Thermal Paste Round-up: 85 Products Tested

Status
Not open for further replies.

AndrewJacksonZA

Distinguished
Aug 11, 2011
453
2
18,785
0
*heavy breathing*
I love these kinds of articles and in-depth super tests!! Thank you so much for all your time, effort and hard work, I appreciate it. I'm sure that I'm going to enjoy reading it.

Um, do you guys still have a single page or "printable" view please?
 
Oh, amazing article. I love it a lot.

Maybe it's because I've used Artic Silver 5 for so many years, but for me it's the best all-rounder compound there is. Plus it's very cheap. I like it more than the MX-2 and MX-4 compound siblings people usually recommends. But I have to say, the "diamond" compounds are indeed better it seems. I had my doubts, but no more with these tests.

Cheers!
 

InvalidError

Titan
Moderator
Long story short: apart from esoteric TIMs, all pastes are practically as good as any other for typical uses when applied correctly. That really shouldn't surprise anyone as all pastes rely on the same principle of various particle sizes in silicon oil suspension getting crushed together.
 
Hang on, I'm sorry.

Also, very cheap silicone-based solutions like Arctic MX-2 and MX-4, despite being easy to apply and affordable, aren't worth the trouble they cause later as they deteriorate.
I work with MX-4 almost exclusively. Yeah, it's not $30 a tube, but it's also not "very cheap," are you kidding me? "Very cheap," is the Elmer's glue you sniffed as a kid, repackaged as thermal paste.

I use MX4 specifically because it doesn't have a burn in period and because it lasts FOREVER.

No, it doesn't deteriorate. I've seen reports a decade after the fact showing less than three degrees celsius difference from when it was first applied.

So. Either you're biased because of ignorance, or both Artic's warranty and every long term test done before this has been lying. Gosh, lemme think which is more likely...

Now, is something like MX4 the best thermal paste out there? Of course not. But it IS way better than a lot of the market, super easy to apply and maintenance-free, and very reliable. If you're going to be a snob about your thermal pastes, at least be accurate about it.
 

zippyzion

Distinguished
Jan 23, 2012
114
0
18,680
0
Well, I didn't see that result coming. They are almost all the same. So, why even bother picking? Just get the cheapest stuff from a reputable name. That's a little disappointing that doubling your money gains you a degree or two, at best.
 

grimfox

Distinguished
Jun 2, 2009
774
0
19,360
140
Within the article you talk about the considerations for GPU backplate for augmented cooling. Do you plan to do a review/article for products involved in that? I would be interested to know which thermal pads or shims or pastes you are using to augment GPU cooling. And to see a comparison of different products. I recently replaced a laptop GPU and redid the pads for that. The installation did involve a learning curve and finding products was not straight forward.
 
Nice job on this article. Do more of this It helps the enthusiast community.

Looking at your data Thermal grizzly Kryonaut wins as the best non-metal TIM except in low mounting pressure situations. it doesn't seem to matter as long as you have one of the decent pastes but its obvious there are a few to avoid like the Coolplast20 or Amasan T12 for example.
 

FormatC

Distinguished
Apr 4, 2011
981
0
18,990
1
@DarkSable:
I'm using TIM since over 15 years, not only for Home PC's, but also in the industry. The major problem of this MX-4 are the long Burn-In time to get a better performance and the fast dry-out issue. As hotter a CPU or GPU works, as worse this grease performs (and is drying out). I does a lot of long-term runs with different products and especially this older products (not only from Arctic) were showing this typical behavior.

If you prefer MX-4, why not? Use it. But please accept, that a test of different products over 4 years can show at the end a completely different picture. :)

I get a lot of hardware (mostly VGA) with MX2- or MX-4 as replacement of the original TIM from other reviewers in rotation. And I have every time to replace this replacement with better (or original) products to get the original performance back. MX-2 on a VGA card is pure pain. Simply try one time another, better products and you will be surprised.

@JamesSneed
I have to take, what's in Germany on the market. All pastes were retail and not sponsored samples from the manufacturer. It was my idea to do this under real conditions. But I think it is possible to organize some stuff also from the US or Asian market.
 
With Ryzen and more so Thredripper I wonder if those will impact application methods due to the multiple dies under the heat spreader? Seems you would want to make sure you have the area the dies are covered with TIM and that area is spread out more with those CPU's.
 

joz

Distinguished
Jun 13, 2008
160
0
18,690
1
Interesting, I didn't expect my preferred TIM, Antec Formula 7, to do "poorly" as it did. But that's really only in comparison to the exotics. Compared to the standard TIMs, it is slightly above middle. However, of all the TIMs I've seen or used - the Formula 7 seems to have the best shelf-life. I had a few tubes of various other TIMs around - BeQuiet's included paste for the H7, and old bottle of Zalman (like...9500AT top of the game old), MX-4, and others. Of those, only the Formula 7 hasn't had any sort of separation or drying out issues. The same tube I've had for about 8 years now, and its still just as good as it was when I got it.

Also, its one of the easiest to apply and get good coverage out of.
 

FormatC

Distinguished
Apr 4, 2011
981
0
18,990
1
@JamesSneed:
This was really not easy to learn. I tried different methods with my chiller (to get at least one stable factor for a comparison in this tests). It is at the end more important to get the thinnest but perfect film without any bubbles and not the biggest possible area/surface. TR is soldered (thx for that) and the IHS is really stable. You need a good compromise between pressure and the amount of used TIM. Mostly is less better ;)

My best friends are good torque screw drivers ;)

 

daglesj

Distinguished
Jul 14, 2007
451
13
18,785
0
I would say if folks are concerned with things as trivial as 'paste burn in' then they really need to re-think their lives.
 



Thanks for that.
 


