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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

33-Way TIM Comparison Test

EDITOR'S NOTE: Since this article was first published March 2008, Benchmark Reviews has conducted a new set of tests in search of the best thermal pastes. Our results have been published in the 80-way Thermal Interface Material Performance Test review article.

Benchmark Reviews has seen a lot of products made for the purpose of delivering better performance. Some of these products exist for overclockers and enthusiasts, and often times help deliver performance out of otherwise tame hardware. Other products sometimes only deliver the empty marketing claim of improvements. Of all the products we have seen and tested, one particular category always stands out as the culprit for over-hyped promises: Thermal Interface Material (TIM). Of all the heatsink compounds and thermal pastes made and marketed, they must all only concentrate themselves to deliver the simple function of mating the CPU to the cooler with the highest thermal conductivity possible. Of course, some work better than others, and this is exactly what Benchmark Reviews intends to discover. Please join us for a comprehensive testing of 33 different TIM products.

In this 33-way Thermal Interface Material (TIM) performance test, we give equal attention to what could be the largest collection of heatsink grease, thermal paste, interface material, and thermal compound any test has ever seen in one comparison review article. The market is rife with fakes and wanna-be's, which is why it's our duty to ensure that only a very select few products receive the Benchmark Reviews seal of approval.

33-Way Thermal Interface Material (TIM) Compound Performance Comparison Test Review

This project has been one year in the making, and the delays have been numerous. While some of our materials were supplied directly from the manufacturer (from lack of retail availability), most were purchased right off of store shelves (more specifically via web shopping). Although our collection is by no means a complete list of every thermal interface material produced, it is without question the largest assortment of real-world TIM products available. Many of the products listed below are new to the market, and only a scant few are out of production and included because of past popularity. Benchmark Reviews presents the first round of testing, comprised of the following products:

Thermal Interface Materials Tested

  1. Antec Formula 5 Silver Thermal Compound (1)
  2. Arctic Cooling MX-1 Thermal Compound (0)
  3. Arctic Cooling MX-2 Thermal Compound (0)
  4. Arctic Silver II Silver Thermal Compound (2)
  5. Arctic Silver 3 Silver Thermal Compound (3)
  6. Arctic Silver 5 Polysynthetic Thermal Compound (4)
  7. Arctic Silver Ceramique (5)
  8. Arctic Silver Lumiere (0)
  9. Cooler Master HTK-002 Thermal Grease (0)
  10. FrozenCPU Copper Thermal Compound (0)
  11. Innovative Cooling Seven Carat Diamond (6)
  12. Jetart CK4000 (0)
  13. Jetart Thermal Compound (0)
  14. Masscool Fanner-420 (0)
  15. Masscool AK-100 Stars Heatsink Compound (0)
  16. Noctua NT-H1 (0)
  17. OCZ Freeze (0)
  18. Rosewill RCX-TC050 (0)
  19. Shin Etsu G751 (0)
  20. Shin-Etsu Microsi Silicon Compound (0)
  21. Shin-Etsu X-23-7762 (0)
  22. SIL Heatsink Compound (0)
  23. Stars 612 Copper Grease (0)
  24. Startech Silver Grease (0)
  25. Thermalright Chill Factor (0)
  26. TIM Consultants T-C Grease 0098 (0)
  27. Tuniq TX-2 (0)
  28. Ultra Thermal Compound (0)
  29. Xigmatek PTI-G3801 (0)
  30. Zalman ZM-TG2 Thermal Grease (0)
  31. Zaward HSC-W (0)
  32. Zaward HSC-G (0)
  33. ZEROtherm ZT-100 (0)

Thermal Conductance is simply the transfer of energy from any particular source to a receptor. In the computer hardware circles this energy is heat, and the thermal transfer happens in key locations such as the processor and motherboard chipset controllers. In an ideal environment, this heat transfer would happen without a reduction in efficiency and without resistance. However it is because our performance products are often made from dissimilar metals that we must rely on a medium to connect the source and receptor with as little resistance as possible. A key factor in selecting a thermal interface material is the relationship between bond line thickness (BLT) and thermal resistance.

The importance of using a quality Thermal Interface Material is critical to improving thermal conductance between components. Even now as processors are built to stricter tolerances and consume less power, overclocking still demands the highest order of performance from the cooling equipment. As a byproduct of overclocking the processor, certain motherboard components such as the northbridge chipset must also mate together perfectly with the heatsink cooler to keep system bus speeds operating at a stable level. While CPU heat output is in decline, GPU heat output is steadily rising. Video cards are now the hottest item on the market, literally, and must be cooled with high-performance solutions to ensure the best video game graphics experience possible. Everything that creates heat relies on the cooler, but the cooler itself relies on the interface material to make a connection with very little thermal resistance.

This comparison review is very direct and to the point; and to this end, we have intentionally kept our article short and focused so that you can retain as much as possible. We hope you enjoy our efforts, and the research and testing conducted by Benchmark Reviews will allow you to achieve the overclock results you have always wanted from your performance computer system.



# 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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