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Indigo Xtreme

Perhaps the most exciting product in this review, the Indigo Xtreme comes in a plastic blister wrap with a sticker on the face side.

The kit contains a user guide, two soaked napkins, two dry napkins, rubber gloves, and two samples of the thermal interface.

The Indigo Xtreme is an overclocker-targeted thermal interface that is something in between ordinary thermal grease and liquid metal. Its specified thermal conductivity is over 20 W/(K·m) and its thermal resistance is the lowest among all thermal greases available on the market (although the exact number is not declared). Enerdyne Solutions, the manufacturer of the Indigo Xtreme, calls it Engineered Thermal Interface and claims that its advantage over conventional products increases at higher loads. For example, at a load of 130 watts the Indigo Xtreme is going to outperform the Arctic Silver 5 by about 4°C and the gap will grow larger at even higher loads.

The Indigo Xtreme is not an all-purpose interface due to the way it is applied on the processor. There is a particular version of it for each CPU type. Here is the LGA 1366 version of the Indigo Xtreme, for example:

 

The kit includes two samples of the Indigo Xtreme for two uses. The thermal interface is sealed within two films. There are stickers on top of the films telling you where the top and bottom of the interface are.

The orientation is important because the Indigo Xtreme will not work if applied incorrectly. Besides, it will not work with direct-touch coolers that have aluminum inserts and gaps between heat pipes. It is also incompatible with coolers (or water-blocks) that have a round base.

The procedure for applying and removing this thermal interface is detailed in the included manual as well as at the official website. There is an unofficial video guide, too. In fact, the procedure is even simpler than with conventional thermal grease. First you should degrease both surfaces with the wet napkins (they have a pungent and obnoxious odor, by the way) included into the kit. Then you peel off the bottom film and glue the Indigo onto your CPU. After that you peel off the top film and put down and fasten your cooler. That’s how the Indigo Xtreme looked when installed on an LGA1366 processor, before and after my tests:

Before
After

That is, the thermal interface is supposed to spread out on the CPU heat-spreader under the pressure of the cooler’s base. This happens when the CPU is hot because the Indigo Xtreme changes its structure at temperatures within 60 to 100°C. My six-core Intel Core i7 980X processor working at its default frequency had a temperature of 77°C when loading the BIOS. When the OS booted up and I launched a brief test from the AIDA suite, the CPU temperature rose above 100°C.

I then referred to the user guide and read that the thermal interface had to melt and spread out on the CPU heat-spreader during 2 to 3 minutes of working at a temperature of 90°C. So I ran the test a few times more but to no effect. The Indigo Xtreme didn’t spread out on the surface more than in the photo above. The mainboard was oriented horizontally, just as required according to the user guide, and I turned the computer on and off twice just as necessary, but the result was unsatisfactory.

I supposed that the problem might be in the Coolink Corator DS cooler which had no trace of the thermal interface when I took it off:

So, I applied a new sample of the Indigo Xtreme on the processor once again:

And then I used a Zalman CNPS10X Performa cooler. I kept the CPU under load constantly for 10 minutes and then in cycles during 15 minutes more, keeping its temperature at 90°C, in order to finally melt the Indigo Xtreme. But despite all my efforts, I could not make that thermal interface work.

Perhaps my sample of the Indigo Xtreme had sat in the lab for too long (over a year) before I tested it or there may be some other reason, but the fact is I could not make it work properly. So, this thermal interface will not take part in my tests, unfortunately.

In fact, I don’t really understand how this fluid thermal interface can get under the cooler’s base which is tightly fastened to the CPU heat-spreader with screws. Perhaps the screws should be released while melting it? There must be some reason for that problem because the Indigo Xtreme is considered one of the best thermal interfaces among computer enthusiasts and is reported to deliver high efficiency as well as stable and repeatable performance.

I can only add that the Indigo Xtreme costs about $20.

Nanoxia Heat Buster and Nano TF-1000

Next go two products from Nanoxia: Heat Buster Zinc Thermal Grease and Nano TF-1000 Fluid Metal Thermal Grease. Both products are shipped in antistatic packs with small stickers.

Each pack contains a syringe with thermal grease.

Although the company’s official website is down for some reason and there are no specs on the packs, I could find out that the specified thermal conductivity of the Heat Buster is 10.4 W/(K·m), which is the highest value among all the products in this review. The Nano TF-1000 is nothing else but liquid metal.

 

The gray-colored, thick and viscous Heat Buster can be easily applied and removed, just like the majority of other thermal interfaces.

  

As for the liquid metal, it may provoke some problems, especially for inexperienced users. One thing you should know is that you must not leave this thermal interface on the processor like this:

The drops of liquid metal will surely roll to the edges of the GPU die and close some contacts there when you install your cooler. One way to apply this thermal interface is to soak some pileless fabric in it and smudge it all over the surface in a thin layer. Unfortunately, I didn't keep that photo through my own fault and did not want to repeat the procedure to make a new photo because it was very hard to clean the surfaces from the liquid metal, but the result will look something like that (click the link to see the photo).

Both thermal interfaces from Nanoxia are manufactured in Germany. The Heat Buster costs about $7 for a 2-gram syringe. The NanoTF-1000 costs $10 for 0.5 grams.

 
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