Thermal grease is used to coat the surface between your heatsink and the top of the processor. Thermal compound is essential to apply on every processor as this material binds the gap in between the surfaces and boosts the transfer of heat to keep your processor running optimally. Be sure to always re-apply your thermal grease every time you install a new fan or re-install your old fan on your PC. You will also need to apply thermal grease to heatsinks on your graphics card, chipset, memory modules, etc - anything that uses a heatsink and/or fan.
FAQ & Section Info
What are the different types of thermal products?
There are 4 main types of products when it comes to thermal materials in the computer business - thermal compounds / grease, thermal adhesives (epoxy), thermal tape & pads, and thermal material removers.
What do you apply thermal grease on?
You apply thermal compound to all the interfaces where a heatsink is attached to a device that emits heat. Apply thermal material to the base of your processor heatsink, your chipset coolers, your video card heatsink/cooler, etc..
What is the best brand of thermal grease?
This is one of those questions that can be more about user preference and application than anything else. We recommend Arctic Silver 5, Arctic Cooling MX, Gelid GC, Coollab, and Noctua NT. But There are many other makes/models that do a great job.
What is thermal compount made of?
This depends on which model you go with. Basic thermal compound material is typically made of silicone. These pastes are more often white colored. From there you'll find gamer grade thermal grease to contain silver particles to boost conductivity. These greases are typically grey or silver colored. The percentage of silver in the product can go a long way in determining the quality and cost of the paste. Other thermal greases may include aluminum, zinc, synthetic diamonds, etc.
How do I know which thermal grease to buy?
You can read many reviews on different sites out there that grade one thermal compound vs. another. One way to size up two different models is by looking at the thermal conductivity rating (measured in W/mK). When looking at W/m-k measurements, the higher the better as the higher the conductivity of Watts per unit area/length in meters means that more heat and be conducted between the surfaces.
How do I apply thermal grease?
Depending on what model you go with, every manufacturer will have their recommended method of application. In general you want to apply a very thin layer evenly spread on the metallic surface of application. Most thermal compounds will even out and spread a bit as it is put in use so you can apply a dab of grease on the middle of your chip and spread it using a credit card, business card, or similar.
If I'm applying a new layer of thermal grease, do I have to remove the old stuff?
Yes! It would dramatically reduce your performance if you don't remove all remnants of a previous application before applying a new one. A lot of people have success with rubbing alcohol - but to be 100% safe always use a TIM removing solution. When it comes to that, nobody beats Arctic Silver's Arcticlean product