High-performance thermal paste is a key component in many computer cooling setups. It fills in microscopic gaps between a CPU and the heat sink, increasing surface contact and improving thermal transfer. The result is improved stability and longevity of the hardware. It also prevents thermal throttling, allowing the processor to operate at peak performance without overheating.
There are several different types of thermal paste available on the market, from liquid metal to specialized compounds for water-cooling systems. Some are marketed as high-performance, while others focus on providing good value or ease of use. Liquid metals are generally more expensive, but can provide the best thermal results. They are also non-conductive, and so are safe to use around aluminum heat sinks.
Most mainstream thermal pastes are made of a bonding material, which could be a variety of silicones, urethanes or epoxies and a filler. The latter is a mixture of silver, gold or other alloys that offer good thermal conductivity. These are ground into a fine powder and mixed with the bonding material. Some brands keep the specific ingredients a secret, but they are usually non-toxic and safe to use.
Corsair is a known name in gaming hardware and also makes a variety of high-performance thermal pastes. Their XTM50 is one of their higher-end options, and it comes with an application stencil and spreader to make the installation process much easier. It has an average thermal conductivity of 5 W/mK, and it isn’t too expensive.