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Thermal Grease, Paste, Compound and Pads – Know the Difference

The fact that thermal paste come in a wide variety of names, this is the reason why many people see thermal grease, thermal paste, thermal compound as 3 different types of thermal interface materials till the year 2022.

The names, however, are not solely limited to grease, paste and compound.They are also referred to as heat paste, thermal goop, thermal gel, heat sink compound, thermal interface material, CPU grease, and the list just goes on.

So you may be wondering:

What’s with all the debate about thermal grease vs paste vs compound then?

They both are the same, it’s just that thermal grease/paste/compound come in different brands and types, which varies in both composition and effectiveness altogether.

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Types of Thermal Paste


There is no difference between thermal grease, thermal paste and thermal compound. However, there are 2 types of thermal interface material or TIM you could find in the market – they are the silicone based or non-silicone based.

Below is a list of their pros and cons.

Silicone based


Most of the thermal pastes are silicone based, some other brands named the products as --- ceramic based or carbon based or diamond/silver/gold etc. Inside, they are marketing words, you can think about if there is diamond/silver/gold inside, what will be prices of this product? At the same time, if these hard powers inside the thermal paste, your chipset will be scratched.

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Non-silicone based


Metal liquid thermal paste


Main materials are Gallium and Indium, thermal conductive is extreme, but electrical conductive at the same time, apply it on chipset carefully and make some protection. It is perfect for liquid cooling or overclocking, but for ordinary PC or laptop, it is not recommend, silicone based or normal non-silicone based thermal pastes are enough.

Normal non-silicone based thermal paste

It bases on Polybutenes or whatever, seems very thin generally, not the main thermal interface materials on the market, it is good for some products sensitive for silicone.

Other Types of Thermal Interface Materials vs Thermal Paste

Thermal Pads vs Thermal Paste

You could also find thermal pads on the market. Although they are easy to install, the fact that they don’t perform well in conducting heat is what makes thermal paste superior. Because thickness is 0.3mm at least and there is still gap between heat source and heat sink, do not conducting heat high efficiency same with thermal paste. In most cases, you could find them in stock or pre-built computers.

Thermal Tapes vs Thermal Paste

You may have stumbled upon the name. Thermal tapes are not the same as thermal pastes and greases. Using these types of thermal adhesives leave your chipset and your heatsink to stick together.




Thermal grease, thermal paste, heat sink compound, thermal compound – they are all the same. It all boils down to choosing the best one that makes a huge difference in keeping temperatures low.

Depending on the need, a thermal paste may come in handy over thermal paste. Make sure you look at what perfectly suits your needs before making any purchase.

Don’t forget to check how to correctly apply thermal paste to your CPU to get it done right and get ideal temperatures.

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