I have a tube of Arctic Silver 5 I purchased a year ago. It was stored pretty casually, and by that I mean, I used it, capped it and toss it onto a shelf somewhere.
Does thermal grease lose effectiveness through improper storage? If I didn't cap it tightly, will air exposure deteriorate it somehow? If so, how can I tell? The shelf was exposed to sunlight, I imagine the heat shouldn't be an issue, but could this cause problems?
In regards to airflow, are cpu coolers typically pointed straight up or out the back of cases these days, assuming you have a fan in either location. Think my back case fan is 80mm, while the top fan is 120mm, would this play a part?
I have double 80mm intake fans in the front bottom of my case. 120mm side intake. One 120mm top exhaust fan and one 80mm back exhaust fan. With this many fans, is it possible to stick a giant heatsink sans fan on the CPU and get good cooling?
[Edit] Bah, published this in cpu and not cpu cooling. My mistake, if this could get moved somehow, I'd appreciate it. Sorry about that.
I would not worry a bit about year old Arctic Silver. It's fine. Unless the tube is all dried out or something weird.
The CPU cooler can either exhaust out the back or the top. To be honest the only way to know in your specific situation is to test each way and compare results. Generally the back is the best way but it can vary.
You will need a fan on your CPU heatsink. Even in my Antec 1200 with 7 x 120mm and 1 x 200mm fans I would not try to run a cooler without a fan. At least not if the purpose of the cooler is overclocking.