This is the tenth installment of many of the Skinnee Labs TIM Comparison 2011. For most of the installments, results will be released in two or three TIM sets roughly every two or three weeks and today we have three TIMs to show.
Today we have three pastes from three different companies: EVGA, Phobya, and TIM Consultants.
EVGA is primarily a motherboard and nVidia graphics card company, but has recently been extending into other markets, especially if there is a shared interest with extreme overclocking. Frostbite is no exception, TIM is starting to get notice in the extreme (LN2, dry ice, phase change) overclocking community. Turns out the old standby, Ceramique, is really bad subzero. One alternative that greatly outperformed Ceramique at cryogenic temperatures came from an unknown company in Taiwan: Homight. From what I can surmise, EVGA Frostbite is just a rebrand of Homight.
Phobya is a brand that’s hard to describe. Their own About Phobya page does a better job than I could. From what I can tell, it has become a branding house that has a tight association with and takes influence from AquaTuning.com. Regardless of who they are, this is their first thermal paste and it’s a good bet it’s not an in-house formula. In fact, I feel very, very confident in saying it is just a rebrand of Gelid GC-Extreme (GC-03A). I’m also ~80% sure that Scythe Thermal Elixer is a rebrand of GC-Extreme and HeGrease.
TIM Consultants is a small (or at least by initial appearances, I actually have no idea how large they are), American company which specializes in TIM. Arctic Silver Matrix either took influence from or is a direct rebrand of TIM Consultants’ initial paste: TC Grease 0098. Quantum is their next generation of paste (if you look at the URL for it, it seems its name was “Matrix 2″ at one point) and promises 44% better performance. As far as I know, Quantum has not been rebranded by anyone.
After today, we’ll have 29 TIMs completed in the 2011 Comparison, but we still have over 20 more on the docket. Lots of testing left to do!
EVGA Frostbite is a silvery paste that has a striking resemblance to Nexus TMP-1000. Like TMP-1000, it thins well under pressure and also has a questionable declared quantity. A single “2g” syringe was way more than enough to get me through testing. Maybe they’re both very low density. At $10 for 2g, it’s not a great value but if you think of it in terms of mounts (12+) for $10, it’s actually pretty good. However, the $10 entry price (minimum price of any quantity) keeps company with premium pastes, which is not very good.
Phobya HeGrease is a very light gray, wet, thick paste which spreads pretty well under pressure. At roughly $10 for 3.5g, it’s neither a great value nor has a great entry price, but it gets worse when you consider how many mounts you get for $10. I was only able to get 5-6 mounts per 3.5g syringe, leading me to believe either the 3.5g rating is inaccurate or the paste is very dense. At $2 per mount, it has a very premium price for a paste.
TIM Consultants Quantum is a gray, very wet, medium-thick paste that spreads sort-of well under pressure. It comes in a wide variety of sizes and prices, starting as low as $3 for a 1.6g syringe, to $30 for a 50g container, to $500 for a 2000g container. Along the way, prices also decrease as you increase quantities of each type of container. I was able to get 7-8 mounts out of a single 1.6g syringe, which was I thought was impressive and puts the worst case scenario price at 40 cents per mount. The one issue is with availability and shipping. Normally I cite prices and sizes without any mention of shipping with the assumption that a small, light tube of paste will have free shipping when included with an order of other parts (heatsinks, waterblocks, radiators, etc.). Considering Quantum is only available directly through TIM Consultants and cannot be added on to an order of larger, heavier items, shipping price must be considered. With that said, I was pleasantly surprised when I ordered 10 syringes and 2-3 day shipping was just $1.65.
For all three contact “settings” I use a Koolance CPU-360. I’ve chosen the CPU-360 due to its great mounting system (although I’ve modified all three blocks’ mounting systems) and because it’s pretty easy to add slight modifications.
At the “Poor” end of the spectrum, I have a stock CPU-360r1.2 with extremely low mounting pressure; the stock CPU360r1.2 has a somewhat irregular base and when paired with low pressure, TIM does not spread into a thin layer particularly well.
For the “Moderate” contact setting, I’ve taken a CPU-360r1.1 and reduced some of the internal structure so that there’s absolutely no bow. With pressure in the center of the base the block can actually become slightly concave as the o-ring compresses, but with only moderate mounting pressure the base seems to stay perfectly flat.
As for “Great” contact, I might have gone a little overboard; no block on the market has contact this great. I’ve modified a CPU-360r1.2 to have a thicker midplate with a compressible layer and the result is a pretty extreme bow that flattens with mounting pressure. And there’s a lot of mounting pressure. The result is impressive; with low viscosity pastes, it looks like there isn’t even any TIM on the center of the CPU when taking the mount apart. Even with viscous pastes the resulting layer is extremely thin.