Geek Tested: 17 Thermal Pastes Face Off

57

Comments

+ Add a Comment
avatar

Athlonite

http://www.hardwaresecrets.com/article/Thermal-Compound-Roundup-February-2012/1490/5

avatar

luckycass

Have you ever evaluated COOL SILVER-G3 or COOL SILVER-G4? (I heard it is better than many other thermal greases)

avatar

twistedspark

Considering the amount of different brands you used I'm surprised, and disappointed that you failed to include Feser H-Bridge thermal compound in your lineup. I still use it, as I have for every water-cooled PC I've built, and I would like to see if I'm using the best product I can. Plus it's only $11.99 per tube and I still have unused tubes.

avatar

TomsSound

I too would love to see what a stock intel paste would do against the more expensive pastes.

Also... I think it would be very relevent to see what the temps would be without the paste all together. True Baseline.

avatar

venturebro24

Why is there no review on any of the antec compounds, living in the upper peninsula in michigan i was recently in need of compound the same day and i had to go to the local computer supply shop. they didnt have my regular Arctic Silver 5 but they had a "premium" antec formula 7 nano diamond.... it applied fine and i havnt seen any adverse effects in the jobs ive used it in since. you had very poor results with the other "nano diamond" compound tested, should i be concerned and has anyone actually tested this compound against others previously?

avatar

lordfirefox

I use IC Diamond 24. I will never go back to anything Arctic short-your-motherboard Silver or anything based on it. Thre' no risk if you accidentally get some on your motherboard as it's non-conductive. Unlike Arctic Silver. Get any of that on the motherboard and you may as well just forget about doing anything with your PC.

avatar

FrancesTheMute

"We gathered seventeen premium thermal pastes"

holy crap, didn't even know there were that many different ones out there!

avatar

siramic

That was my thought also, let alone those here who mentioned other pastes that weren't even reviewed.

avatar

noghiri_x

I've been using Arctic Silver 5 for years. Nice to know that I've been using good paste all these times.

avatar

Slurpy

The only thing this review is missing is the thermal paste that comes pre-applied to many coolers, like the stock Intel cooler. I'd love to see THOSE numbers.

avatar

praack

might be the shin etsu - I know that is the one they use on the AMD coolers. very tough to spread. nice numbers though - i get freat cooling on my noctua with shin -etsu - a bit better than the Noctua paste I used before.

avatar

Markitzero

I have and always used Arctic Silver 5 and I will Remain Using it. When I got my New AMD Phenom II X4 3.0Ghz black edition the stock Heatsink had Arctic Silver already on it from AMD I have had idle temp user 38c and at load with like GTA IV w/ iEnhancer or Battlefield Bad Company 2 it barely gets over 50c I have yet reached 60c under load.

avatar

Danthrax66

AMD ships with shinetsu...

avatar

dgrmouse

Every time I see an article like this, I get excited that I may be reading an exposé. I remember that a few manufacturer's got quite a bit of egg on their face about a decade ago when it was found that their silver pastes did not, in fact, have any silver in them. How much diamond did you say was in that paste?

avatar

nedwards

They claimed it was 10%. Industrial diamond dust is pretty cheap.

avatar

Kinetic

It's funny, because I've always used AS5 on everything, including under my Tuniq Tower 120 Extreme. I actually have some Tuniq TX-2 and 4 sitting around, and as someone who obsesses about their temps I may have to do so testing of my own....

avatar

Insula Gilliganis

Keep the list going Nathan. For some reason I find thermal paste a really interesting topic in which there isn't a lot of documented proof available outside of anecdotal evidence. Test a couple every month and you will soon have a great reference database. There already is a large database of thermal paste tests, currently consisting of 60 difference substances, at Hardwaresecrets.com which gets updated each month but I rather have two sources of confirmed evidence than just one. They also test a few "non-traditional" thermal pastes such as mustard, tooth paste, chocolate, mayo. lip stick and cream cheese.. perhaps you can add to this "non-traditional" listing with your own ideas. Gordon must have a jar of some Starfleet substance on his desk you can try out or use leftovers from Jack-In-The-Box.

