We’re in the process of reviewing Tuniq TX-2, TX-3, and TX-4 but we’ve come across a bit of a snag. It seems there’s an issue with TX-3 and TX-4, specifically with some especially dry paste.
Tuniq TX-3 is an EOL and extremely hard-to-find paste that was replaced by TX-4 a few months ago. We were planning to review it for the sake of having a comparison for the people who currently use it, but as things are right now, we’re on the fence. The issue with TX-3 is that it seems to be extremely dry and thick. It’s so dry and thick we’re having trouble getting it out of the syringe.
We don’t mind the struggle in usage (though it would be criticized in the review), but we’re more concerned what we have is not truly representative of TX-3. We don’t know the cause of the dryness, it could be a batch issue, it could be from the tubes just sitting here for months, or it could be perfectly normal. But this apparently abnormal behavior is making us cautious–we’d much rather put up no test results than misleading test results.
On the TX-4 webpage, they cite the improvement in paste usability compared to TX-3. This may or may not be true as we’re not sure if our TX-3 is representative of TX-3 and our TX-4 also has some drying/batch issues. The difference between the TX-3 and TX-4 situations is we have at least two distinct consistencies of TX-4: one dry and thick, the other seemingly normal.
While our TX-4 syringes were bought at different times from different stores, we’re not sure which are which so we have no idea if the drying issue is from sitting in a plastic drawer for a few months or not. Even if we did know how long we’ve had each syringe, we’d have zero information regarding how long they were sitting in storage at Tuniq and the retailers. All we know is we have at least two distinct TX-4 consistencies.
A quick look at Newegg and Amazon user reviews indicates that the drying problem seems to be recent, so we’re leaning toward batch issues. But we really do not know. We think we have enough of the seemingly normal paste to complete 15 mounts, so we’re going to try to do just that.
Batch issues are concerning because not only do we have two distinct products under one name (usually with no way to differentiate), but it raises concerns of other variations existing in the past, present, and future.
If there’s a confirmed batch issue, we may do what we did with Arctic Cooling MX-3: test both, include only complete datasets in the TIM Comparison post, and add an asterisk to the ‘weird’ batch results. We’re not sure how to go about confirming or disproving this is a product of a batch issue.
If this is a drying issue, then there’s an entirely separate set of concerns. First, how is it drying in the syringe? With most pastes with the cap is on, pulling back on the plunger is possible but it should snap back to the original position because the syringe is fairly airtight. The TX-4 syringes we have seem airtight, so for the paste to dry out in the syringe it likely means the paste dries very easily.
Second, if it dries so readily, what impact does that have on long-term performance? We test each paste for 10 hours each mount, but how will it perform in 10 days, 10 weeks, or 10 months?
Third, what guarantees are there that an end-user does not receive dried out paste?
Whether the issue is drying or batch variation, having a production date or use by date on the syringe would be a tremendous aid. If it’s a batch issue, these dates could serve as batch codes and if it’s a drying issue, these dates would at least let a user know their paste is no longer usable.
As frequent readers know, we’re not fond of the instructions some pastes include telling end-users to manually spread the paste.
A perfect mount has the thinnest possible layer of paste covering the entire IHS with no air bubbles and no excess off the edges (which is a waste of paste). The best way to do this is with a bead in the middle, varying the size on the consistency of the paste. Depending on the topology of the surfaces, the line method may be slightly more efficient with paste usage. In contrast, Manual spreading too readily introduces trapped air bubbles (reducing performance) and is an inefficient use of paste due to a user’s inability to form a layer identical to what the two surfaces need, resulting in using way too much paste. On top of that, there’s always paste on the spreader, which is a further waste of paste.
TX-3 and TX-4 both instruct the end-user to manually spread the paste. While we always try to follow instructions (even when we don’t agree with them), we’re not going to this time. Simply put, it’s not possible to spread either paste. Neither paste (in any of the consistencies) has any adhesion to the IHS and they’re also too thick (and in some cases, too dry) to really be spread properly; we would follow instructions if we could. This is similar to what happened with Deep Cool Z9.
At this point in the process, we’re strongly considering not testing TX-3 due to concerns our TX-3 is not representative of TX-3. We’re going to try to test just ‘seemingly normal’ (not overly dried out) TX-4. We may also test dried out TX-4 at a later date.
We have no idea if the TX-3/TX-4 dry out is a batch issue or drying issue; both have different ramifications and neither is good. We’re unable to manually spread TX-3 or TX-4 in the review, so we won’t.
Overall, not looking too good for TX-3 or TX-4 so far. Barring tremendous thermal results, it’s going to be very hard to recommend either when the review is done in 2-3 weeks.