Thermal Paste Alternative | What to Apply Instead and How?

Updated: July 6th, 2020By: BrantonGuides1 Comment

Compound paste

If you are reading this article, chances are, you are looking for a thermal paste alternative.

Before I discuss what thermal paste substitutes are, it is good to know what it is.  Also called thermal compound or thermal grease, this is a substance applied between the heat sink and processor to keep it cool.

Its main role is to seal gaps between CPU and cooler. In this post, we have reviewed the best thermal paste. They are the most effective heat conductors and will fill the tiniest gaps between your processor and the heat sink.

Thermal Paste Alternatives - What are Your Options?

A thermal paste is crucial for the health of your computer. This substance is mostly bought in small tubes at electronics stores and is usually accompanied by an applicator.

opened laptop

There are many alternatives you can use for your PC to run smoothly without overheating.

They include:

  • IC graphite thermal pad
  • Toothpaste though I wouldn’t recommend this

CPU Thermal Pad

A CPU is the brain of a computer as it performs a lot of functions and this makes it overheat. Most computers use a fan and heatsink to cool the CPU but these are not enough sometimes.

The CPU surface is not perfectly flat. It has some gaps which trap air. As we know it, the air is a poor conductor of heat so it interferes with the transfer of heat.

IC graphite thermal pads are easier to use. I would recommend them to beginners who would have a problem applying thermal paste to a tiny area.

They are like putting on a sticker and would do a perfect job of filling any gap between your central processing unit (CPU) and its cooler (heatsink).  This will ensure all the heat is transferred to the heatsink.

The CPU thermal pads come in sheets that can be cut in any size that you need.

Toothpaste

Toothpaste is another option that you can use to help cooling but it isn’t ad good as store-bought thermal paste. It is not a long term solution since it dries quickly, will work for a little bit then burn up. It is good for CPUs that do not run very hot.

However, it is better than nothing. You can use Colgate fresh mint or cold fluoride. I would advise you to spend a few bucks more and buy something much better for your computer.

What exactly Thermal Paste is and why it is necessary to apply it

A thermal paste, also called thermal compound or thermal grease, is a heat conductive paste used between 2 objects. It is very important for the health of your computer.

Without this substance, your computer will overheat and probably not operate for a long time.

Why it is necessary to apply it

Thermal paste is applied between the cooler (heatsink) and the CPU. It transfers the heat from your CPU to the cooler. This will keep your machine cool. If you have opened your computer before, you have noticed that there are gaps between your CPU and the heatsink.

Air is mostly trapped in these spaces or gaps and as we know it, the air is a bad conductor of heat. That’s why it is crucial to use a thermal paste to draw heat away from a CPU.

It is worth noting a thermal paste is a good conductor of heat, does not dry quickly and that’s why it is used as a long term solution for computers that heat up quickly.

The Best Thermal Paste

  • Should have a simple application process
  • Should be effective in drawing heat away from a CPU as quickly as possible
  • It must withstand high temperatures
  • It should fill the small gaps between the CPU and heatsink
  • Buy a thermal paste that is built to last.
  • It needs to be large enough to apply several times before it is finished
  • It needs to be high-quality and not dry when in a tube so you can reapply as many times as you want
  • It should not have any metal in it. Metal can pass current that can ruin your computer
  • How to Make Thermal Paste/Thermal Paste Alternative

    Do you know that you can make your own thermal paste at home? I bet you didn't know though I would recommend buying one from a store since it will be effective, is built to last, is simple to apply and many other benefits that I have discussed here.

    Toothpaste Vaseline

    Use cool fluoride or mint toothpaste plus petroleum jelly Vaseline.

    First step

    Mix 4 spoons of toothpaste with 1 spoon of Vaseline.  Mix it very well to produce a consistent paste.  

    Please Note: This is a short term solution. The paste will dry in a short time so be checking your CPU after every week to check if it is overheating. If it is, buy thermal paste from an electronic store.

    Also, we are not responsible for any kind of damage that can be caused by this paste.

    Diamond Powder Thermal Paste

    This is a thermal paste that is mixed with diamond dust to improve its efficiency. It is one of the best materials for thermal conduction.

    In other words, it has a higher percentage of synthetic diamond content making it a good heat conductor and does not dry out quickly.

    The Purpose of it

    The purpose of the diamond powder thermal paste is to fill in the tiny space between the CPU and the heatsink. It takes the place of the air that occupies the area.

    If your CPU is overheating, it could be too many voids between your CPU and cooler or its thermal paste that has dried out. Seal these gaps or replace the old dried thermal paste with diamond powder thermal paste.

    It is five times better than silver. This makes it the best material to use for cooling high-performance CPUs.

    Compounds packages

    Features

    Diamond powder thermal paste contains diamond powder. It is easy to spread and is a great heat conductor.

    Unlike other thermal conductors that melt after exposure to higher heat loads, diamond powder thermal paste withstands high temperatures.

    Application

    Understanding how to properly apply the diamond powder thermal paste is critical for optimum performance.

    1.After successfully unscrewing the heat sink, squeeze the diamond powder thermal paste onto the center of the CPU. Using a plastic, spread the paste evenly across the surface. Be cautious not to spread thick paste but instead apply a thin line.

    2.Place the heat sink on the CPU and press it down to spread the diamond powder thermal paste over the CPU's surface. 

    3.Screw back the heatsink to its position. Be cautious not to pull the heat sink upwards as this will introduce air between the joints.

    It is absolutely crucial to use the paste when installing or maintaining a CPU. You should always remove the old paste then apply a fresh one.  

    Toothpaste Thermal Paste

    Like I mentioned before, toothpaste isn’t as good as store-bought thermal paste. It dries quicker, burns up so it should be a short term solution for your computer’s heating problem.

    After exposure to heat for long hours, toothpaste will harden. This may not happen straight away but it will definitely happen.

    Some kinds of toothpaste have similar consistencies to those of store-bought thermal pastes making them thermal paste alternatives. They will conduct heat but not as good as diamond powder thermal paste.

    However, a toothpaste thermal paste is better than nothing because air is a bad conductor of heat and often leads to overheating.

    How to Apply Toothpaste

    Put some toothpaste at the center of your CPU. Spread it evenly then put back the heat sink. Avoid the edges because toothpaste can conduct electricity.

    Please note; you will need to replace the toothpaste at least twice per month.

    I would recommend getting a store-bought thermal paste. It might be a little more expensive than toothpaste but in the long run, it is worth it.

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    About the Author
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    Branton

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    Hey there! I'm Branton, the founder and lead editor here at PC Game Haven. Since our launch in 2015, we've helped thousands upon thousands of gamers build their dream desktops, find the perfect peripherals, and more. Thanks for stopping by and feel free to get in tough!

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    Greg
    Greg
    August 23, 2020 10:21 am

    Tried using toothpaste. CPU broke and wife divorced me. Now i’m homeless