Do You Need Thermal Paste For CPU?

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Thermal paste is a silvery gray gel-type substance that You use to spread on the CPU while installing it. But do you need thermal paste for CPU?

The instant answer would be yes you need to apply thermal paste above the CPU before installing the CPU cooler. It is important to put thermal paste as it can fill up the air gaps between the CPU and the heatsink.  The basic purpose of the application of the thermal paste is to keep the CPU cooler than usual.

The paste also fills up the imperfections of the CPU which are microscopic. Hence, the te gaps trapping the air won’t be happening. Therefore, better airflow can be seen along with better control of the temperature. Finally, the heatsink also works better to prevent overheating.

Do You Need Thermal Paste For CPU? – Depth Discussion

You definitely need to put the required amount of thermal paste on the CPU. The processors of the CPU are made up of multiple cores and threads. When you run some heavy programs all these cores become activated to perform the work. At that time a significant amount of heat is generated in the CPU which eventually elevates the temperature.

Therefore, to keep the rise of temperature in check you have to apply the thermal paste. The thermal paste distributes the heat from above the surface. Moreover, it helps to distribute the heat effectively to the heatsink. As a result, heat cannot accumulate on the CPU and the temperature cannot rise as well. 

Why should you need thermal paste for the CPU?

There are many advantageous reasons for what you should need to apply the thermal paste to the CPU. These shall be discussed in this section.

Thermal Paste prevents overheating

Thermal paste is composed of Zinc Oxide and Silicone. These are some components with high thermal conductivity. When a CPU works at its maximum speed with all cores engaged, it consumes a lot of current from the power supply. Hence, the rapid and quick flow of current results in developing heat and increasing the temperature of the CPU.

The thermal you applied on the processor surface conducts the heat instantly to the cooler. And, the cooler receives the heat and transfers it to the surrounding from the CPU. This way, the temperature of the CPU stays within the limit or the safe range. Therefore, overheating of the CPU is avoided by the thermal paste.

Thermal paste increases the efficiency of the cooler

The CPU cooler and the surface of the CPU cannot be touched directly. There remain some imperfections and gaps between the cooler and the CPU. Thus, heat generated from the CPU cannot effectively reach the cooler fan. Therefore, not much heat can be sucked up by the cooler.

On the other hand, when the thermal paste is applied on top of the CPU it creates a bridge between the fan and processor. The gap becomes filled by that bridge. Moreover, the thermal paste is highly conductive. For all these, the heat generated from the CPU gets effectively transferred to the cooler via the heatsink. This way, the internal temperature can be controlled.

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

Application of the thermal paste on the CPU is sort of necessary. Without it, there is a lot that can happen. In this section, we shall learn about the negative impacts of not applying the thermal paste.

More Heat Accumulation

Without the thermal paste bridging the gap between the cooler and CPU, the heatsink cannot work effectively. Because of it, the extra amount of heat cannot be passed through to the cooler. As a result, it starts to accumulate inside the CPU. and, this rapidly increases the temperature of the CPU when running heavy programs using multiple cores.

Increases the internal temperature

No thermal paste in the CPU causes a swift increment of the temperature of the CPU due to the rapid current flow. The CPU starts to work slower with the increase in internal temperature. The performance of the PC gets highly degraded for a time being. You cannot work or play games properly in such conditions. You may have to face a lot of slow movements and lagging.

Reduces the Lifespan of the CPU

It has been observed that not using thermal paste on the CPU causes more temperature gain. While keeping the system idle, a CPU with thermal paste records 2 degrees celsius of lesser temperature. Using only a single core, a difference of 5 degrees celsius has been observed. 

And, using multiple cores(load test) almost 10 degrees Celsius of temperature difference is seen. Running CPU at more temperatures actively reduces the longevity of the CPU than usual. That is why considering you want to build a gaming PC or heavy-duty PC. Then it is a must to apply thermal paste.

Can I use a PC without thermal paste?

You can use a PC without applying the thermal paste on the CPU. But it is not recommended to use a CPU without applying thermal paste at first. Because there is a difference of almost 10 degrees Celsius temperature between CPUs with and without thermal paste. Besides, using a PC without thermal paste for a long time may damage the CPU permanently.

Can I use toothpaste as thermal paste?

Though toothpaste and thermal paste look alike to a great extent, toothpaste doesn’t have any cooling properties. Moreover, toothpaste does not possess any conductive property as well. But, toothpaste can simply bridge the gap between the cooler and the CPU. That is why many people suggest using toothpaste. But it is recommended to use only authorized thermal paste.

Follow the added video below, if you still have any confusion:


The CPU of the PC is the most important and expensive component. It performs all the major activities and runs the programs according to your wish. But, the generation of heat and increment of temperature is the biggest trouble for the CPU. So, do you need thermal paste for CPU?

It is imperative to apply thermal paste on the CPU in the correct ratio before installing the cooler fan. This is important because the life, and performance of the CPU depend on it to a great extent. That is why, though thermal paste can be said optional but should be put on the CPU for betterment only.

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Gary Scott

Hi There, I am Gary Scott, a Computer Engineer, and owner of this website. My friend and I created this website to share our knowledge, expertise, and experience with our fellow Computer community and pc enthusiast. I am a member of the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) and the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE). I have been writing for Motherboard, CPU, GPU, RAM, Power Supply, Intel/AMD comparisons, CPU/GPU benchmarking, Gaming performance, Xbox, Play Station, and How to build your own PC. I will be regularly updating this website with new resources, If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to contact me.

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