The effect of thermal interface should not be underestimated in the world of CPU and GPU coolers where much effort is spent to lower the temperature of electronic chips by even one or two degrees. Coolers have got so sophisticated nowadays that we cannot expect a dramatic breakthrough in their performance. A new model can only be expected to win 1, 2 or, rarely, 3°C against its predecessor, but just as likely there can be no improvements at all. This is why we must note disregard the efficiency of thermal grease which can often provide more benefits than a replacement of the cooler proper.
If you are not in the know, thermal interface is a material that ensures effective heat transfer between a hot component and its heatsink. When it comes to computers, the component is a CPU or a GPU. The more effective that material is, the lower the temperature of the component and the higher its overclocking potential. Sounds simple, but things can get more complicated in practice.
So, I have collected a number of thermal interface materials (some of them just didn't fit into the photo) to carry out a comparative test:
This test is split up into two parts. Part 1 that you are reading now concerns with 26 thermal interfaces that sell as individual products. Part 2, to be published later on, will cover thermal interfaces included with coolers as a free accessory.
Let's now check out each interface and their properties.
Thermal Interfaces Specifications
The table below sums up all the technical specifications of the tested thermal interfaces as stated by their manufacturers. Unfortunately, in many cases there are only two-three key things mentioned. Nevertheless, the table below contains all the information we managed to find on each of the tested products: