Answering Those Questions With Real Data
Our measurements allow us to provide some clear answers to the initial questions based on power consumption and performance values taken from three successive test loops.
What do you gain from replacing the thermal compound?
So long as you choose a good thermal compound and do the job correctly, replacing AMD's stock stuff can really pay off. The biggest problem with this is that you void the manufacturer's warranty in the process.
Does improving cooling performance help the card run at a higher efficiency level?
The answer is clearly yes, it does. Particularly when you see what the Radeon R9 290X can do during its first run through a benchmark, and then compare that to the third run, you have to wonder how the company can willingly throw away a good chunk of performance by using its reference cooler.
You need a set of small Phillips-head screwdrivers to remove the Radeon R9 290X's cooler, since AMD uses two different screw sizes. Tweezers could prove helpful for removing excess thermal paste from the GPU. And don’t forget to keep a cleaning solution handy to prep the die before applying your improved thermal compound of choice.
We recommend Gelid’s GC-Extreme and Cooler Master’s X1 Extreme Fusion. Both are easy to apply and not electrically conductive. If you're brave enough to tackle this mod on your own, bearing in mind the possible consequences, we wish you success and fun. The operation certainly pays off.