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How Manufacturers Test Heatsinks & Thermal Compound
How Manufacturers Test Heatsinks & Thermal Compound
Abstract: Have you ever wondered how a heatsink manufacturer tests its new heatsinks to ensure what you buy will do the job?

 Company link  Category  Published  Author   Cooling / Heatsinks   Jan 02, 2006   Max Page  
Home > Reviews > Page Title: Thermal Interface Material (TIM) Testing

So now that you have a clear idea of how manufacturers test their own heatsinks, I suppose you're wondering about thermal interface materials?

Next to the heatsink and fan, the thermal compound is going to have the most significant impact on how hot or warm a microprocessor runs. As you're already aware, TIM testing is one area that FrostyTech has not focused much on; the simple reason being that our lab lacks the necessary equipment to undertake TIM testing properly. Suffice to say, there is more to comparing thermal compounds than applying a glop of the stuff on a heatsink, running a few minutes of thermal test, wiping off the compound and moving to the next material.

The November 2003 issue of Electronics Cooling outlines the variety of thermal interface materials available to the industry, which underscores the complexity of this seemingly simple paste. Electronics Cooling goes on to outline the proper test parameters for evaluating thermal interface materials based on the ASTM 5470-01 standard in a second article, and it is against that benchmark that FrostyTech weighs its capability of offering meaningful results to our readers.

(Image Copyright

Without the appropriate equipment, like this pressure controlled Thermal Interface Material interface resistance test stand used by Philips Research Laboratories, there's little point in attempting TIM evaluations.

The interface resistance test apparatus consists of two silver cylinders between which the TIM sample is clamped. Teflon cylinders provide the necessary insulation for each silver block. The lower block is cooled by water jet impingement, allowing rapid changes in its temperature to be made. The temperature response of the upper block is used as a measure for the interface thermal resistance. A pneumatic cylinder applies a consistent compression load during each test.

And there you have it, FrostyTech's look at some of the test platforms manufacturers use to test and evaluate heatsinks and related thermal materials before bringing those items to a computer near you.

Note: If your company utilizes a different method of testing its own heatsinks under development, or TIMs, feel free to contact FrostyTech with the details.

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Heat Sink Review Index  

Table of Contents:

 1:  How Manufacturers Test Heatsinks & Thermal Compound
 2:  The next piece of the puzzle
 3:  Thermocouple placement and ambient temperatures
 4: — Thermal Interface Material (TIM) Testing

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