How Often Should You Reapply Thermal Paste – A Comprehensive & Detailed Guide

Patrick Moore
By Patrick Moore Computers & Electronics 9 Min Read
9 Min Read

Figuring out if it’s time to switch out your thermal paste can be a bit tricky. It seems like everyone has their own opinion on how long thermal paste is supposed to last. But here’s the deal: a bunch of different things can affect its lifespan. So, it’s really cool if you can learn about what makes thermal paste dry up. That way, you can make your own call on when it’s time for a change.

Let’s dive in and break it down together!

When Do You Change Your Thermal Paste?

Let’s tackle a big question that’s on a lot of people’s minds: “When should I change my thermal paste?” This is something a lot of folks start to wonder about usually when their computer starts acting up.

So, here are some clear signs that it might be time for a fresh application of thermal paste:

1. Upgrading Your Parts

Imagine you’re giving your computer a little upgrade, like a new CPU cooler or even a new CPU. It’s super important to remember that thermal paste isn’t something you can just slap on and forget about. It’s not reusable. So, if you take off your CPU cooler, you’ve gotta start fresh and apply new thermal paste. And hey, don’t forget to clean off the old paste thoroughly! You really don’t want any leftovers messing things up.

2. The Thermal Paste Looks Off

Now, if you notice that the thermal paste looks kind of flaky or dry, that’s a dead giveaway. That stuff has got to go. Clean off the old paste and lay down a fresh layer.

3. Your CPU is Running Hot

Here’s another thing: if your CPU starts running hotter than usual, that could be a clue. Sure, lots of things can make your CPU heat up, but if you’re doing the same stuff on your computer as always and notice the temperature spiking, it’s worth taking a look at your thermal paste.

Let’s say, for example, you’re a big fan of Call of Duty Warzone, and you play it all the time. Normally, your CPU stays cool, around 40 to 50 degrees Celsius. But suddenly, after a couple of years, it’s hitting 60 degrees Celsius doing the same things. That could totally be your thermal paste drying out. Or, maybe your CPU cooler isn’t working as hard as it used to. Either way, it’s a good idea to reapply the thermal paste when you open up your PC.

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Don’t worry if you’re not sure how to clean off the old thermal paste— it’s actually pretty easy, especially if you have the right tools!

So, keep an eye on these signs, and you’ll know exactly when it’s time to give your thermal paste a little refresh!

Factors That Can Affect Your Thermal Paste

Now, let’s get into the nitty-gritty of what can impact the life of your thermal paste. There are a bunch of things that can affect how long it lasts, and understanding these can really help you in the long run.

CPU temperatures

The main job of thermal paste is pretty straightforward: grab that heat from your CPU and get rid of it, pronto. You see, air isn’t great at carrying heat away, so an air cooler alone isn’t going to cut it if you want to keep things chill. That’s where thermal paste steps up to the plate.

Thermal paste jumps into action before the cooler even gets a chance to start working, reducing the heat right away. But if your CPU is constantly running hot, that thermal paste of yours is going to have a tough time and might dry out quicker than you’d like.

And here’s where things get a little crazy. When people, including some websites, start talking about how long thermal paste should last, you get a whole lot of different answers. Some folks say you might need to reapply after just 2 years, while others have their thermal paste going strong for a whopping 10 years!

But let’s lay down a rule of thumb here: If your CPU is working overtime and the heat is on, your thermal paste might just take the hit and dry out a bit quicker than normal.

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So, keeping tabs on your CPU temperatures is pretty crucial if you want to keep that thermal paste doing its job for as long as possible.

Position of your PC tower

Taking from what we just talked about with CPU temperatures, your PC tower’s position plays a huge role, too. It’s all about making sure your computer has the best airflow possible. Ideally, you want to keep your PC in a room that’s cool and air-conditioned, and definitely away from any direct sunlight to prevent it from heating up.

Another pro tip? Don’t just leave your PC tower on the floor. Elevate it—place it on a desk, a PC stand, or anything that gets it off the ground. Why? Because if it’s on the floor, your PC is like a vacuum sucking up all the dust, which messes up the airflow and could even damage other parts of your computer. So, lifting it up is a really smart move.

Thermal paste mixture

Now, let’s talk about the thermal paste itself. This stuff is made from a special mix that includes a liquid matrix and some conductive fillers that don’t conduct electricity. There’s a whole bunch of different materials that can be used to make this liquid matrix.

The top-notch thermal pastes for computers? They’re mostly made out of liquid metal. But here’s the thing: each brand has its own unique recipe, and they all have different levels of thermal conductivity (that’s how well they conduct heat). Some brands might keep things cooler but won’t last as long, and others could be the other way around.


Alright, we’ve covered a lot, haven’t we? We talked about how CPU temperatures, the position of your PC tower, and even the type of thermal paste you use can all play a part in how long your thermal paste keeps doing its job.

Even though we’ve just gone through these three main factors, the truth is, the lifespan of thermal paste can still be all over the place. It’s kind of tricky to pin down exactly how long it’s going to last.

However, if you’re really nailing it with keeping your PC at the perfect temperature and you’ve chosen a top-notch thermal paste known for its longevity, you’ve set yourself up for success. Your thermal paste could very well last you until your next big upgrade, which could be 8+ years down the line. That’s pretty awesome, right?

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And with that, you really don’t need to keep a backup tube of thermal paste lying around. These things aren’t hard to find or buy, so you can just grab one when you actually need it. Plus, it’s kind of tough to say how long thermal paste lasts in the tube without being used.

So, to sum it all up: take good care of your PC, choose your thermal paste wisely, and you won’t have to worry about reapplying it all the time. You’ve got this!

Frequently Asked Questions

How often should you reapply thermal paste on your CPU?

It is recommended to reapply thermal paste on your CPU every 2-3 years or whenever you notice a temperature increase during heavy usage.

What are the signs that indicate the need for thermal paste replacement?

Signs include higher than usual CPU temperatures, sudden shutdowns or thermal throttling, and degraded performance in demanding tasks.

Can you reuse thermal paste when reinstalling the CPU cooler?

It is generally not recommended to reuse thermal paste as it loses its effectiveness over time. It is best to clean off the old paste and apply a fresh layer.

How do I properly clean off the old thermal paste?

You can use isopropyl alcohol and a lint-free cloth or cotton swabs to carefully remove the old thermal paste from the CPU and cooler surfaces.

What is the ideal method for applying thermal paste?

The most common method is the "pea-sized dot" technique, where a small amount of thermal paste is placed in the center of the CPU, allowing it to spread evenly under pressure from the cooler.

Are there any risks involved in applying thermal paste?

While the process itself is straightforward, there is a slight risk of damaging the CPU or other components if not handled with care. It's important to follow manufacturer instructions and use caution when applying thermal paste.

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Hey there, I'm Patrick, a passionate tech enthusiast and copywriting expert. With my expertise in Tech, Android, Windows, Internet, Social Media, Gadgets, and Reviews, I aspire to become one of the best bloggers in the world. Join me on this thrilling journey as we explore the ever-evolving world of technology and discover its endless possibilities together. Let's geek out!
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