Thursday, October 11, 2007

Which is the best CPU thermal paste compound?

This is an interesting piece of article I read at Dansdata. The article is a review of different thermal paste compounds that is applied between the processor and the heat sink, something that probably nobody had done before. To make the test more interesting they had thrown in a couple of weird stuff to compete with the likes of Artic Silver. The "clowns" as they call it, consist of toothpaste and Vegemite, a type of sandwich spread.

The interesting part is of course, the results. And yes, it's surprising. Guess what? toothpaste beat Artic Silver 3!!

First he used no paste at all and measured the heat produced. The result - 0.66°C/W (Celsius per watt). Next he applied some plain white zinc oxide. The result was 0.50°C/W.
Artic Silver 3 was next and it scored 0.50°C/W.
And toothpaste scored 0.47°C/W. Even Vegemite was pretty good at 0.48°C/W.

It doesn't mean that you can scrap off the Artic Silver paste off your processor and use toothpaste, simply because toothpaste and vegemite are watery compounds which will dry up pretty quick leaving a layer of insulating material between the processor and the heat sink. They believe that the reason why these substances worked so well was simply because they're wet. Once the water in the compound dries up the substance would stop transferring heat. Thermal pastes on the other hand, are designed to stay sticky and semi solid for a long long time without drying. However, the results shows that toothpastes can come useful as a stop-gap measure, when you run out of thermal paste and desperately need to run your computer for a few hours.  

The guys at Dansdata weren't the only ones to discover the effectiveness of unconventional thermal pastes. One guy had reportedly used antiseptic cream as thermal paste and had dedicatedly recorded his findings in a forum thread. He says his CPU temperature dropped to 47 degrees, which was lower by 3 degrees than the normal temperature of 50 degrees, he usually got on stock cooling with a proper thermal paste. Read more about it here.

And here is the graphical representation of the results from dansdata.

The complete article can be read here.


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