Thermal Paste Comparison, Part Two: 39 Products Get Tested

Pastes: Gelid Solutions, Noctua, And Phanteks

Gelid Solutions GC-2

We're going to start with Gelid's most budget-oriented solution. Its thermal results are respectable, landing it in the vicinity of Arctic's MX-2, MX-4, and Arctic Silver 5. But it's also noticeably thicker, making it harder to manipulate at room temperature. Nevertheless, this is a solid product that sells for less than $1/g, making it the price/performance leader.

Gelid Solutions GC-2
Thermal Conductivity3.8 W/(m*K)
CPU Water Cooling, High Pressure
32.7 ΔT (22 °C ambient)
CPU Air Cooling, High Pressure
36.5 ΔT (22 °C ambient)
CPU Air Cooling, Low Pressure
37.7 ΔT (22 °C ambient)
GPU Cooling66.5 ΔT (22 °C ambient)
Electrically ConductiveNo
Viscosity6 (1-10, lower numbers mean easier to use)
Ease of Use4 (1-10, higher numbers mean easier to use)
Application HintsThe paste can be spread more easily if you warm it to 100-120 degrees Fahrenheit in a pot of water, sealed in a water-tight pouch.
Price (approximate)$6.50 (7 grams)

Gelid Solutions GC-Extreme

GC-Extreme is the best thermal paste in our round-up, maintaining a slim lead over the runner-up as long as you're using a heat sink with high mounting pressure. If this compound was a little softer, it'd be even more ideal and wouldn't require warming before application. Heating it up a bit does pay off though, and we recommend it for overclockers and enthusiasts. Due to its high viscosity, it's perhaps less ideal for beginners.

Gelid Solutions GC-Extreme
Thermal Conductivity8.5 W/(m*K)
CPU Water Cooling, High Pressure
31.8 ΔT (22 °C ambient)
CPU Air Cooling, High Pressure
35.3 ΔT (22 °C ambient)
CPU Air Cooling, Low Pressure
36.7 ΔT (22 °C ambient)
GPU Cooling65.0 ΔT (22 °C ambient)
Electrically ConductiveNo
Viscosity6 (1-10, lower numbers mean easier to use)
Ease of Use5 (1-10, higher numbers mean easier to use)
Application HintsThe paste can be spread more easily if you warm it to 100-120 degrees Fahrenheit in a pot of water, sealed in a water-tight pouch.
Price (approximate)$11 (3.5 g)

Noctua NT-H1

This paste is almost a classic by now, and it still gets widely recommended. Rightfully so? Our testing reveals that its price/performance ratio is almost as good as Gelid Solution's GC-2, and its thermal parameters are even better. Noctua's solution ends up in the upper mid-range of our contenders, and a low price makes it hard to pass up unless you're a hardcore overclocker.

Noctua NT-H1
Thermal ConductivityData not available
CPU Water Cooling, High Pressure
32.2 ΔT (22 °C ambient)
CPU Air Cooling, High Pressure
36.1 ΔT (22 °C ambient)
CPU Air Cooling, Low Pressure
37.1 ΔT (22 °C ambient)
GPU Cooling68.0 ΔT (22 °C ambient)
Electrically ConductiveNo
Viscosity4 (1-10, lower numbers mean easier to use)
Ease of Use8 (1-10, higher numbers mean easier to use)
Application HintsThe paste can be spread more easily if you warm it to 100-120 degrees Fahrenheit in a pot of water, sealed in a water-tight pouch.
Price (approximate)$6

Phanteks TH-NDC (Paste Bundled With Phanteks Coolers)

The paste that Phanteks includes with its heat sinks contains nano particles of diamond, approaches the thermal performance of Gelid's GC-Extreme, and can be applied as easily, if not more so. It is somewhat similar to Cooler Master's Extreme Fusion X1, but can be applied even by novices. A big shout-out to Phanteks for bundling TH-NDC with its coolers.

Phanteks TH-NDC (Paste Bundled With Phanteks Coolers)
Thermal ConductivityData not available
CPU Water Cooling, High Pressure
32.0 ΔT (22 °C ambient)
CPU Air Cooling, High Pressure
35.6 ΔT (22 °C ambient)
CPU Air Cooling, Low Pressure
37.0 ΔT (22 °C ambient)
GPU Cooling65.5 ΔT (22 °C ambient)
Electrically ConductiveNo
Viscosity4 (1-10, lower numbers mean easier to use)
Ease of Use6 (1-10, higher numbers mean easier to use)
Application HintsThe paste can be spread more easily if you warm it to 100-120 degrees Fahrenheit in a pot of water, sealed in a water-tight pouch.
Price (approximate)N/A
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  • TehDudeMan
    Great article guys! As a reader for over 10 years pretty much daily, this reminds me of the old Tom's Hardware. These type of in depth articles on enthusiast products are what I love.
  • rolli59
    As good as the first part!
  • danwat1234
    Coollaboratory Liquid Ultra isn't all that good after a year of hard use. In fact, it completely hardens / dries. On my X9100 after 9 months of nearly 24/7 100% load, I started seeing high temps and after 1 year auto shut downs while crunching. Turns out it was shutting off because it hit the 105 C thermal protection.
    Opened it up; thermal compound was as hard as a rock. has to pocket knife blade and sand it down.
    So for longevity it sucks. That is something to consider, not just initial performance, but performance months and years down the road. Especially for laptops that aren't designed to be opened up frequently for repasting.

