This is the eleventh 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 two TIMs to show.
Today we have the two of the three pastes from Tuniq: TX-2 and TX-4. We would also test TX-3 but it has been EOL’d and we had problems sourcing enough for testing, in addition to some batch issues (drying). TX-2 and TX-4 have not been EOL’d and are readily available, but TX-4 also had some batch issues. There will be more on this later.
Tuniq is a subdivision of Sunbeamtech that has had popular heatsinks and TIMs in the past few years. They’ve also entered the case and PSU business recently, it seems, but the focus here is on cooling, specifically their TIMs. They’ve had four pastes on the market: TX-1, TX-2, TX-3, and TX-4. Today, just TX-2 and TX-4 remain on the market as TX-3 and TX-1 have been EOL’d. There is internet speculation that Tuniq and Arctic Cooling pastes are the same, largely due to similar naming and release timing (MX-2 and TX-2 released at a similar time, as did MX-3 and TX-3 as well as MX-4 and TX-4), but this isn’t the case. These pastes are physically differentiable and each tandem doesn’t perform similarly (specs are also not the same, or even similar); there’s really no evidence these pastes are the same.
After today, we’ll have 31 TIMs completed in the 2011 Comparison, but we still have over 20 more on the docket. Lots of testing left to do!
Tuniq TX-2 is a light grey paste with average wetness and thickness that spreads pretty well under pressure. It’s available in just one size, a 3.5g syringe for roughly $6. While $6 isn’t a bad entry price, ~$2/g isn’t so great for a mid-range paste. What’s worse is that I was only able to get 4-5 mounts per syringe, coming in at over a dollar a mount. For reference, MX-2 is maybe 20c a mount and PK-1 is roughly a dollar a mount. Without considering observed performance but considering its mid-range billing, TX-2 isn’t such a great value
Tuniq TX-4 is a thick, medium grey paste that spreads pretty well under pressure. Like TX-2, it’s available in just one size, a 3g syringe for roughly $12. A $12 entry price is pretty high and at $4/g, TX-4 may be one of the most expensive pastes on the market. Like TX-2, I was able to get just a few mounts, 3 maybe 4, out of a syringe, working out to a pricey $3-4 a mount. For reference, PK-1 is ~$1 a mount, HeGrease is ~$2 a mount, and Indigo Xtreme is $10 a mount. Just a few weeks ago I said HeGrease’s $2 a mount was a “very premium price” and TX-4 costs nearly twice as much; this is an expensive paste and an awful value without considering performance.
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.