Can I Use CPU Without Thermal Paste? Explained

Can I Use CPU Without Thermal Paste? Explained

Thermal paste, a silvery grey, highly heat-conductive adhesive substance, is applied between two surfaces where a lot of heat is produced. Thermal paste is one of the most crucial components of a computer since it plays a vital role in the overall system’s performance. The thermal paste serves the same objective as the other components: to reduce and transmit heat between them. In order to efficiently transfer the heat generated to the outside environment and promote heat conduction.

Operating a computer without thermal paste is useless. However, if you power on your computer without applying thermal paste, it will only work for a few minutes or seconds before shutting down on its own. Burnout might happen in normal circumstances due to excessive heat production but no heat sink. Windows OS won’t even start if it detects extreme CPU temperature. So, can I use CPU without thermal paste? Well, you must know some facts and figures before deciding. 

What does thermal paste do?

A thermal paste is a particular compound used to enhance the heat transfer between two bodies. Without thermal paste, the CPU may overheat when a modern computer or laptop is turned on. It may cause your PC to shut down to safeguard the CPU and associated circuitry, plus your entire system will overheat. The CPU is one of the essential parts of your computer, so it is best to apply appropriate thermal paste to it. Additionally, it significantly increases system efficiency due to proper thermal management. 

Note: Alternative names for thermal paste include thermal compound, heat paste, heat sink paste, thermal grease, thermal gel, thermal interface material, and thermal paste.

Coming back to the topic, it’s possible that you were unaware and you bought your laptop or computer. After using your computer for two to three years, you could have observed overheating, poor system performance, and other problems. When you bring those systems to a computer repair shop, they use various additional techniques to reduce overheating, and one of the fixes they might do is apply the paste. But again, thermal paste is a necessity.

There will be significantly fewer performance problems, like throttling, due to the absence of thermal paste. This happens since there is very little space between the heat sink and the heat source, the CPU in our case. So, due to the thermal paste, it’s easy for a CPU cooler to do its job. Moreover, there is no risk of trapped air or dust particles since the paste already occupies that space. Therefore, a good-quality thermal paste must be applied so the processor can optimally release its heat and operate optimally. 

Can I use CPU without thermal paste?

You can use a CPU without thermal paste, but you should use it without it. This is because the thermal paste is applied between the CPU and heatsink, so the heat that is being produced from the CPU could be reduced effectively. Suppose you don’t apply thermal paste. In such a case, the processor heat will keep increasing, reaching a level that can damage the component. If you don’t take some necessary precautions, the processing unit will be damaged, and you will have to replace it, which will ultimately cause you a lot of money. 

Note: You should also check how to reduce CPU temperature and how does a thermal paste last to better understand thermal paste, its operations, and related facts.

What are benefits of using a thermal paste?

Some significant advantages of using a thermal paste a given as follows:

  • Proper heat management, better performance: Thermal Paste offers better and longer performance of electronic equipment by providing a dependable and durable interface through effective heat management.

Note: In desktop and laptop computers, thermal paste is typically utilized between the processor and the cooling system. It can also be used to remove heat from semiconductors, integrated circuits, transistors, and amplifiers.

  • Enhances the heat flow: Thermal paste aids in controlling excessive heat in electrical devices, particularly heat sinks used in desktop and laptop computers.
  • Improves heat conductivity: For electrical equipment, thermal paste aids in creating a better heat-conducting contact.

Which thermal paste should I choose?

The following general criteria should be considered when choosing thermal paste:

  1. A thermal paste is considered good that has a perfect balance between price and heat conductivity.
  2. Low viscosity when applied using the appropriate manufacturing technique, such as dispensing, stencil printing, screen printing, etc.
  3. A stable homogenous combination that consistently performs in terms of temperature
  4. Low bond lines, low thermal resistance, high thermal conductivity, and long-lasting, dependable performance are all characteristics of suitable thermal compounds.
  5. Ceramics and silicon-based materials, such as zinc thermal compounds, are examples of good thermal paste.
  6. Whether the surfaces are metallic or not, Thermal Paste must be able to offer the essential mechanical strength for heat conduction.

What to know before applying thermal paste?

We have already written an in-detailed post on how to apply thermal paste, describing everything that you need to know when using a thermal paste. You can either read or check the section below to discover some important facts about the topic. Before applying thermal paste, you should look into the following parameters:

Before applying, read the instructions

Before continuing, you must read the instructions included with your CPU cooler and thermal paste. For example, every brand of thermal paste is unique, so knowing which one you have can help you apply it more easily. Only the center of the CPU’s HIS should receive your thermal paste application.

Set the CPU Cooler 

The CPU cooler must be installed after the thermal paste has been applied. In addition, make sure to lightly press the CPU cooler on its actual space to avoid damaging risks. Maintain the tension when fastening the cooler to the mounting system. In addition, ensure to push the cooler firmly enough that there are no cooler sliding movements.

Double-check Installation

After following all the above steps and doing all the chores, the final step is to ensure the final installations. Ensure that no thermal paste has spilled onto the motherboard or the CPU’s edges. If the paste is spilled anywhere, it implies you used up too much room, and you need to clean it with the appropriate solution. 


As it is already known, Thermal Paste is used to seal gaps between surfaces to ensure optimum heat transfer. It cannot be overstated how crucial thermal paste is for enhancing the transfer of heat within the CPU. Lack of thermal paste might result in costly computer damage and repairs which is why you should be known if you can use a CPU without thermal paste. You can use a CPU without thermal paste, but you shouldn’t use it without paste. It’s because the lack of thermal paste may damage the processor

Thermal paste directly controls and gets rid of surplus heat generated by semiconductors, which is the CPU in our case. Success depends on understanding each formulation’s features and using thermal pastes’ good application techniques. You should pay close attention to the CPU’s temperature records regardless of the thermal paste you employ. We have tried our best to introduce you to the importance of thermal paste since it is the only way to keep the temperature as low as possible and performance high.

Frequently Asked Questions

What happens if you don’t apply thermal paste on the CPU?

Thermal paste is a special compound used to enhance the heat transfer between the heat source, the CPU in our case, and the heat sink. If you don’t apply thermal paste on the CPU, the heat will keep increasing, causing CPU overheating. If you don’t take some action, such excessive heat may damage the processing unit.

When should you replace the old thermal paste?

Typically, you should only consider changing your thermal paste every few years. If you need to remove the cooler, you might need to replace the paste. If the temperature of your CPU is absurdly rising, consider reapplying thermal paste. You must refer to the thermal paste manufacturer’s manual or online instructions when in doubt and abide by their advice.

Can a CPU survive without thermal paste?

A CPU can survive without thermal paste, but not in the long run. It may not damage the processing unit immediately but take a short amount of time to showcase its effects.

Arslan Ashraf
Arslan Ashraf is a tech enthusiast and an experienced technical writer at GamingDairy. He has been writing all types of guides, tutorials, and tips for gamers, developers, and other people who use computers. His way of writing is quite unique: he starts with testing every single piece of Hardware and does a long list of experiments before writing the actual masterpiece. Well, if you have any queries, ensure to connect with him!