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Best Thermal Grease/Paste?

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June 2, 2006 5:09:32 PM

I constantly hear about Arctic Silver on Forums.
It seems like every OEM and builder uses something different.
Some manufacturers tout their own stuff, like Cooler Master and their 'Nano-Fusion'.

So it seems like a great subject for discussion (and Testing!)...

What is the best thermal interface for CPUs and Heatsinks?

Be Well!
Fireheart

More about : thermal grease paste

June 2, 2006 5:24:23 PM

basically its whatever you prefer.

personally i use artic silver 5 never had a problem with it and i always recomend it compared to that crap intel sends with its boxed processors.

any name brand of thermal paste/grease will be good quality, just beware of the white sutff that looks like elmers glue in the unmarked plastic. it really is glue.
June 2, 2006 5:57:47 PM

Arctic silver 5 is the best for the money.
Liquid pro's liquid metal is slightly better but costs twice as much.
Related resources
June 2, 2006 11:10:53 PM

I think as5 is the standard
June 3, 2006 4:33:09 PM

Quote:
It largely depends on what HSF/WB you get and the surface finish of it.


You would choose a different grease/paste/gap-filler, a different thermal interface material, depending on the surface of the heat-sink? So, you'd choose one brand if the surface was lapped smooth, and another if it was rough?

I'm definately learning here - they don't cover this sort of thing in my computer classes.

Be Well!
Fireheart
June 6, 2006 4:40:22 PM

Regarding the Arctic 'X' materials, they say that the efficiency of the product actually improves, as it cures - although this takes 300 hours...

That makes a certain amount of sense, although I wonder what percentage of improvement one would see.
It also would seem to make testing the full range a bit more time consuming. Let's see, 300, carry the 2... this would take 2 weeks of 24 hour operation, with a reasonable load, before it would be ready for the 'torture test'.

It would definately be an interesting article for Tom's.

Be Well!
Fireheart
June 6, 2006 5:10:18 PM

Maximum PC just did a test on the most popular brands. The winners were the two brands I posted above.
June 7, 2006 5:17:35 PM

Cool!

Hmmm... actually, I can't find any such article on MaximumPC.com...

Be Well!
Fireheart
June 12, 2006 4:24:02 PM

I also read the article in Maximum PC, and the bottom line was... use any thermal grease or paste, since the temp diff is usually so minimal it doesn't matter. Personally, I stand by AS5, though it seems 50/50 between AS5 and AS Ceramique users...

PDH-NicFury 8)
June 12, 2006 6:06:09 PM

Quote:
So far I've only accumulated surface data on Artic range i,e. Silver5, Ceramique, Alumina and MX-1. All vary in performance depending on surface finish.


That must be a rather time-intensive study you're doing, Wusy. Testing not onloy the different thermal compounds, but gathering comparison data on how they perform with different contact surfaces. Perhaps you should publish?

Someplace, I recall seeing a poster recommending that one use AS5 between a GPU and waterblock, but stating that Ceramique was better for the RAM-chips in the same installation (Danger Den-type full-coverage waterblock). Struck me as odd, at the time, but if, as you're saying, different compunds work better with different contact surfaces (which does make a certain sense) then the issue seems much clearer. One would want to choose an array of thermal compounds to maximize the effect of each cooling instalation. Or, as seems most common, one would choose a superior compound for the critical interface (like a processor) and use it elsewhere as a 'good enough' solution.

Quote:
I also read the article in Maximum PC, and the bottom line was... use any thermal grease or paste, since the temp diff is usually so minimal it doesn't matter. Personally, I stand by AS5, though it seems 50/50 between AS5 and AS Ceramique users...


I didn't mean to question MrsD's assertion (or yours), simply that I didn't find the article online. So many PC mags, so little time. I generally only do a search on topics that I'm currently curious about and have 2-3 'general' PC news sites and forums that I watch for mention of interesting topics.

It seems clear that some sort of thermal interface compound is better than none at all.

