How long does Thermal Paste last?

Most coolers and other components already have thermal compounds on them, but how long does thermal paste last, and what happens if you need to reapply it? What does reapplying thermal paste entail if you intend to overclock your computer and raise temperatures, which is much more crucial? The thermal paste is already aging even when you initially purchase a part because it has been sitting on a shelf for some time. This implies that you will ultimately require a new thermal paste with adequate long-lasting capability. 

The word “thermal paste” refers to a wide range of goods. How long thermal paste lasts depends on a variety of factors, including the kind of paste you use and your application technique. So the duration a thermal paste can last can considerably vary, depending on the type of the thermal paste as well as how you apply and carry it during your usage. Still confused? If yes then let’s jump into this post and discuss how much different thermal pastes last and several other factors. 

How Often Should Thermal Paste Be Replaced?

The thermal paste should typically be changed once a year. Eventually, it will dry out and start to loosen or crack. It becomes less efficient. Your computer can start acting strangely if you don’t reapply thermal paste, and eventually, it will overheat. Numerous components of your computer, including the CPU, could be harmed by this. So it’s a good idea to check with your provider off and on to identify the best time to apply the paste.

What is Thermal Paste?

There are numerous alternative names for thermal paste, including compound paste, conductive paste, conductive grease, and thermal grease. Whatever name you give, accomplishes the same goal. It is a substance applied to the space between the heatsink and the appliance to cool that heatsink so the connection and conductivity between the CPU and its heatsink can be improved. The surplus energy that the processor produces is released in the form of heat and is dissipated by heatsinks.

thermal paste
thermal paste

Further, the paste displaces it from the unit and cooperates with the cooler or fan to maintain a constant temperature across the entire system. As you are surely aware, performance depends on a constant temperature. Additionally, it will contribute to extending the lifespan of the motherboard, the CPU, and all other components of the computer. But the thing to consider is that every type of thermal paste and every method of application has a different effect on how it performs.

What Thermal Paste Does Other Than Heat Dissipation?

Thermal pastes appear sophisticated, but they are very straightforward. It is one of the most basic methods for enhancing CPU heat conduction. Any type of thermal paste will accomplish the same tasks. Even the best materials, applications, and products have some flaws in them. There are dents and fractures in CPUs, heatsinks, coolers, and other components that can trap hot air and reduce performance. 

To ensure that they all function with the greatest efficiency possible, thermal paste helps to fill in the cracks and smooth out some of the dents. As a result, the heatsinks can transmit as much heat as feasible. These minor flaws are now rarely even and predictable. To fill in such defects, the thermal paste needs to expand just a little bit, but not enough to do more harm. Since the thermal paste absorbs the majority of the heat, it begins to dry out. The thermal paste will develop air-tight fissures or even dents over time. For this reason, you must periodically reapply the paste.

What Types Of Thermal Paste Are There?

The thermal paste comes in a few different varieties. Because of brand loyalty and the current market’s busyness, consumers often choose one brand and stick with it. They will vouch for the superior longevity of their particular brand or kind of thermal paste. There may be some anecdotal evidence to support this, however, studies have shown that they all begin to deteriorate around the one-year mark. It will, of course, depend on the temperatures the paste has been subjected to, how it is applied, and even how old the paste was when you first used it.

Some of the same materials are used in each type of thermal paste; however, the proportions vary. Zinc oxide, silicone oil, ceramic, aluminum, silver, copper, graphite, carbon nanoparticles, and other antioxidants are some of the most used components in the thermal paste. Extremely careful thermal paste consumers will examine the initial ingredient. Depending on their tastes, they will select a thermal paste made of metal, silicon, carbon, or ceramic. So Let’s discuss these in detail to better understand their reliability and efficiency. 

Ceramic thermal pastes

A particular brand of the thermal paste may be suggested by some manufacturers because they feel it will last longer. However, because the metal-based thermal paste will better conduct heat, gamers and those who often overclock computers will probably prefer it. Let’s examine each of those several categories in more detail:

Ceramic thermal pastes are not conducive because they contain no metal. They are some of the least expensive, risk-free, and simple-to-use thermal pastes. Because you can buy them in various sizes, you can acquire what you need and then not have to worry about them going bad, which is why they are well-liked.

Metal thermal pastes

They are not advised for those who frequently overclock, though, as they won’t conduct as much heat and will deteriorate more quickly in extremely hot environments. The best thermal pastes for heat conduction are made of metal since they are also electrically conductive. You must be very careful when applying this thermal paste to your motherboard. Metal thermal pastes typically have a longer shelf life on your machine but degrade much more quickly in the tube than other types.

When you receive thermal pads, silicon thermal paste is often added to them. These pads are simple to use, but they don’t conduct heat as well and they dry up a little faster than some of the other thermal pastes. The majority of people don’t base their thermal paste selections on which ones last the longest. Instead, they will make their selections based on how well they perform and conduct heat. You should purchase the best thermal paste you can afford because replacing this paste can be tricky and requires utmost caution.

How long does thermal paste last on the shelf?

On their bottles, most manufacturers will include a shelf life. If the bottle or container hasn’t been opened, the most typical duration is three years. Because you do not know when your bottle was made, things get complicated. Your thermal paste has likely undergone some sort of degradation if it has been stored on a shelf for a while. 

Additionally, it is based on how the thermal paste was kept. Was it subjected to a lot of heat? The thermal paste can lose its effectiveness more quickly in extremely cold temperatures. When using thermal paste, adhere to these instructions once it has been opened (or to store unopened containers if you buy in bulk):

  • Keep in a zip-top plastic bag.
  • The bottle should be kept on its side.
  • Make sure the cap is tightly secured (paste must be removed from the rim to open it).
  • Store far from high or low temperatures (too hot or too cold)

Conclusion

All in all, how long does thermal paste last? It depends on the paste’s quality and how heated your CPU becomes. In two to three years, low-quality thermal paste, such as that included with some CPU coolers, may dry up. Additionally, it will dry out more quickly on a hot CPU. Thermal paste of high quality, such as Arctic Silver, may last up to four years. Replace the paste once a year or more if you’re running a really expensive CPU or aggressively overclocking it. If not, the excessive heat production may damage your processor or other components. 

Your CPU likely still has a lot of life remaining in it if its temperatures are around the same as when it had a new thermal paste applied. Even after cleaning the heatsink of all dust, if the CPU still becomes particularly heated, it’s definitely time for a new paste. However, numerous more situations call for the replacement of thermal paste, many of which are more often than you might realize. So by following this article you’ll be able to identify how to properly store and when to effectively use thermal pastes.

Arslan Ashraf
Arslan Ashraf is Computer Expert. He developed his passion for reviewing the latest tech products. He likes to review every single piece of Hardware. If you have any questions related to Tech Products. He'll be happy to answer you.