Does Arctic Silver Thermal Paste Expire / Go Bad?
This article explains whether it is safe to use several years old thermal paste / grease. A few months ago I needed to replace a motherboard, which meant removing the heatsink fan from the processor. Because of the way thermal paste works, this also meant cleaning off the old thermal pad / paste / grease and apply a new coat to ensure the best possible heat transfer between the processor and heat sink fan.
I had old tubes of Arctic Silver 5, Arctic Silver 7, and Arctic Silver Ceramique lying around – each only having been used once in personal computer builds. I did not want to spend another $10 or so buying another tube, then having 80% of the product go to waste.
I tried testing the Arctic Silver 7 by squeezing out a bid of the goop onto a test surface. At first, only a clear oil-like substance came out, but then the silver colored particles appeared like normal. The substance was not tried out or flaky, so all seemed well but first I wanted to do more research.
Well, Is it Okay To Use?
I couldn’t find any information online, so I went to Arctic Silver’s limited website. There was also a lack of information there, so I emailed their customer support.
Arctic Silver’s customer support responded very quickly and reluctantly confirmed that yes, it should be okay to use. I say reluctantly because I’m sure Arctic Silver does not want to be blamed for any problems caused. The “canned response” as they put it – was to recommend 12 months, refrigerated, for strict military specifications. However he went on to say that as long as the material was fully mixed, it would be fine.
Instructions for Using Old Arctic Silver and Most Other Thermal Paste / Grease
(and most other thermal paste and grease) – Squeeze out a few dabs of the substance onto a scrap surface like a piece of paper or plastic, then throw that away. You’l likely get a clear fluid that comes out first: squeeze until the “silver” colored material of the Artic Silver starts coming out, well mixed. Make sure what you are squeezing out is well mixed and not flaky or clumpy or dried out.
Set the tube nose down for a day or two. This will make sure the “silver” floats to the bottom of the tube, ready to be applied. Before applying to the processor, be sure to push put a bit more to make sure it looks smooth, liquid, and well-mixed. Be sure to follow the instructions for proper application, including not applying too much. Different processors recommend different methods for spreading out (or NOT spreading out) the thermal paste, so be sure to check the Arctic Silver documentation for your specifics. Note that the author of this article is not responsible for any problems or damages caused.
Storage to Ensure Longevity
Be sure to have stored it securely capped (I’d also recommend in a sealed plastic bag or container to help), hopefully in a location that does not get too hot or too cold. If at all possible, store the tube nose down. Note that I stored my tube of Arctic Silver on its side, in a box, without being sealed airtight, that was left outside for multiple days during the winter, so its not strictly important to do these things.
Using this information, I used 6 year old Arctic Silver on a Sandybridge i5 2500k processor and its working great. I saw temperatures drop a few degrees after switching to this old Arctic Silver compared to the thermal pad that came applied to the retail processor fan. Nothing else changed except the Arctic Silver instead of the retail thermal pad, so since temps have dropped and remained lower, I know everything is fine!
If you still need to purchase a new tube of Arctic Silver, you can find it at Amazon here: Arctic Silver 5 Thermal Compound