Thermal Paste Comparison, Part Two: 39 Products Get Tested

Coollaboratory Liquid Ultra: Application

Applying the compound is tricky, which is why we don't really recommend Liquid Pro. Liquid Ultra is a little more like the pastes you're used to, though still a lot "wetter". Its composition is still a point of concern because it corrodes light metals like aluminum and certain alloys. This could have an adverse effect on thermal conductivity, even causing an insulating layer to form. Copper- and nickel-plated surfaces are alright though, as are heat spreaders.

Once you've roughened up your CPU, you can drip Liquid Ultra on it, spreading it around with an enclosed brush. The amount you'll use varies by CPU size, but plan to use about half of the compound on AMD processors and about a third on Intel's. The video shows that you can even add liquid metal while spreading it out. Depending on the mounting pressure of your cooler, you may want to spread the compound more than the video shows. Just be careful; you don't want this corrosive, conductive material to get squeezed out the sides.

The next video illustrates an alternate method that requires less material. What we want to stress, however, is that it is better to put the liquid metal on a CPU away from its processor interface, thus protecting the motherboard from spills. We're putting the chip on our cleaning sponge to make sure none of its pins get bent.

On one hand, the liquid is spread more evenly and less of it is needed. But on the other, more metal balls form. Since they could cause a short circuit, they need to be collected. This method only works when the surface has been roughened, and it yields (marginally) better results.

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  • rolli59
    As good as the first part!
  • dragonfang18
    I loved the toothpaste part. What about Vicks Vaporub? I wonder how that thing would do.
  • Azn Cracker
    Yeaaaa! nice in depth article. Disappointed that cheese was not use as a paste :(
  • ledpellet
    Can you test Antec Formula 7 NANO DIAMOND Thermal Compound?
  • TehDudeMan
    Great article guys! As a reader for over 10 years pretty much daily, this reminds me of the old Tom's Hardware. These type of in depth articles on enthusiast products are what I love.
  • Matt Edwards
    A great article, agree the application of the compound, not the compound itself is most important.

    Like ledpellet I too am curious about these diamond compounds. Wonder if it offers similar results to the Coollaboratory products with an easier application, or if the results simply don't justify the price. E.g in Australia, Innovation Cooling IC7 Diamond 7 Carat Thermal Compound Paste - 1.5G can be found for as much as $25. The cheapest I have managed to find it for is $15. For that price it would want to be good considering the leading GELID GC Extreme, can be found for around $8.
  • TerranTerrance
    Adding Ceramique would be greatly appreciated!
  • danwat1234
    Coollaboratory Liquid Ultra isn't all that good after a year of hard use. In fact, it completely hardens / dries. On my X9100 after 9 months of nearly 24/7 100% load, I started seeing high temps and after 1 year auto shut downs while crunching. Turns out it was shutting off because it hit the 105 C thermal protection.
    Opened it up; thermal compound was as hard as a rock. has to pocket knife blade and sand it down.
    So for longevity it sucks. That is something to consider, not just initial performance, but performance months and years down the road. Especially for laptops that aren't designed to be opened up frequently for repasting.

    After trying Liquid Ultra many times and having it fail on me, I've put on Arctic MX-2 that has a supposed 8 year durability rating. Initial performance is great, we'll see how it lasts (been 3 weeks so far).
  • slomo4sho
    CLU and Arctic MX-4 are both great products. MX-2 and MX-4 can often be found free after rebate so they are an exceptional value.
  • CaptainTom
    More things like this! Articles like this will keep me here more often!
  • John Goodman
    Was really hoping you'd test IC Diamond, since that's what I've always used. Bummer.
  • stickmansam
    You could do a giveaway for the thermal pastes :P and include Canada this time :)
  • iam2thecrowe
    would have liked to see a test without thermal compound. Have used noctua nt-h1 for ages now, no curing time sells it for me.
  • All the hype aside, could Tom's include an actual industrial "Silicone Heat Transfer Compound", such as the one by MG Chemicals :http://www.mgchemicals.com/products/greases-and-lubricants/thermal-greases/silicone-heat-transfer-compound-860/, any of the future comparisons. If this stuff is good to use in mass industrial applications, how can it not be any better then let's say AS5.

    Plus, AS5 can short out your mobo if some of it gets on the PCB and it costs 10 times as much as the industrial stuff and I don't think it is 10 times better.
  • yannigr
    The good old Ceramique should have been in the list. Nevertheless nice article. Disappointed with the tooth paste. Expecting more from it.
  • rwinches
    Coollaboratory Liquid MetalPad sounds ideal.
    Might there be a way to achieve proper bond by heating the pad as well as getting the cpu hot?
    I guessing this would be most ideal for GPUs though, as they want to get very hot.
  • milktea
    Great article!

    BTW, is the Cooler Master Extreme Fusion X1 available in the USA?
  • PreferLinux
    It would have been nice to see the stock thermal paste on the Intel cooler too...
  • HazardManiac
    I just ordered the liquid pro and I'm already starting to regret it...
  • Technoart
    You guys should see how big tube of thermal paste and how big is the thermal tape that are available inside AMD. All of this product are obsolete.
  • dish_moose
    Nice article ... one small boo-boo "leaning toward the software compounds." on page 21 should be softer.
    -Bruce
  • Technoart
    Standard thermal paste is good enough to conduct heat but buy high aluminum or silver content based thermal paste will serve your HSF and CPU coolly. I'm talking about industrial grade thermal compound. Try to get one from the manufacturers. 3rd Party based like CM, Arctic Silver and more still not good enough for our HSF and CPU. This is because when your CPU heat up so fast and cool down rapidly, your thermal compound may degrade fast until you thermal compound is flow to the sides of your CPU's IHS.
  • Technoart
    Also can try propanediol although is liquid but good for CPU benchmarking for setup in testbench mode.
  • BigMack70
    FANTASTIC article! Extremely informative and helpful, especially for newbies or anyone like me who hadn't ever seen the liquid metal compounds in action before.

    I'm personally partial to Noctua's NT-H1... I've gotten pretty nice results with it, and I love how easy it is to use compared to other compounds I've had. Might try the Gelid GC extreme at some point in the future when I run out of Noctua's NT-H1, though.

    Also, a big +1 for the lulz of using toothpaste and denture adhesive :lol: