How Long Does Thermal Paste Last


How Long Does Thermal Paste Last

Thermal paste has the work of keeping our computers running to their best performance. When we think of thermal paste taking care of our delicate components, we usually miss out on thinking about its expiry. We ignore the question of how long does thermal paste lasts!

As unbelievable as it may sound, it is to notify that thermal paste does lose its ability to work efficiently over time. Most producers of thermal paste make it rest assure that their product has a lifespan of somewhere between three and five years. Even when you buy a part, thermal paste has been laying on the shelf there for a good time which means a further reduction in its longevity and effective cooling properties. So, there is an elephant in the room.

This time frame is only applicable if thermal paste is kept in pristine conditions that mean the too hot or too cold an environment is bad. Cool, however, is good. If these measures are not taken care of, it can cause an adverse effect on the performance of the thermal paste.

What is Thermal Paste?

It is a thermal compound, a cooling agent, which is used to prevent the CPU from overheating. The main objective is to eliminate air gaps between the CPU and its heat sink in order to maximize heat transfer and dissipation. It keeps the CPU cool which in return increases the system’s speed and performance allowing the CPU to run smoothly.

Kinds of Thermal Paste

There a few kinds available in the market. People usually stick to the market’s favorite or more rated kind of paste. They will swear by its performance or longevity. Metal thermal paste, Silicone thermal paste, and Ceramic thermal paste are a few kinds. The different kinds of thermal paste mostly have the same ingredients but a little up and down with the amounts applied. The most common ingredients include silicone oil, ceramic, aluminum, carbon nanoparticles, zinc oxide, and other anti-oxidation agents. Do these kinds make a difference in how long does thermal paste lasts? Well, it might just increase its shelf life but nothing too big of a margin here.

Does Thermal Paste Go Bad?

Of course, it does. Even the best thermal paste can go bad if it is not kept properly. Letting air gaps trap in the heat sink is a clean way for thermal paste to get separated. Thermal paste is essential to ensure the CPU works in a cool environment letting it perform the best. An overheating system is prone to shutdowns. But at worst, you can end up destroying the system to the case that it will cost you several bucks to get it fixed. Or you will have to replace your system altogether.

It is recommended to perform routine checks to ensure efficient working and to check if there is any need for its replacement.

Reasons for Thermal Paste Expiry

How Long Does Thermal Paste Last

When we talk about how long does thermal past lasts, we might focus on how well it is taken care of. The answer to why does thermal paste expire could be as easy as this: you did not take care of it well enough. You should be careful while sealing the thermal paste or else little carelessness can result in getting it separate. When this happens the paste won’t look wholly when you separate it from the vial.

You will able to tell if the thermal paste has deteriorated. A bad thermal paste never looks the same nor does it perform the same way as the initial application. While you remove it off the tube, a few signs will tell you about its health immediately. A flat and deadly sign is that it has clumps. This is what is meant when it is mentioned that the paste is separated. Another sign is when the consistency of the paste is watery.

All this probably happened because the paste wasn’t kept in a restricted environment; it was kept in too cold or too environment or too much air was trapped in the tube.

When Do You Know That Thermal Paste Is Expired

Does the question arise whether thermal paste goes bad even if taken good care of? Most probably not. It entirely depends on how good care it is provided with. When you deal with fragile compounds, the right care goes a long way.

Most of all, we rely on this stuff to ensure the credible performance of our system. Therefore, it becomes vital for us to ensure good keeping habits to allow its cooling effects to last longer and to prevent our system from overheating.

Thermal paste manufacturers provide their users with manuals dictating precautions and recommendations. If it has been a long time since you last used thermal paste, it is better not to rush and use alternatives. But it is not recommended in the longer run.

How Long Does Thermal Paste Last

It is feasible to test the paste on a flat surface preferably metal before its application. If you spread it on a flat surface, you can clearly tell by its consistency whether it is good or not. Anything that is clumpy or water is a red flag and you need to replace it. Do not try any hacks with the paste. You can put your computer at a greater risk. If you try any hacks, you will probably end up with a fried heat sink.

The best call is to let bygones be bygones and buy a new paste. The best thing is, it is easily available and it is not very expensive. It is on you to choose whether you want to risk your computer system or spend a little on replacing thermal paste tube. I recommend the latter.

Is Storage a Hassle?

Accurate maintenance and storage of your thermal paste give it long shelf life. You will always have to keep your container in a cool environment. If you expose it to direct sunlight, you are allowing sunlight to raise its temperature. You should avoid placing it at a place where it can become too hot for the paste.

Contrarily, if you will keep it at a place that is too cold it will cause equal damage to the paste. Either way, too extremes may result in poor consistency of the paste. As earlier stated, it should be kept in a cool environment. A Ziploc bag does a good job. It is to ensure that cap is tightened enough to let air not intervene in, which is the basic cause of product damage. One trick is to lay the tube on its side. You will be amazed by the consistency of the thermal paste with this trick. 

Conclusion: How long does thermal paste last depends on how efficient you have been with its maintenance. It is better to keep your thermal paste indoors in a closet or drawer. Also, keep it out of the reach of children. With little effort like this, you will be able to make plenty of use out of it and prevent your computer from malfunctioning. 


Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs):

  • How often should thermal paste be changed?

    In most cases, you need not know to apply more than once every few years. You may consider reapplying if your CPU’s temperature is rising up or the cooler was removed for some reason.

  • Can I use toothpaste instead of thermal paste?

    Although it may look like toothpaste it has no similar properties to a thermal paste, so it should not be used.

  • How long does thermal paste last once opened?

    In most cases, if properly looked after, it may last up to two years.

  • How long does thermal paste last  if good quality is used?

    A good quality thermal may last up to 3-4 years. If you are overclocking it you might want to replace it every few years.

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