If your GPU is throttling and overheating, there is a high probability that your GPU thermal pads need to be replaced. As you may probably already know, thermal pads are those small blueish rubbery squares that you can find underneath heatsinks of various PC components. They are there to fill the gap between the heatsink and the chip, and also to draw the heat away from the chip in order to cool it down. If the thermal pad deteriorates and loses its ability to conduct heat, then you may find yourself in trouble, as your PC component may start overheating.
Read also: The Best M.2 PCIe Adapters for NVMe SSDs
Compared to thermal pastes, which are semi-solid paste-like substances, thermal pads are made of solid material that is usually soft and foam-like. Thermal pads can be found in different thicknesses in order to fill uneven gaps between the heat sources and the heatsink. In general, thermal pads feature lower heat conductivity then thermal pastes, but are much more convenient for cooling components that generate less heat compared to a CPU or a GPU, such as VRMs, GPU memory chips, motherboard chipsets, etc. They are also much more easier to install, and are more cleaner than thermal pastes.
Thermal pads are also used in video game consoles, such as Xbox or PlayStation, as well as various other devices, such as laptops, routers, and repeaters. They are also used for cooling memory modules (RAM, VRAM), 3D printers, PCBs, and DIY electronic devices, such as Raspberry Pi and Arduino.
Thermal pads are available in different thicknesses (usually 0.5 – 2.0 mm) and sizes (rectangular, square). High-quality thermal pads have better “k values”, which are measured in watts per meter-Kelvin (W/mK). The higher the k value is, the more heat the pad will be able to transfer to the heatsink, and vice versa. Some thermal pads are also more rougher than the others, while some even feature state-of-the-art heat conductive materials, which are on par with the carbon-based thermal pastes in terms of heat conductivity.
When replacing your old thermal pads, be sure to replace them with the same thickness as the pads already on there. If you go with the thinner pad, you run the risk of not full contacting the PCB component itself with the heatsink. If you use too thick pad you might prevent the PCB component from contacting the heatsink at all.
There are various thermal pad brands available on the market. Some of them produce cheap low-quality thermal pads, while some of them make more expensive, yet higher-quality thermal pads. Given the fact that there are so many of them, it is quite easy to get overwhelmed by the sheer amount of their offerings on the market. Fortunately, we’ve done the homework for you, so that you could easily pick the right thermal pad for yourself. Scroll down below to see the best thermal pads you can buy today.
Best for CPUs:
Best for Consoles:
Best Overall: Fujipoly Ultra Extreme XR-m Thermal Pads
Thermal Conductivity: 17 W/mK | Thickness: 0.5 – 1.5 mm | Color: Light Gray
In the world of thermal pads, Fujipoly is widely known as one of the best and the most reputable brands. Although its thermal pads are quite expensive (compared to other brands), they are well-known for their impressive thermal conductivity, as well as quality. The Ultra Extreme XR-m series of thermal pads represent Fujipoly’s top-tier thermal pads, and as such are perfectly suited for use in high-end graphics cards.
On average, these pads are able to lower the temperature of GeForce RTX 3090’s memory modules by up to 15°C compared to stock thermal pads, which is simply an extraordinary result. The Ultra Extreme XR-m thermal pads are custom cut in smaller, more applicable sizes, and can also be used in laptops, gaming consoles, voltage regulators, etc. The only downside is that they are quite expensive, but they are well worth the price.
Best for CPUs: Thermal Grizzly Carbonaut
Thermal Conductivity: 62.5 W/mK | Thickness: 0.2 mm | Color: Carbon Gray
The Thermal Grizzly Carbonaut thermal pads are the heavyweight champions of the world of thermal pads. These carbon-based thermal pads can boast with a mind-blowing thermal conductivity of 62.5 W/mK, which makes them perfect for cooling hot PC components such as CPUs. Given the fact that these pads are electrically conductive, and only 0.2 mm thick, they are not very well suited for use in GPUs. With a price of around $80 per 100 grams, these are also one of the most expensive thermal pads out there. However, there is really quite nothing like these on the market, especially when given the fact that you can cool a mighty AMD Threadripper CPU with these thermal pads.
