Change the graphics thermal paste every year, myth or reality?

There is a popular belief that, at least from time to time and as with processor coolers , from time to time we have to “gut” the graphics card to change its thermal paste. There are “urban legends” and “experts” everywhere about it, from those who say that you should never do it to those who say that it is necessary to do it at least once a year, so in this article we are going to shed some light on matter and resolve once and for all doubts.

As in the PC processor, the graphics card has a GPU that produces quite a lot of heat, which is why all modern graphics cards are equipped with a heatsink, almost always with fans to provide active cooling so that it can run at a good temperature. And of course, if there are two elements between which heat must be transferred (the GPU and the heatsink), the use of thermal paste is necessary to guarantee maximum transfer. But, does it happen the same as in the CPU?

Change the graphics thermal paste every year

Beware of the guarantee

For starters, we’ll start by telling you to forget about “change the thermal paste on your graphics card once a year.” By law, in Spain all products have a 2-year warranty , and if you open the graphics card to change its thermal paste, you will lose that warranty and with it your right to claim if the device breaks down. Therefore, before considering anything, make sure that your graphics card is out of its warranty period (be careful, many have 3 and even 5 years and not the normal 2).

tarjeta grafica amd Radeon rx referencia

And if you notice that the temperature of the graphics card has been gradually rising but it is still under warranty? If you have noticed that this is happening to you, it is possible that the time has come to change the thermal paste, but we do not recommend that you do it while it is under warranty; If it happens to you, start by cleaning the graphics outside but without disassembling it, and if the excess temperature has become a problem, then take advantage of the fact that it is under warranty and process it with the manufacturer.

Therefore, that “change the thermal paste to the graphics card once a year” is completely demystified.

OK, so how often do you change the thermal paste?

We are not going to deny that, from the factory, the thermal paste that manufacturers of graphics cards usually use is neither too good, nor that the way to apply it is the most optimal (we refer both to the opening photo of this article like the one we are going to put below), so if your graphics card is already out of warranty and you have begun to notice that the operating temperature (and noise) is excessive, it may be time to renew it.

Pasta térmica gráfica

But, going back to the premise that we have put in this section, how often is it advisable to change the thermal paste of the graphics card? The answer is that there is no exact answer, since it depends on many factors: the manufacturer and the quality of the paste used at the factory, the time of use, the environmental humidity conditions, the normal operating temperature of the graph etc.

Therefore, our recommendation is that you always try to keep the graphics card clean and free of dust, and that you do not think of disassembling it to change the thermal paste until you notice that it is running too hot. Be careful, this is our personal recommendation based on our experience, because it is true that some thermal pastes can degrade too much due to excessive temperatures and the passage of time, leaving them almost solid and in poor condition. The main problem is that we cannot know if the graphics thermal paste is in bad condition until we open it to check it…

What thermal paste is recommended for a GPU?

Actually, it is not that there are specific thermal pastes for graphics cards, since in the end its operation is still something almost identical to how it works between a processor and its heatsink. For this reason, any good CPU thermal paste will work perfectly for the GPU, although from our own experience we would also recommend quite viscous pastes, which are more difficult to apply but degrade less over time.

All in all, if you want our recommendation, we would go for the new Arctic MX-6, which is perfect for these purposes and is not too expensive.

Another thermal paste that due to its viscosity and durability (the manufacturer says it lasts several years without a problem) we would recommend is the CORSAIR XTM50, which you can find here.