ARCTIC MX-2 and ARCTIC MX-3
First go two thermal greases from the Swiss firm Arctic Cooling. These are ARCTIC MX-2 and ARCTIC MX-3. Unfortunately, I couldn't get the new ARCTIC MX-4, but you will see its clone in this review anyway.
The two products are shipped in different ways. The ARCTIC MX-2 comes in a 30-gram syringe ($26.5) packed into a paper box with an open top. The ARCTIC MX-3 comes in a 4-gram syringe ($12.3) packed into a plastic blister wrap.
The ARCTIC MX-2 is also shipped in packs of 4 ($7.9) and 8 grams ($11.8) whereas there are no other capacities available for the MX-3. By the way, the ARCTIC MX-3 is not officially produced by Arctic Cooling anymore but can still be found in shops. Interestingly, both thermal greases are produced in the United States but packaged in Taiwan.
The name of the product and a manufacturer logo are printed on each syringe.
Each of these thermal greases is a silicone compound with carbon particles. The MX-3 features an improved formula and is targeted at enthusiasts as it provides an advantage of 2.5°C over the MX-2. Both are dielectrics. They do not leak or dry out. Arctic Cooling claims they can be reused and keep their properties for as long as eight years! It's hard to say if this is true or not, because I personally didn’t use the MX-2 for more than a year, yet I must admit that it didn’t dry out over that time.
The MX-2 and MX3 are both a similar gray in color but differ in consistency.
While the MX-2 is viscous, the MX-3 is somewhat drier and kind of hard. It is rather difficult to apply the latter on a component you want to cool. You have to stretch that thermal grease over the surface, yet it is next to impossible to get a very thin layer of it. By the way, this property of the MX-3 was the reason for the manufacturer to discontinue its production. The new MX-4 combines the plasticity of the MX-2 with the high efficiency of the MX-3. The thermal conductivity of the ARCTIC MX-2 is not specified whereas the MX-3’s is specified to be 8.2 W/(K·m), which is among the highest values in this test session.
That's how these thermal interfaces looked on a GPU and a cooler base after my tests.
|ARCTIC MX-2||ARCTIC MX-3|
I had no problems removing them both from the surfaces afterwards.
Arctic Silver Matrix
The Arctic Silver Matrix is a rather new product that sells for about $6 for a 2.5-gram syringe without additional packaging.
Despite the small capacity of the syringe, the manufacturer claims it will be enough for 20 uses. The official website doesn't tell anything about the characteristics of this thermal grease, so we can only judge its efficiency by the test results. Its operating temperature is specified to be in a range of -50 to +135°C. The Silver Matrix takes about 300 hours to break in.
This thermal grease is gray and viscous.
It was easy to apply to and remove from the surfaces, though. I didn’t find it difficult to get a thin and uniform layer of it.
By the way, the Arctic Silver Matrix is an inexpensive version of the Arctic Silver 5 we will take a look at right now.