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Arctic MX-4 vs MX-5 vs MX-6

Optimizing thermal management in computer hardware is essential to ensure the longevity and optimal performance of processors, whether in a desktop workstation or a high-performance gaming rig. Thermal compounds, often referred to as thermal pastes, play a pivotal role in bridging the gap between central processing units (CPUs) or graphics processing units (GPUs) and their respective heat sinks. Among the notable contenders in this realm are Arctic’s thermal paste offerings: MX-4, MX-5, and MX-6. Each of these thermal compounds promises to enhance heat dissipation, consequently influencing system temperatures and overall performance. In this comparison of Arctic MX-4 vs MX-5 vs MX-6, we will look into the distinctive attributes of MX-4, MX-5, and MX-6, evaluating their thermal conductivity, compatibility, durability, and user-friendliness. By examining these thermal pastes, users can make informed decisions when seeking optimal thermal solutions for their computing systems.

Importance of Thermal Compounds

Thermal compounds, also known as thermal pastes or thermal interface materials, play a crucial role in the thermal management of electronic devices, particularly in computers. Their importance lies in their ability to improve heat transfer between two surfaces, typically a central processing unit (CPU), graphics processing unit (GPU), or other chip, and a heatsink or cooler.

Electronic components generate heat during operation. Efficient heat transfer is essential to prevent these components from overheating, which can lead to performance degradation, instability, and even hardware damage. Thermal compounds fill in microscopic gaps and imperfections on the surfaces of the CPU/GPU and the heatsink. This direct contact improves heat conduction and allows heat to move away from the component more effectively.

The interface between a CPU/GPU and its heatsink can have air gaps or inconsistencies that hinder heat transfer. These gaps create a barrier known as thermal resistance. Thermal compounds have higher thermal conductivity than air, so they help to decrease this resistance and allow heat to flow more efficiently.

Thermal compounds also help in achieving uniform pressure distribution between the CPU/GPU and the heatsink. Uneven pressure can lead to uneven contact, reducing the effectiveness of heat transfer. The compound acts as a cushion and ensures that the contact is evenly spread.

Without a thermal compound, air pockets can form between the CPU/GPU and the heatsink. Air is a poor conductor of heat, so these pockets decrease heat transfer efficiency. Thermal compounds displace air and fill voids, ensuring better contact and heat conduction.

In addition to heat transfer, thermal compounds often contain materials that protect against corrosion and ensure longevity for both the component and the heatsink.

Most quality thermal compounds are non-electrically conductive. This is important because it prevents accidental electrical connections between the conductive parts of the CPU/GPU and the heatsink, reducing the risk of short circuits.

A good thermal compound retains its properties over time. It doesn’t dry out, harden, or degrade quickly under temperature fluctuations, ensuring consistent heat transfer performance.

Properly applied thermal compounds can contribute to maintaining lower operating temperatures for CPUs and GPUs. Lower temperatures can lead to improved performance and longevity of these components.

While thermal compounds are important, their impact on temperatures can vary depending on factors like the quality of the compound, the design of the cooling solution, and the overall thermal design of the device. Proper application is also crucial; applying too much or too little compound can affect its efficiency.

A Brief Note on Arctic Cooling

Arctic Cooling, often referred to simply as Arctic, is a Swiss-based company that specializes in producing cooling solutions and thermal management products for computers and other electronic devices. The company is known for its range of products designed to improve the cooling efficiency and overall performance of computer components such as CPUs, GPUs, and case fans. Some of the products and categories that Arctic Cooling offers include:

  • Thermal Compounds: Arctic produces thermal compounds, also known as thermal pastes, which are used to improve the heat transfer between a CPU or GPU and its heatsink. These compounds fill microscopic gaps between surfaces to enhance thermal conductivity.
  • CPU and GPU Coolers: Arctic manufactures a variety of air and liquid coolers for CPUs and GPUs. These cooling solutions help dissipate heat effectively, allowing for better performance and lower temperatures.
  • Case Fans: Arctic offers a range of case fans with different sizes and performance levels. These fans are designed to enhance airflow within a computer case, which is crucial for maintaining optimal temperatures.
  • PC Cases: Arctic also produces computer cases designed with efficient airflow and cooling in mind. These cases often include features like optimized fan placements and cable management options.
  • Thermal Pads: In addition to thermal compounds, Arctic produces thermal pads that can be used in various electronic applications to transfer heat between components and heatsinks.
  • Accessories: The company offers various accessories, including fan controllers, extension cables, and adapter cables to assist with the installation and management of cooling components.

