Comparing the thermal interfaces by pure efficiency, the Nanoxia TF-1000 is expectedly the best in today's tests as it is based on liquid metal. However, you must keep it in mind that liquid metal is difficult to apply on and remove from component surfaces and is likely to make your CPU and, especially, graphics card warranty void. Besides, it is not cheap. The new-fangled Indigo Xtreme might be as efficient as the liquid metal and also much easier to use, but I could not make it work in my tests.
Then, the group of high-efficiency thermal interfaces includes as many as 12 products from ten brands: Thermaltake TG-1, Tuniq TX-3 and TX-4, Thermalright Chill Factor III, Gelid GC-Extreme, Cool Age CA-TC3 Nano, Nanoxia Heat Buster, Arctic MX-3 and MX-2, Zalman ZM-STG2 and GlacialStars IceTherm II. The latter is the cheapest of the dozen and costs a mere $5. Each of these is efficient, easy to apply (perhaps, with the exception of the MX-3 and TX3) and remove, and widely available on the market. You won’t be disappointed with any of them. Therefore, we are willing to recommend any of these products and award them with our Recommended Buy title:
The next group includes nine products which cannot boast high thermal conductivity, yet lose only 2 to 4°C to the leaders. Xilence’s X5 and SilverTim, Gelid’s GC-1 and GC-2, the Titan Royal, Arctic’s Matrix and Silver 5, Evercool’s Cruise Missile and Coolink’s Chillaramic are going to satisfy users who are not into overclocking. Most of them are cheap and can be recommended for day-to-day use.
The losers of this test session are the Xigmatek PTI-G3606, Deepcool Z9 and Thermaltake TG-2. The latter is 12°C worse in comparison with the leader under the ideal test conditions. However, this difference shrinks to only 5-6°C when one or both surfaces are far from ideally flat. I can also note that each of these three thermal greases has a rather liquid consistency.
Winding up this review, I want to remind you that thermal interface is not meant for smoothing out uneven surfaces or filling in any cavities between them. It is only meant to ensure efficient heat transfer between two smooth and flat surfaces by filling various microscopic irregularities. Therefore the layer of thermal grease should be as thin and uniform as possible. You should spread out your thermal grease among the area of contact rather than rely on the cooler’s pressure and the fluidity of the thermal grease itself. It is such trifles that help achieve maximum cooling efficiency at overclocking.
In the second part of our roundup I will discuss about 20 thermal greases that come together with various air-based coolers and will compare them with one of the leaders of today’s tests.