GamersNexus vs The Thermal Paste Cabal

Subject: Cases and Cooling | August 11, 2018 - 11:24 PM |
Tagged: thermal paste

A couple of weeks ago, GamersNexus published a video and article that benchmarked CPU performance across various thermal paste patterns. It’s well established that the best method of applying the compound is to spread it out as thin as possible, so it fills the gaps with something better than air but doesn’t insulate the parts that would naturally make perfect contact. That takes effort, though, and it’s not clear how much that buys you for modern CPUs with integrated heat-spreaders (IHS).

Video credit: GamersNexus

If you’re attaching a heatsink to a GPU or other bare die ASIC? Different story. Their tests are focused on CPUs with heat spreaders.

Long story short? Not so much difference. The “pea sized” method had a little issue because it didn’t fully cover the IHS, but they went on with the tests because it’s supposed to reflect real-world situations, and that was a real-world type of error. Even still, that corresponded to less than a degree Celsius under load (as measured on an Intel Core i7-8086k). The article mentions something about delidding the CPU, although the photos clearly have an IHS (and that’s the point of the test in the first place) so I’m guessing they only took the IHS off temporarily and replaced it.

It’s interesting how close they ended up. I would have thought that 30 minutes of full load would show at least a few degrees of variance, but apparently not, even with a little patch of uncovered space.

Check out their post (and video above) for more info!

Source: GamersNexus

August 12, 2018 | 12:28 AM - Posted by Justin (not verified)

The thermal paste on non soldered Intel cpus isn't the best, deliding is replacing that paste with something better.

August 12, 2018 | 11:58 AM - Posted by Scott Michaud

Ahh okay. I knew about the bad interface material since (Ivy Bridge?), but didn't click that they delidded and relidded for that reason. Thanks!

August 13, 2018 | 06:04 AM - Posted by Anonymousse (not verified)

try watching the video before you make yourself look like a fool

August 12, 2018 | 05:45 AM - Posted by BrightCandle (not verified)

I delidded and replaced the TIM with liquid metal and then glued the IHS back on. Dropped about 15-20C under load. Gamers Nexus may have glued it back on as well, only takes a tiny drop to hold it in place so it is easy to remove if you have a delid tool.

August 12, 2018 | 08:03 AM - Posted by Krom

Same on my 7700K, used a delidding tool, cleaned all the glue off till both the bottom of the spreader and the top of the chip PCB was clean and shiny, then applied thermal grizzly conductonaut, then glued the IHS back on with a very thin strip of red RTV gasket maker (leaving a gap on one edge to allow air to flow in and out). Went from ~85C to ~65C on a custom loop water cooler with a 420mm radiator, it also reduced power consumption on the load I was testing with from ~120w to ~115w.

August 12, 2018 | 02:44 PM - Posted by Andrew Wells (not verified)

I haven't seen any tests that prove that spreading thermal paste evenly makes any kind of difference that couldn't be considered within the margin of error for the tests, so I'm having trouble with your statement that this is 'well established' as the best method beyond anecdotally, or simply because it requires the most effort.

I'd be curious to find out if there are any resources out there that prove this.

August 12, 2018 | 03:07 PM - Posted by Scott Michaud

The original sentence had "in theory" in there but it felt awkward. It's not about the data and the results, it's about aligning with the process that you're attempting to do, and that is create a thin layer that only fills the gaps. That is generally accepted.

August 12, 2018 | 04:13 PM - Posted by Krom

Spreading a thin coat over the entire IHS is the quickest and easiest way to guarantee full coverage and optimal performance while minimizing waste and the mess.

August 12, 2018 | 05:31 PM - Posted by Andrew Wells (not verified)

I'd argue the quickest and easiest way is to puke a small blob into the middle(ish) of the ihs, whack a cooler on there and call it good. Since all of these methods produce the same results, everybody having a different opinion on how to do it is A OK.

August 13, 2018 | 08:37 PM - Posted by Scott Michaud

Honestly, I just use the thermal pads that come pre-adhered with the coolers. I don't use actual thermal compound unless I'm re-attaching a cooler. That said, I also don't overclock.

August 12, 2018 | 03:42 PM - Posted by Kareha

Was hoping for an insightful video on thermal paste application but the first few seconds of the guy being an arse for poor comedy sake made me switch it off.

Also, this CAPTCHA system really fucking sucks balls.

August 12, 2018 | 08:05 PM - Posted by spartibus

It makes a lot more sense if you are an active follower of his videos and the comment discussion that goes on around them. He doesn't do a lot of joke stuff very often. I found it very humorous.

August 13, 2018 | 04:16 PM - Posted by Anonymously Anonymous (not verified)

captch on desktop is slightly annoying, but on mobile it not only sucks balls, but dicks and hairy-a-holes(which a side of chode too), good god it is bad, one has to go through 3, 4, sometimes even 5 pages of "find the images with in it", and HOPE it doesn't time out, and if you get one wrong? guess what, hope you copied your text before trying the captcha-mobile-time-waster-of-death, because chances are your text will be gone if you mess up the captcha.

Did I mention how much I loathe PCPer's captcha on mobile?

August 14, 2018 | 02:06 PM - Posted by ppi (not verified)

Actually, the video is very insightful showing the individual methods application and result (i) how it looks after removing the cooler (i.e. how is is the paste distributed), and (ii) thermal performance.

Admittedly, it is a lot tongue-in-cheek-style, because Steve is clearly of the opinion that the application method nearly does not matter ... and the thermal results support his view.

I suppose he was so ironic in his intro, because there were some unreasonable comments to his live stream when he was applying thermal paste.

August 13, 2018 | 11:25 PM - Posted by Griff (not verified)

Whole lot of *woosh* in the comments here.

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