Liquid metal thermal paste: advantages and disadvantages to be aware of

A so-called thermal paste is used to transfer heat from the CPU or GPU to the cooler in the computer and laptop. There are different types of it - with zinc oxide, aluminum, silver, graphite or gallium. The latter is a liquid metal with a melting point of around 30 ° C. Because the boiling point is only reached at 2400 ° C, the material does not evaporate and is long-lasting. However, there are also a few disadvantages due to which its use is only recommended for advanced computer hobbyists. In the following you will find all information about liquid metal thermal paste, also made of indium.

The CPU should be cooled efficiently? With a liquid metal thermal paste, you benefit from high thermal conductivity thanks to gallium or indium. But there are also disadvantages that make it necessary to proceed with caution!

The CPU should be cooled efficiently? With a liquid metal thermal paste, you benefit from high thermal conductivity thanks to gallium or indium. But there are also disadvantages that make it necessary to proceed with caution!

Liquid metal thermal paste: advantages and disadvantages

The greatest advantage of liquid metal thermal paste is of course the comparatively high thermal conductivity. Where other pastes with graphite, zinc, silver and Co. usually only have a maximum value of 10 W * m-1*K-1 reach or are even lower, a liquid metal thermal paste can reach approx. 30 to 80 W * m-1 * K-1 or even be higher. Gallium itself has a thermal conductivity of 29 W * m-1 * K-1 ( ). This plus in heat dissipation can pay off, especially when overclocking or otherwise using the processor and / or graphics card.

However, there are also some disadvantages to be aware of, especially when putting heat paste between the processor and cooling for the first time. Liquid metal thermal paste is electrically conductive and should therefore never get onto a component, a cable, the motherboard or the like. A clean application is therefore essential. In addition, gallium reacts with aluminum, which is why the paste must not come into direct contact with the aluminum heat sink. If this happens, the liquid metal thermal paste causes the aluminum to become brittle, lose its cooling effect and perhaps even crack or break.

Gallium may be familiar to one or the other from gadgets, as it becomes liquid just above room temperature (Photo: Sir Apfelot).

Gallium may be familiar to one or the other from gadgets, as it becomes liquid just above room temperature (Photo: Sir Apfelot).

Gallium or indium?

In addition to the gallium already named and described, indium can also occur in a liquid metal thermal paste. The silver-white heavy metal has a thermal conductivity of 81,6 W * m-1 * K-1 ( ) and is therefore even more popular than Gallium with professional users, server hobbyists and friends of overclocking. But whether you really need such a “strong” paste between CPU or GPU and cooling, that ultimately depends on the use of the computer. The office computer certainly does not generate as much heat as the gaming PC, which has been pushed to its limits.

If you have a good hardware machine with which you “only” do office tasks, read and write e-mails and access websites via an Internet browser, then that does not result in a great burden. If the computer becomes slow over time and already goes on strike when booting, this may be because the old thermal paste has become brittle and crumbles. Then it is not inferior per se, but just needs to be renewed. If, on the other hand, you assemble a new PC yourself that has to do graphics, video, gaming and other computationally intensive tasks, then gallium or even indium pastes can be a good investment.

Thermal Grizzly and other liquid metal thermal paste

When it comes to liquid metal thermal paste on Amazon, this is the brand Thermal grizzly known and popular. For 9,99 EUR you get 1 gram of the heat conductor in a syringe for application. The scope of delivery also includes cleaning pads for cleaning the CPU before applying the paste, a closure for the syringe and swabs for cleaning. Delivery is free, express shipping is possible. It contains indium, among other things, the product description says: "Thermal conductivity 73 W / mk".

The Thermal Grizzly liquid metal thermal paste for the computer CPU or GPU is a bestseller on Amazon.

The Thermal Grizzly liquid metal thermal paste for the computer CPU or GPU is a bestseller on Amazon.

If you swear by products that are offered on Amazon Prime, then there is also this paste from Coollaboratory. It costs 12,19 EUR and also has many very good and good reviews. However, the product description does not provide any really useful information; however, customer questions and answers on the site indicate that it contains gallium. So if you don't need Indium's "Thermal Grizzly" performance, you can also access it here ...

The Coollaboratory heat paste also contains liquid metal. However, no accessories for cleaning the surface are included in the scope of delivery.

The Coollaboratory heat paste also contains liquid metal. However, no accessories for cleaning the surface are included in the scope of delivery.

ARCTIC MX-4 thermal paste (without metal) as an alternative

If you don't dare to use heat paste with liquid metal after the above, then the ARCTIC MX-4 Edition 2019 could be an alternative for you. How it looks and how to apply it that shows a video on the product page. The great advantage of this paste with carbon microparticles: it is metal-free and non-electrically conductive, making it particularly suitable for beginners and cautious users. The manufacturer promises "extremely high thermal conductivity" and writes "better than liquid metal"; however, the specified value is only 8,5 W / mk.

A good liquid metal thermal paste alternative is the ARCTIC MX-4 Edition 2019 with carbon. According to customer reviews, it dramatically lowers the CPU and GPU temperatures under load.

A good liquid metal thermal paste alternative is the ARCTIC MX-4 Edition 2019 with carbon. According to customer reviews, it dramatically lowers the CPU and GPU temperatures under load.

For many, this will certainly be enough. The manufacturer specifies a service life of at least 8 years, as it does not contain any silicone that becomes brittle. There is also no risk of a short circuit or corrosion of the aluminum heat sink, as is the case with incorrectly applied liquid metal thermal paste. In 5-star ratings from users, there is also talk of a significant reduction in heat (up to 20 ° C under load). Most use the paste in a PC or laptop, but others also use it in a 3D printer or in the PlayStation 4. So if you don't dare to use liquid metal as a component, the ARCTIC MX-4 Edition 2019 should be something for you. ;-)

If you are still pondering which thermal paste is the most recommendable for you, then maybe my article about will help you the "best thermal paste", in which I also describe the test results of Tom's Hardware, who with 85 products certainly passed the most extensive test.

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