In the old days, Thermal Interface Material (TIM), also typically referred to as thermal grease or thermal compound, used to be a critical factor for getting the most out of a processor and an after-market heatsink. Today, that hasn't changed much other than you can usually achieve pretty good results without being as extreme as before. That said, the guys at Benchmark Reviews have tested a staggering 33 different TIM products, which should pretty much cover your basis next time you are looking into cranking that CPU of yours to the max.
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