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Thermal paste round-up: 85 products tested
By Thom Holwerda on 2017-08-07 20:14:39

Several years ago, we published a round-up of thermal pastes that started with Thermal Paste Comparison, Part One: Applying Grease And More and concluded with Thermal Paste Comparison, Part Two: 39 Products Get Tested. Since it's so hot outside (at least in our U.S. labs), we're trying to cool so many new CPUs and GPUs, and readers keep asking for it, we decided to combine and update those stories, adding a range of new thermal pastes and pads.

Thermal paste and how to apply it are probably more divisive than anything else in technology. So many different methods, old wives' tales, folklore, and god knows what else.

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Read Comments: 1-10 -- 11-20 -- 21-22
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Comment by grandmasterphp
By grandmasterphp on 2017-08-07 22:27:42
It all comes from the same factory in china. It makes very little difference what brand you buy.

I've been building my own kit of the last 20 years and everything works fine if you get "the generic paste" from PC World or something with a a fancy name.

EDIT: I had no idea that their conclusion supported mine before reading it. It just a know thing if you build your own kit.

@Thom do you build your own?

Edited 2017-08-07 22:30 UTC
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RE: Comment by grandmasterphp
By Alfman on 2017-08-08 00:17:33
grandmasterphp,

> @Thom do you build your own?

I'm also curious, what kind of rig you got Thom?

My own personal computer is a mid tower with a gigabyte mainboard with dual core e3110 xeons. I've got an acer laptop as well. Both are due for an update, but alas the lack of disposable income...
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RE: Comment by grandmasterphp
By Kochise on 2017-08-08 07:35:59
Some even tested toothpaste with some success.
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RE[2]: Comment by grandmasterphp
By Thom_Holwerda on 2017-08-08 08:13:13
I've always huilt my own PCs, and earlier this year I took it to the next level by designing and building my own custom watercooled system.

https://twitter.com/thomholwerda/...
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Comment by ahferroin7
By ahferroin7 on 2017-08-08 12:14:06
The brand and variety are divisive (but shouldn't be, as the article implies), but applying it shouldn't be if you're talking to anyone with a basic knowledge of thermodynamics. You need exactly enough to get a uniform layer as thin as possible between the heatsink and processor lid, and shouldn't spread it otherwise you incur a higher risk of air bubbles which in turn reduce it's effectiveness. There's solid, well understood, and well tested science behind correct application.
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RE[2]: Comment by grandmasterphp
By Alfman on 2017-08-08 13:39:35
Kochise,

> Some even tested toothpaste with some success.

How do you know?

For the sake of curiosity I wish they would have tested the same heatsinks with no heatsink compound at all. Without that datapoint it's not obvious to me that the toothpaste helped at all, it may have acted as an insulator between the surfaces for all I know.
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RE[3]: Comment by grandmasterphp
By Alfman on 2017-08-08 14:05:08
Thom Holwerda,

> I've always huilt my own PCs, and earlier this year I took it to the next level by designing and building my own custom watercooled system.

https://twitter.com/thomholwerda/...

BTW the video never loaded for some reason, only the screen shot. Anyways yes watercooling and overclocking is big with hardcore gamers it seems. You have very little in the way of expansion cards and drives, looks like you could go with a smaller form factor if you wanted to.

Is it normal to run the CPU and GPU on the same loop? I'm not sure which direction the water's going, but it seems not ideal that the heat output from one enters the other. Not criticizing, but just that I have no experience with water cooling and don't know much about it.
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RE[4]: Comment by grandmasterphp
By Thom_Holwerda on 2017-08-08 14:38:11
Loop order doesn't matter; the coolant temperature is uniform all over the loop (physics!). The form factor could technically be smaller, but that would force a smaller radiator, higher fan RPM, etc.
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RE[5]: Comment by grandmasterphp
By Alfman on 2017-08-08 15:32:52
Thom Holwerda,

> Loop order doesn't matter; the coolant temperature is uniform all over the loop (physics!). The form factor could technically be smaller, but that would force a smaller radiator, higher fan RPM, etc.

There would have to be some temperature difference between the temperature entering the CPU cooler and that exiting the CPU cooler, but I guess the heated water is taken away fast enough that the difference is negligible.

I didn't see clearly from the screen shot, but it looks like the entire top of the case is the radiator? If so, that is quite a large surface, I didn't realize it would be that large.

I've thought about building a water rig, but frankly none of my personal computers ever really warranted it. On servers perhaps it could be useful, but I'm not even sure it would be allowed by colocation facilities, haha. Server fans are especially loud, but the servers are usually physically isolated. I imagine some specialized datacenters might be be equipped for watercooling an entire rack with external pumps & radiators.

Sometimes I wonder if we should be finding a better way to use the heat waste to do other useful work.
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RE[6]: Comment by grandmasterphp
By Thom_Holwerda on 2017-08-08 15:52:02
> There would have to be some temperature difference between the temperature entering the CPU cooler and that exiting the CPU cooler, but I guess the heated water is taken away fast enough that the difference is negligible.

"A" difference is obviously there, but the way fluids work and the speed of the coolant flow means it's so small it's often even difficult to register. You have to set up an SLI system, max the CPU and GPU load, and only then can you measure maybe a 1-2 degree difference in CPU/GPU temps between your loop being GPU>CPU>rad or GPU>rad>CPU.

> I've thought about building a water rig, but frankly none of my personal computers ever really warranted it.

Neither did my PC, actually - it's a 7700K and GTX 1070, both running at stock, non-overlocked speeds. I did it for the fun, the challenge, and the looks. Also it's really expensive. The cooling parts alone ran me ~€1000.

Edited 2017-08-08 15:52 UTC
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