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Thermal Paste Comparison
Reviewed by Jason Jacobs on 08.13.2003


Thermal paste is usually an overlooked, but essential component of any modern computer system. Back in the days of 75 - 500 MHz CPU's, the heatsink could be mounted directly on the processor and no one gave head a second thought. Systems were nearly silent, with only a minute fan (if any) placed on the CPU. In all reality, the hard drive usually made more noise than the HSF did.

The CPU cooling situation is very different now. Although thermal paste has been used since the inception of devices that output heat, the demand for high-efficiency thermal compound for CPU cooling is a recent development. Today's processors generate so much heat that they will literally smoke if left without a heat sink for more than even a few seconds. The days of passive heatsinks are gone, unless a revolution in technology, that radically reduces the output wattage of processors, sweeps through the market. In the wake of passive heatsinks much more elaborate means of cooling CPUs have been created. These means include traditional heatsinks engineered to displace as much heat as possible, water-cooling solutions, phase change devices, and peltier coolers, to name a few. Along with all of these methods of keeping the fiery beast at the heart of your computer tame, comes the use of a "Thermal Interface Material," (TIM) which is more commonly known as thermal paste.

While most of these substances do resemble a paste-like consistency, a few do not. TIM's include the thermal pad that Intel and AMD include with their retail packages and also some more liquid-like substances available from many vendors on the internet.

Seven of the most popular cutting-edge thermal pastes available at the time of this review have been compared.

These are:

1. Arctic Silver 3

2. Shin Etsu G751

3. Silicone Paste

4. Nanotherm Blue II

5. Nanotherm Silver XTC

6. Nanotherm PCM+

7. Silver Grease

The Line Up

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