Thermalright Chill Factor, Chill Factor 2, and Chill Factor 3 Review

Intro

This is the seventh 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.

Thermalright is one of the biggest names in heatsinks for both CPUs and GPUs.  They also happen to sell thermal paste.  For awhile, all they had was Chill Factor and it only seemed to be worthwhile as a low cost paste to bundle with their heatsinks.  Since then, they’ve introduced two more pastes, Chill Factor 2 and Chill Factor 3 seemingly aimed at the high-end market.  Because we’re not sure on the EOL status of any of the three (though we would guess CF and/or CF2 has been EOL’d), we’re going to test all three.

After today, we’ll have twenty TIMs completed in the 2011 Comparison, but we still have over 20 more on the docket.  Lots of testing left to do!

The TIMs

Chill Factor is Thermalright’s oldest and least expensive paste. It’s an oily, medium-thickness white paste that separates too easily for our liking. It also recommends reapplying the paste once every 12 months and gives a shelf-life of the same length.  While that isn’t very confidence inspiring, Chill Factor is well priced and represents an interesting value.  It comes in one size, a 4.8ml syringe (between 10-14g) and can be found for just $3.

Chill Factor 2 is Thermalright’s first entry into the enthusiast thermal paste market. It’s a thick, dry, light gray (with a tinge of blue) paste that includes a card to spread the paste. At roughly $6 for 4g, it’s a moderate value without considering performance.

Chill Factor 3 is Thermalright’s newest paste. It’s a liquidy, gray paste that reminds me a lot of Prolimatech PK-1, physically (including the occasional separation with the 2nd component being a thick, mucus-y, and dark gray). It comes with a card to spread the paste.  At roughly $8 for 4g, it’s an okay value without considering performance.

The Blocks

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.

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Comments

Posted On
Jul 05, 2011
Posted By
J_M

Very interesting, any chance of an addendum using the bead method with CF3?

Posted On
Jul 05, 2011
Posted By
Eric (Vapor) Hassett

If/when we get around to testing application method, CF3 is the leading candidate. :)

Posted On
Jul 08, 2011
Posted By
Church

Vapor: even more so then PK-1? :/

Posted On
Jul 08, 2011
Posted By
Eric (Vapor) Hassett

We’ll do multiple TIMs, probably 2 or 3, but CF3 gets more priority to test because the premise of testing (IMO) is “manual spreading is a hindrance to performance” and the CF3 instructs manual spreading, making it the prime candidate (to date).

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