Be Well!
Fireheart
June 12, 2006 6:39:23 PM

I don't think Wusy was claiming that he had tested all of these, rather that he had read about and taken note of the data. I have seen (I have no idea where) data about the size of the particles in different Arctic Silver products and what surfaces each is best for. I know you can find information about particle sizes on the product pages on their site. I replaced factory thermal paste with AS5 and saw about 5 degrees improvement.
June 12, 2006 7:27:28 PM

You're right, Fireheart, the bottom line is that the use of thermal paste is necessary, no matter what paste you can get your hands on. Aragorn is also right, 5 degrees celsius with AS5 IS IMPORTANT (to overclockers like me! :twisted: ).
June 12, 2006 7:56:52 PM

Well, I have only used Artic Sivler 5 when it comes to after market thermal paste and compares to other thermal compounds that comes with the product like cpu it is very good obviously. Also I have seen some reviews comparing different thermal interface and compounds and the Artic Silver 5 comes to the top, so eversince I've been using it for my cpu, chipsets and gpus and it has given some great cooling results so that I never look back to anything else. :) 
June 12, 2006 8:00:39 PM

Quote:
I didn't mean to question MrsD's assertion (or yours), simply that I didn't find the article online. So many PC mags, so little time. I generally only do a search on topics that I'm currently curious about and have 2-3 'general' PC news sites and forums that I watch for mention of interesting topics.


you need to get the mag to get all their articles. The do not put everyting online as they are primarily a print release. That being said, I have read them since they were "boot" and while they are a tad slower on new release hardware tests then sites like Tom's, what/how they test and their conclusions are generally dead-on. Whatever hardware you want truly tortured they have or will do it. I have read articles where their tests resulted in speakers smoking in ruin and psu's sweating from heat. Good stuff.

Their conclusion in the article was that as5 and that liquid metal performed the best, w/ liquid metal being more expensive and harder to use. BUT, all compounds did well, w/ only ~3 degrees diff from all of them.

I have used Arctic Silver's various revisions on all of my systems, but if I "only" had another brand I would use it w/ no regrets.

interstingly mPC also had a blurb about how much paste apple used on their intel macs... so much that it was overheated and ran crappy until they re-applied it for testing... just amusing how apple assumes stupidity on their customers part and gives them crappy quality wrapped in swank design.
June 12, 2006 8:08:29 PM

Actually, the AS5 - Liquid Metal article in Maximum PC came out a few months after the article on thermal paste comparisons... Don't think I'd spend double or triple more on a paste that gave 1-2C better cooling, if that. 4-6C? Yeah, that might fly...

PDH-NicFury
June 12, 2006 8:18:36 PM

on my 6800 ultra gpu i use to use as5 temps were around 69 - 74 at load, so i thought i should reapply some, so i took it off cleaned it, couldnt find the as5, so i tried zalmans paste that came with the zalman cu-77000 fan and now temps r 68 - 70. it could be that the as5 just lost its heat transfer after time, but this stuff works just as good for me :) 
June 13, 2006 8:42:31 AM

Quote:
You're right, Fireheart, the bottom line is that the use of thermal paste is necessary, no matter what paste you can get your hands on. Aragorn is also right, 5 degrees celsius with AS5 IS IMPORTANT (to overclockers like me! :twisted: ).


Heh, I'm not an overclocker... yet. I want to learn a little more, before I start cranking up the heat. My current computer is... technically, thoroughly obsolete (P4 1.6 Ghz, on a Abit TH7 motherboard, and a whopping 512 Mb of Rambus memory.) I want better, but the money isn't really there, unless I'm willing to buy another obsolete computer... And I know that just about as soon as you get your box built, it's already obsolete, unless you're willing and able to spend $K (kilo-bucks).
Sure, $500 at Dell or HP would get me a computer ten times better than what I have, but it would be a POS. Very careful shopping may net me something that's not completely up-to-date, but with Potential. Meanwhile, I keep learning.

So, I realize that 5 degrees is significant. It could be that difference between a dangerous Mod and one that would run stable.

Be Well!
Fireheart
June 13, 2006 12:54:33 PM

I hadn't seen that article before but it was quite informative. Thankyou. I guess this means that if we have a really mirror smoothe surface we should be using AS Ceramique rather than AS5 and AS5 of other applications.
June 13, 2006 1:32:42 PM

THG just did an article about an extreamly fast machine for $720. If you go to Air cooling you can still have about a 3.8 GHz machine for a little over $600.
June 13, 2006 5:26:26 PM

Quote:
THG just did an article about an extreamly fast machine for $720. If you go to Air cooling you can still have about a 3.8 GHz machine for a little over $600.


