How Long Does Thermal Paste Last? Explained

How Long Does Thermal Paste Last

You have been using thermal paste on your cooler for a long time. Now, you are not getting the same new performance. Suddenly, you are wondering how long does thermal paste lasts. Is there any expiration date in particular? Yes, there is. Usually, manufacturers make the pastes with a lifespan of 5 to 10 years or so. You are giving the condition of optimal temperature and proper maintenance.

However, in this article, you’ll discuss everything regarding the thermal paste and its use, more about its lifespan in detail. Without wasting any time, let’s start.

What is thermal paste?

You may hear of the compound or conductive paste, or maybe thermal or conductive grease. It doesn’t matter what it is; it’s the same thermal paste. It has several names. It is a mixture that runs between the device (CPU) and the heatsink; to reduce the heat. By this process, it increases the efficiency and conductivity of the CPU.

Heatsink consumes all the extra heat generated by the CUP. Then it takes the heat to another unit and tries to make the environment cooler with the help of the fan. This way, the inner temperature remains stable. You know how important it is essential to maintain temperature for a good performance. It also gives a boost to the motherboard.

How Does Thermal Paste Work?

The application of thermal paste is simple, even though people make it complex. To make the environment cooler within the CPU is one of the most effective ways. Regardless of the type of thermal paste you use, they work for the same purpose.

Nevertheless, we know even the best practices; best products have downsides as well. Usually, CPUs, coolers, and heat sinks have small holes and cracks. Applying paste on them creates a trap, and the hot air faces trouble coming out. This may lead to deteriorating performance.

So, what thermal paste does helps to keep the dents smooth and gives you the possible outcome. In return, the heatsinks produce immense heat. It turns out you get a dissatisfying performance.

However, these imperfections are hardly noticeable. To work efficiently, the thermal paste needs to expand on the surface. We know you can acknowledge this minor issue. After that, it absorbed all the heat, and so it slowly dried out. This means as time passes, the paste will be cracked, and the air will get trapped. Hence, we suggest reapplying the paste frequently.

How would you know if the thermal paste has expired?

So, you are asking, did my thermal paste go bad? Well, the simple answer is you need to check.

There is an end number of thermal pastes in the market. You can use any of them. Similarly, all the brands use different formulas and compounds, mixtures for their solution, and syringes—for instance, many use ARCTIC, Thermal Grizzly, Collaboratory, Noctua, and many more. So, you never know.

So how would you know? If you had used thermal paste and it’s been a long time, check out your CPU. Indeed, if you find your CPU’s temperature is average and you are getting decent performance, then it’s still good.

There is a hack; put some on the metallic surface to check the smoothness and consistency of the paste. If you find it is separated and looks watery and clumpy, considers getting a new one. You don’t want your CPU to get wet, and any liquid goes near the heat sink. The worst situation is that you’ll find the CPU is overheated and burns out your motherboard.

How Often Should You Reapply Thermal Paste On CPU and GPU?

By now, you probably understood the importance of thermal paste and applying it to your CPU or GPU. Now the question comes: how often should you reapply it?

In particular, for GPU, you may need to reapply after 5 to 10 years. However, by then, you may consider taking a new one and if you are a pro user, then upgrade, and no need for any reapply.

We know you won’t be so naive and take maintenance barely. Therefore, with reasonable precautions, there is a slight need to reapply or replace the paste on both the CPU or GPU.

Some of the precautions you can take are:

  • Taking care of the dust filters
  • Make sure you clean pc cases daily
  • Ensure proper cooling system for the CPU and GPU
  • Know how to reapply thermal paste properly.
  • Keeping your GPU and CPU environments dust-free and at appropriate temperatures.

If you follow these maintenances correctly, there is no chance your CPU or GPU will require any retouch, and it’ll remain cool. You’ll get a serene performance.

How long does thermal paste lasts once opened?

Again, it depends on the materials used in the formula. TIM or the Thermal Interface Material, when it comes with the touch of air, becomes volatile. In contrast, one of the users claimed Arctic Silver 5 opened seven years back and still looks like a new one. So, you can understand the formula of the compound is everything.

Pro Tip: When you are done with using the thermal paste tube, don’t drag back the plunger. It’ll let a chance for air to go inside, and the rest of the paste will turn into oxidation.

Does using extensive thermal paste cause the CPU to overheat?

This is the kind of question that new users usually ask. Whether excessive use of the paste is wrong, and what problems can I face, or can it ruin or harm my CPU?

The answer is yes; If you apply a large amount of paste over your Motherboard’s CPU and its heatsink, the paste will likely become insulating, resulting in overheating.

In most cases, new users tend to apply an excessive amount of paste. They think it’ll increase the efficiency, and it’s for the most delusional time of the year, as well. If you apply a lot of paste, it might raise the temperature of the CPU and harm the other components.


Q1: How can you tell if thermal paste is terrible?

Answer: Open up the tube and squeeze it firmly. The first time, discard all the components coming out. It would be best if you waited until you saw the colored elements. Before you apply the thermal paste straight away on your CPU, check out if it’s properly mixed, creamy like liquid. If you find out it’s not smooth, looks flaky, and almost dried out, you should probably get the tube away.

Q2:Does thermal paste become less effective over time?

Answer: Everything fades away over time. Similarly, thermal paste does get old and worsen over time. However, you can easily use a good-quality paste for about four years or so.

Q3: What happens if you don’t reapply thermal paste?

Answer: If you remove the thermal paste from the heatsink, you are creating a void. The void is the place for thermal paste. Since you were not applying the paste again and obliterated it, the surface area is uncovered. It generates overheating and leaves the room unprotected.

Q4: How do you clean off thermal paste?

Answer: You can clean the thermal paste using alcohol. Likewise, special cleaners come only to clean thermal elements, and you can use that too. Firstly, use the wet material on the paste, let it moisten, and release the surface attention. Then firmly rub it with a fresh cloth or other wiping filters.

Q5: Does unopened thermal paste expire?

To be honest, it varies. Depending on the elements, components, and solution used in the formula, the paste can last for about 3 to 5 years. There is a shelf in the paste that decides the lasting year. You can also read the expiration date on the body of the paste. Try to keep your paste at optimal temperature.

Q6: Is there an expiration date for Arctic Silver 5?

Answer: If you read the article, you should know every thermal paste has usable life. Usually, it considers as 3-5 years. For this reason, freezing can be a good option. To check if the solution is okay, squeeze some paste on a piece of paper. If you find it uniform, then it’s beautiful. You can use it in the future as well.

Q7. What happens if you don’t reapply thermal paste?

It would help if you reapplied thermal paste for getting blissful thermal conductance. That thermal conductance occurs between the chip heat sink and the chip. Generally, poor thermal conductance may increase the heat. Moreover, when the thermal paste becomes old, it can’t make good conductance between the heat sink and the chip.

Q8: Why is too much thermal paste bad?

Answer: Putting an excessive amount of thermal paste isn’t suitable for your PC. When you apply an excess amount of thermal paste, it may act as an insulator. Therefore, your thermal paste becomes ineffective and may damage components because of overheating.

Final thoughts

In a nutshell, It has a maximum lifespan of 3 to 5 years. It’s better to get an appliance as you feel it is deteriorating the quality and effectiveness. Finally, now you know everything about how long does thermal paste lasts.

I hope this article can solve your questions. If you have any questions regarding thermal paste or related topics, let us know in the comment section below. We’ll come back for your assistance. If you like the article, give it a Thumbs Up and share it with your friends.


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