avatar

lindethier

Good article Nathan, I've been wondering about the efficiency of different thermal compounds for a while, and now I know.

avatar

HiGHRoLLeR038

Good to know, thank you! great article, i will definitely be referring back to this one in the future.

avatar

t.y.wan

My ASUS notebooks' OEM paste is so awesome that both of them just dried into solid and stuck the cpu and gpu....
They are both from the gaming series too...

avatar

davidtuerk

You missed Antecs nano compound, Better that arctic silver in my tests

avatar

Maggard

So...where was the IC Diamond 7 thermal compound review? I use it but would still really love to know how it stacks up.

avatar

Danthrax66

In my testing mx-4 is better than it. And mx-2 is a little worse, both are easier to apply though.

avatar

siramic

Excellent review Nathan, I didn't realize there were so many pastes out there. Also, I appreciate your chart at the end of the article, to help visually see and compare the manufacturer and the temps. :-)

avatar

supakeepa

I thought I was a pretty skilled builder, but now I'm questioning my most used technique of putting a small, pea sized glob in the middle of the proc and letting the heat spreader do all the work. It seems like there are some compounds where this is good and some where this is a no-no. Is that true or is it an okay practice regardless of compound I use. (I usually do Arctic Silver 5, but recently I've just used the compound that Cooler Master bundles with their heat sinks)

Also, I was glad to see you mention the ArtiClean. I've used it quite a bit in the past and was wondering throughout the article what you all were using.

avatar

SleepyCatChris

So what are the temps for a stock cooler with its pre-applied goo?

avatar

SleepyCatChris

Soooo... Is no one else curious as to how all these results compare to the stock Intel cooler? I'd think that would be a pretty relevant comparison, no?

avatar

Danthrax66

You wouldn't be able to boot the pc with the stock cooler at those clocks.

avatar

Slugbait

Not really comparable, I'd say. While the stock HSF that comes with the Extreme series is superior to non-Extreme heatsinks, you're talking about comparing it to a monster cooler...at which point, there's a temp disadvantage for the TIM before the fan even powers up.

BTW, that stock HSF is nifty. Lots of copper. Super quiet (of course, I don't have mine set to performance mode, hence I can't hear it).

But you bring up a very valid point: the stock HSF has been shown as fully capable of allowing the proc to hit 4.1 perfectly stable. And lots of people (like myself) went ahead and used it.

So I believe it probably would have been better to utilize the stock HSF plus the Intel thermal as a baseline, or "control group". Then apply all of the different TIMs to the Intel heatsink...this could have separated the performers from non-performers even more, and maybe even drop geek cred for a couple.

Would numbers all come out on the higher side? Probably. But it would seem to me that we'd have a more-level playing field.

avatar

smashingpumpin

Great post! Awesome articles like these makes me love Maximum PC longest time!

I agree with how the ArtiClean stuff works and still have some half-full from 4 years ago. However I cant help but think I'd get a bigger bottle for using just Goo Gone with Coffee filters and cotton balls. I haven't tried it personally yet though or probably just reluctant to try it since I currently have no extra PC's laying around hehe.

So umm... When will MaxPC do ReadyBoost tests? I'd like to see Various capacities of medias (CF, USB drives, SD cards...) on different formats (NTFS, FAT16, FAT32) or a combination of sorts tested and debunked before I die. :D

avatar

RUSENSITIVESWEETNESS

Antec makes their own line of pastes, and I'm surprised something of theirs wasn't included in this review.

Artic Cooling MX-3 is supposed to be their best, but you didn't test it.

