The central processing unit, or CPU for short, usually ships with a stock cooler if bought new. This is the usual treatment that you get when buying a new CPU, but not always. Some CPUs can come either with or without the stock cooler. But do CPUs come with thermal paste?
If you are buying a brand-new CPU that comes inside a box and with the stock cooler, thermal paste will typically be pre-applied to the cooler. This means that the CPU does come with thermal paste, but it is not applied to the chip itself.
So, do CPUs come with thermal paste? They sort of do, but not always. For example, the Ryzen 5 1600 came with a stock cooler that had pre-applied thermal paste, but the more expensive Ryzen 5 1600X did not. The premise of that idea is that the 1600X will be more popular among enthusiasts who like to overclock, but practice showed the opposite, more or less. That is because the Ryzen 5 1600X was essentially overclocked out of the box, whereas the Ryzen 1600 could reach similar performance with a slight overclock.
So, do CPUs come with thermal paste from Intel or AMD? By reading this, you will know which CPUs come with thermal paste when bought new and which do not.
Do AMD CPUs Come With Thermal Paste?
Most AMD CPUs ship with the appropriate AMD Wraith stock cooler. If the CPU is bought new and comes inside the big square box, it will probably have a stock cooler with thermal paste in it. Some models, as mentioned before, do not ship with stock coolers.
What this means for you is that you will have to buy an aftermarket cooler and probably thermal paste as well to go with it if you buy a CPU without the cooler. For both AMD and the consumer, selling the CPU without the stock cooler can bring a few benefits.
The CPU box will be a bit smaller and lighter, allowing for cheaper, faster, and more efficient shipping. Also, the cost will be lower to produce, making the end product a bit cheaper for the consumer as well, provided that you have sufficient cooling already or planned to buy it anyway. Shipping without the cooler means that there is no chance of the stock cooler arriving dead on arrival, so you have one less thing to worry about when it comes to RMAing products.
So, given all the benefits that shipping without a cooler comes with, you can understand AMD’s logic behind that. So, do CPUs come with thermal paste and stock cooler on AMD? If the answer is no, which CPUs do not come with them?
We have already mentioned the Ryzen 5 1600X from 2017, but what other CPUs come without the stock cooler and pre-applied thermal paste? The most notable ones are the Ryzen 7 3800XT and the Ryzen 9 3900XT. These are the most expensive and high-end CPUs that AMD makes for consumer computers, so it sort of makes sense.
People who plan to buy these chips already have their aftermarket cooling solution or plan to buy one. This is why Amazon loves to bundle these CPUs with good aftermarket all-in-ones, making them a pretty good deal. These CPUs run pretty hot, so you want a high-end CPU cooler to go with them anyway.
Something like the AMD Wraith Prism stock cooler is not something to scoff at, but an aftermarket cooler will do a much better job at cooling these high-end chips. Since the Ryzen 7 3800XT and Ryzen 9 3900XT are chips created for enthusiasts who like to overclock, AMD’s logic only makes sense.
Another AMD chip that comes without the stock cooler and pre-applied thermal paste is the Ryzen Threadripper 3990X workstation CPU. This chip costs a little under $4,000, so it again makes perfect sense. People buying this chip will pair it with the most expensive cooler they can find anyway, so shipping it with a stock cooler and thermal paste would just be wasteful.
So, do CPUs come with thermal paste from AMD? It depends on which one you get, but most of them do. Since the thermal paste is not pre-applied on the CPU itself but the stock cooler, it means that you will be getting the pre-applied thermal paste as long as you are buying a chip with the AMD Wraith stock cooler.
Does Intel CPU Come With Thermal Paste?
Now that we have covered AMD, what’s the situation with Intel? Do CPUs come with thermal paste here? The same is true for Intel: All new Intel CPUs that ship with the stock cooler will also have the pre-applied thermal paste. Now, it is important to note that the stock thermal paste on both AMD and Intel is not the best quality, so you might want to replace it with something of higher quality anyway.
In addition to that, the Intel stock cooler is much worse at doing its job than AMD Wraith stock coolers. This is because Intel has been using what is essentially the same stock cooler for decades now. So do CPUs come with thermal paste and stock cooler on Intel? If you are buying a regular CPU, it will probably come with the stock cooler but always make sure to double-check.
Now you might wonder which Intel CPUs ship without the stock cooler. The answer is simple – all enthusiast-grade CPUs ship without the stock cooler. Since Intel is aware that their stock cooler is bad, they ship a significantly larger number of models without it than AMD.
For example, while the enthusiast mid-range AMD Ryzen 5 3600XT comes with a Wraith Spire cooler, the equivalent Intel Core i5-10600K comes without one. It seems that all Intel Core CPUs that have the “K” suffix in their model name (e.g. i5-10600KF, i3-9350KF, i9-10850K, etc.), as well as all X-series chips come without a stock cooler.
Both the “K” CPUs and the X-series are designed for enthusiasts, so it makes sense. In case you have not heard of the X-series chips, the X stands for extreme. Those are all Intel CPUs that have the X suffix, just like with K (e.g. i9-10980XE, i5-6950X, i7-9800X, etc.). Both the K and X series are Intel’s unlocked chips, so it does make sense.
People who own these enthusiast-grade CPUs plan to or already have a good aftermarket cooler, so sending the horrible Intel stock cooler would just be wasteful and more expensive to ship. People buying these CPUs plan to do some serious overclocking or have the chips run at max boost clocks anyway.
So, do CPUs come with thermal paste and stock cooler for Intel? Some of them do, but you have to be careful. Essentially all non-enthusiast Intel CPUs come with a stock cooler that has pre-applied thermal paste. The Intel Core i5-10400F, for example, comes with a stock cooler that does an all right job. Even then, you might consider buying a better cooler and perhaps upgrading from the stock thermal paste.
So, do CPUs come with thermal paste? If they ship with the stock cooler, they will have thermal paste pre-applied on the bottom. Remember that you will most likely have to remove a thin plastic foil from the thermal paste. It ships like that because it prevents the thermal paste from drying out. If you do not remove it before installing the cooler, you will see that your CPU will overheat and shut down.
If you are buying an enthusiast-grade CPU from either Intel or AMD, you will have to buy an aftermarket cooler and thermal paste to go with it. With AMD, those are the high-end Ryzen 7 3800XT and Ryzen 9 3900XT. All other AMD chips come with stock AMD Wraith coolers that will have pre-applied thermal paste on the bottom.
With Intel, all non-K and non-X CPUs will have the stock cooler with the pre-applied thermal paste. You must bear that in mind when shopping for a new CPU because having to buy an aftermarket cooler is also a major part of the price in the end. Just because of this reason alone, you might want to buy an AMD Ryzen CPU rather than an Intel Core CPU.
While the AMD Ryzen 5 3600XT mid-range CPU comes with a great stock cooler, the Intel Core i5-10600K does not. Considering the fact that the Ryzen is cheaper, performs better, and has a stock cooler included, it makes little sense to go with Intel.
We hope that you now know which CPU to buy if you care about the thermal paste and stock cooler. Remember that if you do plan to buy an aftermarket cooler, it will most likely come with some decent thermal paste as well. Nonetheless, most CPUs do come with the stock cooler, which means that they will also have thermal paste.