Articles: Cooling

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Contemporary air-coolers have reached the point in their evolution when the fight is on for every additional °C. In this situation the contribution made by thermal interface shouldn’t be underestimated. I am sure many of you know that using high-quality thermal compound instead of the substances usually bundled with the processor coolers may deliver over 10°C temperature improvement under maximum workload. Such tremendous difference may not be achieved even by new cooler revisions launched instead of the already existing ones, so, disregarding an opportunity like that would be absolutely unforgivable.

Now that we decided to check out a number of new thermal interfaces as well as some of the very well familiar ones, we discovered that last time we discussed this topic was over two years ago. It is unacceptably long for high-tech industry. There appeared about a dozen new thermal interfaces in the market since then, so altogether we are going to talk about 16 thermal compounds differing in efficiency as well as price.

Therefore, today we are going to discuss in detail not only the newest but also the very well familiar thermal interfaces from about a dozen manufacturers from all over the world. So, let’s get started.

Testing Participants

In this part of our roundup we are going to talk not only about the new products, but will also recall a few thermal compounds we have already talked about before. The products are discussed in order they were tested in our labs.

Arctic Silver 5

Arctic Silver 5 thermal compound from Arctic Silver Company may be regarded as a veteran of thermal interfaces. It appeared in the market over 5 years ago and is still one of the best products out there. It is manufactured in the UZS and comes in 3.5g or 12g (in our case) syringes:


Dark-gray relatively thick substance consists of pure silver, boron nitride, zinc and aluminum oxides and also ester. The manufacturer claims that thermal conductivity of Arctic Silver 5 is 8.7 W/(m·K) operational temperatures lie between -50°C and 130°C (up to 180°C under short-term load). This thermal compound reaches its peak thermal conductivity after about 72 hours of operation (the recommended run-in period is from 50 to 200 hours).

The compound is very easy to apply and distribute over the processor heat-spreader, even despite its thick consistency. The imprint on the cooler base turned out very even (hereinafter the imprint on the processor heat-spreader is the mirror-image of the imprint on the cooler base):

Arctic Silver 5 thermal compound is not cheap: a 3.5g syringe costs about $10 and a 12g syringe is priced up to $25. You will definitely get a better price per gram if you go with a 12g syringe, provided you do in fact need that much interface.

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