Anyway, I used Antec Formula 6 thermal compound on my i7-950. It's too thick to spread effectively, so I put a drop the size of a pea on the die and let gravity do the rest. My CPU idles at around 18° C and never rises above 28° at full throttle, so I figure it's all good.

avatar

nedwards

I couldn't test 'em all this time, but I don't see any reason I can't add more pastes to the rankings as they show up here, as long as I keep that test bed intact.

avatar

Danthrax66

You have to account for the room temperature and make sure it is the same.

avatar

HiGHRoLLeR038

He did:
"Margin of error is plus or minus 2C to allow for ambient air temperature, which ranged from 23.8C to 25.4C throughout the testing procedure."

avatar

Danthrax66

I meant if he adds more to the review at a later date. Maybe just do a run with the top performer as well just as a point of reference.

avatar

TommM

Great article - of all the things that go into building a PC, I think thermal paste is pretty much the only item I haven't seen a comprehensive review about until this one.

Nice to know that there really is a difference (albeit small at idle speeds) and it's not "all just the same stuff."

avatar

Budman_NC

Great article Nathan! Good information here. I'm still on my last tube of arctic silver 3 and am very happy with its performance. I was wondering if it was necessary to clean and reapply thermal compound, say, on a yearly basis or so? Or is it a ... 'if it ain't broke don't fix it' kind of thing.

avatar

Supermonkey

Arctic Silver 5 looked fresh and new after 4-5 years. Not sure about Arctic Silver 3 though.

avatar

nbrowser

eh been using Arctic Cooling MX-2 since the earth was cooling, it just works on everything from a hot running Opteron 180 to my latest SFF E5700 build, always a solid performer.

avatar

athlon11

Been using AS5 since my first build in 2003, great stuff. May have to pick up some of the TX4 or TX2 though since its a bit better and it guarantees that it works since there's no thermal cycling or burn in needed.

avatar

Danthrax66

TX-2 and 4 are kind of thick and don't work well with all heatsinks unless you have a high amount of pressure holding the heatsink down (like AMDs clamp). I'd go for the MX stuff almost the same and really nice to work with.

avatar

avenger48

The only one you missed that I can think of offhand is IC Diamond. It's a good article, especially since I'm fresh out of my last tube.

avatar

SPreston2001

I've been using Tuniq TX-4 for a few years now. Good stuff...

avatar

cmasupra

Supposedly TX-3 is better than TX-4. I own both, but I can't say which is better firsthand because I haven't put them in the same computer.

avatar

Paul_Lilly

Same here, same conclusion. I've played with a lot of paste and Tuniq has consistently impressed.

avatar

biggiebob12345

I highly recommend testing GC Electronics 10-8108. Been using it for a year now on my X3 and used it for years for circuit heat-sinking stuff. According to the infamous "80-way Thermal Interface Material Performance Test", it runs right up there with AS5 in terms of performance and only costs a couple of bucks for a huge tube.

avatar

Blues22475

Very interesting post appreciate you posting this run. Nice to know that Arctic Silver is considering one of the good thermal pastes. Also, the ArctiClean is a good set of cleaners to use. I recall using it myself after I had rebuilt my system and reapplied thermal paste. Does smell good, and it cuts through old thermal paste like a hot knife through butter.

@csspwner: Also interested to read the report if you would have the time to give us the information.

avatar

biggiebob12345

You're being a moron buying "thermal paste cleaners". They're just isopropyl alcohol (IPA) that you can buy at walmart....just with a new label and a marked up price. 91% IPA and cotton balls work great for removing thermal paste...spray on CPU, let soak for a few seconds, wipe off, wait minute to dry.

avatar

Blues22475

ArctiClean actually works better than isoprophyl alcohol, chief. I have already used both and I can tell I have spent much more effort in cleaning off old dried up thermal paste with plain isoprophyl as opposed to ArctiClean.

Maybe you shouldn't knock it until you've see the difference for yourself? Unfortunately it seems the other comments are right: you appear to be clueless on the subject.

avatar

biggiebob12345

My point still stands. Spend a fraction of the price and use IPA which will work just fine (and I know for a fact you can spray 91% and higher on the cpu directly...it evaporates quickly).

But whatever. Some people will argue to no end that you have to waste tons of money to get 1% better performance.

Log in to MaximumPC directly or log in using Facebook

Forgot your username or password?
Click here for help.

Login with Facebook
Log in using Facebook to share comments and articles easily with your Facebook feed.