Thermal Paste Showdown - Tech & Computer Forums

Go Back   Tech & Computer Forums > Tech-Forums Information > Official TF Reviews
Closed Thread
 
Thread Tools Display Modes
 
Old 11-08-2010, 05:51 PM   #1 (permalink)
Pwning noobs since 1991
 
S0ULphIRE's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2007
Location: Australia
Posts: 7,032
Send a message via MSN to S0ULphIRE
Default Thermal Paste Showdown

The Thermal Paste Showdown

INTRODUCTION
First off, lets educate you on exactly what thermal paste is and what itís used for.


Thermal paste (a.k.a thermal grease, thermal transfer compound, heat paste or heat transfer compound) is a creamy, pasty substance which is spread between the bottom of your heatsink and the top of your CPU. Why? Simply put: to improve the transfer of heat from your CPU to the heatsink.

Your CPU is made up of billions of electrical components, which all start to heat up when you put electricity through them. If it gets too hot then these components start randomly turning themselves off and on, disrupting the calculations the CPU is trying to perform. If it gets really hot physical damage can occur, rendering the device useless. The bottom line being, it is VERY important to make sure your CPU stays cool.

Hereís where the problem comes in. The bottom of your heatsink and the top of your CPU may look flat, but in reality they are far from it. If youíve got a powerful magnifying glass, take a gander at the bottom of your heatsink. The smooth, mirror finish you usually see suddenly gives way to a myriad of imperfections. This is bad for cooling, because it means the bottom of the heatsink wonít be in full contact with the top of the CPU. Instead, there will be air pockets between the two, and air is a very bad conductor of heat. This means that instead of the heat being passed from your CPU to the heatsink, it stays in the CPU.

Thermal paste was created to solve this problem. It conducts heat a lot better than air does, improving the heat transfer between the CPU and heatsink dramatically. It oozes into all the little gaps and spaces between the two surfaces, smoothing out both surfaces and ensuring maximum contact is achieved.
It isnít nearly as good a thermal conductor as metal, however, so care should be taken not to apply too much. The goal is to fill all the gaps created by imperfections on the surfaces of the CPU and heatsink, but not block full metal-on-metal contact where possible.

TEST METHODOLOGY

Each paste was applied and left with the PC performing random tasks for 2 hours. It was then shutdown for 15 minutes, then booted and left idle for 5 minutes. After that, a 20 minute LinX run was started (utilising all available memory in every run). After the run, the PC was overclocked to 3.2Ghz, left shutdown for 15 minutes, booted and left idle for 5 minutes, then the 20 minute LinX run was started again. Room temperature was at a constant 22C (+/- 0.9C)

For most of the tests I did an extra remount, and if anything seemed out of place or strange, I wiped and started again. I also think it's worth noting here that I did three remounts for the Arctic Silver 5. I'm guessing that it needs every second of its recommended 200 hour curing time.

Test System Specifications
  • CPU: i7 920 D0
  • Motherboard: Asus P6T
  • Heatsink: DBX-B on Performance mode
  • 1x 120mm rear exhaust fan
  • 1x 120mm front intake fan

THE PASTE LIST
(Prices sourced from Newegg.com, Jab-Tech.com, Amazon.com and AntaresPro.com)

Noctua NT-H1
  • 3.5g - $9.99
  • Excellent Performance
  • Maximum ease of use & efficient dosage
  • Top-performance right from the start
  • Excellent long-term stability
  • Not electrically conductive, non-corroding
  • Suitable for compressor cooling
  • Technical specifications
Less viscous than most pastes. I'd suggest not to applying it in one big blob, it'll make it harder for the heatsink to spread it. I find two thin lines works best

OCZ Freeze Extreme
  • 3g - $7.99
  • Oxidation / ozone / solvent resistant
  • No curing time needed
  • Non-electrically conductive
  • Non-Toxic and Environmentally Safe
  • For use on ALL socket type CPUs
  • Easy Application
  • Technical Specifications
Extremely easy to apply, spreads very well.

Arctic Silver 5
  • 3.5g - $9.99
  • Contains 99.9% pure silver
  • Contains over 88% thermally conductive filler by weight.
  • Controlled Triple-Phase Viscosity
  • Not Electrically Conductive
  • Does not contain any silicone
  • Technical Specifications
Dark grey paste, which is a little strange. Easy to apply, I tried applying a single dot, a thin line, and also tried spreading it myself. All methods gave similar readings, so do what you feel most comfortable with.