Arctic Cooling products are popular among PC enthusiasts, gamers, and professionals who are looking to optimize their computer’s thermal performance. The company focuses on providing cost-effective cooling solutions without compromising quality.

Arctic MX-4

Arctic MX-4 is a popular thermal compound or thermal paste used in computer systems to improve heat transfer between the CPU (Central Processing Unit) or GPU (Graphics Processing Unit) and the heat sink. It helps in reducing the temperature of the processor by filling the microscopic gaps and irregularities on the surface of the CPU or GPU and the heat sink.

The Arctic MX-4 thermal paste is made of carbon microparticles that fill the microscopic dents on the surfaces of processor chips and cooler floors. This results in extremely high thermal conductivity, which quickly and efficiently dissipates heat from the CPU or GPU. It also helps in keeping the CPU or GPU temperatures low, improving overall system performance and stability.

Arctic MX-4 is electrically non-conductive, which means it doesn’t pose any risk of short-circuiting or damaging the components if it accidentally comes in contact with other parts of the system.

The MX-4 thermal compound comes in a syringe-like package in a variety of sizes, from 2 grams to 45 grams. This makes it easy to apply. It has a smooth consistency that spreads evenly over the surface, ensuring good coverage. The resealable packaging prevents the paste from drying out, even after it has been opened.

Arctic MX-4 is compatible with various CPU and GPU sockets, including Intel and AMD processors. It can be used with both desktop and laptop systems. MX-4 is an excellent choice for overclockers and enthusiasts, as well as other applications that require thermal transfer. MX-4 proves that great performance does not always require a high price.


Manufacturer Arctic Cooling
Name MX-4
Density 2.5g/cm3
Viscosity 31600 Poise
Continuous Use Temperature -50°C to 150°C
Thermal Conductivity 8.5 W/mK
Volume Resistivity 3.8 × 1013 Ω-cm
Color Grey
Available Sizes 2g, 4g, 8g, 20g, and 45g

Arctic MX-5

With the success of MX-4, Arctic launched their much anticipated upgrade in the form of the MX-5. It has slightly better conductivity than the previous MX-4 variant and also supports a wider temperature ranges. Similar to the MX-4, the MX-5 also consists of carbon microparticles that fill the microscopic gap between the two surfaces i.e., the CPU/GPU and the heatsink.

What changed is the viscosity of the MX-5 compared to the MX-4. While all this is great on paper, some batches of the Arctic MX-5 showed irregularities in durability, premature hardening, and overall consistency. As a result, Arctic decided to retire the MX-5 in favour of a new and upgraded product.


Manufacturer Arctic Cooling
Name MX-5
Density 3.2g/cm3
Viscosity 550 Poise
Continuous Use Temperature -40°C to 180°C
Thermal Conductivity 9.8 W/mK
Volume Resistivity 1.9 × 1013 Ω-cm
Breakdown Voltage 250 V/mil
Color Blue
Available Sizes 2g, 4g, 8g, 20g, and 50g

Arctic MX-6

After the debacle of the MX-5, Arctic Cooling launched the MX-6, the true successor to the previously popular MX-4. It has roughly 20% better performance than the MX-4. The thermal resistance of MX-4 is 0.0155 K/W but the thermal resistance of the MX-6 is 0.01275 K/W. This lower thermal resistance means the thermal compound allows transfer of more heat through the same surface area.

Arctic MX-6 thermal paste uses carbon fillers to achieve high thermal conductivity. It does not contain any expensive or precious metal particles, and it reaches its maximum performance immediately after application. The silicone gel carrier allows for optimal distribution of the paste, which is achieved through even contact pressure when mounting the heat sink.

