How Long Does Thermal Paste Actually Last

The chemical compound that binds the CPU and heatsink also known as thermal paste, acts as an insulator that removes any air gaps. 

This helps transfer the heat from the CPU to the heatsink, which dissipates with the help of a fan.

If thermal paste is such an important factor in keeping things cool, one could ask how long does thermal paste last?

Since the thermal paste expiration date is not posted on any thermal paste packaging, we can only rely on the lifespan specified by the manufacturers. However, how long thermal paste actually lasts depends on a lot of factors.

How long does thermal paste last in the tube?

The life expectancy of thermal paste varies from product to product.

The conditions where it has been stored, and where you keep it before applying also matter a great deal.

If the thermal paste is stored away from direct sunlight, in a cool place, the average lifespan is around two years.

If, when opening the tube, you notice the paste is not in its liquid semi-solid form, it most probably went bad.

Product NameRecommended Lifespan(years)
Arctic MX48
Noctua NT-H15
Thermal Grizzly Kryonaut Extreme5
Thermal Grizzly Kryoaut3
Thermal Paste Products and Their Lifespan

While 8 years is a lot, in most cases thermal paste starts to decompose after around 3 years if kept unopened. For example, if you’re wondering how long does kryonaut thermal paste last, it ranges from 3 to 5 years.

So, does thermal paste get old in the tube? Yes, and not really. It will expire eventually, but if left unopened, it will take a lot of years to go bad.

You might want to check out how long do CPUs last as well.

How long does thermal paste last when applied?

In most cases, the applied thermal paste will last at least five years. Usually, a lot of people either replace the PC altogether or perform some upgrades which require thermal paste to be replaced anyway.

In some extreme cases, the CPU thermal paste lifespan can be affected by an effect called “pump out”.

In simpler terms, this means the heat caused the thermal paste to expand in ununiform places.

This, in return, gives it a non-flat shape that will not transfer heat as quickly as before.

To be on the safe side, consider replacing your thermal paste every two or three years. It’s a great opportunity to make sure your components will benefit of greater lifespans.

Nobody has a straight answer on how often should thermal paste be changed. However, CPU manufacturers recommend the same 2-3 years time range.

This being said, nobody can tell you how often should you repaste a CPU. If you have the time and patience to do it every year, by all means, do it.

Can old thermal paste cause overheating? Yes, in some cases. It really depends on the amount of deterioration it suffered.

How to properly store thermal paste?

The first word of advice is never to buy more thermal paste than you need. The price is cheap, and there’s no valid reason for buying extra thermal paste just so you have it around.

If you do however pack some supplies, make sure to place it in a sealed bag. Store it away from sunlight. It’s best if it’s kept in a dry place, think drawers.

Make sure to close the cap well if extra thermal paste is still in the tube. Do not let any air inside, as it will quickly damage the compound.

The best thermal past for computers is made from liquid metals. This means it’s not so easy to get it damaged. So you don’t have to be TOO worried.

While some gaming users suggest placing thermal paste inside a freezer, you don’t need to take such extreme actions.

How long does thermal paste last after opening?

If you chose to store the remaining compound for later use, go ahead.

Just keep in mind, that once used, it won’t benefit from the same thermal paste lifespan as it was when brand new. A year, maybe two at best is a good time frame to use whatever is left in the tube.

If you are wondering how long does thermal paste take to dry after being applied, it’s best to give it at least two full hours. This way you will be certain there won’t be any leaks inside the rest of your system.

Thermal paste does dry fast, but it would be best if you let it dry naturally, and not force it with a dryer.

Is thermal paste poisonous? No, it’s totally fine if you spill some on your hands, as it’s not toxic. Whether is it ok to use old thermal paste or not is up to you.

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