Indigo Xtreme is a totally different TIM compared to what computer enthusiasts are accustomed to. It’s not a ceramic paste, it’s not a metallic paste, it’s not a metallic paint, it’s not a liquid metal, it’s not a metal pad, it’s….something very different. The makers of Indigo Xtreme say it best: “Indigo Xtreme™ is a self-contained and sealed structure, deploying a Phase Change Metallic Alloy (PCMA) which reflows and fills surface asperities on the CPU lid and heat sink. The resultant interfacial layer is void-free and robust, with low thermal contact and bulk resistance.” In Layman’s terms, it’s a plastic card-like outer frame with a partial ring of metal that, once heated and allowed to reflow between the IHS and the cooler, forms a thin layer of metal perfectly adapted to the two surfaces. It’s a high-tech TIM.
I loved it in my initial review of it and that hasn’t changed. It is important to note that its installation procedure is a little less confidence inspiring on AMD than it is on Intel, but that’s largely because AMD CPUs aren’t as friendly at their thermal limits. Rather than predictably throttling, AMD CPUs prefer to simply turn off. The remedy to that is to lower CPU settings, but doing that also reduces how much energy the CPU is using and it lengthens the reflow procedure considerably. In the end, I found stock settings on my 1055T to be an acceptable setting. It would hit thermal shutdown once per mount and I’d reboot and continue reflow seamlessly after that.
Arctic Silver 5 is an old-timer in this group and I was tempted to drop it from the test line-up, but considering how immensely popular it still is, it was included. It was a new TIM all the way back in 2003 yet it’s still considered very competitive and performed well in my last review. It has evolved into the TIM to which every other TIM manufacturer compares their products, as big a compliment as any. Despite being an old product, Arctic Silver provides updated application instructions for even Intel and AMD’s newest processors.
Arctic Cooling MX-2 is, arguably, the most popular TIM in the enthusiast community. It’s known for exceptionally easy and consistent installation, great performance, non-conductive and non-capacitive qualities, and for being non-curing. It’s also become popular in the testing community as it’s readily available in large, 30g syringes for a reasonable price. Unfortunately, there’s been murmurs of MX-2 being EOL’d. Despite not being a perfect TIM, it has remained a great performer for end-users and testers and a great value overall. It will be sad to see this TIM to leave the market.
Shin-Etsu X23-7783D is Shin-Etsu’s least thermally resistive TIM and their easiest to work with, according to their data. Shin-Etsu doesn’t market to enthusiasts, nor do many people know about their specific offerings, but many enthusiasts do associate Shin-Etsu with good TIM. To be honest, as the world’s largest supplier of semiconductor materials, the enthusiast community’s interest in TIM is probably way off their radar.
Cooler Master IceFusion has potential to be the greatest value in the TIM market. It’s targeted at system builders (who use a lot of TIM) and can be found in a 200g tub for less than $20. It’s a very basic white paste that separates easily (more on this later) with very poor specs, but considering the amazing price per gram, it was something that begged to be tested. Best case scenario for this TIM was that it became a great option for anyone who uses a lot of TIM, even those who need high performance or no cure, and the worst case scenario was that it serves as a reference for what to expect from a poor performing or generic TIM.