How often should I replace thermal paste? – Learn to save your pc

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The heating issue is one the worst nightmares for a PC. it halts the Pc to get to the peak of its efficiency. Users do whatever they can to control the heating and keep the performance of the PC at its peak. The question here is how often should I replace thermal paste?

Thermal paste in every manually built PC or prebuilt PC should be changed or replaced every 2-4 years. The replacement of the thermal paste actually depends upon lots of contributing factors.

One of such activities to control the heating effect of a CPU is the Thermal paste. The CPU usage, amount, quality, condition, and the cooling system of the pre-used thermal paste define when you should change it.

Do you need to replace your thermal paste?

The thermal paste is mostly applied to the Central Processing Unit (CPU) and the Graphical n the Processing Unit (GPU). Unlike every other sophisticated material used to build a PC, the thermal paste also has a limited lifetime.

It does not remain in between the base plate of the cooling system and the CPU plate forever. There are various reasons that the pre-applied thermal paste may have completely washed out. Such a phenomenon will create problems with the cooling system of the PC. 

Alongside, CPU throttling, overheating issues, and thermal throttling are the results of a faulty cooling system of the CPU. And one of the reasons that your CPU may fail to cool down is the dried-out thermal system.

Therefore, you must replace your CPUs and GPUs thermal system following the guideline of the manufacturer. Although, the basic rule is to replace the thermal paste of the CPU every few years. But you may have to do it more often and less often depending upon the performance of your PC and CPU.

Whenever you find that the CPU temperature is rising more than the normal range of escalation. Then the first thing you should consider is to change, reapply or replace the existing thermal of your CPU.

How often should I replace thermal paste from the processor?

The processor of the PC is the prime core structure. It is known as the brain of the PC. The processor of a  PC is generally known as the Central Processing Unit or CPU. All the programs and functions of the PC are run by the usage of the CPU.

There are multiple cores and threads in the architecture of a CPU. The application of different cores and threads in the CPU defines the processing speed of the processor. That is why the higher the usage of the PC the more heat builds up in the CPU.

With the gradual rise of the temperature of the CPU, the performance starts to drop down with time. The desktop PC CPUs are more powerful than laptop processors. That is why depending upon the pre-existing thermal paste of the CPU you may decide to change it over time.

Due to heavy usage of the CPU, such as Gaming, heavy simulation, and editorial types of work increases the load on the CPU. Over time the thermal paste of the PCU gets completely dried up. Hence, it becomes completely ineffective and halts the cooling system of the PC to work effectively.

In such cases, the thermal paste should be replaced as soon as possible. In normal usage, you may want to change the thermal paste off the PC every 3 years. This is the standard gap of replacement for the thermal paste. Besides, if you are a heavy user and using the conventional cooling system for your PC then, you may consider changing the thermal paste every year.

But, beforehand it is important to check the viability and condition of the pre-applied thermal paste. Considering your CPU has enough thermal paste applied and still spiking in the temperature. Then there should be another cause other than the thermal paste for the overheating issue.

How often should you replace the thermal paste of a laptop?

The power efficiency of the CPU of the laptops is far less than the desktop PC. But nowadays even the standard daily usable laptops are using high-end processors in their buildup. But no matter what, the cooling system of the laptop CPU is lagging behind the cooling system of the CPU of a PC.

This is because of the portable design and size of the laptop. Therefore, there remains a very confined way of cooling the system. The temperature exchange cannot take place effectively. This results in heat buildup on the CPU even in normal usage.

More on that, the laptop motherboard and electronics involved to carry the current are confined in a much smaller place. This results in quick heat buildup in the CPU and so a lack of performance is seen.

For all these reasons, changing the thermal paste on a laptop is more considerate than on a PC. you must replace and reapply the stock thermal paste of your laptop CPU every 1-2 years. Laptops are more sophisticated, and that is why make sure to use high-grade thermal paste for the processor of the CPU.

How often should you replace thermal-paste gaming laptops?

Gaming laptops are a new wonder in the technological world. The high-end premium CPU, GPUs which are used for gaming in desktop PCs are also available for the laptop version. Though the CPU and GPU in gaming laptops are far smaller and confined.

Due to the popular portable feature, gaming laptops are used widely nowadays. But compared with a full-fledged Gaming desktop PC gaming laptops do not have a high-quality cooling system.

