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What are Thermal Pads? Everything You Need to Know

You might have noticed some PC builders placing thin, gray pads on their CPUs or GPUs, achieving impressive cooling performance without the mess of thermal paste. These pads are called thermal pads, and while they fly under the radar, they play an important role in heat dissipation.

In this article, we will learn more about thermal pads and discuss their benefits, drawbacks, and more. Let’s get started!

What is a Thermal Pad?

Grey thermal pad

Thermal pads (aka thermally conductive pads) are thin, soft materials used to transfer heat in electronic devices. They fill the space between a heat-generating component, like a processor, and a heat sink.

Made from conductive materials like silicone or graphite, they replace air gaps with a more heat-conductive medium. This ensures better heat dissipation, keeping devices like CPUs and GPUs cool and efficient.

Thermal pads are user-friendly, making them ideal for both professionals and beginners in electronics.

Installation of Thermal Pads

White thermal pad on a graphics card

Installing a thermal pad is a straightforward process. The key step is proper alignment on the surface where it will be installed. For example, when fitting a thermal pad onto a CPU, you just need to position the pad so that it covers the processor evenly. Once aligned, you can proceed to install your CPU cooler on top.

It’s important to choose the right size for your specific device to ensure optimal heat transfer.

For instance, the Thermal Grizzly Carbonaut thermal pad is available in sizes tailored for both Intel and AMD processors, as well as for RTX graphics cards.

Selecting the correct size prevents overlap or inadequate coverage, which can impact cooling efficiency. You can find specific size details on the official website or online stores.

You may also like: Best Thermal Pads in 2024

Benefits and Drawbacks of Thermal Pads

So far, everything discussed about thermal pads might sound amazing, and some of you may wonder why they’re not as popular as thermal paste. Let’s break down the pros and cons to understand better.

Benefits of Thermal Pads

  1. Ease of Use: Thermal pads are incredibly user-friendly. They eliminate the mess and guesswork involved in applying thermal paste.
  2. No Drying Out: Thermal pads don’t dry out over time like some thermal pastes, maintaining their effectiveness for longer periods.
  3. Reusability: Thermal pads can be reused, making them cost-effective in the long run.
  4. Precise Application: They allow for precise application with no risk of spilling or spreading onto other components.
  5. No Cleaning Hassles: Unlike thermal paste, thermal pads don’t leave residue on the CPU, making them easier to remove and clean.

Drawbacks of Thermal Pads

  • Thickness Limitations: The fixed thickness of pads might not be ideal for all applications, especially where minimal gaps exist.
  • Slightly Lower Performance: While thermal pads effectively conduct heat, they typically perform slightly less efficiently than thermal paste, but the difference isn’t drastically significant.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I touch thermal pads?

Yes, you can touch thermal pads. While it’s generally good practice to handle any component with care, touching a thermal pad doesn’t significantly affect its performance. The thermal efficiency of the pad will not be compromised by the slight residue from skin oils.

Is it okay to reuse thermal pads?

It is often okay to reuse thermal pads as long as they haven’t dried out or shown signs of wear and tear.


We hope you found this article helpful about thermal pads. Feel free to share in the comments if you’re considering giving them a try, or if you have any more questions. Your thoughts and queries are always welcome!

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Hi, I’m Abdelkader, a gamer and the founder of Gamer Around. I’ve been into gaming for the past 20 years and I love to share my passion and experience with you. Throughout these years, I managed to build a decent amount of knowledge and experience in PC hardware, but I’m always learning and improving.

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