Thermal Grease Options

MiniKnight

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I was about to click Arctic MX-4 same-day on Amazon (call me a Prime addict) when some stuff came up that totally blew my mind.

I've always used heatsink supplied or Arctic. I know there's a lot of different opinions. It's also an area where I feel like I'm paying 3x for something because it's being marketed as enthusiast PC.

Exhbit 1 10 tubes of unknown paste https://www.amazon.com/YEECHUN-Heatsink-Compound-Performance-Polysynthetic/dp/B0739VTBTD/

$12 with prime. A fraction of MX-4 cost.

Exhibit 2 5 tubes and 200g of this stuff for $14 https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0749Q4311

4G of MX-4 is $9 so that's $14 instead of $450

Exhibit 3 $5 Protronix with a little tub and applicator https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01MT0V39S

That looks a lot like https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01D0S7H8Q/

Crazy options. For servers, I know there's a difference between terrible and ok. Are any of these cheap ones ok?

It'd save me $20-30 a year if there were. I use lots on our embedded servers that have way too much compound on them.
 

T_Minus

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There's some older threads on this if I recall... but my research in the past lead me to: Gelid Solutions GC-Extreme
Price to performance it was the best for me, and also ease of use, compatible with accidentally mixing, etc... all fine.

With that said... I have dozens of tubes of the oily-stuff given to me by ebay sellers, works fine too.

IMHO in a server (or a desktop for that matter) 3-5* difference does not matter.
It especially does not matter in a server where the 'idle fan speed' is likely able to handle over a 5* increase without even increasing fan speed.
 

ELit3

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I've used TG-7 Thermaltake for a few years now and never had any issues 3.3W/m-k 4g.
 

Patrick

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Remember, a major goal if this is to simply eliminate air gaps between surfaces. I suspect even the inexpensive options you have will work if used properly.

Also keep in mind that there are two types of TIM. Ones that are meant to affix a heatsink to a CPU and ones that are meant to be removed. That is a very broad statement, and there are many other factors to consider, but it also can have an enormous impact if you are using them on a socketed CPU.
 
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vinceflynow

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I"m using a 5-year old tube of Arctic Silver 5. I always apply a pea-side glob, and use a old credit card to spread and scrape the thinnest non-transparent layer over the CPU, before putting on the heat-sink.
 
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BLinux

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a little off topic, but recently using Supermicro servers, I noticed that the Supermicro heatsinks contact surface is very rough and not finely polished like PC enthusiast CPU heatsinks/coolers. it makes me think that it's important to use a thermal grease that is not too think and will properly fill in the gaps in the scratches of the Supermicro heatsink's contact surface...
 

T_Minus

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a little off topic, but recently using Supermicro servers, I noticed that the Supermicro heatsinks contact surface is very rough and not finely polished like PC enthusiast CPU heatsinks/coolers. it makes me think that it's important to use a thermal grease that is not too think and will properly fill in the gaps in the scratches of the Supermicro heatsink's contact surface...
Not off topic.

But, I did notice this too and experimented by sanding and buffing one on a 2P system and comparing... 0 difference... same thermal compound but one was "smooth" and the other was rough still.
 

K D

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Noctua NH-T1. Have several tubes that came with coolers that I have brought over the years. Down to my last 2.
 

frogtech

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Was gonna make a topic but glad I found this one.

Can anyone recommend like a single, buy once, use forever size/quantity of thermal paste that works fine and is multi purpose?

By multipurpose I am referring to what Patrick said earlier e.g. Can be used with heatsinks just fine but isn't meant to be used to "attach" them? I've had tubes of AS, NT-H1, CoolerMaster stuff before, it all works fine, I'm just out and tired of wasting money on TIM.
 

frogtech

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@frogtech for all my talk I chickened out on the unknowns. I got 65g MX-2 for high capacity. It's at least bigger than a 4g tube
Yeah but still, I want way more than that. 26 bucks for 65g is absurd I feel like. But I'm gonna be honest, I'm not able to conceptualize the size of that so it could be huge for all I know. So maybe $26 gets you a LOT of paste?