    After trying Liquid Ultra many times and having it fail on me, I've put on Arctic MX-2 that has a supposed 8 year durability rating. Initial performance is great, we'll see how it lasts (been 3 weeks so far).
  • Other Comments
  • rolli59
    As good as the first part!
  • dragonfang18
    I loved the toothpaste part. What about Vicks Vaporub? I wonder how that thing would do.
  • Azn Cracker
    Yeaaaa! nice in depth article. Disappointed that cheese was not use as a paste :(
  • ledpellet
    Can you test Antec Formula 7 NANO DIAMOND Thermal Compound?
  • TehDudeMan
    Great article guys! As a reader for over 10 years pretty much daily, this reminds me of the old Tom's Hardware. These type of in depth articles on enthusiast products are what I love.
  • Matt Edwards
    A great article, agree the application of the compound, not the compound itself is most important.

    Like ledpellet I too am curious about these diamond compounds. Wonder if it offers similar results to the Coollaboratory products with an easier application, or if the results simply don't justify the price. E.g in Australia, Innovation Cooling IC7 Diamond 7 Carat Thermal Compound Paste - 1.5G can be found for as much as $25. The cheapest I have managed to find it for is $15. For that price it would want to be good considering the leading GELID GC Extreme, can be found for around $8.
  • TerranTerrance
    Adding Ceramique would be greatly appreciated!
  • danwat1234
    Coollaboratory Liquid Ultra isn't all that good after a year of hard use. In fact, it completely hardens / dries. On my X9100 after 9 months of nearly 24/7 100% load, I started seeing high temps and after 1 year auto shut downs while crunching. Turns out it was shutting off because it hit the 105 C thermal protection.
    Opened it up; thermal compound was as hard as a rock. has to pocket knife blade and sand it down.
    So for longevity it sucks. That is something to consider, not just initial performance, but performance months and years down the road. Especially for laptops that aren't designed to be opened up frequently for repasting.

    After trying Liquid Ultra many times and having it fail on me, I've put on Arctic MX-2 that has a supposed 8 year durability rating. Initial performance is great, we'll see how it lasts (been 3 weeks so far).
  • slomo4sho
    CLU and Arctic MX-4 are both great products. MX-2 and MX-4 can often be found free after rebate so they are an exceptional value.
  • CaptainTom
    More things like this! Articles like this will keep me here more often!
  • John Goodman
    Was really hoping you'd test IC Diamond, since that's what I've always used. Bummer.
  • stickmansam
    You could do a giveaway for the thermal pastes :P and include Canada this time :)
  • iam2thecrowe
    would have liked to see a test without thermal compound. Have used noctua nt-h1 for ages now, no curing time sells it for me.
  • Anonymous
    All the hype aside, could Tom's include an actual industrial "Silicone Heat Transfer Compound", such as the one by MG Chemicals :http://www.mgchemicals.com/products/greases-and-lubricants/thermal-greases/silicone-heat-transfer-compound-860/, any of the future comparisons. If this stuff is good to use in mass industrial applications, how can it not be any better then let's say AS5.

    Plus, AS5 can short out your mobo if some of it gets on the PCB and it costs 10 times as much as the industrial stuff and I don't think it is 10 times better.
  • yannigr
    The good old Ceramique should have been in the list. Nevertheless nice article. Disappointed with the tooth paste. Expecting more from it.
  • rwinches
    Coollaboratory Liquid MetalPad sounds ideal.
    Might there be a way to achieve proper bond by heating the pad as well as getting the cpu hot?
    I guessing this would be most ideal for GPUs though, as they want to get very hot.
  • milktea
    Great article!

    BTW, is the Cooler Master Extreme Fusion X1 available in the USA?
  • PreferLinux
    It would have been nice to see the stock thermal paste on the Intel cooler too...
  • HazardManiac
    I just ordered the liquid pro and I'm already starting to regret it...
  • Technoart
    You guys should see how big tube of thermal paste and how big is the thermal tape that are available inside AMD. All of this product are obsolete.