Best for Consoles: Thermalright Extreme Odyssey Thermal Pads
Thermal Conductivity: 12.8 W/mK | Thickness: 0.5 – 3.0 mm | Color: Gray
Thermalright Extreme Odyssey Thermal Pads are one of the very few thermal pads on the market that are officially certified for use in PlayStation 5 and PlayStation 4 consoles. But besides being great for use in consoles, they are also well-suited for cooling other electronic devices, such as GPUs, CPUs, heatsinks, power LED strips, laptops, solid-state drives, set-top boxes, Blu-ray players, and so on.
Thermalright Extreme Odyssey pads can boast with high thermal conductivity of 12.8 W/mK, and they are made of silica gel material, meaning that they don’t conduct electricity. Thermalright Extreme Odyssey pads are available in thicknesses of 0.5 to 3.0 mm, and all comes with adhesive surface. Another big plus is that they’re made of non-curing, and non-toxic material, which makes them environmentally-friendly.
Best Value: Gelid Solutions GP Ultimate 12W
Thermal Conductivity: 15 W/mK | Thickness: 0.5 – 3.0 mm | Color: Blue
Gelid GP Ultimate thermal pads are a perfect solution for users who are looking for high-quality thermal pads that offer best value for money. These fairly affordable thermal pads are almost as effective as Fujipoly’s top-tier thermal pads, yet they cost significantly less. Featuring a thermal conductivity specification of 15 W/mK, the Gelid GP Ultimate pads are perfectly suited for cooling GPU memory modules, VRMs, RAM modules, NVMe SSDs, high-end microcontrollers, and other SMD components. They are available in thicknesses ranging from 0.5 to 3.0 mm, and in sizes of 90 x 50 mm, 120 x 20 mm, and 120 x 120 mm.
Best for NVMe SSDs: Thermal Grizzly Minus Pad 8
Thermal Conductivity: 8 W/mK | Thickness: 0.5 – 2.0 mm | Color: Gold
If you have a high-end NVMe SSD that produces a lot of heat, such as the Samsung 970 EVO Plus, then you should consider getting a high-quality thermal pad to draw away the heat from it. Thermal Grizzly Minus Pad 8 is one of the best thermal pads specifically optimized for cooling NVMe SSDs. All Minus Pad 8 pads are available in size of 120 x 20 mm, and are available in thickness of 0.5 to 2.0 mm. The Minus Pad 8 pads are made of ceramic silicone and nano-aluminum oxide material, feature self-adhesive surface, and can boast with thermal conductivity of 8 W/mK. These pads are also great for use in consoles such as PlayStation 5, as well as Macbook laptops.
Best Budget: Outus Silicone Thermal Pad
Thermal Conductivity: 6 W/mK | Thickness: 0.5 – 1.5 mm | Color: Light Blue
If you want to spend as little money as possible on your next thermal pad, then consider checking out the Outus Silicone Thermal Pads. These are one of the cheapest thermal pads you can find on Amazon, since for a price of $10 you get 30 pieces of quality pads made of thermal silica gel. The only catch is that these pads have a thermal conductivity of only 6 W/mK, which makes them useful only for cooling chips that have low heat output. Like many other silicone pads, these are non-corrosive and don’t conduct electricity, meaning they are safe for use in a wide range of electronic devices. The Outus thermal pads are available in thicknesses of 0.5, 1.0, and 1.5 mm, and are available in size of 67 x 20 mm.
There’s a long-running debate about whether thermal pastes are superior over thermal pads. The fact is that they both get the job done. The decision between the two is based on design and production needs.
Thermal paste wets out exceedingly well, resulting in an incredibly thin bond-line and consequently excellent performance at a very cheap unit cost. It may, however, be untidy and difficult to regulate. Precision equipment is necessary for uniform application, as hand application is practically difficult to achieve.
This can be a costly piece of capital equipment that also requires regular upkeep. Furthermore, long-term performance deterioration of thermal grease can occur owing to variables such as pump-out, heat cracking, and capillary attraction.
Thermal pads do this by acting as both excellent gap fillers and efficient conductors. Wet-out refers to the pad’s capacity to fill microscopic gaps in the assembly, and softer materials tend to wet-out better than stiffer materials. The inherent conductivity of a thermal interface material is measured in Watts per meter-Kelvin (W/mK), and the greater the W/mK figure is, the better that material is in transferring heat.