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Arctic Silver themal paste, is it a gimmick or worth it?

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February 18, 2011 8:34:00 AM

They claim that their Super special thermal paste can lower CPU temps significantly, I think they really really over state the importance of thermal paste.

Isn't the biggest factor in determining the temp how much heat can be drawn away from it? In other words the more fins and heat pipes you have ultimately determine how cool your CPU will be, the thermal paste is a very small factor is it not?


So tell me, honestly, is the thermal paste a sort of a gimmick? Any engineers here or phyisists that can explain the significance or insignificance of thermal paste. Again, I'd think the most important thing would be the surface area (the fins on the heatsink) and the heat pipes in dissipating heat.
February 18, 2011 8:52:03 AM

The heat needs to get from the CPU to the heatsink, the thermal paste is an important part of this process. You could have the best heatsink in the world, but if the heat can't get to it, it can't do much....
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February 18, 2011 9:26:20 AM

You are asking for opinions, so here is mine:
Arctic Silver is a good paste, but no one is going to see a difference between their grossly over priced version and their reasonably priced version.
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February 18, 2011 9:51:43 AM

Thermal grease is a fluid substance, originally with properties akin to grease, which increases the thermal conductivity of a thermal interface by compensating for the irregular surfaces of the components, in this case the cpu and the heatsink.
Different materials have different thermal conductivity, thermal grease based on silver particles would be better than one based on ceramic particles, but would probably cost more
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February 18, 2011 10:48:40 AM

I am a Mechanical Engineer and studied thermal transfer in theory and practice, but first you could try a simple experiment: use rubbing alcohol and wipe the paste from your heatsink and the CPU surface, reassemble, and try and run Prime95 and leave the room... seriously though here is what I understand the reason for thermal paste.

You are right that the surface contact between the CPU surface and the heatsink are important, as is the thermal capacitance of the heatsink to absorb heat, the ability of the fan(s) to remove the heat energy from the heatsink and transfer it to the atmosphere, and a sufficiently and continuously refreshed ambient to absorb that temperature.

That said the surface of the CPU contact area, and more specifically the heatsink itself, is not an ideal/perfectly smooth surface. When trying to mate the two together dry plenty of air exists, and this reduces the effectiveness of the heatsink/fan at cooling the CPU. To ensure the maximum contact area exists between the CPU and heatsink you need to fill the imperfections with a suitable medium, which is where the paste/goop/whatever comes in to play. You need something with high heat transfer rates, which is where Arctic Silver or whatever paste you use comes into play.

So is $10 worth the peace of mind of ensuring your money is not wasted on the processor? Yes; I would pay much more than that for the paste if it came down to it. Besides, when you buy $500-1500 worth of equipment, the shipping is going to dwarf that number anyhow...
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February 19, 2011 2:46:42 AM

jfby said:
I am a Mechanical Engineer and studied thermal transfer in theory and practice, but first you could try a simple experiment: use rubbing alcohol and wipe the paste from your heatsink and the CPU surface, reassemble, and try and run Prime95 and leave the room... seriously though here is what I understand the reason for thermal paste.

You are right that the surface contact between the CPU surface and the heatsink are important, as is the thermal capacitance of the heatsink to absorb heat, the ability of the fan(s) to remove the heat energy from the heatsink and transfer it to the atmosphere, and a sufficiently and continuously refreshed ambient to absorb that temperature.

That said the surface of the CPU contact area, and more specifically the heatsink itself, is not an ideal/perfectly smooth surface. When trying to mate the two together dry plenty of air exists, and this reduces the effectiveness of the heatsink/fan at cooling the CPU. To ensure the maximum contact area exists between the CPU and heatsink you need to fill the imperfections with a suitable medium, which is where the paste/goop/whatever comes in to play. You need something with high heat transfer rates, which is where Arctic Silver or whatever paste you use comes into play.

So is $10 worth the peace of mind of ensuring your money is not wasted on the processor? Yes; I would pay much more than that for the paste if it came down to it. Besides, when you buy $500-1500 worth of equipment, the shipping is going to dwarf that number anyhow...



That's a great answer, thanks for weighing in. You're right that the thermal conductivity of the paste matters as it is the medium between the cpu and heatsink, but the question is...is the thermal conductivity of Arctic silver better than any other thermal compound out on the market. Their selling point is "silver particles", so you think that since there's metal particles in there it will transfer the heat better.

I am yet to find the cpu temps go down "with normal break-in" as Arctic Silver claims. To be honest I think the coolermaster thermal paste that came with my Hyper 212+ cooler would do just fine and there wouldn't be much of a difference in temps, the problem is it's hard to take apart and I don't want to experiment.


If anyone can direct me to a thread or study by Tom's or anyone testing the claims of Arctic silver vs any others let me know
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February 19, 2011 3:47:00 AM

john5246 said:
That's a great answer, thanks for weighing in. You're right that the thermal conductivity of the paste matters as it is the medium between the cpu and heatsink, but the question is...is the thermal conductivity of Arctic silver better than any other thermal compound out on the market. Their selling point is "silver particles", so you think that since there's metal particles in there it will transfer the heat better.

