How to Speed Up Computer with Thermal Paste?
If you Google “how to speed up your computer”, you’ll likely find heaps of articles advising you to upgrade your components (graphics card, processor, motherboard, RAM, etc.), to tune up your PC using software, or to clean the dust out of the inside of your computer. All of these approaches are valid but miss one thing – thermal paste. If you aren’t familiar with thermal paste, you should be. Thermal paste is a quick and easy fix to a problem you might not even know you have.
Let’s dive in.
Why is my computer so slow?
A computer isn’t meant to be fast forever, but it definitely isn’t meant to quickly slow down either. If you find your PC is experiencing a sudden loss in speed, this is something you should look into.
A few reasons could be:
· You have too many apps running at once (these can be background apps like Dropbox or heavy-duty apps like the Adobe Suite)
· You have a virus
· You haven’t cleaned out the dust in a while
· You haven’t replaced your thermal paste in some time
Overheating specifically can cause many unintended effects beyond just slowing down your computer. These might include: frequent blue screens, sudden shut-downs, and graphical interface glitches. These all occur because the heat from your processor is not being properly dissipated – either through air or water cooling. So, the heat makes its way into other components, causing them to malfunction.
So what can you do about it? There are many different ways to tackle this problem including cleaning your PC, upgrading your cooling system, and most importantly applying/reapplying your thermal paste.
Why most importantly? Well, the whole point is to transfer the heat from your CPU to your cooling system – which promptly expels it. But even if you have the best cooling system in the world, the important part is getting the heat to that system. Thermal paste plays a huge role in that by facilitating the transfer of energy from the CPU to the heatsink.
Why is CPU overheating a problem?
CPUs generate heat – we all know that. But without proper cooling to dissipate the heat, the heat could damage other components around the CPU, and eventually the CPU itself.
The biggest risk is to the motherboard. Usually, heat from the CPU would properly dissipate into your heatsink or waterblock and then by taken care of by the fans, which push the hot air out of your computer, or the watercooling system onboard. However, if the heat isn’t given a direct pathway to escape (first through the thermal paste, then the cooling system) then the only direction for it to go is through the CPU and back into the motherboard.
The motherboard isn’t as resilient as the CPU. Therefore, if too much heat is transferred into it, some components could expand and render it unable to process information and essentially a paperweight.
Most of the time, the CPU and motherboard will let you know they’re overheating by shutting down before the heat gets to a high enough threshold to damage components. Usually, this temperature is in excess of 70°C/150°F for desktops and 80°C/160°F for laptops. However, if you restart the computer without fixing your cooling, you risk permanent damage to your PC.
What is thermal paste? How does it fix CPU overheating theoretically?
Generally-speaking, thermal paste is a “gap-filler” for thermal conductivity within a computer build. What do we mean by that? Its function is to help the heat move from where it is generated to where it can safely dissipate (i.e. your cooling system). It does so by filling in the space between the CPU and your heatsink.
Even though the top of your CPU might seem smooth, if you put it under a microscope you’d notice many microscopic imperfections and “gaps” (remember gap-filler?). When the CPU interacts with another surface like the heatsink unaided by thermal paste, some of the total surface area of the CPU may not be able to fully interact with the heatsink. As such, not all of the heat will effectively be transferred and dissipated.
“But I pressed my heatsink onto the CPU really tightly! Surely that’s good enough!”
Nope. It’s also important to remember that the space between the two surfaces is not a vacuum! It has air in it! Air is not a great conductor of thermal energy and will inhibit the transfer of heat into the heatsink. (thermal conductivity: air (0.024W/mK) vs thermal paste (5~10W/mK))
And remember – the most important part of the process is getting the heat to the heatsink so your cooling system can take care of the rest. So let’s see how much heat is actually transferred out.
How does thermal paste fix processors overheating and improve computer performance?
As we’ve already mentioned, constant overheating from the CPU can transfer too much heat into the motherboard and cause the components to malfunction or to stop working entirely. Thermal paste can remedy this by filling in the “gaps” between the CPU and the heatsink, allowing more heat to be transferred and dissipated before it even reaches the motherboard.
But how much does it actually help? How much heat gets transferred out? Is it worth it?
We conducted an experiment with our Kooling Monster KOLD-01 Thermal Paste to find out. We set up our PC without thermal paste, and then set up an identical build with thermal paste and ran both under full load (meaning at maximum processing power) using AIDA64.
CPU: Intel Core i3-10105F
Motherboard: Asus H510M-E
Cooler: Air Cooling (Golden Field)
Memory: ADATA DDR4 (8G)
All the while, we also used HWiNFO – a free software used to read, measure, and record CPU temperatures – to note down our results.
Here’s what we found:
As we can see by the chart above, the build without any thermal paste almost immediately shoots up to an average temperature of 95°C/200°F. If allowed to stay at that temperature, the motherboard will probably shut down the computer due to signs of overheating. If the computer continues to be restarted without thermal paste and run under full load – as mentioned, the motherboard will likely suffer permanent damage.
Let’s now compare that with the build using KOLD-01 Thermal Paste. Notice that the CPU temperature still shoots up, as it is under full load, but evens out at about 77°C/165°F. That’s more than a ~20% decrease in average temperatures! A PC at this temperature can run safely for a long while.
Computers degrade because of software, hardware, and material reasons. “Software” means the user is installing too many applications which eat up memory, “hardware” means not upgrading your computer and eventually allowing it to become obsolete, and “material” means to not thoroughly cleaning your computer and not applying (or regularly reapplying) thermal paste.
Now you can see why. A computer without good thermal paste will, on average, run hotter than a computer with good thermal paste. And if you’re gaming, editing, streaming, or just browsing like a madman with 44 tabs open, you’ll want your CPU to handle that.
Kooling Monster KOLD-01 is designed to last long and effectively dissipate heat, even when your CPU is working at its absolute peak.