What is thermal paste and what is it for?

thermal paste pc

The application of thermal paste on a PC It is a necessary resource to guarantee heat dissipation, prevent overheating and avoid medium-long term damage to our equipment. It is an essential element in modern electronics, especially in devices whose components generate a lot of heat.

Metals conduct heat efficiently, unlike plastic or glass. That is why its presence in the physical architecture of a computer is essential. Aluminum and copper are excellent thermal and electrical conductors, as long as there is continuity between the contacting surfaces. When that happens is when problems appear.

What is thermal paste?

thermal paste

Although at first glance they appear smooth and perfect, The surfaces of heat sinks and power devices have numerous irregularities. If we observed them with a microscope, we would discover all kinds of undulations, cracks and air bubbles that interrupt the correct heat transfer, forming a kind of insulating barrier.

This might seem like a minor thing, but it is not. When working at certain powers, these irregularities They greatly affect the final efficiency of the circuits. And the best known method to try to correct this is the application of CPU thermal paste.

This paste is a thermally conductive substance that is applied between two metal surfaces in order to improve heat transfer. Its immediate effect is reduction in thermal resistance, which favors heat dissipation to the outside.

Types of thermal grease

PC thermal paste

Despite having a different composition from aluminum or copper, PC thermal paste performs its role perfectly. heat transmitter. Depending on the quality and material used in the thermal paste (almost all types contain zinc or silver), Its conductivity coefficient can range between 2W/mK and 8W/mK.

In the market we can find different types of thermal paste, each one with different properties and applications. Its actual performance will depend on many factors, ranging from the application method to the ambient temperature. These are some of the most common types of thermal paste and its uses:

metal based

Contains a mixture of metallic particles (silver, aluminum or copper) inside a silicone or ceramic substance. This type of paste has high thermal conductivity, which makes it Highly recommended for equipment that requires a lot of cooling. Their only disadvantage is that they can cause short circuits in the event of a leak. For this reason, it is only used by experts.

Ceramic based

It contains ceramic particles suspended in a solution of silicone or synthetic oil. This type of PC paste provides good thermal conductivity. Furthermore, its price is much more economical than metal-based thermal paste. It is used in electronic devices with moderate cooling needs. As it does not contain metals, the risk of short circuit is zero, although its heat dissipation power is lower.

Liquid metal thermal paste

This paste incorporates some metal alloys suspended in a liquid medium. Its thermal conductivity is very high, making it ideal in cases where extreme cooling is needed. However, it has some notable drawbacks: it is very difficult to apply and, if it comes into contact with aluminum, it can lead to a chemical reaction that could cause serious damage to our PC.

Carbon thermal paste

It contains carbon particles suspended in a silicone or synthetic oil medium. Its thermal conduction capacity is lower than the other types of thermal paste that we have mentioned above, but at the same time it is the most economical option. Enough for equipment with basic cooling needs, quite safe and easy to apply. Its effectiveness is limited.

Carbon-based diamond thermal paste

Finally, we will mention a very special type of thermal paste that contains Diamond dust. It offers electrical insulation and great stability, although Its price is very expensive.

How to correctly apply thermal paste for PC

apply thermal paste

The application of thermal paste is an action that must be carried out with great care. You have to pay close attention to both the amount used and the type of application.. Here are some practical tips:

  • SURFACE: We must always keep in mind that this substance is a filler for surface imperfections, so, to achieve the best results, it is necessary clean surfaces well before starting. To do this, we can use common alcohol or acetone.
  • MODE OF APPLICATION: For to extend the thermal paste evenly it is recommended to use a small spatula, with movements that go from the inside to the outside, seeking to make the distribution as homogeneous as possible.
  • QUANTITY: The ideal quantity depends on the size and shape of the electronic component.. As a reference, we will only say that for a normal processor, an amount of pasta similar to that of a grain of rice is enough. In any case, It is always better to fall short than to go overboard., as this has the risk of causing overheating.

What is the best thermal paste?

thermal paste pc

The million dollar question. As we have already explained above, the choice of the type of thermal paste for PC will depend largely on what they are. the cooling needs of our equipment. In any case, there is a golden rule that never fails: choose certified and top quality products, forgetting about the price. There are other things with which we can save. With this one, better not.

There are several brands widely recognized in the market, each one with its own characteristics. Some of those that offer the best guarantees are Arctic Silver, Noctua, Gelid Solutions o Corsair.

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