This is the eighth 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 that were not part of a logical pair or trio (i.e., one of two or three in a product line from a single manufacturer). The first is IC Perihelion, the less expensive sibling of IC Diamond. While IC Diamond has already been tested on our old testbed and didn’t impress, we will test it again on this testbed. But we are holding off until the very, very end of testing due to extreme polishing it is capable of (we are avoiding changes to testing surfaces as best we can), which is why IC Perihelion is being tested now–no sense in waiting to the extreme end of the testing to test Perihelion when it presents no polishing issues. Noctua NT-H1 is one of the most requested pastes for us to test and is also included with the popular Noctua heatsinks. OCZ Freeze, while EOL’d, is still getting requests to be tested and we happened to have a lot of it.
After today, we’ll have 23 TIMs completed in the 2011 Comparison, but we still have over 20 more on the docket. Lots of testing left to do!
IC Perihelion is the less expensive sibling of IC Diamond. It comes in two sizes, 2g and 4g, which can be found for $4-5 and $6-7, respectively. It’s a very, very, very thick grey paste that also has a sickening fish smell (not joking). While squeezing paste from a syringe is usually a non-issue, it is very difficult to squeeze Perihelion out of the syringe due to how thick it is–one of the few pastes that has usability issues other than instructed manual spreading. Without considering performance or installation difficulties (or smell), it has a pretty good entry price of $4 but is just a moderate value overall at $6 for 4g.
Noctua NT-H1 is a medium thickness grey paste with a super slight silvery sheen that spreads under pressure pretty well. It is Noctua’s only thermal paste on the market and is included with their heatsinks (which are aimed at the high-end market). It comes in one size: 3.5g. It can usually be found for $8 to $10. At over $2 per gram, it’s not a great value nor is $8 a great entry price, but that’s without considering performance.
OCZ Freeze is OCZ’s former entry into the thermal paste market. From our memory, it was scrapped when OCZ made an attempt to refocus on their core businesses. Regardless of performance, we cannot recommend it due to it’s EOL status, but it was still highly requested to test and we agreed–it will be good to know if it has come out under another name and how good of a performer it is for the people who currently use it. It’s a thick grey paste that does not spread easily under pressure. Contrary to OCZ’s stock photo, it is not a blue paste (nor does it have a blue tint).
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.