I am yet to find the cpu temps go down "with normal break-in" as Arctic Silver claims. To be honest I think the coolermaster thermal paste that came with my Hyper 212+ cooler would do just fine and there wouldn't be much of a difference in temps, the problem is it's hard to take apart and I don't want to experiment.


If anyone can direct me to a thread or study by Tom's or anyone testing the claims of Arctic silver vs any others let me know

How much clamping force have you applied to the heatsink? There should be at least 35 lbs of force, which is considered low. The optimal force is 45 lbs to 60 lbs max. Over 60 lbs gives diminishing thermal performance gains.
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February 19, 2011 4:20:32 PM

Dang... I reead your initial post WAY too fast... I though you were asking if it was needed or not. Sorry if I came off harsh.

All the builds I've done I've noticed a 2-5 C drop in operating temps under stress testing over a several week period. I have a buddy however that can't say the same.

I wish I had the time to test the different setups as far as paste type, configuration on the CPU surface, the force used to tighten the heatsink down, etc., but unfortunately I don't. I am at the whims of what others have reported, and Arctic Silver has been very good to me and my friends. I've moved on to a slightly more expensive type, but would go back with AS5, too.
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February 19, 2011 5:32:06 PM

john5246 said:
They claim that their Super special thermal paste can lower CPU temps significantly, I think they really really over state the importance of thermal paste.

Isn't the biggest factor in determining the temp how much heat can be drawn away from it? In other words the more fins and heat pipes you have ultimately determine how cool your CPU will be, the thermal paste is a very small factor is it not?


So tell me, honestly, is the thermal paste a sort of a gimmick? Any engineers here or phyisists that can explain the significance or insignificance of thermal paste. Again, I'd think the most important thing would be the surface area (the fins on the heatsink) and the heat pipes in dissipating heat.


john5246 said:
That's a great answer, thanks for weighing in. You're right that the thermal conductivity of the paste matters as it is the medium between the cpu and heatsink, but the question is...is the thermal conductivity of Arctic silver better than any other thermal compound out on the market. Their selling point is "silver particles", so you think that since there's metal particles in there it will transfer the heat better.

I am yet to find the cpu temps go down "with normal break-in" as Arctic Silver claims. To be honest I think the coolermaster thermal paste that came with my Hyper 212+ cooler would do just fine and there wouldn't be much of a difference in temps, the problem is it's hard to take apart and I don't want to experiment.


If anyone can direct me to a thread or study by Tom's or anyone testing the claims of Arctic silver vs any others let me know



Wow has this question ever been done to death!

Try Googling, never mind I'll do it for you, knock yourself out! :lol: 

http://www.google.com/search?q=Thermal+Compound+Shootout&ie=utf-8&oe=utf-8&aq=t&rls=Palemoon:en-US:unofficial&client=firefox-a
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February 21, 2011 1:16:57 AM

john5246 said:
That's a great answer, thanks for weighing in. You're right that the thermal conductivity of the paste matters as it is the medium between the cpu and heatsink, but the question is...is the thermal conductivity of Arctic silver better than any other thermal compound out on the market. Their selling point is "silver particles", so you think that since there's metal particles in there it will transfer the heat better.

I am yet to find the cpu temps go down "with normal break-in" as Arctic Silver claims. To be honest I think the coolermaster thermal paste that came with my Hyper 212+ cooler would do just fine and there wouldn't be much of a difference in temps, the problem is it's hard to take apart and I don't want to experiment.


If anyone can direct me to a thread or study by Tom's or anyone testing the claims of Arctic silver vs any others let me know


That goop that came with the Hyper 212+ is actually better than arctic silver. It is that Shen itsu stuff, supposedly better than the rest.
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February 21, 2011 1:44:47 AM

Quote:
I am yet to find the cpu temps go down "with normal break-in" as Arctic Silver claims. To be honest I think the coolermaster thermal paste that came with my Hyper 212+ cooler would do just fine and there wouldn't be much of a difference in temps, the problem is it's hard to take apart and I don't want to experiment.

If anyone can direct me to a thread or study by Tom's or anyone testing the claims of Arctic silver vs any others let me know


The thermodynamics of TIM's are complicated. There's not only the issue of what they can do once they are properly cured versus what they can do when 1st applied. In AS5's case for example, some reviewers estimate that can take up to a year to fully cure under "typical" operating conditions.

As for "overpriced" we are talking the equivalent of a visit to Starbucks. As in anything else, it simply comes down to the numbers and those numbers are readily available. There are tons of studies and tests but the most exhaustive I have found is the one BMR did ..... 80 way test over two years ..... the results varied from 42.10°C to 37.55°C

Shin Etsu matched AS5's performance at 37.55°C but w/o any of the curing issues. The top performers are listed here:

http://benchmarkreviews.com/index.php?option=com_conten...

