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Saturday, October 26, 2013

Arctic Silver 5 Thermal Compound, How to Apply and Review:

Arctic Silver 5 is the one of the best thermal compound on the market. There are other types that might be better for specific purposes (Arctic Céramique for example), but for cooling a CPU, this is the best. I've used it extensively for quite a few computer builds as well as a few 'special projects' like replacing the thermal compound on an Asus Formula X48 mother board's Northbridge and Southbridge heatsinks.

The results are always a 4-10c drop in CPU temperatures under load. You will not notice a huge difference at idle. The real gains in heat dissipation come when the CPU is being pushed. Also, don't trust the board makers proprietary software to tell you what your temperatures are; download a good program like RealTemp 2.41 or Everest for free (use google to find them). Either will give you more accurate numbers than Asus PC Probe, or whatever software your board manufacturer supplies.


There are users  saying Arctic Silver 5 didn't lower their temperatures. That is almost certainly because they're using it incorrectly, which I can understand since the instructions provided are minimally useful. So for those of you who are not familiar with applying thermal paste, here is the process:


Steps to  apply thermal Paste:

1. Remove the old thermal compound: This is accomplished by using Isopropyl alcohol to dissolve and loosen the old thermal paste. I recommend purchasing an ArctiClean kit. For minimal cost it will give you the compound remover, as well as an excellent surface preparer. Apply a several drops of the cleaner to the top of the chip and let it soak for 20-30 seconds. You might have to reapply more drops of cleaner again depending on how much thermal compound was present on the chip to begin with. Wipe all the waste off with a lintless cloth or cotton swabs.

2. Apply a surface cleaner: You can use more alcohol, or the surface preparer that comes in the arctic silver kit. Make sure there are no traces of the old compound: you can tell that the surface is perfectly clean when you can wipe it with a new q-tip and it comes away pure white.

3. Apply Arctic Silver 5: DO NOT USE TOO MUCH! If you do, it will squish outside the edge of the chip, get on your motherboard, the CPU locking mechanism, your hands, etc. It makes a real mess. Start with a small amount and add more if necessary. The idea here is to get a THIN, EVEN LAYER across the entire chip surface. A toothpick actually work's really well at spreading the paste around. You should not be able to see any part of the metal of the chip when you're done. Less is more in this instance; many people think they need to slather this stuff onto the chip, but trust me that does nothing but make a mess.

4. Install your heat sink and fan assembly: I recommend getting an aftermarket heat sink as those provided by Intel are notoriously poor. Zalman makes some great ones. Do NOT buy on that uses push pins to lock in place. You want one with screws and mounting bracket so that it is very securely attached to the motherboard and in turn, your CPU. This is probably equally important to applying the thermal compound correctly, because all the compound in the world won't help you if the heatsink isn't making solid contact with the chip's surface.

If you follow those steps, you will see a massive improvement in your core temps. Just remember that heat dissipation is achieved by the fans in your case and heatsinks, not the compound itelf. The compound simply allows for a much better transfer for heat from chip-->heatsink. You are sure to get good results if used correctly.

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