Do CPUs Come with Thermal Paste? – Clearing the Confusion

Building a new PC? If so, then you’re probably feeling the excitement coursing through. However, like everyone else, you surely want to do it right. Any kind of mishap may lead to a disaster. We don’t want all our money and computing dreams to go to waste now. Do we?

We already know that a CPU or the central processing unit is a vital component in building a computer. So, you really need to know what you need to install it properly. There’s no alternative to applying thermal paste in this regard.

Now the question is, do CPUs come with thermal paste out of the box? Well, it can’t be answered with a simple yes or no. We need to discuss this in detail. So, hop in! We’re up for an interesting discussion.

Do CPUs Really Need Thermal Paste?

Do CPUs really need thermal paste

To cut the answer short, “Yes, they do.” But the question here is, “Why?” You might even opt for not using thermal paste at all. But that’ll not end well. Let me explain the reasons a CPU needs thermal paste before we go into the main topic.

  • Thermal Throttling is a big NO

Let me tell you this, Thermal readings of a CPU can go really high. By high, I mean 100 degrees or above. If the CPU reaches some insane temps like these, you’ll face stutters and freezes. The entire system might even shut down.

Thermal paste helps to build a bridge between the cooler and the processing unit’s thermal performance. So, yeah, it helps out a lot.

  • The Cooler Factor

As we all know by now that you’ll definitely need a cooler for your CPU to function properly. Be it a basic out of the box single fan cooler or a full-fledged AIO; there should be one set in place with the CPU. The processor’s heat, in this case, is passed on to the radiator, and a temperature transfer cycle is built.

The contact between the cold plate of a processor and a cooler can never be optimal. No matter how carefully or symmetrically you place it. You don’t want micro air bubbles to get trapped in between them. That’s where thermal pastes come in.

  • Reducing the Thermal Resistance

A liquid medium like a thermal paste really helps to mediate the connection between the CPU and the cold plate of the cooler. It also minimizes thermal resistance. To maintain proper temps in your CPU, a TIM or thermal interface material is a must.

This makes it possible to keep the CPU temperatures to a tolerable range. By tolerable, I mean 70 to 80 degrees max. These thermally conductive compounds (Thermal paste) basically closes the gap between the cold plate and the processor. Resulting in proper insulation and optimal heat transfer.

Which CPUs Come with Thermal Paste?

This info is pretty basic. But we all know that there are two main CPU giants in the market right now. AMD and intel. So, to answer the question, “Do CPUs come with thermal paste?” it’s best to divide the categories.

  • Thermal Paste in AMD CPUs

It’s not that hard to recognize the AMD CPUs that come with thermal paste. If you’re looking at a big square Ryzen CPU box, there’s a high possibility that the box has thermal paste along with a stock cooler in it. AMD calls it the wraith stock cooler.

Normally, the low-tier CPUs of AMD come with thermal paste and a stock cooler along with it. It even reaches mid-tier like the Ryzen 5 3600. However, if you wanna go super high-end or just the top-notch consumer-grade CPUs, you’ll find the box to be a bit slimmer and lighter.

These CPUs don’t come with the included thermal paste benefit. However, if you can afford one of these, you can probably get yourself an aftermarket cooler as well. And to be frank, all aftermarket coolers come with thermal paste. So, No worries there.

Oh, by high-end CPUs, I mean the ones like the Ryzen 7 5800X. Just like AMD, you should know that it’d be just unwise to try and cool a processor like this with a stock Wraith cooler.

Key Fact

There’s a common misconception revolving around AMD CPUs that only the x series processors need aftermarket coolers. But let me clarify, the case isn’t like the unlocked intel “K” series processors. Many non-x series AMD processors can be overclocked to great extents.

Also, the newer 5000 series Ryzen processors don’t come with thermal paste or coolers out of the box. The reason behind it is, these were built to be optimized for enthusiasts.

  • Thermal Paste in Intel CPUs

On the usual note, the K series intel processors don’t come with stock coolers or pre-applied thermal paste. The non-K processors do, on the other hand, come with a basic age-old intel stock cooler. The thermal paste is normally pre-applied. So, no worries there.

Simply put, processors like the i5 11400 and the 11400F will come with stock coolers and pre-applied thermal paste. In comparison, the i7 11700K and the 11700KF won’t.

The K series or the unlocked intel processors are built for enthusiasts. So, it’s best to get a good cooler for them separately. I’d even advise getting additional thermal paste for the stock fan coolers. The boxed thermal paste quality is “ok”, but there are better options.

Key Fact

Intel stock coolers are way behind AMD when it comes to cooling performance. If you’re just building a basic PC that you’ll never opt for CPU overclock, then you’re good to go. Otherwise, it’s a good idea to get a separate aftermarket cooler entirely.

Cooling It Off

The discussion should answer all that you need to know about thermal paste necessities and whether you’ll get them in a CPU box or not. Hey, I don’t blame you; it’s easy to get confused. So, make your purchase wisely as an aftermarket cooler, and thermal paste will cost you a bit extra.

Also, it’s a good idea to keep some extra thermal paste at hand. It’s wise to get the good ones. Just in case you’re swapping CPUs or going for an upgrade.

Hope all the info helped. Adios! Until next time.

Leave a Comment