The MX-6 is a non-conductive and non-capacitive thermal paste. This means that it is safe to use on electronic components, as it will not cause short circuits or discharges. It is also free of liquid metal components, which can be corrosive and damage radiator bottoms.

MX-6 is suitable for many different applications. It has excellent non-drying and non-bleeding properties, which ensures consistent performance over time. Its viscosity prevents leakage due to the Pump-Out Effect. It is also suitable for direct-die cooling scenarios, which are often used with graphics cards or console processor GPUs.

Arctic MX-6 is available in package sizes from 2 to 8 grams. The resealable syringes prevent the paste from drying out and make it easy to dispense. There are also variants of Arctic MX-6 that come with MX Cleaner. MX Cleaner is a natural substance obtained from citrus essential oil that is completely biodegradable. It allows for simple and residue-free cleaning of the contact surfaces.


Manufacturer Arctic Cooling
Name MX-6
Density 2.6g/cm3
Viscosity 45000 Poise
Continuous Use Temperature -50°C to 150°C
Thermal Conductivity 10.5 W/mK
Volume Resistivity 1.8 × 1012 Ω-cm
Breakdown Voltage 7.5 kV/mm
Color Grey
Available Sizes 2g, 4g, and 8g

Arctic MX-4 vs MX-5 vs MX-6

Arctic MX-4, MX-5, and MX-6 are all thermal pastes that are used to improve heat transfer between the CPU or GPU and the heat sink enhancing system performance and stability. They all have their own advantages and disadvantages.

Arctic MX-4

  • Made of carbon microparticles to fill microscopic gaps and dents on chip surfaces and heat sinks.
  • Offers high thermal conductivity (8.5 W/mK) and density (2.5g/cm3).
  • Suitable for temperatures ranging from -50°C to 150°C.
  • Electrically non-conductive, safe for components.
  • Comes in various sizes (2g to 45g) in a syringe-like package.
  • Color: Grey.
  • Provides excellent coverage and consistency.

Arctic MX-5

  • Slightly better thermal conductivity (9.8 W/mK) than MX-4, with improved temperature range (-40°C to 180°C).
  • Density: 3.2g/cm3.
  • Showed durability issues and inconsistency in some batches, leading to its discontinuation.
  • Comes in sizes from 2g to 50g.
  • Color: Blue.
  • Upgraded from MX-4 but faced issues that prompted its replacement.

Arctic MX-6

  • The “true” successor to MX-4 with around 20% better performance.
  • Lower thermal resistance (0.01275 K/W) compared to MX-4.
  • Offers high thermal conductivity (10.5 W/mK) and density (2.6g/cm3).
  • Suitable for temperatures from -50°C to 150°C.
  • Non-conductive, safe for electronic components.
  • Suitable for direct-die cooling, with excellent non-drying and non-bleeding properties.
  • Available in sizes from 2g to 8g, some packages include MX Cleaner for residue-free cleaning.
  • Color: Grey.
Parameter Arctic MX-4 Arctic MX-5 Arctic MX-6
Density 2.5g/cm3 3.2g/cm3 2.6g/cm3
Viscosity 31600 Poise 550 Poise 45000 Poise
Continuous Use Temperature -50°C to 150°C -40°C to 180°C -50°C to 150°C
Thermal Conductivity 8.5 W/mK 9.8 W/mK 10.5 W/mK
Volume Resistivity 3.8 × 1013 Ω-cm 1.9 × 1013 Ω-cm 1.8 × 1012 Ω-cm
Breakdown Voltage 250 V/mil 7.5 kV/mm
Color Grey Blue Grey
Available Sizes 2g, 4g, 8g, 20g, and 45g 2g, 4g, 8g, 20g, and 50g 2g, 4g, and 8g

Arctic MX-4, MX-5, and MX-6 are thermal compounds designed to improve heat transfer between processors and heat sinks. While MX-5 faced issues and was discontinued, MX-6 emerged as the improved successor to MX-4, offering better thermal performance, non-conductivity, and compatibility with various applications. MX-6 also addresses leakage concerns and offers residue-free cleaning options.

Which is better, MX-4, MX-5, or MX-6?

Among Arctic MX-4, MX-5, and MX-6, the MX-6 is generally considered the better option in terms of thermal performance and features.