The curing issues are elaborated on here:

http://benchmarkreviews.com/index.php?option=com_conten...

Quote:
After this article was first published, there was an immediate backlash from some of the manufacturers listed in this review. The primary argument was the lack of cure time. Here is the Arctic Silver 5 recommended cure time instruction from the manufacturers web site:

Due to the unique shape and sizes of the particles in Arctic Silver 5's conductive matrix, it will take a up to 200 hours and several thermal cycles to achieve maximum particle to particle thermal conduction and for the heatsink to CPU interface to reach maximum conductivity. (This period will be longer in a system without a fan on the heatsink or with a low speed fan on the heatsink.) On systems measuring actual internal core temperatures via the CPU's internal diode, the measured temperature will often drop 2C to 5C over this "break-in" period. This break-in will occur during the normal use of the computer as long as the computer is turned off from time to time and the interface is allowed to cool to room temperature. Once the break-in is complete, the computer can be left on if desired.

So by my estimation of this statement it would take almost a year of normal use to properly cure the AC5 compound, or almost nine days of continuous power cycles to meet their recommendation.
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February 26, 2011 12:40:59 AM

4Ryan6 said:
Wow has this question ever been done to death!

Try Googling, never mind I'll do it for you, knock yourself out! :lol: 

http://www.google.com/search?q=Thermal+Compound+Shootout&ie=utf-8&oe=utf-8&aq=t&rls=Palemoon:en-US:unofficial&client=firefox-a


right because I didn't think of that first, I wanted answers from people at tom's so I asked here and also my question asks what role the surface area of the fins play in lower temps, there's different ways you can ask the question, and now when people search google my question will come up too
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March 5, 2011 2:12:20 PM

I have a Cooler Master Hyper TX3 and have been using Arctic Silver 5 for a few days now. For the hell of it, I have tried the stock thermal paste that comes with the TX3 and found a temp drop of 1c. What gives? Was the purchase of AC5 worth it in the first place?
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March 21, 2011 9:55:00 AM

DespoticDave said:
I have a Cooler Master Hyper TX3 and have been using Arctic Silver 5 for a few days now. For the hell of it, I have tried the stock thermal paste that comes with the TX3 and found a temp drop of 1c. What gives? Was the purchase of AC5 worth it in the first place?
As long as one applies paste properly and, unless one is a serious overclocker, then I would say yes: AC5 is a pure waste of money.
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March 21, 2011 10:18:17 AM

The paste included with the cooler is just fine for the average user.
Only enthusiast who push their components to the limit benefit from aftermarket paste.
Thermalright,Tuniq,Prolimatech,etc come with better paste then AS5.
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January 17, 2013 4:41:55 PM

john5246 said:
They claim that their Super special thermal paste can lower CPU temps significantly, I think they really really over state the importance of thermal paste.

Isn't the biggest factor in determining the temp how much heat can be drawn away from it? In other words the more fins and heat pipes you have ultimately determine how cool your CPU will be, the thermal paste is a very small factor is it not?


So tell me, honestly, is the thermal paste a sort of a gimmick? Any engineers here or phyisists that can explain the significance or insignificance of thermal paste. Again, I'd think the most important thing would be the surface area (the fins on the heatsink) and the heat pipes in dissipating heat.


I was looking for the answer to that question and came across some good information, it may not be the most scientific study but it's certainly worth reading. His comparison includes a bone dry cpu to heatsink and several types of thermal greases including Arctic Silver, Cooler Master, Nanotherm and plain cheap white thermal grease and a few rather comical compounds. I was a bit surprised with the results due to all of the hype around Arctic Silver but the bottom line is don't waste your money on expensive thermal grease.
Link: http://www.dansdata.com/goop.htm
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January 18, 2013 12:52:48 PM

:lol:  Boy does this resurrected thread bring back memories as it was one of the very threads that moved me to do the Thermal Compound Roundup in my sig!

Thermal compound is only a heat conduction (TIM Thermal Interface Material), that fills the air gap between the heat sinks base and the CPUs heat spreader top.

The amount of thermal compound actually needed depends on the finish quality of the mating surfaces, but is still needed even if the finish quality is mirror finished.

Even with 2 perfectly flat mirror finished mating surfaces there is still major microscopic imperfections that is occupied by air, a poor heat conductor, the TIM fills those microscopic spaces.

There are performance differences between the various brands and compositions available and those results are in the Thermal Compound Roundup.

Some of the biggest application mistakes people make using TIM is using too much of it, you're only filling the imperfections!

@brettk, ROFLMAO :lol:  Vegemite and Toothpaste! :lol: 

That was great! :lol: 

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January 18, 2013 6:57:45 PM

Of all the pastes I've tried OCZ freeze , no longer available and Tim Tronics 4200 grey ice are very good , got a 2-6c drop in temps from other pastes (whatever came with coolers) , AS5 s not worth the extra money or hassle removing and applying .
Tim tronics was 5.00 for a 5 gram tube , worth it
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