How Long Does Thermal Paste Last?

A lot of the mistakes that beginners make when building a PC somehow trace back to the thermal paste applications and the following re-applications of the thermal compound. This seemingly simple process causes a lot of confusion for people that are not familiar with the PC world, therefore today we will go over some basic facts related to thermal paste.

How Long Does Thermal Paste Last – CPU

From the moment you have applied the thermal paste to your CPU, the compound should be thermally conductive for around 3-5 years depending on usage conditions. Under light workloads, your CPU does not produce a lot of heat therefore you might not need to change that thermal paste at all.

hwinfo temps

If you are a gamer or execute demanding tasks on your PC that heat your CPU you might need to change the thermal paste sooner than you think. The amount of time thermal paste lasts on your CPU is also greatly influenced by factors like how good is your cooling overall, and have you applied an overclock to your CPU.

Overall the cooler your CPU will run the longer the thermal paste you have applied will last.

How Long Does Thermal Paste Last – GPU

The same explanation can be applied to your GPU which also uses thermal paste to conduct heat from the die to the heatsink. If you use your GPU a lot and it generates a lot of heat the lifespan of your thermal paste will be shortened.

To maintain good thermal conductivity for your GPU your hardware should be appropriately cooled by using higher fan speeds and a good airflow case. Once again, overclocking your GPU which then will use more voltage therefore creating more heat will require you to re-paste your component a lot more often.

msi afterburner temps

When Is It Time to Change Your CPU/GPU Thermal Paste?

The main indication that it is time to change your thermal paste for your CPU/GPU is when you notice an increase in temperatures and FPS drops/stutters in games as a result of thermal throttling.

These changes can be noticed easily when using monitoring software, or if you record the FPS in your games and look at your averages, or if the situation is especially bad you will most likely see the effects with your own eyes.

The downgrade in performance is caused by the thermal compound losing conductivity and crusting up because of the excessive heat your components produce. Changing your thermal paste might also re-vitalize old components and allow them a breath of fresh air.

How to Store Thermal Paste

In most cases you will not use the entire tube of the thermal paste during your application, therefore another question a lot of newbies have is how long can that thermal paste tube be used, and how to store it for maximum protection.

If you keep the thermal paste tube in a dry and cold place without any exposure to the sun that would cause it to dry up, your thermal paste tube can last 2-3 years or more. This applies to reputable manufacturers and not some bootleg thermal paste tube you bought from AliExpress which might dry up from one use.

The tube should also be properly closed so no air can come in contact with the thermal paste resulting in degradation. Basically, if you close your tube properly and then store it in a drawer hidden away from the sun in a room with normal temperatures you can keep using that tube of thermal paste for a while.

Once the thermal paste is no longer good you will notice a change in viscosity or perhaps chunks forming so you will know for sure it is time to buy a new tube.

About The Author

Chris (vile_is_dead)

Custom Windows ISO enjoyer, FPS optimizer, and aim improvement enthusiast. Will disassemble all of his peripherals (and sometimes PC parts) to mod them even if all of them work perfectly fine. Discord/Twitter: vile_is_dead

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