Does CPU Thermal Paste Expire?

Do Thermal Compounds have an expiration date? Will it last long after application on CPU. What if too much thermal paste is used.

Supposing you already know what Thermal Paste is and how it’s applied. Users on the internet keep asking that does thermal paste expire or what is the arctic silver thermal paste expiry.

In this article, we will explain that after how long your CPU Thermal paste will expire once you have opened the tube. We will also explain the expiry date of the thermal compound of the tube which is left untouched for a long period of time.

Does unopened thermal paste expire?

Well, it depends upon the contents or solvents used in that particular formula. Most of the thermal paste has a shelf life of 3 to 5 years. You can easily read the expiry date of the thermal paste written on it.

This date is again subject to the optimal conditions i.e. properly placed in cool storage away from sunlight.

How long does thermal paste lasts once opened?

TIM (Thermal Interface Material) in an open tube if exposed to air may become unstable. Though it has not gone through any heat or cool cycles.

There are many users who claim that their Arctic Silver 5 is still usable after 7 years in the tube once applied. So it again highly depends upon the material which is used in it.

A pro-tip to extend the thermal paste expiry: Once used don’t pull the plunger back. If you do then you will introduce air into the barrel and expose the remaining paste to oxidation.

How to check if your thermal paste is expired?

There are many brands including ARCTIC, Noctua, Thermal Grizzly, Arctic Silver, Coollaboratory, Cooler Master, and Corsair available in the market.

So to give you one clear answer is quite difficult because each brand has used different components in their product.

Has my thermal paste expired?

If it comes out of the bottle all watery and not in paste form then it must have expired over time. Just buy a new thermal paste. You don’t need to apply bad thermal paste on CPU because it can cause massive PC overheating.

However, there are small chances that if you have placed thermal grease in an area having normal temperature and you made sure that it was sealed tightly, then it may still be good.

Read Also: Ideal CPU Temp: What Should Be The Maximum and Normal CPU Temperature Range?

We highly recommend that you should check your unused thermal paste in a tube before applying on CPU or GPU.

To check put a blob of paste on a metallic surface and gently spread it to see if it’s still sticky and smooth. If it looks good then you can safely use it.

Does thermal paste need to be replaced?

Many users ask how often one should replace thermal paste? The Simple answer is:

The thermal paste can easily last 10 – 15 years or even longer as long as the bond between the mating surfaces is not broken.

But if the bond is broken, either due to rough handling during the transport or from the user twisting the heat sink to see if its still tight, then the mating surfaces must be cleaned again, and a fresh new layer of thermal paste should be applied properly.

You don’t have to replace thermal paste just because x number of years have passed.

There is a misconception among those users who due to their inadequate knowledge suggest that, if the edges of thermal paste are exposed, turn hard, become rusty or the mating surface has broken. You should replace thermal paste on the CPU.

THAT IS NOT TRUE AT ALL – Remember, the most efficient transfer of heat occurs with direct metal-to-metal contact of the mating surfaces.

Why Thermal paste is used on CPU?

The purpose to use the thermal compound is to fill the microscopic gaps in the mating surface i.e. CPU and I.H.S to displace any insulating air that might be trapped inside.

After a long time, if you check that the bond between the surface is still unbroken, the air can’t get inside. So you don’t need to reapply thermal paste just because it’s dried out or expired.

The thermal paste doesn’t expire as long as there’s no air, wet or dry. The ceramics or silver alloys do not degrade over time when exposed to heat turning paste into solid material.

They remain even the other materials evaporate, they are still doing their thing. That is not allowing the insulating air to take their place.

Those who claim that thermal paste should regularly be replaced. The big question is why Manufactures don’t say so? After all, it would mean more sales more money for them. But they don’t suggest replacing thermal grease because it not necessary.

How do you know that old paste on CPU is not affecting performance?

Well if your computer is working fine and stable then you are little to worry. Plus check your CPU temperature if it’s normal doesn’t fluctuate, it’s OK.

Reapplying thermal paste just to enhance performance and if improperly applied might damage your PC. So avoid it.

If your real temp rise over time, it’s more likely a CPU fan problem because naturally, fan bearing face wear and tear aging process. Check if your fans are spinning as fast as it should be.

Read Also: What Should be the Ideal CPU fan Speed While Playing Games?

You should fix noisy fans if you are hearing a strange loud noise coming out of the fan. Or you can download fan control software to increase CPU fan speed.

Does too much thermal paste cause CPU overheating?

It’s the question that usually novice ask that whether too much paste is bad, can it kill or damage the CPU.

Yes, if too much paste is applied on CPU and the heatsink then paste will become insulator and cause overheating.

Mostly new users apply too much paste imaging that it may perform well but it isn’t the case. Too much paste effect CPU temperature and can damage components.

Do you need Thermal Paste for CPU or GPU?

If thermal compound is indeed expired and you are going to buy a new one. You will find different brands which are reasonable when it comes to lower CPU temp.

We strongly recommend ARCTIC MX-4 to our users. It is the best thermal paste for CPU and GPU. You can even use it on PS4 to enhance performance.

Thermal paste expire
THERMAL CONDUCTIVITY8.5 W/mK
VISCOSITY870 Poise
DENSITY2.5 g/cm³
VOLUME RESISTIVITY3.8 x 10¹³ Ω-cm
LIFESPAN8 years