Test Results & Conclusion
Temperature & Power Consumption
Our thermal data yields a couple of surprises. First, the paste that AMD uses between its die and heat spreader performs better than we believe a lot of enthusiasts were expecting. Second, it'd be hard for anyone to improve on the stock configuration, since the paste is applied so thinly to the heat spreader during production.
Gluing the heat spreader under pressure furthermore ensures an optimal result. When we carefully removed the original layer of thermal paste, we took note of how much AMD used and replicated its effort with our own high-quality stuff. Upon removing the heat spreader a second time, we confirmed that our application looked just about as perfect as AMD's.
Nevertheless, we did not succeed in achieving a noticeable advantage over the original paste's performance. Not even a burn-in over several hours helped to significantly improve our findings. The hotter Ryzen 5 2400G became, the smaller the already tiny difference got. In addition, when we used the boxed cooler, both applications of thermal paste failed to keep AMD's chip from hitting its thermal limit with Prime95 and MSI Kombustor running. Naturally, then, replacing the stock paste with another silicone-based paste is pointless. AMD makes the best of its position by achieving optimal performance within the framework of industrial mass production and pressure to cut costs.
Our modification using liquid metal is another story entirely: it's the best solution, no doubt about it. The temperature differences range from ~9-11°C during gaming. Though, to be honest, the effort required is a little excessive given our results. It's not like thermals were a big issue to begin with, even under overclocked settings. Temperatures are only a limiting factor with stress tests running, and in those cases, the liquid metal does help by up to 17°C.
Liquid metal only makes sense if you're operating within the absolute upper range of this processor's limits. Otherwise it's merely nice to have.
The boxed cooler hardly gets any quieter, either. A rather humble drop of just 135 RPM (at best) during normal operation doesn't significantly reduce the background noise we described in our launch article. Under full load, this benefit shrinks to a 40-50 RPM improvement, which is hardly distinguishable at all.
The conversion would definitely be worthwhile if you replaced the cooler with a quieter version and installed the chip in a small form factor chassis without good airflow. Then, the temperature delta could be the difference between what works and what doesn't. But for everyone else, the time and money won't net an appreciably better outcome.
We can't really fault AMD here. After all, the competition uses thermal interface material on its highest-end CPUs aimed at enthusiasts. At least for that market, AMD still applies solder.
Power consumption comparisons between the two thermal pastes are pretty much identical; measured differences land within a margin of error.
Power consumption doesn't drop unless the temperatures fall significantly first. Even then, a maximum of 3W in an extreme case is not exactly earth-shattering. Perhaps if our sample hadn't throttled, the values would be a bit higher. It is also worth mentioning that, apart from the stress tests, CPU and GPU frequencies change very little. In no case is it possible to achieve a significantly higher clock rate by following our footsteps. Even during our stress test, Ryzen 5 2400G doesn't achieve an average gain of more than 75 MHz with liquid metal.
Summary & Conclusion
Yes, replacing AMD's paste with liquid metal works well, facilitating improved thermal performance compared to a stock Ryzen 5 2400G. It's just too bad that you won't see much of a practical difference. There's not much added value, and AMD's processor is neither faster nor more power-friendly in the end.
The only measurable benefit is lower temperatures. Unfortunately the boxed cooler is not really able to take full advantage of lower temps without changes to its fan profile. Hours of work, notable risks, and minimal benefits just don't balance out. Thus, this modification is only worth considering if you're building a seriously compact PC.
Our findings may give you reason to complain about AMD's cost-cutting or praise the company for its execution. At a financial level, AMD made a reasonable decision. But when it comes to enthusiast mind share, shifting over to thermal paste is bound to raise eyebrows. On the other hand, are gamers buying eSports-ready PCs likely to argue about what's between their dies and heat spreaders?
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