This TikTok account is testing weird thermal paste patterns so you don't have to

The Half-Life logo drawn in thermal paste on a CPU
(Image credit: MrYeester)
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Which thermal paste pattern is best? This is a hotly-debated question that I'm sure most PC builders have an opinion on. Personally, I'm a line guy, especially with the introduction of Intel's long LGA 1700 chips. But there's also the blob, the X, the circle, and many more you could probably make a decent argument for.

What about the Discord logo? Or a smiley face? Or the Half-Life logo? That's what Tiktok account MrYeester (opens in new tab) is attempting to prove with his latest round of PC experimentation, which includes seeing which known-brand logo is best for keeping your chip cool.

The best thermal paste pattern is all about coverage. You want to squish your cooler onto your chip and in doing so spread the thermal paste around to cover the chip's heat spreader in its entirety. To mimic this process, MyYeester has been trying out various thermal paste patterns and then squishing them down using a piece of glass, so we can see the end result.

@mryeester (opens in new tab)

♬ original sound - mryeester (opens in new tab)
@mryeester (opens in new tab)

♬ Sunroof - Nicky Youre & dazy (opens in new tab)
@mryeester (opens in new tab)

♬ Something In The Way (From "The Batman") - Geek Music (opens in new tab)
@mryeester (opens in new tab)

♬ original sound - Lonely Bunker (opens in new tab)

Perhaps unsurprisingly, lathering the Discord logo onto your chip offers a relatively decent coverage of the chip. Though admittedly the lower portion of his AMD AM4 processor wasn't properly covered in the end. The more surprising and likely useful testing was comparing the square and circle patterns, which showed that neither really covered the centre of your chip. That's probably the worst-case scenario, as the centre tends to be a hotspot for silicon.

I guess what it comes down to is time versus effectiveness, and let's be honest MrYeester was liberally lathering thermal paste for some of these designs. If you put half a tube of paste on your chip I'm sure it'll get good coverage no matter what pattern you go with.

Cooling off

Cooler Master MasterLiquid ML360R and EK-AIO Basic 240 CPU coolers on a two-tone grey background

(Image credit: Cooler Master, EKWB)

Best AIO cooler for CPUs (opens in new tab): All-in-one, and one for all... components.
Best CPU air coolers (opens in new tab): CPU fans that don't go brrr.

But it's another fun 'what if?' from the channel, which I first discovered back when he attempted to connect as many RAM sticks using risers as his system would allow. He managed a leaning tower of five RAM sticks, by the way. And of course it made the PC absolutely worse in many ways.

The channel also once used a car tyre to apply thermal paste to a CPU. On the one hand, the CPU has thermal paste on it now. Yippee. On the other hand, it probably doesn't need it anymore.

If you're in need of actual thermal paste advice, generally it's better to have too much than too little. If you're a bit more generous with your paste, you'll probably be okay whichever way you apply it (within reason). Generally a line or X in the middle of your chip will suffice for most, and if it's a longer chip like Intel's 12th or 13th Gen, make sure to stretch your pattern out a little further to ensure full coverage.

Jacob Ridley
Senior Hardware Editor

Jacob earned his first byline writing for his own tech blog from his hometown in Wales in 2017. From there, he graduated to professionally breaking things as hardware writer at PCGamesN, where he would later win command of the kit cupboard as hardware editor. Nowadays, as senior hardware editor at PC Gamer, he spends his days reporting on the latest developments in the technology and gaming industry. When he's not writing about GPUs and CPUs, however, you'll find him trying to get as far away from the modern world as possible by wild camping.