Thermal paste is a type of thermal interface material that provides heat transfer between the processor and the heatsink. There are two main types of paste, solid and liquid-based conductive pastes. The difference between these two types is in how they are applied to the processor or heatsink surface, not in their effectiveness as a thermal interface material. Liquid-based pastes are usually easier to apply because they come with an applicator but can be difficult to remove once dried. Solid-based pastes don’t need an applicator but may leave behind residue on your hands when you handle them. Which type you choose will depend on personal preference for handling ease versus hygiene factors. However, this article will be all about the thermally Conductive paste types and their benifits.
Thermally Conductive paste types and their benefits:
There are four basic types of thermally conductive paste that consist of metal alloys, ceramic, silicone, and carbon-based compounds. While these four types perform very well they do have their own characteristics to consider when choosing the type of paste for your application.
Metal alloy pastes:
All metal alloy pastes work because they contain small particles of metal that are highly thermally conductive. The most common alloy paste is silver-based, but gold and aluminum pastes can also be found on the market. These types of pastes are usually good choices for cases where you need an extra boost in performance, though they do tend to cost more than other types of pastes.
Ceramic-based pastes are composed of silicon dioxide particles. These particles are ground to a very fine powder, which is mixed with oil or water and small amounts of aluminum. This mixture has very strong heat transfer characteristics but may be difficult to apply depending on how well the material mixes. Ceramic pastes are typically used in high-performance applications.
Silicone, filler particles, and a solvent mixture used to prepare Silicone pastes. They are good general-purpose pastes with the advantage of being easy to apply. However, they do not work well in high-temperature environments because they break down in temperatures above 200 degrees Celsius (392 degrees Fahrenheit).
These things carbon particles, polymer binder, and solvent helps to prepare pastes. They typically have low viscosity, which makes them easy to apply but can make it difficult for heat to transfer through the mixture if applied too thickly. Carbon-based pastes are good general-purpose materials with moderate thermal conductivity.
Choosing the right paste
When you choose a thermal interface material, consider what type of processor and heatsink you will be using. If you are using a standard metal heatsink with a standard-sized flat CPU. The most common types of paste can work well for your application. However, if you plan on upgrading your CPU and/or heatsink. You should pay attention to the type of paste that each one requires. When in doubt, it’s always a good idea to contact the manufacturer for their recommendations. You should use an unknown thermal compound.
Benefits and drawbacks of each type of paste:
Metal alloy pastes:
Benefits: They typically have the best performance of all types of paste Better heat transfer than other types of paste High durability
Drawbacks: Most expensive type of thermal interface material Can be difficult to remove if the residue is left behind on the processor or heatsink Commonly used for high-performance applications due to its ability to handle high levels of heat.
Benefits: Can provide very good performance when applied correctly High durability.
Drawbacks: Can be difficult to remove if the residue is left behind on the processor or heatsink Do not work well in high-temperature applications May break down around 200 degrees Celsius (392 degrees Fahrenheit)
Benefits: Easiest type of paste to apply Maybe the most economical thermal compound for general-purpose applications Low cost.
Drawbacks: Work well in lower temperatures but do not handle heat as well as other types of pastes Tend to stop working once the temperature reaches approximately 200 degrees Celsius (392 degrees Fahrenheit)
Benefits: They typically have the lowest viscosity of all types of paste Will not dry out or harden, so they will last longer than other types of paste. Good overall thermal performance.
Drawbacks: It May be difficult to remove if the residue is left behind on the processor or heatsink. Not recommended for use with aluminum heat sinks May not work well in high-temperature applications
Ceramic metal pastes:
Benefits: Good performance when applied correctly High durability Can be expensive.
Drawbacks: Difficult to apply due to the mixing process of the materials Cannot always achieve optimal performance depending on your application May be difficult to remove if the residue is left behind on the processor or heatsink, depending on how thickly it was applied and at what temperature the computer will run.
Thermal paste is a great way to improve the conductivity between your processor and heatsink or CPU cooler. It can be difficult to know which type of paste will work best for your system. If you plan on upgrading your CPU and/or heatsink. It’s always a good idea to contact their manufacturer for their recommendations rather than use an unknown thermal compound.