This is the most frequently asked question by computer geeks, computer gurus, and even engineers about PC-building: How long does thermal paste last?
Find out how long thermal paste will last on your computer and in the packaging.
You will also learn about the factors that affect its lifespan and how you can increase it.
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How Much Does Thermal Paste last?
The average thermal paste can last two to five year while still in their tube.
This range can be affected by the manufacturer or ingredients.
The most widely used thermal gels include ceramic, silicon, carbon, and ceramic. Each one has different properties, functions, and durability.
As a general rule of thumb, nonmetallic compounds will last longer in their packaging.
You shouldn’t base your purchase on its durability, as thermal conductivity is even more critical.
It is important to make sure that you only buy genuine products.
Also, ensure the product is kept in good condition to prevent it from going bad before the expiry dates.
Here’s a few tips.
After each use, be sure to close the cap completely.
Protect the paste from extreme cold or hot temperatures.
It should be sealed in a container or bag.
Avoid exposing it to direct sunlight.
What is Thermal Paste, and
Thermal paste is a sticky substance which acts as an interface between a microchip or heatsink.
This agent closes the microscopic air gap between the heat source, heatsink and maximizes heat transfer.
It is also known by many other names such as thermal grease (conductive paste), heat sink compound, CPU grease and thermal gel.
You can risk overheating your computer without using good paste. This could cause serious damage to your entire system.
It’s therefore important to determine how long thermal paste is good for once it’s been applied.
How To Tell If A Thermal Paste Has Spoiled
It’s unusable if there are significant changes to the texture of a thermal paste.
Similar to glue, thermal pastes can be used.
You may find them too sticky or too soft.
Another sign that you have a bad paste is a clear, transparent liquid.
But, you can still use it if the colorless liquid is strained and a white- or gray-colored mixture is formed.
How long does the thermal paste last on a device?
A standard thermal glue will last five to on your CPU, or any other chip.
Depending upon the climate, the cooling system of the computer, the usage and the quality of the compound, this time can vary from three to ten year.
Here are the factors that affect the duration.
- Excessive usage
If one of the following circumstances applies to you, thermal paste might need to be replaced sooner than usual.
The computer has been overclocked.
You’re a gamer.
Although you have noticed an increase in temperature in your computer’s motherboard region, it’s not likely that there is anything wrong with the cooler or fan.
All of these scenarios make your CPU excessively hot and cause it to overheat.
A hot CPU can mean a shorter lifetime for the grease.
It’s the reason why professional gamers and computer geeks have to replace their CPU grease annually.
Your thermal paste’s lifespan will also be affected by your usage habits.
If your computer is used 24/7, you will lose its ability to serve you for at least a year.
- Thermal Paste Quality
If you put price before performance and are unwilling to invest in a top thermal paste, then it won’t work for you for more than three year.
Important ingredients play a key role in quality.
According to the rule of thumb, the faster a thermal paste conducts heat, the sooner it will become unusable.
- Climate and Surroundings
If you live in hot areas or have your computer placed in hot rooms like an attic then your thermal compound can lose its efficiency faster.
Use the right fans to adjust your computer’s internal temperatures.
However, controlling the temperature will not suffice.
The properties of your thermal gel can be also damaged by dirt, lint or grime.
You can clean the internal parts of your PC with compressed air every three months.
You can also put in a dust filter to keep dust from accumulating further.
- Too Much Paste
Some people think that more paste will make it last longer.
However, excessive paste can damage your processor and make it last less.
- Component Replacement
You might need to disassemble your computer in order to upgrade the system or repair it.
However, once you do this, the thermal glue will come off and you will have to apply it again.
If the thermal paste comes pre-applied, you don’t have to reapply it. You should check if there is a silver-like substance on the bottom or sides of your heatsink.
How do you apply thermal paste
Thermal paste applied correctly can prolong the chip’s life expectancy.
These steps will help you.
Make sure to take apart your computer with a screwdriver or other tools you have.
Your CPU fan, heatsink and CPU should be removed. The heatsink might not need to be removed depending on what device it is. Please Note: You should take extreme care when handling the CPU because it’s extremely sensitive.
Make sure to use isopropyl ethanol to clean a lintless rag. Then, wipe the heatsink’s surface with it.
Use a fine grit to smoothen any bumps or pits.
Simply squeeze a drop about the same size as a rice grain into your cooler base.
NOTE 1. Some might suggest that you only apply a very small dot. But this is too much glue. It will spill your glue all over your CPU borders and worse, your motherboard. A thick layer can also discourage heat transfer, instead of boosting it.
You can place the heatsink on your CPU by pressing down gently.
NOTE 2 After you apply the cooler to test the distribution of the paste, do not lift the cooler. Otherwise, you will need to wipe the glue off and do it again.
Note3: Do not use any other tool to spread out the paste. Only a small amount of pressure on your cooler will do the trick. If you are trying to distribute the liquid using a card, it can cause air bubbles between your devices which can adversely impact heat transfer.
Restart your computer, and make sure the fan is turned on before you try to assemble the case.
You can monitor your CPU temperature using your Hardware Monitor.
What to Do When the Thermal Paste Has to Be Replaced
The thermal paste begins to degrade and cracks, splits apart, or comes loose from the device.
All the tiny dents and cracks you’ve filled in will be exposed again and your heatsink might fail to displace the excess heat.
This can lead to an overheating of the entire system.
Your old thermal paste may be better repurposed than buying a brand new one.
You might be wondering if it is possible and what you should do.
Reusing thermal paste can be done unless there is a noticeable change in its color, consistency, and stickiness.
Follow the steps below.
To begin, spread a little bit of the paste onto a piece of paper. This initial substance is often a clear fluid. It’s not adhesive because it could be exposed to the air. Continue to squeeze until you obtain a usable white, gray, or silver material. Then, throw the paper away.
Depending upon the packaging, shake the bottles or pinch the tubes to make sure the contents are mixed well.
Follow the manufacturer’s recommendations to apply the thermal oil.
Is it possible to apply a new thermal paste, without having to clear the one you have?
Because it creates a bulky layer which doesn’t conduct heat, you shouldn’t add any new paste prior to removing the previous product.
It won’t fill in all the gaps.
Old paste tends to crack over time. When you apply the solution to those fractures, it instead covers the plate.
Increase Thermal Paste’s Longevity
Here are some tips when using thermal paste.
The manufacturer’s recommendations should be followed when you store the product.
Apply paste in the right amount.
Make sure to clean your computer regularly
If you don’t know how to disassemble your PC components, it is best not to do so.
Dust filters should be installed in your computer’s case.
Frequently Asked questions
- How often should thermal paste be changed?
Unless your CPU temperatures are rising without reason, you shouldn’t have to change your thermal glue often.
High-quality thermal pastes can be kept fresh for up to two years.
- Can Toothpaste also be used as thermal paste
But, you can’t use toothpaste as thermal paste.
The toothpaste material is a good heat conductor.
It’s better to have something than nothing, until you have a premium thermal paste.
It will eventually deteriorate and dry out after a few weeks.
It is always wiser not to spend your precious pennies on a premium quality thermal paste.
- Is Thermal Paste a Toxic Ingredient?
Thermal paste is toxic to animals and humans.
It is best to avoid ingesting it.
Handling thermal paste is better done with gloves.
Wash your hands immediately if the paste comes into contact with them.