Thermal Paste Roundup - Performance, Price, Recommendations (Update: Thermal Pads!)

Discussion in 'Sager and Clevo' started by jaybee83, Oct 6, 2016.

  1. jaybee83

    jaybee83 Biotech-Doc

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    hey folks!

    i thought id post a summary on current data concerning thermal pastes. the data presented here was derived from this great article by der8auer (on air cooling):

    http://overclocking.guide/thermal-p...d-with-air-cooling-and-liquid-nitrogen-ln2/6/

    since it gives a great overview on performance, but doesnt do the same for current pricing and dependence on volume per price, i did my own summary and analysis. lowest pricing for each paste was determined via price search on www.heise.de/preisvergleich including all countries selectable in europe. one candidate was selected per paste, namely the one with the best price / weight (grams) ratio, and that info was again put in relationship with the performance of the paste. prices included tax and shipping to germany.

    thus, u can easily determine, which paste has the highest performance, which one is cheapest and which one gives the best price / performance ratio. I also included some notes on NBR recommendations and paste makeup (liquid metal vs. non-metal)

    [​IMG]

    Conclusion / Personal Recommendations:

    in the end, i would say that most candidates / recommendations wont come as a surprise to you. still, candidates like Prolimatech PK-2 and Arctic Silver Ceramique 2 were not on my radar before, but now ill stay on the lookout whenever i need good performance pastes for a low price :)

    extreme performance - Coollaboratory Liquid Ultra (easiest application of all liquid metal pastes)

    high-end performance - Thermal Grizzly Kryonaut or Gelid GC Extreme (easy application & best non-metal performance)

    high value high-end performance - Prolimatech PK-2 (best price/performance of high-perf. pastes)

    high value mainstream performance - Arctic Cooling MX-2 or MX-4

    best overall value - Arctic Silver Ceramique 2

    UPDATE - Thermal Pads


    Based on this great review in the German hardwareluxx forum, we finally have some hard user data on the performance of thermal pads! A Pentium G3258 was used as the temp sensor, with regular thermal paste being replaced by the respective pads. As with the pastes above, I included some data collected from heise.de on current pricing and available sizes / thicknesses in order to calculate the performance / price ratio. The results not only include temperature values, but also insights of the user on the reuseability, flexibility and texture of the thermal pads. Since most of us dont plan to buy new pads every time we repaste, this extra info is definitely valuable! This roundup covers a pretty extensive range, since it all major thermal pads with listed thermal conductivities of 5 W/mK and higher are included.

    Here are the results:

    Overview
    [​IMG]

    Performance with CPU @ 2Ghz, 1V, Prime95 smallFFT
    [​IMG]

    Performance with CPU @ 4Ghz, 1.05V, Prime95 smallFFT

    [​IMG]

    Reuseability
    [​IMG]

    Conclusion / Personal Recommendations:


    The performance numbers speak for themselves: If you want the best of the best in terms of cooling performance, get the 14 W/mK Fujipoly / Alphacool pads. Interestingly, they outperform the 17 W/mK by a small, but reproducible margin due to their advantage in "less crumbly" / more stable texture. Thus, respective gaps are filled more efficiently and dont leave any air gaps.

    However, since reuseability and pricing are also very important with thermal pads, i would personally choose the Arctic Cooling thermal pads for thicknesses in the range of 0.5 to 1.5 mm. Not only do they provide a soft texture with perfect adaptability to the cooled component, but at the same time great reuseability without tearing. Couple that with a price point at only 5-30% of the Fujipoly pads, but at 80-97% of their cooling performance and you got yourself an allround winner!

    Special mention goes to the Phobya Ultra thermal pads, which provide the highest thermal conductivity at thicknesses of 2mm+. Generally, its recommended to use thermal pads that fit the space to be filled, rather than stacking thinner pads. So for larger gaps, these are the pads to go for.