For a configuration in which the desktop uses the liquid cooling system for the CPU and GPU, gaming laptops still use the air cooling system. It is quite obvious because it is difficult and expensive as well to set up a high-end cooling system for the CPU in the gaming laptop.

For this, the gaming laptops become easily overheated within a very short amount of time. And if you are continuously using it for heavy gaming and running programs the temperature spike is observed.

Therefore, thermal paste plays a leading role in controlling the temperature and heating issue for gaming laptops. And that is why it is recommended to check on the thermal paste availability from time to time. If the thermal paste dries out too soon, you have a high-quality thermal paste. 

For gaming laptops, it is better to replace and reapply the thermal paste every two years. But, considering the laptop is used daily for a long time for gaming and simulation. Then you may have to bring down the schedule every year for changing the thermal paste instead.

How long does thermal paste usually last?

The duration of thermal paste depends on many criteria and situations. This can be the amount of thermal paste used and the quality of the thermal paste. Again, usage of the CPU is also an important factor to be considered. Along with these, the quality and effectiveness of the cooling system also result in the cause.

Considering general usage and typical thermal paste usage by the CPU, it lasts around 3-4 years with full effectiveness. Therefore, for every PC and laptop, it is recommended to change the thermal paste of the CPU every 4 years.

Even though your PC may not show overheating and performance drop after a long time of usage. But you should check on the thermal paste from time to time. If it gets dried out and fully consumed then put on some high-grade thermal paste. This will prolong the durability, effectiveness, and life of the CPU.

Again many times, the PC or laptop may require servicing and changing of the different parts. For some reason, the base plate of the cooling system is removed from the CPU. Then you must apply a new batch of thermal paste to the CPU after removing the existing one.

How do you know when thermal paste needs to be replaced?

The stock thermal paste becomes dry and consumed for several reasons. Overusing the system, throttling the CPU  for a long time, heavy usage, poor cooling system, etc. All these scenarios result in replacing the thermal paste from time to time.

If your PC gets overheated in a very short span of time then you may consider changing the thermal paste. This happens when there becomes a blockade in the heat transferring system. Due to the imperfect contact between the coolers base plate and CPU heat builds up and causes the temperature to rise.

Again, while doing work or gaming, frame drops, lag, and lower processing speed can be observed. All these points at the poor heat sinking from the CPU. Due to an excess current passing through the threads of the processor its internal temperature rises. And that’s when you should be changing and re-applying the thermal paste to your PC.

In the worst-case scenarios, you may experience sudden and random thermal throttling caused by the CPU. This is not a good sign for the CPU. This means the cooling system of the CPU is completely failing. In such circumstances, you may redesign and reinstall the cooling system along with a fresh batch of thermal paste to the CPU.

Frequently Asked Question

Got more questions? Check the section below.

Can I use a 5-year-old thermal paste?

Like most products be it electronic or non-electronic, thermal paste has a limited lifespan. From the days of production, the batch of thermal gets a time period in which it should be used. Normally, a thermal paste has a lasting of 3-5 years depending upon the quality and brand of the producer. 

But, 5 years old thermal paste is long gone in terms of effectiveness. That is why you should not use a 5-year-old thermal paste on your PC. It is recommended to use a fresh batch of a thermal batch for better effectiveness.

Does changing thermal paste make a difference?

In most of the overheating and performance drawback cases of the CPU, thermal paste plays an important role. Changing the thermal paste restores the contact between the base plate of the heat sink and the CPU surface. 

This results in better heat transfer and hence improves the cooling of the CPU by maintaining the temperature. And that is why changing the thermal paste for CPU and GPU does make a difference in the performance.

We added a tutorial video about – how often should you replace the thermal paste. Watch that video for a better understanding:

Conclusion

Thermal paste plays a vital role both actively and passively in the performance of the CPU. Since it has a direct impact on transferring the heat from the CPU to the cooling system. This silvery-greasy-like substance can increase the lasting of the CPU.

But, like every other product, thermal paste has a certain life expectancy. After that period of time, it becomes ineffective and may cause overheating of the CPU. That is why the thermal paste in every CPU should be replaced after a certain period of usage.

But how often should I replace thermal paste? After every 3-4 years the stock thermal paste should be changed voluntarily. This will keep the performance of the CPU up to its peak.

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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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