Thermal paste is one of the most important parts of a computer when it comes to performance. It transfers heat from the processor to the cooler and keeps it in a stable range to prevent overheating, which can damage hardware or even shorten its lifespan. There are many different types of thermal pastes, each with its own strengths and weaknesses. The best thermal pastes are those that show a good reduction in CPU temperature, are electrically insulative, and have a dense formulation.
Most thermal compounds are made up of ceramic or metallic materials suspended within a proprietary binder that allows for easy application and spread, simple cleanup, and great performance. Some are electrically conductive, allowing them to carry electricity between two points. These are often used in high-performance applications where the ability to transfer heat at higher temperatures is crucial. However, these types of pastes must be carefully used because a single drop of them on motherboard components or the CPU could cause a short-circuit.
Before using any thermal compound, make sure to clean the area where it will be applied with a non-linting wipe and 70% or higher isopropyl alcohol. It is also a good idea to make sure the cooler and CPU are both free of any dust or debris. Once the area is cleaned, apply a small dot of the paste in the center of the processor (Maximum PC says it should be smaller than a pea or BB). Then lower the heat sink’s connecting part flat against the processor and gently rub the two surfaces together in short movements to spread the thermal paste evenly.