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Heat Sink and Thermal Compound Questions

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a b à CPUs
July 30, 2013 7:24:54 PM

Hi
I’m looking to tie up a few loose ends before I order parts, and one of them is the CPU heatsink, primarily what to do about thermal compounds.
My CPU is a 3570k, likely on an ASUS P8Z77-V Pro board. I planned to put on the Cooler Master Hyper 212 EVO cooler. I do want to try overclocking at some point, and chose hardware to reflect that, but it is not something I will do for a little while (just want the option). But I’m having a bit of trouble deciding on what thermal paste to use. I don’t want one that is electrically conductive as I don’t want to take chances:

IC Diamond- This one looked good, it seems like it works well. My main worry is that it can apparently scratch the heatsink. I also recently saw a forum post that described some unprofessional behavior of its CEO (http://www.tomshardware.com/answers/id-1738434/avoid-di...) Although, that might not be an issue with the product, more a caveat that people weren’t aware of, I didn’t really read it that carefully. –Material: Diamond granules $7-$10

Arctic MX-4- This one also looked promising. It seemed a little easier to work with (IC Diamond is supposed to be very viscous), and I have seen various good reviews of people who really liked it. The only worry I had, which isn’t quite related to its effectiveness, is that its apparently fairly toxic (like hazardous waste toxic) compared to others, which makes me a bit nervous (although I suppose no more nervous than carrying a bottle of concentrated acid in chemistry, so maybe im just being paranoid). –Material: Carbon-based $5-$7

Shin etsu – This one I have seen pop up here and there, the people ive heard had it seemed to love it, but I don’t really know much about it. If anyone has any info I would appreciate any advice on it. Especially which type to buy if there is more than 1 type- Material: silicone $5-$7

If anyone has any other recommendations for compound feel free to comment
I also believe that the Cooler Master Heatsink im getting comes with its own compound. I have heard that usually the heatsink makers don’t have great stuff but is the stuff that comes with the heatsink any good?

As a final alternative I was considering just using the stock cooler that comes with the CPU. I don’t plan to overclock right away and so probably wouldn’t need an aftermarket cooler right away. It did also look much easier to put on than the Cooler Master. Does it do mild overclocks or is it not great beyond stock settings? Should I still get a thermal compound for it or just use stock compound. If I decide to overclock later and want to put on the coolermaster how difficult would it be to do so ( I could just do it when I feel a need to reapply thermal compound). It does seem like this would be the more difficult alternative but I am still curious for advice
a b à CPUs
July 30, 2013 7:41:09 PM

Eek, that was a lot to read, so I skimmed it. Arctic Silver is probably the most popular brand out there, you should be fine with that. The EVO comes with paste too if you don't want to spend $9 extra bucks. In reality, both should be just fine for your situation.
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a b à CPUs
July 30, 2013 7:56:06 PM

tigerg said:
Eek, that was a lot to read, so I skimmed it. Arctic Silver is probably the most popular brand out there, you should be fine with that. The EVO comes with paste too if you don't want to spend $9 extra bucks. In reality, both should be just fine for your situation.


well, it was actually the arctic mx-4, so a bit different. but i think they had comparable performance anyway
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a b à CPUs
July 30, 2013 8:01:56 PM

if the cooler master hyper 212 comes with the compound it came with when i bought my hyper tx3 then it should be alright. they give you a tube of dark grey compound, looks like arctic silver 5. (LOOKS! didnt say it performs) it doesnt spread as much as any white silicon based stuff i like to use though. the stock cooler comes with some grey thermal paste applied to it. most people take it off and put on their own.

ive tried these brands and models:
Masscool Stars-700, in the little time i used this it was great. well it was better than the crappy stuff that came in the heatsink i took off an HP. its metallic so i think its conductive, not sure though.

Antec 77064 thermal grease. it comes in little packets. i use this all the time, it works great. its really greasy, and it spreads easily (sometimes too much) be careful using this.