Yep, that article and the ones related to it have caused me to consider the 805, instead of sticking to AMD. It would require that I learn a lot more about overclocking - I realize it is primarily a matter of working the various ratios of voltage, clockspeed, & FSB to produce some stable ideal, but I just don't know enough to feel secure about diddling with the numbers.
Still, this would be a good solution to my plodding old system. I'm looking into it.

Be Well!
Fireheart
June 13, 2006 6:03:42 PM

I have for years just used silicone grease with no problems. I'll bet it's much less expensive than some of the others
June 13, 2006 6:04:27 PM

I'm partial to silver-oxide based thermal paste. I used some radio-shack thermal paste once and it was more of an insulator than anything. The proc ran at 90c (no joke. P4 3.0 woodie).

All I did was change the thermal paste to an OCZ thermal-oxide paste and she runs normal: 50c idle and 60c loaded.
June 13, 2006 6:06:49 PM

Quote:
Arctic silver 5 is the best for the money.
Liquid pro's liquid metal is slightly better but costs twice as much.


It (Liquid pro's liquid metal) also bonds to the metal parts and can not be removed...and eats any AL parts right in front of your eyes!

I have seen the cheap "white goop" when used correctly work far better than AS when used incorrectly. Point here is whatever brand you decide to use,apply it correctly.
June 13, 2006 6:51:47 PM

Quote:
I have seen the cheap "white goop" when used correctly work far better than AS when used incorrectly. Point here is whatever brand you decide to use,apply it correctly.


I disagree, only based on experience. If you use something cheap/non-name-brand, you're taking a risk.

1) I used a razor-blade to remove all of the old goop
2) I cleaned both surfaces with rubbing alchohol and a clean Q-tip
3) I waited for the surfaces to dry.
3) I put the paste in a pile in the middle of the processor and pressed down evenly, preventing any air from being trapped between the processor and the paste
4) I trimmed the edges of any paste that leaked out Ketchup & Hamburger style.


The "white goop" can fail you. Considering good thermal paste is like $5-$10, and your processor is usually $200+, do yourself a favor and get the good stuff.
June 13, 2006 8:29:30 PM

the important thing is to use some form of thermal compound on the sink. ac5 just hits a few degrees cooler, but that does not mean that OCZ or any other grease is bad. I have a friend that refuses to use any compound, and leaves his proc and sink clean. It works, and nothing overheats... it just does not get anywhere close to what ac5 does on my systems.

just use something... but only a LITTLE bit of that something. Too much grease can actually RAISE temps. That radio shack goo, or any "generic" muck should still work, as even as5 when applied wrong can overheat things.

I have never just done the "drip and press" method, I always put just a drop on and then spread it w/ a razorblade evenly so that the entire proc is covered with a THIN layer.

JMO
June 13, 2006 8:44:28 PM

It's a good point. Maybe I applied too much.

I figured with the amount of force I put down and the fact that the surfaces are flat, it would spread out (I've had air bubbles from using a razor-blade). That's why I stopped doing it that way.
June 13, 2006 9:01:23 PM

Quote:
I figured with the amount of force I put down and the fact that the surfaces are flat, it would spread out (I've had air bubbles from using a razor-blade). That's why I stopped doing it that way.


ya, I have removed procs that were set up that way and have seen the spread miss the corners. (round peg in a square hole) ;) 

but ya, no matter how we all apply it, like the air bubbles we can find ways of messing it up for sure. ;)  that can be part of the "fun" lol
June 14, 2006 2:45:24 PM

Never had much success with putting a drop in the middle of a proc and dropping the hsf on top then battening it down. I use a pin that came with a dvd burner for opening the drive through the little hole in case the open/close button doesn't work... use it like a paint roller, put on a nice thin coat over the whole processor, works pretty well.

In reply to ZoldMan: Don't put Liquid Metal on anything but the processor. This will keep it from eating metal parts in your computer. :arrow: :lol:  Thought I'd pass that on...

