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33-Way Thermal Interface Material Comparison E-mail
Reviews - Featured Reviews: Cooling
Written by Olin Coles   
Tuesday, 04 March 2008
Table of Contents: Page Index
33-Way Thermal Interface Material Comparison
Thermally Conductive Element Reference
TIM Test Methodology
TIM Testing: Round 1
TIM Testing: Round 2
TIM Testing: Round 3
TIM Roundup Conclusion
Project Epilogue

Thermally Conductive Element Reference

Manufacturers have made a small fortune off of misinformation and confusion tactics. Marketing departments often times neglect to refer back to solid science when making claims, which is why we have assembled a complete list of thermally conductive elements in the reference chart below.

It's very well known that Silver, Copper, Gold, and Aluminum together comprise top four most thermally conductive elements. However, without knowing the thermal conductance of these elements you might think the performance was close. As it turns out, Silver and Copper both offer nearly twice the performance of Aluminum when transferring thermal energy such as heat. Aluminum is the least expensive top-tier metal, which explains the popularity. Most Thermal Interface Material and CPU coolers use several different elemental ingredients to work together, but after a careful inspection of the performance levels it comes as a surprise to me that some of the most popular products make use of such poor conductors.

Thermal Conductance Element Name Symbol
4.29 W/cmK Silver Ag
4.01 W/cmK Copper Cu
3.17 W/cmK Gold Au
2.37 W/cmK Aluminum Al
2.01 W/cmK Calcium Ca
2.01 W/cmK Beryllium Be
1.74 W/cmK Tungsten W
1.56 W/cmK Magnesium Mg
1.5 W/cmK Rhodium Rh
1.48 W/cmK Silicon Si
1.47 W/cmK Iridium Ir
1.41 W/cmK Sodium Na
1.38 W/cmK Molybdenum Mo
1.29 W/cmK Carbon C
1.17 W/cmK Ruthenium Ru
1.16 W/cmK Zinc Zn
1.024 W/cmK Potassium K
1 W/cmK Cobalt Co
0.968 W/cmK Cadmium Cd
0.937 W/cmK Chromium Cr
0.907 W/cmK Nickel Ni
0.876 W/cmK Osmium Os
0.847 W/cmK Lithium Li
0.816 W/cmK Indium In
0.802 W/cmK Iron Fe
0.718 W/cmK Palladium Pd
0.716 W/cmK Platinum Pt
0.666 W/cmK Tin Sn
0.599 W/cmK Germanium Ge
0.582 W/cmK Rubidium Rb
0.58 W/cmK Dubnium Db
0.575 W/cmK Tantalum Ta
0.54 W/cmK Thorium Th
0.537 W/cmK Niobium Nb
0.506 W/cmK Technetium Tc
0.502 W/cmK Arsenic As
0.479 W/cmK Rhenium Re
0.47 W/cmK Protactinium Pa
0.461 W/cmK Thallium Tl
0.406 W/cmK Gallium Ga
0.359 W/cmK Cesium Cs
0.353 W/cmK Lead Pb
0.353 W/cmK Strontium Sr
0.349 W/cmK Ytterbium Yb
0.307 W/cmK Vanadium V
0.276 W/cmK Uranium U
0.274 W/cmK Boron B
0.243 W/cmK Antimony Sb
0.23 W/cmK Hafnium Hf
0.23 W/cmK Rutherfordium Rf
0.227 W/cmK Zirconium Zr
0.219 W/cmK Titanium Ti
0.2 W/cmK Polonium Po
0.186 W/cmK Radium Ra
0.184 W/cmK Barium Ba
0.179 W/cmK Promethium Pm
0.172 W/cmK Yttrium Y
0.168 W/cmK Thulium Tm
0.165 W/cmK Neodymium Nd
0.164 W/cmK Lutetium Lu
0.162 W/cmK Holmium Ho
0.158 W/cmK Scandium Sc
0.15 W/cmK Francium Fr
0.143 W/cmK Erbium Er
0.139 W/cmK Europium Eu
0.135 W/cmK Lanthanum La
0.133 W/cmK Samarium Sm
0.125 W/cmK Praseodymium Pr
0.12 W/cmK Actinium Ac
0.114 W/cmK Cerium Ce
0.111 W/cmK Terbium Tb
0.107 W/cmK Dysprosium Dy
0.106 W/cmK Gadolinium Gd
0.1 W/cmK Lawrencium Lr
0.1 W/cmK Einsteinium Es
0.1 W/cmK Berkelium Bk
0.1 W/cmK Californium Cf
0.1 W/cmK Fermium Fm
0.1 W/cmK Curium Cm
0.1 W/cmK Nobelium No
0.1 W/cmK Americium Am
0.1 W/cmK Mendelevium Md
0.0834 W/cmK Mercury Hg
0.0787 W/cmK Bismuth Bi
0.0782 W/cmK Manganese Mn
0.0674 W/cmK Plutonium Pu
0.063 W/cmK Neptunium Np
0.0235 W/cmK Tellurium Te
0.0204 W/cmK Selenium Se
0.017 W/cmK Astatine At
0.00449 W/cmK Iodine I
0.00269 W/cmK Sulfur S
0.00235 W/cmK Phosphorus P
0.001815 W/cmK Hydrogen H
0.00152 W/cmK Helium He
0.00122 W/cmK Bromine Br
0.000493 W/cmK Neon Ne
0.000279 W/cmK Fluorine F
0.0002674 W/cmK Oxygen O
0.0002598 W/cmK Nitrogen N
0.0001772 W/cmK Argon Ar
0.0000949 W/cmK Krypton Kr
0.000089 W/cmK Chlorine Cl
0.0000569 W/cmK Xenon Xe
0.0000364 W/cmK Radon Rn

Recipes usually call for only the finest ingredients, and the very same pricipal is true for overclocker and hardware enthusiast products. Thermal pastes are often times mixed from at least a dozen different components, while heatsink coolers may use only one or two different metals. Armed with the knowledge above, you might expect any silver-based product to be a clear-cut winner... but building a superior product by design is different than what you receive in execution.



 

Comments 

 
# Correction on OCZ and NeweggNoworldorder 2011-02-27 05:46
Please note that Newegg no longer carries. the OCZ Freeze Compound.
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# hahaboby 2011-09-03 01:39
the picture of all the thermal paste looks like a pile of drugs!
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