Arctic Cooling MX-2
  • 4g - $9.98
  • High Thermal Conductivity
  • Low Thermal Resistance
  • Non-Electrical Conductive
  • Non-Capacitive
  • Non-Curing
  • Non-Corrosive
  • No Bleeding
  • Odourless
  • Technical Specifications
Easy to work with and spreads well.

Tuniq TX-2
  • 3.5g - $4.99
  • Low thermal resistance for superior heat transfer, 4.5W/Mk
  • Thin bond line for high efficiency conductivity
  • Low bleed under high pressure
  • Spreads easy - clean consistency
  • RoHS compliant
  • Not Electrically conductive
  • Technical Specifications
Slightly less viscous than the MX-2 and OCZ Freeze. Still spreads very well

Tuniq TX-3
  • 3g - $10.99
  • Extreme performance
  • High stability and reliability
  • Not electrically conductive
  • Low bleed under high pressure
  • RoHS compliant
  • 6.2W/mK Ultra-High thermal conductivity for superior heat transfer
  • Helps the low-pressure clip design of cooler to achieve better cooling performance
  • Technical Specifications
Very thick paste, you can even pick it up. As with the NT-H1, be careful. I'd suggest applying in small dots over the CPU and spreading it out yourself a little instead of one blob in the middle. Be careful not to use too much! It'll spread out more over time.

Thermalright Chill Factor
  • 4g - $3.99
  • Electrical impedance and thermal resistant
  • Contains no health hazardous chemical and non-electrical conductive
  • Easy application, spreads easily, and easy to clean
  • Generous volume and competitively priced
  • Technical Specifications
White paste, pretty thin consistency (which means easy spreading)

Innovation Cooling Seven Carat Diamond
  • 1.5g - $9.99
  • Superior bulk conductivity
  • Excellent thermal impedance
  • Tight particle distributions
  • < 40 Ķ maximum particle diameter
  • Silicone free
  • Greater stability
  • Non capacitive or electrically conductive
  • Technical Specifications
Same colour as the AS5, same consistency as the TX-3 but slightly more moist. Doesn't spread too easily, so same notes as the TX-3 and NT-H1.

Arctic Silver Matrix
  • 2.5g - $5.95
  • Not electrically conductive.
  • 2.5 gram syringe
  • Matrixís silicone suspension fluid and conductive fillers are engineered for easy application and superior surface wetting.
  • Unique blend of micronized Zinc Oxide, Aluminum Oxide, and Aluminum particles in silicone base oil forms a thermally conductive matrix
  • Technical Specifications
Not as easy to apply as most of the other pastes due to the fact that it didn't 'stick' to the CPU's IHS very easily. It is based off TC Grease 0098, hence the very similar performance between the two.

TC Grease 0098
  • 2.5g - $4.99
  • Original TIM Consultants Thermal Grease
  • Silicone Backbone, Aluminum, Aluminum Oxide, Zinc Oxide filler
  • Bondlines as thin as 2 mils and very low contact resistance for superior thermal impedance
  • Very reliable - will maintain functionality under extreme conditions
  • Technical Specifications
Very thin, tall, syringe-like tube. Makes it extremely easy to control how much paste you push out. Also, due to the fact the paste comes out in a thin line, extremely easy to correctly apply.

Shin Etsu G751Same physical form as the TC Grease, same notes.

RESULTS





CONCLUSION

Out of all the pastes I tested, my top pick would be the TX-2. Easy to work with, and one of the best performers of the lot, it's still holding its own against the newer pastes. Second place goes to OCZ's Freeze Extreme. It was the easiest out of the lot to apply, which is good for those who are less experienced in the proper application of thermal pastes, and it performed very well.

RATINGS

- Arctic Silver 5


- Shin Etsu G751, Thermalright Chill Factor


- Arctic Silver Matrix, TC Grease 0098


- Arctic Cooling MX-2, IC Seven Carat Diamond, Noctua NT-H1, OCZ Freeze


- Tuniq TX-3, Tuniq TX-2


I would like to thank the below companies for allowing Tech-Forums to review their products, and we look forward to evaluating more of their products in the future.




