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4-way Thermal Interface Material Roundup

By: Mike Wright | Cables & Accessories in Cases, Cooling & PSU | Posted: Nov 12, 2007 5:00 am



When it comes to testing a thermal interface material, the goal is very similar to cooler reviews where the idea is to determine how cool the processor stays under stress. With this concept in mind, I will be thrashing out an Intel based setup to see just how well all these compounds work.


While some of our compounds claim to require no curing time, I will allow all tested materials to burn in for three days. This will create an even playing field for all products and there will be no advantages one way or the other.


Before we delve into the number, though, let's take a quick look at the test box.


Intel E6600 Processor @ 2.4GHz


Gigabyte GA-965P-DS4 (Supplied by Gigabyte)


2GB Corsair PC8500C5 DDR2 Memory (Supplied by Corsair)


GeCube X1900XTX Video Board (Supplied by GeCube)


In the past, we have made it a habit to look at temperatures at both idle and at load. In this test session, I will be monitoring a bit differently than before. Idle temperatures are more important when realizing the cooling potential of heatsinks, so I will be aiming at testing load temperatures. Of course, this caused a problem when three of the four compounds tested at identical load temperatures.


All right then, lets run through the test data and see how we can determine which product actually works best. Our test methodology consists of running a load test of the processor for approx 26 minutes. To try to find a winner, I went through the temperature logs and figured an average temperature throughout the test cycle.


As noted above, the processor is running at default speed it has the stock Intel OEM heatsink mounted for our testing. All system voltages are also set to default values so that everything will be on an even keel and we can give all compounds the same test bed as the others. Ambient temperature was a constant 23C and relative humidity was less than 25% during all test phases.



Talk about an even playing field! While I already knew from previous testing that the Arctic Cooling compound would beat out the vaunted AS5, I was more than a little surprised to see the close level of performance from the other products. While the Tuniq brand does manage to take the crown, it is a slim margin and I can say without reservation that any of these products will serve you quite well.


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