    All in all, a combination of Acrtic Cooling and Phobya Ultra would be my recommendation from now on :)

    if you have any additional comments, shoot! otherwise, enjoy! ;)
     
    Last edited: Oct 11, 2016
  2. t6nn_k

    t6nn_k Notebook Consultant

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    Other thing to consider is how long it will last until it starts to degrade. That means more frequent paste change is needed to maintain same performance.
    In my experience on high end laptops MX-4 will not last over 2-3 months. GC Extreme other hand lasts much much longer. I recently repasted my 6 month old GC Extreme paste job and it looked still fresh and temperatures didn't change.
    So that makes high end thermal compounds cheaper that it actually looks when you just compare prices.
     
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  3. jaybee83

    jaybee83 Biotech-Doc

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    yes, definitely an important factor but difficult to determine (unless u have way too much time on your hands ^^)

    thats why i also included NBR recommendations, where such factors are also considered. i would say that the longevity of a paste is also dependent on the respective usage scenario of the machine. if u stress it permanently then high temps would subsequently degrade the paste much faster than in "regular" scenarios. thus, a cheaper mainstream paste might last just as long as a high-end one under different conditions.
     
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  4. Prostar Computer

    Prostar Computer Company Representative

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    Still rocking GC Extreme on my home laptop and glad to see it rank so high here! A little surprised on how much better it did over ICD in this roundup, too.

    Thanks jaybee!
     
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  5. jaybee83

    jaybee83 Biotech-Doc

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    well, the total difference here was actually just 0.5 C, so it wasnt all that much compared to ICD ^^
     
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  6. CaerCadarn

    CaerCadarn Notebook Deity

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    From my own experience I can say that:

    - Kryonaut is the best non metal TIM, if you have a non warped heatsink.
    Using it since 8 months on my Inspiron 17r SE playing Pillars of Eternity without degradation. Temps staying exactly the same on 71°C on GPU and 70°C on CPU!

    - Second or equally good is IC Diamond. Even better when your heatsink is warped! Very good, sticky paste with long term performance quality!

    - My favorite price/performance TIM is Arctic Cooling mx-2. Easy to use with good performance for every days use, incl. moderate gaming. But needs repasting every 6-8 months.

    - Top of the Pop is CLU! Somewhat sticky metal TIM which is easy to apply with outstanding results!
    OC'ed GPU's with +350Core/+480mem/+112,5mv in Heaven (loop) never scratched the 70-ies!
    It's simply fire&forget! Once applied, you don't have to worry afterwards. It's running on my GPU's since 1 year now like a champ!
     
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  7. t456

    t456 1977-09-05, 12:56:00 UTC Moderator

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    Would it be possible to add Galinstan to the price : performance list? It is CLU, except not repackaged and resold as a TIM. Cost would be $1.47/g or $1.04/g, depending on the quantity ordered.

    Good thing there's finally a European-based seller, btw. Got it from the US previously, but forwarding service and import duties made it needlessly expensive (still much, much cheaper than CLU, though). Ordered an 80g bottle and will offer to send some to der8auer, perhaps he'd be willing to include it in the next round-up.

    ps.
    Not sure if $/gr is really the correct way to approach the p/p comparison. Liquid metal especially has a very high density at 2-3x that of high-performance, non-metal tims, so you'd get far less ml's per gram. And, after all, we're applying a certain volume of tim, not a specific weight.
     
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  8. jaybee83

    jaybee83 Biotech-Doc

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    yes, thats another difficulty in comparing prices here: since the density and viscosity of the pastes varies wildly, its difficult to determine a realistic "price per application" ratio. so its either volume or weight, both of which are insufficient to paint a complete picture. i chose weight in this case, since it was the only constant spec that was given in all cases.
     
  9. Krowe

    Krowe Notebook Evangelist

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    Actually, I've found thermal Grizzly's non metallic paste to vary wildly in consistency. The first tube I got was gummy and wouldn't stick to the CPU die, while the second tube was much better and works as it should. My guess is that it may be sensitive to bad storage or transport conditions.
     
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  10. jaybee83

    jaybee83 Biotech-Doc

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    did u check the best before dates on the two tubes?
     
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