I tried the Zalman am -stg1, it works good but the nail polish applicator thingy is terrible, its too short to actually get any paste onto it. and its hard to spread.

Im currently using some old prolimatec compound. its working, theres not much to say about it.

and the worst paste ive used is the Antec Formula 6 Nano Diamond. terrible!

[edit] my brother has used the tuniq tx2, he said its amazing. online reviews also say its amazing too.

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a c 145 à CPUs
July 30, 2013 8:21:05 PM

Just about any brand quality brand name of thermal compound will do the job well, and, for all practical purposes, operate the same. If you were to install your heatsink five different times, you would probably get five different sets of readings, and all would probably be within the margin of error that each thermal compound differs from one-another - meaning that proper heatsink contact with your CPU is actually a more important factor than thermal compound choice.

For other options, Noctua, Tuniq, and Zalman all make good thermal compounds. They are within the range of $10, give or take a couple bucks.

You can drive yourself mad in the quest for finding "the right" thermal compound, especially with such contradictory reviews and tests existing. Just keep it simple.

On the subject of installation and whatnot, I wouldn't attempt to overclock with a stock cooler. Even if it could handle it, that poor little fan would be running overtime. The main reason I got an aftermarket cooler wasn't to have the ability to overclock, but to have better acoustics.

EDIT- Arctic Silver 5 is from a different company than Arctic Cooling. Arctic Silver 5 still works good, but is of an older generation; it has a 200-hour burn-in time, and is energy capacitive. It will still be viable for some years to come, but many already consider it antiquated. Almost every "new" thermal compound is not capacitive or conductive.
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a b à CPUs
July 30, 2013 11:22:54 PM

thanks for the advice everyone. the tuniq compound seems like what i might go for, just about everyone seems to like it (aside from those who sound like they didnt use it right or had a bad batch)

one further question, which type should i get? tx-2 is obviously less expensive at about $7, however the tx-4 is the one that is sold at about $13 at microcenter where i will be getting most of my parts at. I dont mind paying an extra $6 if it actually does something, but I obviously dont want to pay extra if its a complete waste of money.

Main difference in stats i could find is tx-2: 4.5 W/mK vs. tx-4: 6.53 W/mK , so that looks like a 2.03 W/mK difference..i dont really know how significant that is

if i went for the tx-2 i would probably just Prime 2-day ship from Amazon and order it a couple days ahead of time, so it isnt such a big deal either way..one way is cheaper while the other is more convenient
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a c 145 à CPUs
July 31, 2013 8:35:44 AM

W/mK means Watts per Meter per Kelvin; it's a unit of thermal conductivity. As a general rule, higher is better. Most thermal compounds are between 2.5 - 8.5. Sadly, there are other things to take into account, like thermal resistance. (A thermal compound can have a lower conductivity, but work better than one with higher conductivity since it may have a really low thermal resistance.) Even more sadly, is that companies don't always freely give that information out for buyers. Also, sometimes the numbers they give are not reflected in the product. (Aren't I just awful for muddling the subject!)

Take a look at this link, specifically page 9: http://www.nrel.gov/docs/fy08osti/42972.pdf

It shows a table of a number of thermal compounds, with a column labeled "Thermal Conductivity" which furthermore has two sub-columns: one for manufacturer's given data, and one for data achieved. Arctic Silver 5 achieved 0.87 W/mK, when it's advertised for 8.7 W/mK. Isn't that scary?

Digression and muddling aside, someone posted this in another related thread, and it's relevant here: http://www.maximumpc.com/article/features/geek_tested_1... It displays both Tuniq TX-4 and TX-2. Tuniq TX-4 took 1st place, Tuniq TX-2 was 0.5C behind it. Arctic MX-4 placed 1C behind Tuniq TX-2.

All of these are within a margin of error, though. And, just to get back to muddling: http://www.hardwaresecrets.com/article/Thermal-Compound...

Tuniq TX-2 will be fine.

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