Installing the CPU is the most crucial step when building a new PC. You have to be careful in mounting your CPU on your motherboard. Especially, when it comes to applying the thermal paste on your CPU. A thermal paste acts as a medium between your processor and CPU cooler for proper heat transfer. Without a thermal paste, it would be hard for the heat sink to absorb heat from your processor. So, do thermal paste comes along with your Intel or AMD CPU?
No, thermal paste neither comes with Intel nor AMD CPU. You have to buy it separately and then apply it to your CPU. Although some AMD CPUs come with a stock CPU cooler, you still have to spend extra cash to buy a reliable thermal paste. So far, the only CPUs that come with pre-installed thermal paste are the AMD Ryzen 5 5600X, Ryzen 5 5600G, Ryzen 7 5700G
Therefore, a CPU will not come with a proper thermal paste applied to it unless it’s shipped along with a proper cooling solution. If a CPU comes with a stock heatsink, you may find thermal paste pre-applied.
Why It’s Important to Apply Thermal Paste on a CPU?
A CPU tends to run hotter when you throw some sort of workload on it. As the CPU runs hot, the temperature goes up. With increasing temperature, the CPU throttle downs (reduces its clock speed) to lower the temperature. As a result, we would see reduced performance, lags, stuttering, or system crashes.
So we need a reliable cooling solution that can suck the massive amount of heat produced by our CPU in order to lower its temperature without compromising on the performance.
CPU coolers are highly effective in doing this job. You’ll find two types of CPU coolers on the market, namely air CPU cooler and liquid CPU cooler.
Liquid CPU coolers tend to suck more heat than air CPU coolers. However, both nature is the same, and that is to transfer thermal energy from your CPU towards the radiator.
The base of a CPU cooler that sits on the top of your CPU is either made up of copper or aluminium. Therefore, differences in the composition of your CPU cooler and processor could cause imperfections (air gaps or bubbles) in the contact.
At this point, we need a medium that can dilute the connection between our CPU cooler and CPU. And that medium is known as Thermal Interface Medium (TIM) or in simple words thermal paste.
Due to thermal paste, it’s possible for the CPU cooler to draw more heat out of your CPU.
How Much Thermal Paste Should You Apply on Your CPU?
If your stock CPU cooler comes with pre-installed thermal paste, then there is no need to apply more paste to it. By doing so, you’ll bring more harm to your CPU rather than cooling it down.
However, if there’s no pre-installed paste on your stock cooler, then you’ll have to apply it by yourself. Just apply a small drop of thermal paste at the centre of your CPU and leave it there. There is no need to take a brush and spread it all over your CPU.
When you’ll mount the CPU cooler at the top of your CPU, the thermal paste will spread evenly all over by itself.
You’ll find most Intel and AMD CPUs being shipped without a proper cooling solution. AMD, however, has more products available that come with a stock cooling solution. But even a few of those stock CPU coolers have pre-installed thermal paste on them.
Without a thermal paste, your CPU may overheat, no matter even if you have an expensive CPU cooler on top of it.
Finally, if your CPU does not come with pre-installed thermal paste, then buy a good-quality paste from the market. Always apply the paste in the centre of your CPU and let the CPU cooler sit at the top of it.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is pre-applied thermal paste reliable?
Yes, the pre-applied thermal paste would be enough to take care of heat transfer between your processor and CPU cooler. The CPU manufacturers always apply a high-quality thermal paste on stock coolers.
Does Intel 12th Gen come with thermal paste?
No, the stock coolers that come with Intel 12th gen CPUs do not have a pre-applied thermal paste on them.
Does Ryzen 5 5600x come with Thermal paste?
Yes, the Ryzen 5 5600x comes with Prism Wraith Stock Cooler, and there’s pre-installed thermal paste on it. So, there’s no need to buy a third-party thermal paste and reapply it on your CPU.
How often should I replace thermal paste?
Well, it depends upon the type of workload you are throwing on your CPU. If you overclock your CPU and play intensive games on it, then you should reapply thermal paste on your CPU once a year.
Can we use toothpaste as thermal paste?
Well, you can use toothpaste as a thermal paste, but only on an entry-level CPU with no more than two cores. However, you’ll need to reapply the toothpaste soon as it will dry up quickly.
Does Wraith cooler need thermal paste?
As the Wraith Cooler from AMD comes with pre-applied thermal paste, there’s no need to reapply thermal paste on it. However, if you have a high-quality thermal paste which you think would bring down the temps a Degree or two, then go for it.
Can thermal paste melt?
No, the thermal paste is made up of a special chemical compound and does not melt when exposed to a higher temperature. However, with the passage of time, a thermal paste may become inefficient and needs to be reapplied.
Hi, this is Masab, the Founder of PC Building Lab. I’m a PC enthusiast who loves to share the prior knowledge and experience that I have with computers. Well, troubleshooting computers is in my DNA, what else I could say….