Does Thermal Paste Come With CPU Cooler

The CPU cooler is crucial for maintaining computer efficiency. It dissipates heat generated by the CPU, the computer’s brain, during data processing. Inadequate heat dissipation can lead to CPU overheating, causing performance issues and potential computer damage. Thermal paste plays a vital role in transferring heat from the CPU to the cooler. This article examines the importance of thermal paste, different types of CPU coolers, and whether CPU coolers typically include thermal paste.

What is thermal paste?

Thermal paste, also known as thermal compound or thermal grease, fills the tiny gaps between the CPU and the cooler. It ensures efficient heat transfer from the operating CPU to the cooler, preventing overheating and potential damage. Thermal paste typically contains metal oxides and silicone, among other ingredients. While compositions vary among manufacturers, the goal remains consistent: to create a substance that effectively bridges the space between the CPU and the cooler.

Types of CPU coolers

Air coolers: 

The majority of CPU fans are made of air. Heat is moved away from the CPU with the help of a heatsink and a fan. Most heatsinks are made of metal or copper, and their job is to move heat away from the CPU and into the air around it. The fan then moves air over the heatsink to help get rid of the heat.

People like air coolers because they are easy to set up and don’t cost a lot. But they can be pretty big and may not fit in every computer case. Also, they might not be as good as liquid fans at cooling high-end CPUs.

Liquid coolers: 

Liquid coolers use a closed-loop system, circulating a water and special fluid mixture around the CPU to dissipate heat. This mixture flows through tubes to a radiator, typically mounted on the computer’s back or top, where fans expel the heat. Generally, liquid coolers outperform air fans, especially for high-end, heat-intensive CPUs, and tend to be quieter as their fans don’t need to spin as fast. However, they are usually more expensive and complex to install compared to air coolers.

Hybrid coolers: 

Hybrid coolers use both air cooling and liquid cooling in some way. Most of the time, they use a big heatsink with a fan and a smaller loop of liquid cooling that moves water around the CPU. This means that they can cool effectively while still being fairly quiet.

Hybrid coolers can be a good choice for people who want the cooling performance of a liquid cooler but don’t want to deal with the complexity and cost of a full liquid cooling system.

Passive coolers: 

To cool the CPU, passive coolers do not make use of any fans or liquid coolant of any kind. They rely, rather, on a sizable heatsink that has been engineered to get rid of heat through the process of convection. Because they do not contain any moving parts, passive coolers typically have a very low operating volume. However, high-end central processing units (CPUs) that produce a lot of heat may render them ineffective.

All-in-one (AIO) coolers: 

AIO coolers are like liquid coolers, but they come already put together and are made to be easy to set up. Most of the time, they are one unit that has a heater, a pump, and a fan. AIO coolers can be a good choice for people who want the efficiency of a liquid cooler but don’t want to deal with the complexity of a custom liquid cooling system.

Custom liquid cooling: 

Custom liquid cooling involves building a custom cooling loop using separate components, such as a pump, reservoir, radiator, and tubing. Custom liquid cooling can provide the best cooling performance, but it is also the most complex and expensive option. It is typically only recommended for advanced users who are willing to invest the time and effort required to build and maintain a custom loop.

Does thermal paste come with CPU coolers?

The necessity of buying thermal paste depends on the CPU cooler you purchase; some come with it, others don’t. If needed, you have a variety of brands to choose from, ranging from expensive to more affordable options. The type of thermal paste can impact CPU temperature, so research is advisable to find the best fit for your needs.

Using the thermal paste included with your CPU cooler offers ease of use and likely high quality, as manufacturers aim to ensure effective cooling. However, this pre-applied paste may not always be the optimal choice for your setup. Some users prefer purchasing separate thermal paste for potentially better cooling performance.

Ultimately, the decision to use the included thermal paste or buy a different one hinges on your preferences and requirements. The pre-applied paste suffices for general use, but for optimal cooling, exploring other thermal paste options might be beneficial.

How to apply thermal paste

If you do need to apply thermal paste to your CPU cooler, it’s important to do it correctly to ensure optimal cooling performance. Here’s a step-by-step guide to applying thermal paste:

Clean the CPU and cooler surfaces: 

Before applying thermal paste, you’ll need to make sure that both the CPU and the cooler surfaces are clean. Use a lint-free cloth and a small amount of rubbing alcohol to remove any debris or residue from the surfaces.

Apply thermal paste: 

Once the surfaces are clean, it’s time to apply the thermal paste. There are a few different methods you can use, but one of the most common is the “pea-sized drop” method. Simply place a small, pea-sized drop of thermal paste in the center of the CPU.

Spread the thermal paste: 

Once you’ve applied the thermal paste, you’ll need to spread it evenly over the surface of the CPU. You can use a plastic spreader or a clean fingertip to do this. The goal is to create a thin, even layer of thermal paste that covers the entire surface of the CPU.

Attach the cooler: 

Once the thermal paste is applied, you can attach the cooler to the CPU. Be sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions carefully, as the installation process can vary depending on the type of CPU cooler you have.

Test the system: 

Once the cooler is attached, it’s a good idea to run some stress tests on your system to make sure that your CPU is cooling properly. You can use software like Prime95 or AIDA64 to stress test your CPU and monitor your temperatures.

It’s worth noting that there are some common mistakes that people make when applying thermal paste. One of the most common is using too much thermal paste. Remember, the goal is to create a thin, even layer, so you don’t need to use a lot of thermal paste. Another common mistake is applying the thermal paste unevenly. Be sure to spread the thermal paste evenly over the surface of the CPU to ensure optimal cooling performance.


Thermal paste is an essential component of CPU cooling. Whether you’re using an air cooler, liquid cooler, or hybrid cooler, thermal paste plays a critical role in transferring heat from your CPU to your cooler. While some CPU coolers come with thermal paste pre-applied, others do not, so it’s important to know whether you need to purchase it separately. If you do need to apply thermal paste, be sure to follow best practices to ensure optimal cooling performance. With the right CPU cooler and thermal paste, you can keep your computer running smoothly for years to come.

About Henzon

Henzon, affectionately known as "The Hardware Guru," is our go-to guy for everything related to PC components and custom builds. His dedication to this craft is so profound that he once spent three days straight building a PC inside a life-sized replica of R2-D2. When he's not busy crafting the perfect PC, Henzon can be found binge-watching obscure sci-fi movies or playing retro video games from the 90s. With Henzon on our team, we're confident that our readers will never be left in the dark about the latest in PC hardware.

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