Applying thermal paste on the CPU and GPU helps coolers by making the cooling process much more efficient. The thermal paste acts as a conductive compound between the heatsink and the chip. This helps to maximize heat dissipation and transfer and remove any air gaps that might act as thermal insulators.
The question of how long thermal paste lasts on a CPU is often asked by computer gurus, tech nerds, engineers, and PC-building enthusiasts. This is because thermal pastes don’t come with an expiration date indicated on them. Thermal pastes can last up to five years, depending on several factors.
Continue reading to get a more comprehensive idea about the time it takes for the thermal paste to last on a CPU. After all, the thermal paste must have an expiration, as is the case with most other things. With that said, let’s get started.
What Is Thermal Paste?
It’s best to know what the thermal paste is before going deeper to find out how long it lasts on the CPU. Thermal paste refers to a heat-conductive chemical compound made of polymerizable liquid components mixed and combined with electrical insulative conductive fillers.
Thermal paste is also called CPU grease, thermal interface material, conductive paste, compound paste, or thermal grease. Its main purpose is to prevent your computer’s CPU from overheating. Thermal paste improves the connection and conductivity between the heatsink and CPU.
How Long Does Thermal Paste Last on the CPU?
While the thermal paste doesn’t come with an expiry date, this doesn’t mean it lasts forever. This is far from the truth because the thermal paste does expire after a particular duration. While still in the tube, the thermal paste is expected to last for about two to three years if you don’t open the bottle where it’s stored.
However, the thermal paste can last even longer if you properly store it in the tube. With that said, many manufacturers advise you shouldn’t use thermal paste if stored for three years.
In contrast, the thermal paste applied on the CPU and other chips is expected to last around five years. That said, the number of years the thermal paste lasts isn’t fixed and can reduce to as low as three years. This disparity in the period the thermal paste lasts on the CPU is brought about by different factors, and these include the following.
Quality of Thermal Paste
The duration the thermal paste lasts on your computer’s CPU depends on its quality. If you go for the cheaper thermal paste of lower quality, be sure it won’t last very long. This is because the paste quickly loses its thermal connectivity, forcing you to replace it more often.
In contrast, a high-quality thermal paste guarantees to last much longer because it contains the right ingredients. Therefore, this paste will not lose its thermal connectivity attributes very fast, allowing it to last much longer.
Excessive PC Usage
Your PC usage also determines how long the thermal paste will last on the CPU. If you overrun your computer daily, the GPU and CPU will become very hot, resulting in the thermal paste losing its conductivity. Examples of extreme computer usage include the following.
- Running graphically intense games on your computer.
- Continuously overclocking your PC.
- Doing nothing about noticeable temperature rise on your PC’s motherboard.
Doing any of these actions 24/7 produces more heat than normal and, in turn, causes the thermal paste to wear down much faster. In such instances, the thermal paste’s lifespan will be cut short, and you should expect it to last at most a year or two.
Climate and Surroundings
Thermal pastes generally become less effective when temperatures rise because they lose conductivity. Therefore, you should expect thermal paste to lose its conductivity much faster if you live in a region characterized by hot weather. This means you’ll be forced to frequently reapply the thermal paste on your computer’s CPU for optimal temperature regulation.
Another thing that can reduce the lifespan of the thermal paste is dust build-up. This happens because dust settles on the heatsink, lowering its efficiency at cooling down your computer’s CPU.
Each time you disassemble your computer due to a system repair or upgrade, the thermal paste will loosen up. This happens more often when you take out the cooler from the GPU or CPU. After doing this, you’ll be once again forced to reapply it once again on the CPU.
But if a premium thermal paste has been applied on the CPU, you don’t need to reapply this paste once more if it is still yet to dry.
It’s easy to assume that applying too much paste on the CPU would be good for your computer. However, this isn’t true because too much paste on the CPU doesn’t guarantee it will last any longer. Worse, doing this puts your computer at risk of damage if the thermal paste finds its way to the processor.
The thermal paste helps enhance your CPU’s heat conduction and smooth out cracks and dents to allow for an efficient transfer of heat. But despite being an integral element in any PC, there’s a lot that you may not know about how long it lasts on the CPU. Having this information with you is vital because when it dries up, your CPU starts to experience overheating issues.
But after reading this guide, you’ll no longer be caught off guard because you now know how long the thermal paste should last you. Knowing this will be especially helpful because reapplying it on the CPU on time will considerably help to boost your PC’s longevity. Whether you’re an amateur or professional PC builder, this is useful information.