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Thermal Compounds Roundup

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Thermal Compounds Roundup


Most, if not all of the inside parts of today's computers dissipate heat.
This is a result of manufacturing technologies for computer parts
of our time, the clock rates of this parts , and the voltages that are
required to operate this devices properly.
Inside any standard computer we will find today -
chips and electronic devices located on the motherboard, the ram chips,
graphic cards cores and graphic card memroy, the power supply , and
of course the main processor - each one with the heat it's dissipating.
To handle all this heat properly, that might under certain conditions , damage system stability and even defect other devices, we
can find 2 main players - Manufacturers and the users.

From the manufacturers side we can see 2 main efforts -
the first one is technology developments that reduce the heat which the
devices are exhausting , as an example we can see graphics cards and
processors manufacturers efforts to use better and smaller manufacturing
procedures, that helps reducing heat exhaust and achieving higher
performance levels.
Also we can see development of advanced cooling devices, passive or
active devices, to help the heat dissipation.
Today we can find almost on any device this one or another heatsink,
among this devices we can count system memory, chipsets, graphic
cards, and processors, each one with it's unique design , aluminum or
copper design , heatpipes, water cooling and many other unique designs.
We can also find 3rd side companies , that develop specific cooling units,
that are bigger and more massive than the original ones, that can handle
better the heat produced from the different devices.

Above yo can see DFI heatpipes design to cool motherboard, and 8600GTS based cards
with their unique coolers.

The other side of this "heat war" is the computer user, using fans and
better heatsinks than the ones supplied with the computer.
Another product that helps getting better temperatures is thermal
The thermal paste helps het transfer from the electronic device to the
heatsink , and we will compare in today's review some of the most
common and best seller thermal compounds.

As you can see at the picture above , the thermal compounds we have
tested are :

TT Thermal Grease #1
Arctic Silver 5
Arctic-Cooling MX-1
Arctic-Cooling MX-2
Tuniq TX-2
Zalman ZM-STG1

We compared the compounds performances when they are used on
Graphic card and the main processor, we measured the differences when the devices were in idle and under load, also we will inspect the different
ingredients of each of the compounds, and we will explain the importance
of using thermal compounds the right way , and not to exaggerate it's
quantity used.

Enjoy Reading !

BREAK=Thermal compud Principles
Thermal compud Principles

Thermal compounds :

The thermal compound is used as a "middleman" betwen any heat
exhausting device and the heatsink installed on it.
The compound is used to perform better heat leading , between the
device and it's cooling solution.
Any electronic device operated under any level of voltage exhaust some
heat, some of the devices exhaust more heat and some are cooler.
The main parts inside today's personal computer are the graphic cards and
the processor, which we will focus on today, as they are today's main
heat exhausting devices inside the computr.

At the pictures above you can see graphics card core and
the main processor.

It's important to understand the proper use and the place that thermal
compounds take in the whole cooling process.
another important thing is the cleaning of the cpu and heatsink surace
before we use the thermal compound, It's very important to make sure
that the surfaces are clean of any kind of dirt and dust, that can impact
the cooling and heat leading effect of the thermal compound, and in
some worst cases, even can hurt the uniformity of the surface where
the cpu and heatsink are touching each other.
this is why it's very important to clean the area very well using blotting
paper or alcohol, which helps removing the remaining dirt and old thermal
compound left on the cpu and the heatsink.

When you use thermal compound, it have 2 main operations :

The first one is closing micro slots,that a human eye can't see, which are
located on the heatspreade of the cpu where heat is exhausted.
the micro slots can be found on any surface, as you can't reach a perfect
smooth surface, without using very expensive equipment.
It's important to understand that it's not the slots that impact the cooling
effect, but air bubbles that are "trapped" inside them and isolate between
the heatsink and the cpu.

An Intel LGA 775 Cpu, the red colored part is the part where heatsink
touches the cpu.

Air is less effective when cooling 8000 times compared to any heatsink,
so you can imagine how much it's isolating between the heatsink and the
cpu surface, and how drastic is it's effect on cooling.

The second operation of the thermal compound is improving heat leading
between one material to another, in our case between the core IHS , and
the heatsink itself (Aluminum or copper).
Any material have it's own heat leading abilities , which are measured
in Watts/Kelvin per meter, which is measured with the formula -

flow rate distance / area temperature difference

Copper heat lead is at 401 , and silver based compounds are 2-3.

the major points in determinate the quality of a thermal compund are :
  • Filling the Micro slots we've mentioned.
  • Time and Stability of Material decomposition.
  • Temprature consistency and it's level.
  • Dryness resistance.
  • Isolaion from Electric lead.
  • Surface adhesiveness.
IO Admin
: Dec 2006
: 2,124


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