High-performance thermal paste fills microscopic gaps in the interface between a CPU’s IHS and a heat sink, facilitating better thermal transfer and lowering resistance. By doing so, it prevents overheating and improves electronic devices’ stability and lifespan.
Most mainstream thermal pastes are made from a bonding compound and a filler material. The bonding material is often various types of silicones, urethanes and epoxies, and the filler is usually silver, aluminum or ceramic micro-particles which are ground into a fine powder and mixed with the bonding compound to create the final product.
In the case of Gelid’s GC-Extreme, the filler material has a thermal conductivity rating of 8.5 W/mK, which isn’t bad for a budget-centric paste option. It’s also designed to be resistant to corrosion, and the package includes an applicator for cleaner installation. Available in 1 to 10 grams, this is a good choice for those who need a quality paste that won’t break the bank, particularly if you plan on upgrading or overclocking your system regularly.
Liquid metal compounds tend to be more expensive, but they offer higher performance and are much easier to use than traditional pastes. However, they can also be more complicated for users of all experience levels as they are electrically conductive and must be applied with careful precision or you risk damaging your processor and motherboard.
Noctua has a popular liquid metal solution called the NT-H1 which is an excellent choice for enthusiasts and can be used for air or water cooling, overclocking or silent systems. Recently, they updated this formula with an enhanced blend that uses copper, indium and rhodium to provide lower thermal resistance. Other liquid metal solutions include the Arctic MX-5 which is being replaced by the newer MX-6 blend, and offerings from Cooler Master with their purple CryoFuze, Alphacool with their Apex blend and cooling mainstay Corsair with their XTM70 thermal paste.