Those who constantly use thermal paste will tell you that they can quickly go wrong inside the tube; hence they should be replaced often. An old toothpaste may still work fine in some applications but wouldn’t be as efficient as it used to be over a year ago. As long as you store the paste properly and it has not dried out, you should be able to use it somehow. Just because an old thermal paste is still usable does not mean you should not invest in a top-quality paste.
So, How Long Does Thermal Paste Last in a Tube?
Thermal pastes don’t last more than four years, and this is why you should replace them within 2-3 years.
What Is Thermal Paste Comprised Of?
Like many other products, thermal paste comes with an expiry date, but this is not written anywhere on the package or tube. Several things can help you ascertain the expiry date of a thermal paste inside a tube; one of such is the time it takes for the paste to last.
The thermal paste contains a substance made from Polymerizable liquid components mixed with electrical insulative conductive fillers. There are several other substances included in the mixing matrix. The best thermal pastes you can find today are made from liquid metals, but they mostly contain Gallium that can be very corrosive to aluminum.
The main goal of your thermal paste is to keep the CPU’s temperature cool; frequencies of use will therefore determine the length of usage or lifespan of the thermal paste.
How Long Will Thermal Paste Last?
The thermal paste in the tube should last for between one and two and half years. For this reason, it is not recommended that you stock thermal paste for future use because of this short lifespan. It is pretty cheap and easy to buy a new thermal paste, especially if you regularly have to cool your CPU.
While the lifespan is less than three years, thermal paste inside a well-kept tube may last for an extra few years, depending on several factors. For instance, if you keep it in a cool area instead of a refrigerator or freezer, it may last longer than two years.
It would be best to avoid places that can get hot quickly, and you must ensure that the tube’s cap is always tightly closed, especially when it is not in use. Closing the cap tightly will help keep air out of the tube.
Another factor that can influence the lifespan of thermal paste in a tube is the component in the paste mixture. Some products last longer than others because of the differences in the formula. Thermal pastes do come with different Watts per meter/Kelvin (W/MK). This measurement measures the rate of heat transfer within any out of any homogenous material.
With all the variable factors explained above, it can be hard to ascertain when precisely a thermal paste will last in a tube. Since these products should work best under two years, it is better to buy them when you need them.
How Often Should I Change Thermal Paste?
You might ask yourself the question; How often should I change thermal paste? This question is answered by considering three basic things, these are;
1. The Material or Brand
Since the lifespan of a thermal paste is dependent mainly on Watts Per Meter/Kelvin or W/MK, it simply means the higher the heat conductance of the product, the longer it lasts. This means you should focus on purchasing products with better heat conductance, even though they might cost a little more than others with lower conductance.
2. The Temperatures of Your CPU
How often your CPU gets heated is another factor that will determine the lifespan of your thermal paste. If you constantly use your computer, especially within a hot and humid environment, your thermal paste will be applied more frequently. You may use up a thermal paste within a year when it is constantly applied on your CPU, unlike when you rarely use your computer.
3. Rate of Application
It also matters whether you apply a little too little or too much thermal paste on your CPU. You should know the correct quantity of paste to use at any given time.
Where You Should Store Your Thermal Paste Tubes
It is best to store your thermal paste tubes in a very cool and dry area for the longevity of the paste. It doesn’t matter if you keep it inside your refrigerator, but it can be hazardous to apply the paste after storing the tube in a freezer.
The best way to store your thermal paste tube is to keep it inside an air-tight sealed container like the Ziploc plastic container. Try as much as possible to avoid places exposed to direct sunlight rays or heat, including those desk drawers near the window.
If you reside in a tropical region where room temperatures are higher than the normal range, your thermal paste may dry up quickly. Tropical temperatures can reduce the lifespan of your thermal paste and its volume. In such cases, you may want to keep the paste tube where there is an air-conditioner.
Thermal paste is quite affordable and is typically priced in grams, and you may not worry about storage as long as you can get the correct quantity out to cool your computer’s CPU. You should also avoid putting an almost dried-up thermal paste on your CPU as such can damage the device.
It can be hard sometimes to estimate the total number of variables that can affect the lifespan of your thermal paste. It is also essential to learn how to eradicate thermal paste from its tube and avoid leftovers.
You should also check your CPU to ensure that it is working within the optimal temperature range. Any CPU getting too hot constantly will require a computer technician’s proper check and repairs; otherwise, you will be wasting your thermal paste.
When Should You Reapply Thermal Paste?
Knowing when to change thermal paste is one of the most important things, but it can be difficult to tell until you know how frequently your CPU heats up. In many cases, people don’t detect their CPUs overheat until it gets too late.
Generally, you should reapply thermal paste once or twice every two years. Fortunately, most CPUs come with in-built thermal pastes that can last for even up to 10 years. If your CPU comes with a good thermal paste, you shouldn’t bother buying or reapplying the paste.
Checking your CPU temperatures is perhaps one of the best ways to gauge whether you should reapply the paste or not. If you are a heavy computer gamer, for instance, you may not need to apply a thermal paste if your CPU doesn’t heat up.
Temperature issues with CPUs often develop after few years of using a computer. If your CPU temperature increases sharply after few years of using the computer, you should know that the thermal paste has dried out.
There are several other issues that can cause CPU temperature increase even if the thermal paste doesn’t dry out. Common issues that can cause a sudden increase in CPU temperatures are; blocked airflow in the PC and blocked airflow in the coolers. You need to troubleshoot the CPU issues to ascertain the underlying cause of the temperature increase.
If you are a heavy PC user, you may want to ask for a CPU upgrade, especially when intensive gaming gets your CPU temperatures higher often. You should take your CPU temperatures even more serious if it exceeds 50C degrees. While the application of thermal paste can help cool the device, having it checked must never be overruled.
Perhaps, you may never use thermal paste more than once in 2 years, hence you should not be afraid of applying a little more than required to avoid wasting the remaining. Make sure you use the right tool in pressing out the paste to avoid leaving leftovers. You should also consider buying the smaller thermal paste tube if you don’t use the paste regularly. If you have more than a computer you use frequently, you may want to buy more than two depending on how regular you use the computers.
There Is no definite answer to the question of how long thermal paste will last. If you observe all regulations as regards storage and application, it may last longer than the average 2 years. The best decision you can take is to purchase a thermal paste only when you need it. Performing a CPU upgrade or repairing the device may also reduce CPU temperatures and prevent over-heating. When CPU overheating is prevented, you may not even have any reason to buy a thermal paste since there is one already included. You should also pay attention to the type of mix included in a particular brand of paste as they may determine how long the product will last.