Thoughts / comments?
 

T_Minus

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I"m using a 5-year old tube of Arctic Silver 5. I always apply a pea-side glob, and use a old credit card to spread and scrape the thinnest non-transparent layer over the CPU, before putting on the heat-sink.
I was using Artic Silver too, the GELID will run around 5* cooler. This isn't my testing, but numerous other website results that have compared.

If all you are doing is testing a cpu before installing it 'for real' then use the cheap/free stuff, and then for final install use the 'good' stuff.

My 02 at least. :)
 

MiniKnight

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@frogtech It's a big tube. The interior is about a US nickel in diameter by 3/4 of a standard business card full of paste.

If the 4g tube is good for a handful of applications, 2-4. So this is 15x that much. It'll be under 1/2 dollar per application easily.
 

pricklypunter

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I have both Arctic Silver and MX4 on hand and use them interchangeably, i.e whichever one I find in the bag first, is the one I use. As for polishing heatsink bases, unless it is extremely rough, there's little point in doing so in one off situations, or for low quantities. By extremely rough, I mean it has a divet or a gouge across it, that's deeper than about 0.25mm. Those I usually immediately reject and replace, but sometimes you just have to go with what you have available at 2am on a Sunday morning. If you have some wet 'n dry paper of various grades and a piece of plate glass to work on, you can get the worst of it out pretty easily, but who carries that around in their tool box for the day when you come across a bad heatsink? :D

Just about any purpose made thermal compound on the market today will fill any voids and provide sufficient thermal coupling no matter how bad the surface is. Obviously though, the flatter the contact surface (low RA), the less compound will be required to efficiently thermally couple the device to its heaksink. Even contact pressure and true flat and clean mating surfaces are much more important than the name on the tube of grease used to couple them, also the closer you can bring the two mating faces, the longer the working life of your compound for various reasons, not the least being that the temperature delta between one side of the compound and the other is much lower and there's less room in there for air and moisture to get in and break it down :)

Buying compound in bulk nowadays really only works when you can use it in bulk. Gone are the days of the simple lower rated silicone based products that, although 10 years old and milky, could be vigorously shaken and re-mixed in the tube/ tub etc. In fact I still have quite a bit of the old sticky white stuff in my drawer, it's great for Triacs, large thermal brackets and the like, but I digress. Modern preparations do break down over time, especially when exposed to air/ moisture etc and will not properly remix again. It will still work a couple of years later, it just won't be as efficient as when new and will have lost some of the properties you bought it for in the first place :)

Way too much emphasis is placed on compound, the reality is, there's very little to separate modern preparations in terms of thermal efficiency. I'm sure the gimmick chasers and fanboys would disagree with me, but that's been my experience over 40 years in the electronics field :)
 
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BLinux

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for short term testing, just use toothpaste:


then use the expensive stuff for final installation. plus, it'll add a minty scent to your server!
 

K D

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While looking up Gelid GC-extreme that @T_Minus mentioned I came across the Phanteks PH-NDC_02 which is rated similar to the Gelid but about half the price. Ordered a tube to check out with a a couple of CPUs I'll be installing next week.
 

Nanotech

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Apparently Thermal Grizzly Kryonaut is rated the best in terms of performance but for say a 20g tube it's at least several times more expensive than a tube of 20g MX-2/MX-4 thermal paste. From what I've seen even the best rated thermal paste other than MX-2/MX-4 usually advertise a lifetime of about 3 years at certain temperatures while MX-4 advertises 8 years of a lifespan.
 

frogtech

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While looking up Gelid GC-extreme that @T_Minus mentioned I came across the Phanteks PH-NDC_02 which is rated similar to the Gelid but about half the price. Ordered a tube to check out with a a couple of CPUs I'll be installing next week.
I just bought some as well, per your suggestion since it was cheaper.