The basic purpose of a heatsink is to remove heat from the core of your CPU. Therefore, metals with good heat transfer properties are ideal for use in heatsinks. Heat transfer or thermal conductivity is measured in W/cm-K (watts per centimetre per degree Kelvin). Thermal conductivity relates to how well a metal can absorb and transfer heat within itself. Different metals conduct heat differently because thermal conductivity is strongly driven by the interaction of electrons throughout the material.
In the case of (most) metals, electrons are shared as members of a collective 'whole' in which they float rather freely from on atom to the next. The more easily these electrons can move through the atomics, the better that metal will conduct heat. The small table below compares the thermal conductivity of a few different metals:
While diamond and silver conduct heat the best, most manufacturers have opted to make their heatsinks mainly out of aluminium. This is because aluminium is much easier to obtain, not to mention significantly cheaper. Can you imagine how much you would have to pay for a heatsink made out of pure diamond? Copper has also become a very popular material among heatsink manufacturers because it features good thermal conductivity properties and costs a fraction of what you'd be paying for silver, gold or diamond. However, as copper is much harder to machine than aluminium, a lot of manufacturers have stayed away from it to keep production costs down.
Another thing manufacturers look at when designing a heatsink is the thermal convection properties of a metal. While thermal conductivity refers to how well a metal absorbs and transfers heat within itself, thermal convection refers to how well a metal transfers the heat to a liquid or gas (for example, air). Air unfortunately does a rather poor job of conducting heat, which is why we usually see fans attached to the heatsink. When an object such as a fan is used to force the air across the heatsink, it is called forced convection.
The final important thing to look at when deciding on a metal for a heatsink is its ability to emit radiation. Radiation is the emission and propagation of energy in the form of rays or waves. In the case of a heatsink, the energy that is going to be emitted is heat. Black objects tend to emit energy very well. This is why we have seen many black coloured heatsinks in the past. That doesn't mean you should go out and paint your heatsink, as this will greatly reduce its effectiveness because the paint will act as an insulator.
Heatsinks get their colour from a process called anodizing, where their surface is coated electrolytically with a protective or decorative oxide. While a black heatsink will emit large amounts of radiation, most of the heat will be dissipated using convection. The performance difference between an anodized black heatsink and an identical heatsink of a different colour will be negligible. Other than looking cooler. And who wants to compromise performance for aesthetics?
PRICING: You can find products similar to this one for sale below.
United States: Find other tech and computer products like this over at Amazon's website.
United Kingdom: Find other tech and computer products like this over at Amazon UK's website.
Canada: Find other tech and computer products like this over at Amazon Canada's website.
- Heatsink Theory Guide - Page 1 [Introduction]
- Heatsink Theory Guide - Page 2 [Materials]
- Heatsink Theory Guide - Page 3 [Design]
- Heatsink Theory Guide - Page 4 [Manufacturing Methods]
- Heatsink Theory Guide - Page 5 [Fans & Thermal Interface Material]
- Heatsink Theory Guide - Page 6 [Testing the Theory]
- Heatsink Theory Guide - Page 7 [Conclusion]
- We at TweakTown openly invite the companies who provide us with review samples / who are mentioned or discussed to express their opinion of our content. If any company representative wishes to respond, we will publish the response here.
Latest News Posts
- ARMS sells over 100,000 copies in Japan in first week
- Titanfall 2 may hit 6K on Xbox One X with 100% GPU usage
- Take-Two relents on singleplayer GTA mods
- 47% of gamers spend money while playing games
- MSI Afterburner now has hardware plot graphics
- The Mummy Movie Review
- Computer freeze and audio buzz issue
- AZZA Photios 250 Mid-Tower Chassis Review
- Team T-Force Dark ROG DDR4-3000 16GB Memory Kit Review
- GA-X58A-UD3R wake on lan problem
- Logitech Circle 2 will be compatible with Amazon Echo Show
- Synology introduces DiskStation DS1517 and DS1817
- Deep Silver and 4A Games are proud to announce Metro Exodus
- Microsoft premieres Xbox One X, world's most powerful console
- Phison gears up for mobile phone market with PS8226 3D NAND eMMC 5.1 controller