If your new CPU cooler comes with pre-applied thermal paste, you might wonder whether the pre-applied paste is good enough.
Do aftermarket CPU thermal pastes have any significant advantage over pre-applied thermal paste on a CPU cooler?
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Is Pre-Applied Thermal Paste On CPU Coolers Good Enough?
Most stock CPU coolers and decent-quality aftermarket coolers have good enough pre-applied thermal paste.
Even with the best aftermarket thermal paste, you will only reduce the CPU temperature by one or two degrees at most. So it is not worth it to purchase aftermarket thermal paste if you have a decent cooler with pre-applied thermal paste.
When applying aftermarket thermal paste, many things can go wrong. Too much paste, too little paste, or improper application can cause poor CPU cooling. On the other hand, you don’t have to worry about those things when your CPU cooler has pre-applied thermal paste.
However, pre-applied thermal paste in low-quality CPU coolers can sometimes cause poor cooling. In that case, you should remove the pre-applied paste and apply a good aftermarket paste.
How Long Does Pre-Applied Thermal Paste On CPU Coolers Last?
How long pre-applied thermal paste can last before you install the cooler to the CPU depends on the type of pre-applied paste.
However, CPU coolers with pre-applied thermal paste sit in stores for months before someone buys them. So generally, pre-applied thermal pastes can last for months or even years before installing the cooler on a PC.
On the other hand, the total effective lifespan of good thermal paste can be more than 5 years. After that, they will lose their thermal conductivity and cause poor CPU cooling. So it is better to replace the thermal paste every 2 to 3 years for the best cooling.
Can Pre-Applied Thermal Paste On A CPU Cooler Dry Out?
Pre-applied thermal pastes on CPU coolers are not the same as regular thermal pastes. They won’t dry out or harden at room temperature.
CPU coolers with pre-applied thermal paste sit in stores for months before someone buys them. So pre-applied pastes are specially designed to avoid drying out or hardening at room temperature.
Pre-applied thermal pastes are also denser than regular thermal pastes. They usually melt and spread when you install the cooler to the CPU and power on the computer.
Is It Bad To Touch The Pre-Applied Thermal Paste On A CPU Cooler By Accident?
If you accidentally touch the pre-applied thermal paste on your CPU cooler and the touch removes too much paste, it can cause poor CPU cooling. When there’s not enough thermal paste, it can cause poor heat transfer and overheat your CPU.
On the other hand, if the accidental touch only left a fingerprint on the pre-applied thermal paste, it won’t cause any issues. The paste will even out when you apply pressure during the CPU cooler installation.
The worst that can happen if you touch the pre-applied thermal paste is that your CPU temperature will rise a few degrees. So you don’t have to worry about CPU overheating.
Also, you can monitor the CPU temperature after you install the cooler. If the CPU gets too hot, remove the pre-applied thermal paste and apply a new aftermarket paste.
Can You Put Aftermarket Thermal Paste On Top Of The Pre-Applied Paste On A CPU Cooler?
You should remove the pre-applied thermal paste before applying any aftermarket thermal paste.
If the thermal paste is too thick, it will cause poor heat transfer, and your CPU can overheat. So use either pre-applied thermal paste or aftermarket thermal paste, not both.
The pre-applied thermal pastes on most stock CPU coolers and decent aftermarket coolers are good enough. So when your CPU cooler has pre-applied thermal paste, you don’t have to purchase any aftermarket paste.
When you manually apply aftermarket thermal paste, using too much or too little paste can cause poor CPU cooling. On the other hand, with pre-applied paste, you don’t have to worry about those issues.
Finally, even the best aftermarket thermal paste can only lower your CPU temperature by one or two degrees at most. So aftermarket pastes are usually not worth it when your CPU cooler has pre-applied paste.