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Thermal Compound Review: Quicksilver
Thermal Compound Review: Quicksilver
Abstract: If you've ever installed a fancy new heatsink on your processor then you know thermal compound can be very influential to cooling.

 Manufacturer  Category  Published  Author 
OCZ Technology   Cooling / Heatsinks   Mar 09, 2001   Max Page  

OCZ Quicksilver Thermal Compound Review

If you've ever installed a fancy new heatsink on your processor then you know thermal compound can be very influential to cooling. If no thermal compound or thermal pad is used in the interface between a heatsink and the core of a processor, improper heat transmission may occur. If that happens the heatsink may over heat (if it is overclocked for example), or it may just run hotter then it really needs to.

Even a very small amount of thermal compound can affect the transmission of heat between the surface of a processor and the base of a heatsink. In fact, manufacturers generally recommend only a small amount of thermal compound ever be used. Too much thermal compound can actually make the situation worse, but for the most part is just a waste of the material.

Generally speaking, thermal compounds are bad at transferring heat energy. Where copper can transfer upwards of 398 W/m*K, the average thermal compound hangs in at around 0.70-1.4 W/m*K. So why would anyone want to put such horribly unconductive goo on their processor? Two reasons really. Thermal compound fills in the small voids that exist between a processor core, and the base of a heatsink. This improves the path by which heat energy travels. Improve?

Well the alternative is to have air fill those voids. Air is much worse at transferring thermal energy than even the poorest thermal compound out there. The tradeoff is an improvement - so long as the compound is applied properly.

This has been drilled into everyone's head a million times, but I find myself even putting too much thermal goo on sometimes. Heck, I once saw our man 'west', hands covered in thermal compound, and heatsink almost totally white! So how much compound should you apply, and how should you apply it? The best way I have found to apply thermal goo is to put a very small dab on the core, and spread it around with a piece of rubber or plastic to get a layer of uniform thickness. The finger method may be easy, but rarely ever gives you good consistent coverage.

In the days when processor dies didn't have their silicon exposed it was also a good idea to rotate the heatsink atop of the processor to remove any excess compound. Now a days I don't recommend that at all. It scratches the silicon too much.

In an effort to solve a few of these concerns metal-based thermal compounds have been introduced like this. The addition of very fine metallic particles increases the thermal conductivity of the compound, but can also make the liquid electrically conductive. That point can lead to a very hazardous situation if too much of the compound is applied and inadvertently comes in contact with electrical contacts, shorting them out.

Designed for:

Any heatsink that does not use a thermal pad. Tip: Use very sparingly.


  • Silver-impregnated Thermal Compound
  • Electrically conductive
  • About 3-5cc worth of compound
  • Cost: ~$10

To test the effectiveness of the Quicksilver thermal compound we used the synthetic test apparatus and the ThermoEngine V60-4210 heatsink. With the Thermoengine on the small copper die template a small amount of the silver-based thermal compound was applied to the base of the heatsink. The system was then left until the temperature stabilized. What is the synthetic test platform you ask?

° Next Page 

Table of Contents:

 1: — Thermal Compound Review: Quicksilver
 2:  Synthetic Testing and results

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