Does Liquid Cooling Need Thermal Paste?

In today’s world, liquid cooling has become increasingly popular among PC enthusiasts due to its ability to cool down the system more effectively and quietly than air cooling. When it comes to installing a liquid cooling system, the question that arises is whether or not it needs thermal paste.

Thermal paste is a heat conductor that helps transfer heat from the CPU to the cooler efficiently. It is often used in air cooling systems, but in liquid cooling, the water block acts as a cooler, and the radiator transfers heat away from the system. This leaves many people wondering if using thermal paste is necessary when installing a liquid cooling system. In this article, we will delve into whether liquid cooling needs thermal paste or not and when it may be necessary to use it.

Does Liquid Cooling Need Thermal Paste?

Liquid cooling generally does not require thermal paste as it uses a different method of heat transfer compared to traditional air cooling. In liquid cooling, a liquid coolant such as water or a specialized liquid is used to remove heat from the CPU or GPU. The coolant flows through a specialized loop or tubing to a radiator where it is cooled down and then it returns to the CPU or GPU to remove more heat. Hence, the need for thermal paste is minimal.

However, there are certain instances where some parts of the liquid cooling setup may still require thermal paste, such as:

– The water block that is mounted on the CPU or GPU may require a thin layer of thermal paste to ensure proper contact and heat transfer between the block and the processor.
– Some liquid coolers may have a cooling block with a built-in pump that needs to be mounted on the CPU or GPU, which may require thermal paste.
– If using a custom loop liquid cooling setup, there may be other fittings or blocks that require thermal paste.

Overall, whether or not thermal paste is required in a liquid cooling setup depends on the specific components being used and their design. It is always best to refer to the manufacturer’s instructions or consult with an expert before assembling a liquid cooling setup.


1. Question: Does liquid cooling require thermal paste?

Answer: Yes, thermal paste is still essential even in liquid cooling systems. It helps fill any microscopic gaps between the CPU heat spreader and the cooling block to create a more effective thermal interface.

2. Question: Can I use regular thermal paste for my liquid cooling system?

Answer: Yes, you can use regular thermal paste for liquid cooling systems. However, it is recommended to use specialized thermal compounds or liquids that are designed for higher-temperature operations and prolonged durability.

3. Question: Do I have to reapply thermal paste when upgrading my liquid cooling system?

Answer: Yes, you should clean and reapply thermal paste when upgrading or replacing a liquid cooling system. This helps ensure optimal heat transfer and prevent any air gaps or bubbles from forming between the CPU and the cooling block.

4. Question: How much thermal paste should I apply for liquid cooling?

Answer: Depending on the type and quality of the thermal paste, you generally need a small pea-sized amount or a thin layer that covers the entire CPU surface. Applying too much paste can actually hinder heat transfer and cause overheating issues.

5. Question: Can thermal paste affect the lifespan of my liquid cooling system?

Answer: Yes, the quality and application of thermal paste can affect the long-term durability and performance of your liquid cooling system. Using low-quality or incompatible thermal paste can cause clogs, corrosion, or damage to the cooling components over time.


In summary, liquid cooling does not necessarily require thermal paste. While it can certainly provide some benefits, such as improved heat transfer and better contact between the surfaces, it is not always necessary. Ultimately, the decision to use thermal paste in a liquid cooling system will depend on the individual components being used and the specific requirements of the user. However, it is important to ensure that proper cooling measures are taken to prevent any potential damage to your system and to ensure optimal performance.

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