__________________

__________________
"As a result of all this hardship, dirt, thirst, and wombats, you would expect Australians to be a sour lot. Instead, they are genial, jolly, cheerful, and always willing to share a kind word with a stranger, unless they are an American." -- Douglas Adams
S0ULphIRE is offline  
Old 11-08-2010, 09:03 PM   #2 (permalink)
muffin enthusiast
 
Muffin Man's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2009
Location: new york
Posts: 2,722
Default Re: Thermal Paste Showdown

nice review Soul

nice to see that my tx-2 is still very much in the game, im gonna run out soon though lol. good thing it's cheap too .
__________________

__________________
Muffin Man is offline  
Old 11-08-2010, 09:08 PM   #3 (permalink)
SSD Addict & Fandroid
 
Puddle Jumper's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2007
Posts: 4,286
Default Re: Thermal Paste Showdown

Excellent review. It's been a long time since I've seen a comprehensive thermal paste review like this one.
__________________

AMD Phenom II x4 955 Black Edition : Asus M4A89GTD PRO : Corsair 550VX
G.SKILL Ripjaws 4x2gb DDR3 1600 : MSI Geforce GTX 770 2gb : Antec 300
OCZ Agility 2 60gb SSD (OS) : SanDisk Ultra 120gb SSD (Apps) : Crucial M500 240gb (Steam) : Win 8.1 Pro 64bit
2x Samsung 2494LW & 1x Dell U2312HM Eyefinity

Lenovo ThinkPad X220 : Core i5 2410M : 12.5" 1366x768 IPS LED display : Intel 320 Series 120gb SSD

Samsung Galaxy Note 3 stock 4.3 : Nexus 7 2 stock 4.4

Puddle Jumper is offline  
Old 11-08-2010, 09:24 PM   #4 (permalink)
Lord Techie
 
c0rr0sive's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2005
Posts: 7,588
Default Re: Thermal Paste Showdown

Uhh, I wouldn't give a paste that scores in the middle 2nd place just because it spreads evenly, though, it is sad to see AS5 at the bottom... I wonder what some of the really old pastes score that made people all go AS5 crazy 5-6 years ago, or at least an "OEM" paste.

One thing I dislike, this test doesn't really take into account the full cure time of each paste does it? I know AS5 drop's a decent bit after the 200 hour with cycling.
__________________


http://www.clantwgb.com
If I have been helpful with this post, please give me some rep :3
http://www.speedtest.net/results.php...a8971558&ria=0
"I'll send you $30 if they don't release a PC version (GTA 5) within 12months of console release.
You can totally hold me to that. Write it down or copy it into your sig." -Kmanx to PP 11/7/2012
c0rr0sive is offline  
Old 11-08-2010, 10:14 PM   #5 (permalink)
Pwning noobs since 1991
 
S0ULphIRE's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2007
Location: Australia
Posts: 7,032
Send a message via MSN to S0ULphIRE
Default Re: Thermal Paste Showdown

The top two picks were just my personal preference. First and second place *technically* go to the TX-2 and TX-3 if you go by the numbers, but I didn't make my preference just based on performance. I allowed 'feelings' to influence me there
That being said, if you factor in potential error due to ambient temperature, the top six could have in all actuality performed the same, meaning the Freeze could have been working as well as the TX-2.

Cure time was 2 hours for each paste, I wasn't about to wait 200 for the AS5 lol. I doubt it would have been a serious contender anyway, the fact taht it has to drop a whole 4C just to equal the next worst paste says a lot to me. Reading around it seems it usually drops ~5C max
__________________
"As a result of all this hardship, dirt, thirst, and wombats, you would expect Australians to be a sour lot. Instead, they are genial, jolly, cheerful, and always willing to share a kind word with a stranger, unless they are an American." -- Douglas Adams
S0ULphIRE is offline  
Old 11-08-2010, 11:03 PM   #6 (permalink)
Grandfather of TF
 
Trotter's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2005
Location: The South
Posts: 30,098
Default Re: Thermal Paste Showdown

Newer pastes do not require any cure time.
__________________



My Rig: SABLE
Antec 300 Illusion / Antec EarthWatts EA650 650W / MSI N560GTX-Ti Twin Frozr II 2GD5/OC
AMD Phenom II X4 965 Black Edition / Gelid Tranquillo / ASUS M4A785TD-V EVO
OCZ Vertex 2 60GB / Samsung 840 120GB / WD Black 750GB / WD Green 1TB / WD Red 3TB
G.SKILL Ripjaws 2x2GB DDR3 1600 - Crucial Ballistix Tracer 2x2GB DDR3 1600
Win7 Ult 64-bit - Func MS3 Mouse - CM Storm QuickFire Rapid Mech Keyboard


R.I.P. Danny L. Trotter ... 14 Nov 1945 - 4 Sept 2009
Trotter is offline  
Old 11-09-2010, 11:21 AM   #7 (permalink)
rustle rustle
 
35g700's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2008
Location: Maine
Posts: 1,543
Default Re: Thermal Paste Showdown

Great review. Most people don't think much about thermal grease but this goes to show that all thermal grease is not equal.