PDH-NicFury 8)
June 14, 2006 3:27:58 PM

sojrner:
Quote:
I have removed procs that were set up that way and have seen the spread miss the corners. (round peg in a square hole)


Almost all the heat from the CPU goes through the middle of the piece of metal that covers it and then up into the heat sink. The only part of the CPU protector/spacer (the big metal thing you see over the little CPU) that really tanrfers heat is the center. Most of those 'round pegs' you see are far larger than the processor itself. Therefore, you still have a full heat transfer. I'm not just saying this if you would like you can go back and read toms tutorial on overclocking, I think they mention it there. I have seen many sets of directions from the makers of Heat Sinks and Thermal Paste that tell you to but a bb size drop of thermal paste in the middle of the processor and then press the heatsink on to spread it. Many will also mention that you can rub a bit of termal grease on each component first and then wipe them clean (to fill microscopic pits) and then use the bb method.
June 14, 2006 4:12:34 PM

we have already established that using any thermal compound will allow sufficient cooling. What these last few posts have been is talking about those last few degrees of temp that can be saved by using ac5 or liquid metal over other types. At that point, any benefit of even .5 degrees can result in a "win" for a particular method/product.

In the case of the "bb method":

Quote:
CPU protector/spacer (the big metal thing you see over the little CPU)

That is the heat spreader. It "spreads" heat over its surface to allow a larger contact area for the heatsink. Yes, it does protect the cpu but that is not its only purpose. Basic physics allow that the entire piece of metal will transfer heat. even the corners that are not directly on top of the cpu. You are right in that the majority of heat is lost directly over the cpu, but the rest of the spreader does get hot.

I am not trying to be argumenative, just pointing out that at this point in this thread, we were talking about saving maybe 1 degree in cooling. In that case spreading the grease over the entire sink will allow more transfer, which may lower temps another half a degree or so. That is an improvement.

Essentially that is what you are doing by rubbing both components to "fill the gaps" before installing. Same thing I was saying, just different way of doing it. That is the whole purpose of the compound anyway, to fill gaps allowing better overall heat transfer. That is also why you need very little of it no matter what method you use.
June 3, 2009 5:46:56 PM

I have just started research on the best thermal paste myself....lol. Anyway, alot of it looks about the same. I might just go with the name brand stuff myself, since it does look like much difference. Maybe, I could just use TOOTHPASTE as well...lol. I just saw this posting, then directly after I saw a posting were toothpaste beat the different compounds tested...lol.

Here it is: http://www.dansdata.com/goop.htm
Anonymous
a b K Overclocking
September 29, 2009 5:23:09 AM

CoolerMaster does not use their own thermal paste, they have to use what their customers (AMD, Intel, HP, Dell, etc) request.

The best thermal pastes are:

Dow Corning 5026
TIM Consultants Matrix II
Shin-Etsu Microsi X-23-7868
a c 86 K Overclocking
September 29, 2009 6:02:34 AM

Quote:
CoolerMaster does not use their own thermal paste, they have to use what their customers (AMD, Intel, HP, Dell, etc) request.

The best thermal pastes are:

Dow Corning 5026
TIM Consultants Matrix II
Shin-Etsu Microsi X-23-7868



Dead thread. Sent PM.
October 21, 2009 2:49:27 AM

ZOldDude said:


It (Liquid pro's liquid metal) also bonds to the metal parts and can not be removed...


Where did you get this idea from ?? Have you actually used it yourself ?
I have used it b4, and although it is tough to separate cpu and cooler\block, it is definitely possible.

Don't spread false information.. do your homework 1st.

a b K Overclocking
October 21, 2009 2:16:07 PM

vvulture - This is a very old thread from 2006. It's over 3 years old. The information is ancient history. Let it die!
November 10, 2009 6:36:12 PM

i use arctic silver 5 and im really happy with the results, but 2 things: THIN LAYER!!!
On my first time i placed 2 much and there was a 5 C diffrence.
2nd : replace each 1-2 years. Yes, unfortunatelly any thermal paste after 1 year, 2 max simply loose its effectiveness.
This is a huge pain in the ass in the Mobo especially ;D.
a c 86 K Overclocking
November 11, 2009 3:03:02 AM

Mods kill this please.
a b K Overclocking
November 11, 2009 3:14:15 AM

It has been killed.
!