Both thermal pads and thermal grease offer many advantages, but it can be difficult to know which is the best choice for certain applications or environments. When it’s a choice between thermal pads vs thermal paste, which is the better solution?
Thermal paste will conform to the surface it’s applied to, filling in all the inconsistencies in the material and removing any air gaps. This will improve thermal conductivity and heat transfer as the paste effectively forms a coating over the surface between the components. By contrast, thermal pads provide a similar function, but may not eliminate the most microscopic air gaps. Paste can adapt to the surface texture, whereas pads will compress to the surface, just not providing quite as tight coverage as thermal paste.
Another difference is in ease of application. Thermal pads are relatively straightforward to use. They typically have a sticky backing that must be peeled off, then the pad can simply be placed into position. With thermal paste, though, the application must be precise to ensure the area is fully covered and avoid getting the paste anywhere other than the surface where it needs to be applied.
Lastly, the durability and longevity of the solution must also be considered. Thermal pads do have a limited lifespan due to the material they are made from. The exact lifespan will vary depending on the quality of the pad as well as external factors like application and environment, but it’s important to be aware that thermal paste or grease will typically last longer than a thermal pad.
However, both options are good solutions for temperature reduction. There is only likely to be approximately half a degree difference between using thermal pads or thermal paste in most standard applications.