One of the main things that sets this compound apart from the silver stuff is the fact that Nanotherm is a ceramic based material. This means that it is completely non-conductive. There is no fear of accidentally applying too much, and then having the excess get into the bridges causing the rapid death of your precious processor.
Also, the carrier fluid is made up of FDA approved "food grade" lubricants, so will not harm the environment either. While being environmental friendly isn't usually a major concern for me, the fact that it is basically made up of foodstuffs does make it easier to clean off the processor when it comes time to mess around under the hood of your system.
Another nice feature of the improved compound is twofold:
* There is now 50% more material per tube; and
* ESG dropped the suggested retail price
Not too bad a deal, huh? More thermal compound for less money. But before we start to glow over this deal, we should probably go ahead and see if it can cool well?
When I received the Nanotherm for review, I was in the middle of some testing on a heatsink. I normally use Arctic Silver II for my Thermal Interface Material (TIM), so what better way to check out the quality of the Nanotherm line than to run it through the same set of tests that I use to test coolers.
First, let's take a look at the test system:
Enclosure: Antec SX1030 w/ 170-CFM airflow
Mainboard: EPoX 8KHA+
Processor: AMD Thunderbird 1000 @ 1400MHz (AVIA)
Heatsink: Dr. Thermal TI-V77N
Memory: 512MB Crucial PC2100 DDR
Video Card: Prolink XX-Player GeForce3
Hard Drive: IBM 40GB 60GXP
As we can see, there is plenty here to create a hot system. Add the fact that the processor is being overclocked by 40%, and we have the makings of a virtual torture test for the new compound. Testing will consist of the identical tests that I use for testing heatsinks. Temperatures will be measured at idle, after a Quake III Arena Deathmatch, and finally after a continuous looping of the 3dMark2001 Demo.
Application was pretty straight forward and didn't differ from the method for any other TIM. After placing some of the compound on the processor core, I used the edge of a credit card to smooth it over the entire surface area of the core. One thing that I noticed was that the compound didn't go on as smoothly as the older variety. While there wasn't any real effort involved in getting it smoothed out, it did take a little more care when applying.
One more item of note is that before I registered temperatures for this review, I allowed both of the compounds to have a two day "break-in" period. This should take care of any arguments concerning the setting of the given compound for the task at hand.
Results (Degrees Celsius)
What have we here now? Seems that I'm going to have to declare a tie in the contest. While the Nanotherm lost out by half a degree at idle, it made up for it in the 3dMark2001 Demo run. Considering the fact that the new compound just went head-to-head with what is considered by many to be the industry standard, ESG has a very good product on their hands.