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Thermal paste head-to-head – does it matter which brand you use?

Testing methodology

Testing thermal paste means we have to keep everything constant, including the CPU cooler, as we want to find what difference the thermal paste itself makes.

As such, we used the follow system for testing today:

  • Intel i7-4790K CPU
  • Cooler Master Hyper 212 LED CPU Cooler
  • 16GB Corsair Vengeance 2400MHz DDR3
  • Gigabyte Z97X-SOC Force Motherboard
  • Corsair RM750x PSU
  • OCZ Trion 150 SSD

To test each thermal product, we first cleaned off the old thermal paste using an ArtiClean kit (HERE). We then applied the thermal paste using the ‘pea’ method – meaning we applied a small blob, the size of a pea, in the centre of the CPU. We repeated this process for each different brand of paste.

To stress the CPU and create excess heat, we overclocked it to 4.5GHz using 1.3v. This may not be the most efficient overclock but it generates plenty of heat which will help us see which thermal paste is best at conducting that heat.

To get an idle temperature reading, we left Windows on the desktop for 10 minutes. To get a load temperature reading, we ran Prime 95 (version 26.6) for 10 minutes before taking a temperature reading. We repeated this process 5 times per paste, taking the average of those figures to present here.

Results

pastechart

Ambient: 20C.

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