What is thermal paste and why do I need it?
The top surface of a CPU, or the flat side of a heat-sink may seem perfectly smooth to the naked eye. Yet, you can be assured that every one of them contains microscopic divots, scratches, and pits. These seemingly miniscule imperfections trap air, which is one of the worst conductors of heat. For obvious reasons, it’s therefor In your best interests to occupy these areas fully, as to optimize performance, and extend the life of your components, via reduction of heat capacity. The only solve for this dilemma is thermal paste. Thermal paste is specifically designed to be thermally conductive, and is used to fill In those otherwise unseen spaces on the surfaces of your heat-sensitive parts; providing molecule to molecule thermal contact. This translates into lower temperatures overall, and longevity in the life of your components.
There are varying levels of quality among thermal pastes. Some are simply made from ceramic, and/or carbon based polymers, while there are others who’ve made it A point to discover The best ingredients for heat dissipation. There are (speaking very generally) only two types of paste. Ones that provide electrical conductivity, and Those that do not. Those with metal components to them typically conduct heat better, but their electrical conductivity takes The risk of damaging components; were they ever to get accidentally applied to the wrong areas. The ceramic, and carbon-based options aren’t electrically conductive, however they pose no risk of ruining other components, therefor are safer for newbies choosing to apply it themselves. They don’t transfer heat as well, which will leave your CPU a few degrees higher. Unlikely to cause damage unless you’re running a serious computing endeavor, or overclocking.
What is the Best Thermal Paste to Buy?
According to a market review performed by icontrolpad of the 5 best thermal pastes, they ranked Arctic Silver 5 as the best overall thermal compound. We think every PC enthusiast should have a tube of thermal paste in their kit for re-applying worn out thermal compound or reducing CPU temperatures further.
Arctic Silver 5 High Density Polysynthetic Silver Compound
There are reasons for, and against many thermal paste options, but one brand, and mixture has reigned supreme for over A decade. Enter; Arctic Silver. Underway in 1999, they made a huge name for themselves over the span of the last two decades, and is now the go-to name when it comes to thermal compounds for all computer heat dissipation needs.
Their most widely used, and recognized formula is their “A.S 5 High Density Polysynthetic Silver Compound.” It’s a unique formula containing silver, and enhanced thermally conductive, yet non-electrically conductive ceramic particles, and provides unseen capabilities for performance, and stability. A.S 5 is optimized for a range of bond lines, between modern high-power CPUs, and high performance water-cooling solutions. A.S 5 contains over 88% thermally conductive filler, by weight. Alongside the masterfully implimented micronized silver, A.S 5 also contains sub micron zinc oxide, aluminum oxide, and boron nitride particles for durability under stress, and for the phases of polymer fluctuation the formula goes through.
How To Apply Thermal Paste
Measured to keep temps up to 12 degrees centigrade lower at CPU full load core temps than standard thermal compounds, or thermal pads. (A calibrated thermal diode imbedded In the CPU core was used for that research). The 3.5 gram syringe will cover approximately 16 square inches if utilized properly, and applied to .003″ thickness. Typically, I apply a dab about half the size of a pea, and it works wonders, and my tube lasts me a year, easilly.
A.S 5 does not contain any silicone. The suspension fluid is a mixture of advanced polysynthetic oils, that work together to provide three distinctive functional phases. Fresh from the tube, it has a consistency that is engineered for easy application. It’s basically like slightly melted chocolate. During the start of usage the compound thins out to ensure the best possible physical contact between the heat sink, and the CPU. Then it thickens over many, many hours of use, till it reaches it’s final consistency designed for long-term stability, and maximum usage time before needed replacement. On average, I’ll repaste my CPU once a month. Me, being a casual computer user, this is probably more than most.
I chose A.S 5 for it’s simplicity, and it’s effectiveness. When searching for a compound to utilize early on, I went through a few brands that I didn’t mind. Good reviews, and cheap products will get purchased, but Arctic Silver is not in this category. Truly, it’s a phenom in it’s field. Equal to select few, and inferior to none; you’ll be glad you chose A.S, like me, and countless others.