  • Thermal Performance: MX-6 offers the best thermal conductivity (10.5 W/mK) among the three, which means it can transfer heat more efficiently. This can lead to lower temperatures for your CPU or GPU compared to MX-4 or MX-5.
  • Thermal Resistance: MX-6 has a lower thermal resistance (0.01275 K/W) compared to MX-4 (0.0155 K/W). Lower thermal resistance indicates better heat transfer capabilities.
  • Durability and Consistency: MX-5 faced issues with durability and consistency, leading to its discontinuation. MX-6 was introduced as the successor with improvements over both MX-4 and MX-5 in terms of performance and reliability.
  • Direct-Die Cooling: MX-6 is specifically mentioned as suitable for direct-die cooling scenarios, which is important for applications like cooling graphics cards or console processor GPUs.
  • Viscosity and Application: While MX-6 has a higher viscosity compared to MX-4, it has properties that prevent leakage due to the Pump-Out Effect. This ensures consistent performance over time and reduces the risk of the thermal paste “pumping out” from between the CPU/GPU and heatsink due to heat cycling.
  • Availability of MX Cleaner: Some packages of MX-6 come with MX Cleaner, which provides an easy and residue-free method for cleaning contact surfaces.

Given these factors, if you are choosing between MX-4, MX-5, and MX-6, MX-6 is the preferable option due to its better thermal performance, improved durability, and features designed to address common thermal paste concerns.


In the world of thermal management solutions, Arctic’s MX-4, MX-5, and MX-6 thermal compounds stand out as key contenders, each offering a unique blend of attributes to cater to diverse computing needs. While the MX-4 has carved a reputation for itself with reliable performance and ease of application, the MX-5 attempted to build on its success but encountered issues that ultimately led to its replacement. Emerging from this, the MX-6 claims the spotlight with superior thermal conductivity, reduced resistance, and a focus on addressing concerns like durability and leakage.

As the technological demands on processors continue to increase, the importance of effective heat dissipation cannot be understated. The choice between these thermal compounds rests on considerations ranging from thermal conductivity and application suitability to long-term reliability. For enthusiasts and professionals seeking peak performance, the MX-6 emerges as a clear choice, offering enhanced thermal transfer, safety for delicate components, and innovative features such as the MX Cleaner for residue-free maintenance.

Ultimately, the decision among the MX-4, MX-5, and MX-6 hinges on the specific requirements and priorities of the user. As we advance into an era of ever-more demanding computing tasks, the right thermal paste can contribute significantly to maintaining system stability, extending hardware lifespan, and unlocking the full potential of modern processors.


What are the main differences between Arctic MX-4, MX-5, and MX-6?

Answer: Arctic MX-4, MX-5, and MX-6 are thermal compounds designed to improve heat transfer between processors and heat sinks. The main differences lie in their thermal conductivity, durability, and application properties. MX-6 offers the highest thermal conductivity, improved durability over MX-5, and features to prevent leakage, making it the superior choice among the three.

Is Arctic MX-6 safe to use on electronic components?

Answer: Yes, Arctic MX-6 is non-conductive and non-capacitive, ensuring it is safe for use on electronic components. This means it won’t cause short circuits or discharges when applied between the CPU/GPU and the heat sink.

What caused the discontinuation of Arctic MX-5?

Answer: Arctic MX-5 faced issues with irregular durability, premature hardening, and overall consistency in some batches, leading to its discontinuation. These concerns prompted Arctic to replace it with the improved MX-6 thermal compound.

Can Arctic MX-6 be used for direct-die cooling scenarios?

Answer: Yes, Arctic MX-6 is suitable for direct-die cooling scenarios, particularly with graphics cards or console processor GPUs. Its properties prevent leakage and ensure consistent performance, making it a good choice for such applications.

Are there any additional benefits to using Arctic MX-6 over MX-4 or MX-5?

Answer: Arctic MX-6 offers around 20% better thermal performance compared to MX-4, as well as improved durability and resistance to leakage compared to MX-5. Some packages of MX-6 also come with MX Cleaner, a substance for residue-free cleaning of contact surfaces.

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