The whole point of using thermal grease is to reduce the thermal resistance in the area between the CPU die and the cooler underplate. It shouldn't be applied too thickly; a chunky layer of grease will be counterproductive. It is only intended to eliminate the air (k = 0.035W/mK) from the gap between the cooler and the die. The following chart shows that thermal conductivity differs greatly depending on which grease is used.
Field-testing different brands has shown that high-quality thermal grease will keep the die up to three or four degrees Celsius lower than average grease.
Innovation - Testing With The CPU Simulator KT-2
In our last test of 46 coolers , we based our results on the raw data provided by the temperature sensor on an AMD reference motherboard (EVT5-BX-004). The disadvantages of this method of measurement are as plain as day: instead of measuring the temperature directly on the die, you are measuring it on the ceramic package. As a result, you generally obtain a value at least 15 degrees below the actual processor temperature.
That's why THG decided to use a computer-controlled CPU simulator for this cooler test. The "radiator," which was developed by Innovatek, the German cooler manufacturer, goes by the moniker KT-2 and communicates with the controlling PC via a serial port. The KT-2 contains an aluminum block shaped like a die that offers enough electrical resistance to generate a slow burn. The temperature sensor in the KT-2 is situated right under the upper face of the block.
Stressing out the cooler: the KT-2 in action.
This is a very exact means of measuring temperatures. THG uses Arctic Silver III thermal grease for all its measurements to ensure the very best in heat conduction between the cooler and the simulator. All measurements are performed at a constant ambient temperature of 30 degrees.
The results are stored in a temperature/ performance diagram on the controlling PC.
Typical measurement curve: the temperature under the cooler climbs as heat dissipation increases.
Here's how to interpret the diagrams - the more horizontal the curve, the better the cooler is able to cope with high-clock CPUs and their higher heat loss. The gradual increase in the curve is cause by the inertia of the apparatus - after all, the aluminum block has to be heated up first.
The lower the temperature at the end of the curve (far right in the chart), the better. Top-notch coolers make it below 60 degrees Celsius. This means that they still have enough cooling power in reserve to keep the die temperature out of the danger zone, even in a closed PC case.
It wouldn't make much sense to list the heat dissipation in watts on the x-axis, since it refers to the heat dissipated by the ohmic resistance of the heating element and therefore is not directly correlated to the heat dissipated by the CPU. Instead, THG related the x-axis to the heat dissipated by four CPUs (Durons with Spitfire and Morgan cores, and Athlons with Thunderbird and Palomino cores) from the AMD camp.
- A Round-up Of 55 Coolers For AMD Processors
- The Theory Behind The Dream Cooler
- Don't Lay It On Too Thick: The Tight Grease
- One By One - 55 Coolers On The Blocks
- Not Much Room Around The CPU: ALPHA FC-PAL15
- Plagiarism? ARKUA 6228 And 7528
- ARKUA 7528
- Evolution Of The Coolers: 112BN0, 112BJ0, 112BJ0-1 And 112C80
- Larger And Under A Hood: AVC 112BJ0
- More Powerful Fan: AVC 112BJ0-1
- Quieter But Heavier: AVC 112C80
- Nomen Est Omen: Brown International V8 Heatsink
- Big, Heavy And High-quality: CoolerMaster HCC-003
- The Mighty Roaring Cube: CoolerMaster HCC-002
- Hot Pipes For High Speeds: CoolerMaster HHC-001
- A Cooler, Too: ElanVital FSCUG9C-6
- Looking Sharp: Evercool ND15-715
- A Dazzler: Evercool CUD-725
- Cooling For Next To Nothing: Foxconn
- Slow And Stealthy: GlacialTech Igloo2310
- Too Pretty To Hide: GlacialTech Igloo2400
- Ultra-silent: Global Win CAK - II 58
- Much Ado About Nothing: Global Win CAK - II 38
- Fan Tower: Global Win TAK68
- Italian Moments: Neolec Venezia TB
- The Thrill Is Gone: Neolec Vento
- A Dime A Dozen: Pent Alpha APSK0155
- Just Your Ordinary Cooler: Pent Alpha APSK0156
- Quiet And Flat: Spire 5P53B3
- Fraternal Triplets: Spire 5E34B3-H, Spire 5E34B3 And Spire 5E32B3
- II: Spire 5E34B3
- III: Spire 5E34B3-H
- AMD Under The Rocks: Spire 5T060B1H3R, Spire 5T061B1H3T And Spire 5T208B1H3T
- BigRock: Spire 5T060B1H3R
- SuperRock: Spire 5T208B1H3T
- Roaring Cooler Monsters For Overclockers: Swiftech MC462 And MCX462
- Evolution Vs. Revolution: Swiftech MCX462
- Little Bro I: Swiftech MCX370-0A
- "Little" Twin Bro II: Swiftech MCX C370
- Compact And Quiet Standard Cooler: Taisol CEK747092
- Easy Upgrading : Taisol CGK760092 And CGK760092B
- Weighty Double Decker: Thermaltake Dragon Orb 3
- Quiet Standard Fan: ThermoSonic V60-4210/Thermoengine
- The Eye-Catcher: Titan TTC-MT1AB
- Failure Sets Off Alarm: Titan TTC-D5 TB
- Standard Fare: TITAN TTC-D4 TB
- Valuable? Not Really: Tornado WIN-7528
- Loud But Powerful, Part I: TRIG T40-1-62538 And TRIG T40-3-62538
- TRIG T40-3-62538
- Loud But Powerful, Part II: TRIG T40-6-62538 And TRIG T40-7-62538
- TRIG T40-7-62538
- Plain But Effective: VANTEC FCE-6030D
- Bigger And Heavier: VANTEC FCE-62540D
- Copper Isn't Always Good: VANTEC CCK-6035D
- Quiet But Uncool: Verax P14
- Noisy Or Quiet: From 38 To 67 DB(A)
- Hot Or Cold: The Die Temperatures
- 55 Coolers At A Glance