I'm not concerned so to speak but before I set my fan profiles up to keep my computer cool and quite under lower loads I do burn in the CPU with prime 95 for a couple hours just to make sure my temps are what they will be after a burn in. I like to Prime95 a new build to check stability, Overclock it, Prime 95 it, repeat until stable. Then I go in and tweak my fan profiles and other misc features(wait on that just in case I have to do a BIOS rest on OCing). Maybe its just me but how I do it.
 


One of my disappointments w/ this article is that it leaves out the winner of the last 80 way test like this and that's Shin Etsu which as far as I have seen has the best performance / price ratio out there. My guess is because it's sourced directly from the manufacturer who caters to industrial customers rather than a vendor who buys from an OEM and repackages for the PC industry.

https://archive.benchmarkreviews.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=150&Itemid=62&limit=1&limitstart=12

Shin Etsu equaled AS5s performance in that last 80 way test but AS5 has 3 major disadvantages.

a) It costs more.
b) It requires 200 hours of curing time... at 8 hours a day, that's 3-1/2 weeks
c) The last I will take from A5s home page and concerns potential mishaps.

Arctic Silver 5 was formulated to conduct heat, not electricity.
(While much safer than electrically conductive silver and copper greases, Arctic Silver 5 should be kept away from electrical traces, pins, and leads. While it is not electrically conductive, the compound is very slightly capacitive and could potentially cause problems if it bridges two close-proximity electrical paths.)
Shin Etsu is available from multiple sources for < $4

It does seem to increase in viscosity over time when exposed to air. Not an issue on CPUs. But when ya doing a GFC card including both sides of thermal pads and both for the back plate and block at VRMs and memory on GFX cards, it can be an issue. Gelid Extreme is good here which is good as that's what is shipped with EK water blocks.

 

AgentLozen

Distinguished
May 2, 2011
516
2
19,015
22
This was a great article with a lot of information. I've been wondering about the specifics of thermal pastes and many of my questions were answered.

I wish the author would have discussed what their favorite thermal paste to use was and why. The numbers seem to indicate that the Thermal Grizzly Kyronaut paste typically performed the best and was subjectively ranked high up in the usability category. So in conclusion.......... is this the paste that I should buy for my next PC? Or is there a reason I wouldn't want to? Similarly, the Titan Nano Blue consistently fell to the bottom of the charts. Should I avoid that paste at all costs. The article never really says.

It may seem like I did a lot of complaining, but I want to reinforce that this article was very helpful. Thank you.
 

zippyzion

Distinguished
Jan 23, 2012
114
0
18,680
0
@AGENTLOZEN

I was equally impressed by the performance of the Grizzly Kyronaut, then I saw it was around $12, which is one of the most expensive pastes here. So, you need to ask yourself if spending $4-$6 extra is worth 2-3 degrees. For some, that is trivial, but if you need a lot of it on hand because you build PCs, then that premium starts to really hurt.
 


This test repeats the benchmark reviews conclusion that, again avoiding the esoteric stuff, the range from best to worst is about 4-5C. Yes, you can lose the advantage w/ a poor application. But you can also waste the advantage by a cooler upgrade

A $30 Hyper 212X delivers a temp of 78C in TPUs latest test ... upgrading to a $90 Cryorig R1 nets 72C.... a 6C gain. As we can see from the test you can lose 4C or 2/3 of that gain and 2/3 of that $60 investment, by choosing a poor thermal paste.

Love seeing the data, and agree that you can lose any advantage with a poor application .... but w/o Shi Etsu products in the mix, its kinda like talking about best boxers, w/o having Ali and Mayweather in the list.

Monumental effort .... Hopefully it can be expanded over time.


 


Its about 3 times as expensive than Shin Etsu.... bit harder to apply... but also sometimes hard to find and out of stick when ya do. Fitting it into the tables... Shin Etsi G751 fits between Gelid and Kryaonaut.... so about 0.2 advantage to Kryonaut.




For me it's the time investment.... I have a box on my workbench, I really don't want to wait 3 weeks and have the user bring the machine back so I can do the final dial in the overclocks.... Day 1 w/ AS5, that 4.9 GHz OC may break the users desired max temp limit....21 days later after curing at lower temps it may not. So with two choices

a) More expensive paste w/ capacitance and curing issues
b) Less expensive paste with no capacitance or curing issues

That's an easy decision. That's likely we see AS5 giving such a poor showing here compared to other tests. When doing tests like these, usually they will do from 3 to 5 mounts to eliminate a paste from being mis ranked..... that's 600 - 1000 hours of curing time.

So yes, if you are looking at TIM performance and rankings ... ignoring the gain in curing time is a significant oversight as it can knock the product down from near the top to the middle of the pack or worse. I fa do a build and have the patience to wait 3 weeks before dialing in ya OCs, as long as you take this effect into your TIM selection, not an issue. But if you doing 1-3 builds a week, that's a "whole 'nother thang".

 


I did know that all of that (including curation, which is something I tell everyone that asks me what I use), but unfortunately, I've never really trusted thermal paste that is not available "everywhere". I know it's a poor excuse and I'm not denying you are indeed correct, but AS5 is great for what it offers and you can grab it from Amazon with no issues in the same day.

I've never really wanted the "absolute best" and I know there's such a thing, I want a good thermal paste that can handle most scenarios well. AS5 proves that in this review quite well.

I would love some GPU tests using all of these, like some other people has mentioned. I have applied AS5 to some of my GPUs (sans 7970 and current RX480), but haven't really noticed much difference in the long run. I want to know what I'm missing and an article on that would prove very beneficial.

Cheers!
 
Status
Not open for further replies.

ASK THE COMMUNITY

TRENDING THREADS