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Noctua NA-TPG1 review: shields your AMD CPU from thermal paste

Avoid getting thermal paste stuck in the notches of your AMD Ryzen 7000 CPU heatspreader, with this Socket AM5 thermal paste guard.

Noctua NA-TPG1 review: Thermal paste guard and AMD Socket AM5 CPU

Our Verdict

The Noctua NA-TPG1 might cost a lot of money for a small piece of film, but it makes a world of difference when you're installing an AMD Socket AM5 CPU. It makes applying thermal paste much less messy, and stops you getting paste into the notches on your processor's heatspreader.

Reasons to buy
  • Makes AM5 CPU installation much less messy
  • Easy to use
  • Bundles with wipes available
Reasons to avoid
  • Expensive for what it is
  • Shame it's needed at all

The Noctua NA-TPG1 is designed to stop you getting any goo lodged in the notches of your heatspreader when you apply thermal paste to your new AMD Socket AM5 CPU, acting as a thermal paste guard.

AMD Socket AM5 CPUs, such as the Ryzen 7 7800X3D offer a huge step up in performance compared to Ryzen 5000-series chips, and you’re even able to use Socket AM4 coolers on Socket AM5 chips, as long as they don’t use a custom backplate. However, it can be a messy business when you apply thermal paste to these new CPUs, which is why Noctua has come to the rescue.

Design

A large part of the reason this aforementioned cooler compatibility was made possible is down to the design of AMD’s new CPUs themselves. The heatspreader on Ryzen 7000-series CPUs has a unique look, with lots of notches around the edges. If you’re wondering why AMD went with this design, it’s largely down to keeping the CPU socket to a similar size as AM4.

Adding the notches enabled AMD to place extra chips onto the CPU substrate, instead of making the CPU package bigger, and you can clearly see the notches are filled with these tiny extra chips. This is why you want to avoid using electrically conductive thermal paste on a Socket AM5 CPU, but a more annoying issue is that they’re also great traps for any type of thermal paste.

Noctua NA-TPG1 review: Thermal paste guard installed on AMD Socket AM5 CPU

This issue was raised the instant we saw the new heatspreader design, and sadly we can confirm that thermal paste does indeed find its way into those notches readily. It happens as you install your CPU cooler, with the pressure squeezing any excess out the sides, and any rotation of the CPU cooler during installation, or simply removing it, just makes matters worse. It can also happen when you clean paste off the CPU afterward.

If you just install your cooler and CPU once, you may not need to worry, especially if you nail the minimum amount of thermal paste required too. However, if you swap out your cooler or motherboard for an upgrade, or otherwise do this regularly, then it compounds the problem. It’s been a real issue for us when testing Socket AM5 motherboards, as we reapply thermal paste each time, and if we don’t completely clean the CPU and cooler, the thermal paste builds up.

Other CPUs are easy to clean, as their heatspreaders have square edges, but cleaning Ryzen 7000-series CPUs is much more time-consuming. There are also gaps around the edges of the heatspreader on AM5 CPUs, which can allow thermal paste to get under it. However, one potential solution to this problem is the Noctua NA-TPG1 thermal paste guard.

Noctua NA-TPG1 review: Paste pattern after application on AMD Socket AM5 CPU

The press kit we received includes three guards, but retail kits include cleaning wipes too. The guards are thin plastic sheets that sit over the CPU and hug the edges of the heatspreader, sitting on top of it once you’ve installed it into your motherboard’s CPU socket and closed the latch. As it sits nearly level with the heatspreader, it prevents thermal paste from slipping down over the sides of it and into those notches.

We applied the usual cross pattern of thermal paste and installed a cooler, then removed it a few minutes later to allow the paste to spread. The guard actually came away with the cooler when we removed it, stuck to it with thermal paste, but the CPU didn’t have any thermal paste in those notches, despite the cooler being rotated a little during installation.

Suspecting that the clean-up process would result in thermal paste getting into the notches, we applied a fresh guard on top of the CPU and then cleaned it and this worked well. Critically, doing the same but without guards saw thermal paste enter the notches, and even more ended up in these areas when we were wiping off the paste afterward.

Price

The Noctua NA-TPG1 thermal paste guard price is $9.95 (£8.99), which might seem expensive for what it is, but in our view it’s a price worth paying for not getting thermal paste in the notches of your AM5 CPU.

Verdict

The Noctua NA-TPG1 thermal paste guard genuinely works, and makes installing and installing AMD Socket AM5 CPUs much easier (and much less messy). When you consider this, the price of under $10 isn’t too bad, and you can get bundles that include a tube of thermal paste and wipes as well. We recommend getting a kit with a couple of guards so you can apply another one if needed.

If you’re interested in upgrading your CPU, then make sure you check out our guide to the best gaming CPU, where we recommend several options at a range of prices. If you’re thinking of building a new PC, you’ll also want to read our full guide on how to build a gaming PC, where we take you through the whole process from start to finish.