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Nanocomposite Thermal Compound Review
Nanocomposite Thermal Compound Review
Abstract: In this day and age, it isn't good enough to just have the fastest fan and biggest heatsink. Attention must be paid to the little things in life...

 Manufacturer  Category  Published  Author 
ESG   Cooling / Heatsinks   Aug 27, 2001   Max Page  

Nanocomposite Thermal Compound Review

In this day and age, it isn't good enough to just have the fastest fan and biggest heatsink. Attention must be paid to the little things in life, and in particular, the few hundredths of an inch between the processor die and the base of a mounted heatsink.

If you skimp on this tiny area, you might be in trouble down the road because of over-heating. So if you've been starring at the monkey trying to decide to punch it or not, stop looking around and pay attention to what I'm about to say!

Current AMD processor cores expose their silicon backsides to the world. Now while these surfaces are very finely finished, the heatsinks they meet up to mate with are not always so lucky. Hence, to improve thermal conduction between these two surfaces, and to remove any small air pockets that would hinder such optimal conduction, thermal compound is used.

Unlike salsa on the nachos, or ketchup on a street dog, it's best to use the least possible amount of thermal compound on your processors core (and only the core). Don't squeeze on mountains of thermal goo, and for heck's sake, don't cover the entire top of the processor in thermal compound!!!

Some compounds are electrically conductive (ie. silver-based materials) so this could potentially short out an AMD processor which has exposed electrical contact on the surface. Silver-base compound does naturally have some of the best thermal conduction properties out there, but depending on what you get, silicon-based, or nonsilicon-based materials and be quite good as well. Whatever the material, it is important to remember this, thermal compound is only a good thermal conductor relative to air. Compared to copper, aluminum, silver, or heck even lead, thermal compounds fall short - significantly. But if you stack up that hundredth of an inch against a comparable space of air, the thermal compound will shine brightly.

One of the newest materials to hit the streets is Nanocomposite thermal compound from Associates. The exact materials that make up this super-goo are under lock and key, but in a matter of moments we shall see first hand how it stacks up to a motley assortment of thermal compounds we happen to have on hand.

The competitors:

Thermal Compound Description Available
Nanotherm Ice Nanocomposite thermal compound, non-silicon based.
Nanotherm Blue Nanocomposite thermal compound, non-silicon based.
OCZ Silver goo Silver-based thermal compound.
Stars 700 Generic 25% silver-based thermal compound. Comes standard with Fortis heatsinks. N/A
White Generic Thermal Compound Silicon-based generic material, no tech data available N/A
Results Check No thermal compound, bare metal to metal. N/A

Note: At the time of this review we did not have any Arctic Silver II on hand to include in the comparison. The test was conducted using the FrostyTech Synthetic Temperature test platform, the small copper die template, and the Vantec CCK-6035 Retail heatsink.

The Results:

Thermal Compound Temperature
Nanotherm Blue 56.1
Nanotherm Ice 56.7
Stars 700 55.5
OCZ Silver Goo 55.8
White Generic Compound 55.4
Results Check 69.8

Well, what can be gathered from these rather undifferentiated set of results? First of all, it looks like that 25% silver goo that comes with the Fortis heatsinks isn't that bad at all. The most surprising result would have to be the generic white compound (came with the Akasa Silver Mountain). I'm a little surprised that it managed to come in on par with the rest of the compounds frankly. The Nanotherm compounds came in very well, and for a non-silver compound hold their own. Does one compound blow all the others away? Judging by the numbers not really, but the newcomer( ) does present a viable alternative to ye old standard - and hey, we're partial to the blue colour!

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