Quote:
Originally Posted by c0rr0sive View Post
Uhh, I wouldn't give a paste that scores in the middle 2nd place just because it spreads evenly, though, it is sad to see AS5 at the bottom... I wonder what some of the really old pastes score that made people all go AS5 crazy 5-6 years ago, or at least an "OEM" paste.
My friend is using Dynex paste on his CPU, I used it for something an it was terrible. I wonder how it would compare.
__________________
Core i5 2500K - Asus P67 EVO - XFX 6870 CrossFire - 16GB DDR3 1600MHz - 60GB Vertex III - Windows 7 Pro x64
Mid 2010 MacBook Pro 13.3" - 250GB Samsung EVO 840 - OS X Mountain Lion
Xbox 360 S || Sony PS3 500GB || iPhone 5S 32GB iOS 7.1
CompTIA A + Certified || Apple Certified Macintosh Technician || Mac + Windows + Linux User
35g700 is offline  
Old 11-09-2010, 12:57 PM   #8 (permalink)
Lord Techie
 
c0rr0sive's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2005
Posts: 7,588
Default Re: Thermal Paste Showdown

You should see some the cheap pastes I have laying around 35g700, some brands I have never heard of, got a few tubes from votech incase of emergencies, and well, lets just say, I swear the stuff insulates the CPU -.-
__________________


http://www.clantwgb.com
If I have been helpful with this post, please give me some rep :3
http://www.speedtest.net/results.php...a8971558&ria=0
"I'll send you $30 if they don't release a PC version (GTA 5) within 12months of console release.
You can totally hold me to that. Write it down or copy it into your sig." -Kmanx to PP 11/7/2012
c0rr0sive is offline  
Old 11-09-2010, 01:33 PM   #9 (permalink)
Master Techie
 
synergy's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2005
Location: 14 Hive
Posts: 2,283
Send a message via MSN to synergy Send a message via Yahoo to synergy
Default Re: Thermal Paste Showdown

Nice review! All-in-all we're looking at minuscule amounts here. Most pastes were within a degree or two, which could easily fall within margin of error.
__________________
i7 2600K | TRUE 120 w/ Xigmatek XLF-F1253 | Asus Sabertooth P67 | 16 GB G.Skill RipjawX DDR3 1600
EVGA GTX 560Ti | 256 GB Plextor M3 SSD |80 GB Intel X25-M SSD | Corsair Graphite 600T
Coolermaster Purepower 850W | Samsung 25.5" 1920x1200 | Windows 7 Pro 64-bit


HTPC: AMD FX-4100 3.6 GHz | Gigabyte GA-880GM mATX w/ ATI Radeon HD 4250 | 8 GB G.Skill RipjawX DDR3 1600
LG Blu-Ray/HD-DVD ROM + DVD RW | 60 GB OCZ Vertex SSD | WD Caviar 1 TB | Antec Veris Fusion Black HTPC Case
Logitech diNovo Edge KB | Win7 Pro 64-bit
3dMark06 23,159 | 3dMark Vantage 23,579 | TF2 Stats Page | BC2 Stats | BF3 Stats
MCITP & MCTS (SharePoint 2010), CIW
synergy is offline  
Old 11-09-2010, 03:02 PM   #10 (permalink)
The Water Cooling Guru
 
aspire's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2005
Location: San Dimas, CA
Posts: 5,295
Send a message via AIM to aspire Send a message via MSN to aspire
Default Re: Thermal Paste Showdown

If I recall properly, AS5 is actually electrically conductive and should not be used in certain applications as a result.
__________________

__________________
If I help you with something, you think I'm the bomb, or you just like what I said, rep me by clicking the star under my post.

Thanks!

The Official Tech Forums Water Cooling Informational Guide
aspire is offline  
Closed Thread

Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are On
Pingbacks are On
Refbacks are Off


Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
Thermal paste Acentric New Systems | Building and Buying 11 08-09-2007 04:57 PM
HS/F and Thermal Paste GuitarFreak1857 System Upgrades 10 09-08-2005 08:35 PM
is thermal thermal paste thing important? gully2005 Overclocking and Modding 6 08-08-2005 01:18 AM
Thermal Paste or Thermal Tape DAVID_15 Overclocking and Modding 22 05-05-2004 08:59 PM


All times are GMT -5. The time now is 10:55 PM.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.8 Beta 1
Copyright ©2000 - 2014, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.
Content Relevant URLs by vBSEO