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Eventually, the pre-applied thermal grease in our processors and GPUs will wear or dry out. You will notice an increase in your system temperature if this has happened already. If you are not constantly monitoring the temperatures as enthusiasts do, you will find this out when your computer suddenly turns off. In other cases, your PC will fry out and die altogether.
If you want this not to happen, it is best if you invest in a high-quality thermal paste. Not only does it help protect your devices, but it also boosts their performance. Fortunately for you today, we are comparing two thermal pastes from known thermal solutions companies. We are going to put the ARCTIC MX-4 and the Noctua NT-H1 head-to-head in a comparison. Let’s find out which is better, shall we?
ARCTIC MX-4 vs Noctua NT-H1 – Similarities
Let’s review the specifics in a side by side chart.
|Composition||Carbon Microparticles||Synthetic Oil Mixture|
|Thermal Conductivity||8.5 W/mK||Not available|
|Viscosity||870 Poise||500000 Cps|
|Density||2.5 g/cu-cm||2.49 g/cu-cm|
|Net Weight||2 / 4 / 8 / 20 / 45 grams||3.5 grams|
|Recommended Usage Time||Up to 8 years||5+ years|
|Price||Check Price on Amazon||Check Price on Amazon|
Not Electrically Conductive
The only similarity I can see between them is their electrical conductivity or lack thereof. Both the ARCTIC MX-4 and Noctua NT-H1 are composed of materials that are not electrically conductive. Therefore, you can rest easier applying either knowing that they will not impose risks on your computer. Aside from this and their roughly identical density, everything about the MX-4 and NT-H1 are different.
ARCTIC MX-4 vs Noctua NT-H1 – Differences
Material and Composition
The material and mixture of a thermal paste is important because it dictates its cooling properties.
The ARCTIC MX-4 uses carbon microparticles as a medium to transfer heat from the processor to the heatsink; thus, it has a high thermal conductivity. Unlike other thermal pastes such as liquid metal, the MX-4 is metal-free and not electrically conductive. Therefore, it does not impose the risk of shorting out your system.
Noctua did not provide on its website what the NT-H1 is made of. With some digging and a little research, I found out that the NT-H1 is a synthetic oil mixture in its safety sheet. It’s unusual for a manufacturer to leave this information out. All that we know about the NT-H1 is that it is not electrically conductive. With that said, it’s a tie for now.
The Winner Is- It’s A Tie
RELATED: Arctic Silver 5 vs ARCTIC MX-4
This is the category that all has been waiting for. The thermal performance of a thermal paste is its most important attribute. Let’s see how both perform.
The thermal performance of a compound is most often not stated by the manufacturer, rather they let the professional benchmarks do the talking for them. With that said, the ARCTIC MX-4 performs quite nicely at 36.9 degrees Celsius for an air-cooled CPU. Moreover, on the GPU side of things, it produces an average temperature of 67.5 degrees Celsius. These temperatures can be considered impressive since it is among one of the bests.
Although we do not know what the NT-H1 is made of, we do know its performance. Noctua refuses to show its thermal conductivity, stating that this specification does not guarantee real-life performance. Moreover, they included that many other factors may affect this number that other manufacturers may manipulate to make their products more compelling to buy. In terms of NT-H1’s performance, it is inferior compared with the MX-4. Its temperatures are 37.1 degrees Celsius for an air-cooled CPU and 68 degrees Celsius for an air-cooled GPU, according to benchmarks. Although it is marginally worse than the MX-4, it is a relatively great performance considering it is cheaper. If you are targeting the best thermal performance, go for the ARCTIC MX-4.
The Winner Is- ARCTIC MX-4
Not regularly replacing the thermal compound in your computer is convenient. You don’t have to open your computer cases that often. Let’s see how long these thermal pastes last.
Thermal pastes should not be reapplied more than once every few years, at least that’s what Intel is telling us. Enthusiasts recommend replacing it once every year, however. To add to its superior thermal performance, the ARCTIC MX-4 has better longevity, too. ARCTIC promises that the MX-4 can last up to 8 years without getting dried up. This is impressive to accomplish because most people will have new PCs by then. The ARCTIC MX-4 is available in many size variants: 2 / 4 / 8 / 20 / 45 grams.
Noctua NT-H1 is a high-quality thermal paste that can last more than 5 years. You can store it for up to 3 years, according to Noctua. This paste also has no break-in or burn-in period, unlike most thermal compounds. Therefore, the NT-H1 is ready-to-go out of the packaging and does not require any special preparations. The Noctua NT-H1 is available in 3.5 grams which can be used from 3 to 20 applications depending on the size of the processor.
The Winner Is- ARCTIC MX-4
Pros and Cons
Finally, some pros and cons of the thermal paste ARCTIC MX-4 and Noctua NT-H1 will help us determine which is the best option.
- The ARCTIC MX-4 does not contain any metal; thus, it does not impose the risk of shorting your system.
- It has a marginally superior thermal performance that is perfect for overclocking purposes.
- One application of the MX-4 can last for 8 years.
- Its 4-gram variant is more expensive than the NT-H1 considering they have nearly similar performance.
- The Noctua NT-H1 performs relatively great considering it is the cheaper of the two.
- The NT-H1 does not require a curing time.
- A 3.5 gram of the NT-H1 can last you for 3 to 20 applications with a 3-year storing time.
- It has shorter longevity; thus, you will have to reapply it more regularly.
The Final Verdict: ARCTIC MX-4 vs Noctua NT-H1
Although the real-life performances of both the ARCTIC MX-4 and Noctua NT-H1 are close, it will make a huge difference if you are into overclocking. Since both brands are reputable, I suggest you pick out the cheaper option. This is especially true if you are just looking for a thermal paste that will replace the stock thermal grease on your computer. In that case, you can pick the Noctua NT-H1 since it is 2/3 the price of an ARCTIC MX-4. Otherwise, go ahead and get an ARCTIC MX-4 if performance is important to you.