efficient than thermal paste because they are unable to fill in all of the small holes in the metal. In addition, they need to be updated more frequently than thermal paste because of the higher wear and tear.

For people who are new to PC building, thermal pads are a terrific option. They can also be used by those who dislike having to wipe up old paste or re-apply it each time they take the cooler out to clean it.

However, thermal pads are no longer as widely utilized as they once were for cooling CPUs and GPUs, but graphics cards still frequently use them for VRAM cooling.


Can I use grease as thermal paste?

It doesn’t matter if you use thermal grease or thermal paste. It’s the gooey thing you place between your CPU and heat sink, hot ass gloop-a-doop for your CPU-pa-doop, as well as thermal compound. Do not be concerned about the use of grease or paste, as these terms have no meaning in this context.

Is thermal grease same as thermal paste?

When placed between a microprocessor and a heatsink, thermal grease (also known as thermal paste or thermal compound) improves heat transfer between the two surfaces.

Which is better thermal grease or paste?

Thermal paste has a huge advantage because it is so easy to spread. Thermal pads can’t fill wide gaps as well as this product. Thermal paste also has the advantage of being able to be applied in a thin layer, improving thermal conductivity over thicker pads.

Can I use thermal paste instead of pads?

It is possible to use thermal paste, or gel, as an alternative to thermal pads. There are advantages to thermal paste, such as the ability to be automated, decreased impedance (in specific material circumstances), and more conformance to irregular surfaces.


Thermal paste and thermal pads, on the other hand, are both made of a thermally conductive material that improves cooling performance by allowing for a more effective transfer of heat from the source to the heatsink.

Thermal paste is more efficient and doesn’t need to be replaced as frequently, whereas thermal pads are less efficient but are easier to insert and replace, but they also need replacement more frequently.

There isn’t much of a price difference to be aware of. Thermal paste prices range from $2 to $15, while thermal pads are a little less expensive, but they also need to be updated more frequently, as has been discussed previously. It’s true that thermal paste is definitely a better value, but with the costs as high as they are you won’t be able to save much.

With that said, we highly recommend checking out our current assortment of the most popular and high-quality thermal pastes in order to make an informed purchase. In addition, if your components are overheating, you may want to consider installing case fans or a new CPU cooler.