Found in the test: the best thermal paste with and without liquid metal

Liquid metal thermal pastes such as Thermal Grizzly Conductonaut are significantly more demanding in use than normal thermal pastes (Photo: Thermal Grizzly).

I have dealt more intensively with the topic of thermal compounds in the last few days and recently wrote an article with one Comparison of the Thermal Grizzly thermal pastes written. I came across various other manufacturers such as Alpenföhn, Coollaboratory (yes, with two L!), Arctic, Innovation Cooling, Phobya and thought to myself which would be the best thermal paste.

Paste with and without liquid metal

There are basically two product groups here: On the one hand, the usual thermal pastes, which are non-conductive and have a consistency between skin cream and toothpaste. On the other hand, there are the newer thermal pastes that are based on liquid metal and for this reason often have the term "liquid metal" in the product name. These are already liquid at room temperature and have the problem that they are electrically conductive due to the metals, which carries a certain risk if you "mess around" with the thermal paste on the motherboard or the graphics card.

Liquid metal paste not compatible with aluminum heat sinks

A very important warning at this point: While normal thermal paste has no problem with metals in the computer, liquid metal thermal paste only gets along with "noble" metal, which unfortunately does not include aluminum. If the gallium from the paste comes into contact with an aluminum heat sink, it decomposes it and forms an alloy on the surface, which is an insulating layer and therefore even worse than if no heat sink had been attached. If you want to take a look at what just a few drops of gallium can do to an aluminum heat sink, you can do that watch it in the video here. A screenshot from it is included here:

The reaction of gallium with an aluminum heat sink.

The reaction of gallium with an aluminum heat sink.

Do not use liquid metal paste with the GPU

The use of liquid metal thermal paste is usually not a problem on the CPU, since the heatsinks of the same are almost always nickel-plated or have a copper base. Gallium does not attack these metals. In the case of the GPU (graphics card processor), however, the processor is exposed and it is often not clear what metal the heatspreaders are made of. Applying the liquid metal paste can damage the processor and make the graphics card unusable.

The great advantage of liquid metal pastes

With so many disadvantages and risks, there must be an advantage of the liquid metal thermal paste: They improve heat dissipation compared to a normal thermal paste by a factor of 5 to 10. For this reason, these pastes are particularly popular with hobbyists who like theirs Want to massively overclock computers. For users who only want to put fresh thermal paste under their CPU heat sinks, it is rather less recommended.

Liquid metal thermal pastes such as Thermal Grizzly Conductonaut are significantly more demanding in use than normal thermal pastes (Photo: Thermal Grizzly).

Liquid metal thermal pastes such as Thermal Grizzly Conductonaut are significantly more demanding in use than normal thermal pastes (Photo: Thermal Grizzly).

Tests on thermal paste

In order to find the best thermal compound, I read through some tests that I could find on the internet. Many of the pages are not tests, but just present some Top10 list, where one wonders how the order came about here.

The pages that I evaluated for the comparison are linked below as a source. I would like to break down the test results into thermal paste with and without liquid metal, because I think you either want to use a paste from one or the other group.

If you look at the two real tests and, in particular, the very extensive test of Tom's Hardware, you can see that the test is broken down into areas of application. This makes sense because different cooling methods have different requirements.

The test of Hardware-Inside is much less extensive and may also have a few problems with the test structure, which is why I am concentrating on the results of Tom's Hardware. As a source, however, I wanted to name all pages that I consider worthy of mention.

The Kryonaut paste from Thermal Grizzly offers something like "The best bang for the money": High heat transfer for relatively little money (Photo: Thermal Grizzly).

The Kryonaut paste from Thermal Grizzly offers something like "The best bang for the money": High heat transfer for relatively little money (Photo: Thermal Grizzly).

The best thermal paste without liquid metal

Here in the list I'll tell you the area of ​​application and then the three best thermal pastes from the test by Toms's Hardware with a link to Amazon.

water cooling

  1. Thermal Grizzly Cryonaut
  2. Innovation or Innovative Cooling Diamond 24
  3. Cool Master MasterGel Maker Nano

Air cooling (large tower cooler)

  1. Thermal Grizzly Cryonaut
  2. Innovation or Innovative Cooling Diamond 24
  3. Gelid Solutions GC Extreme

Air cooling (boxed cooler)

  1. Thermal Grizzly Cryonaut
  2. Cool Master MasterGel Maker Nano
  3. Gelid Solutions GC Extreme

Graphics card cooling (GPU)

  1. Thermal Grizzly Cryonaut
  2. Innovation or Innovative Cooling Diamond 24
  3. Cool Master MasterGel Maker Nano

The best liquid metal thermal paste

If you look at the test results, you will of course find pastes with liquid metal in the front two to three places, as these have a very high heat transfer coefficient. However, these thermal pastes are also significantly more expensive and difficult to process.

water cooling

  1. Coollaboratory Liquid Ultra
  2. Coollaboratory Liquid Pro
  3. Phobya LM

Air cooling (large tower cooler)

  1. Coollaboratory Liquid Pro
  2. Thermal Grizzly Conductonaut
  3. Coollaboratory Liquid Ultra

Air cooling (boxed cooler)

  1. Coollaboratory Liquid Pro
  2. Thermal Grizzly Conductonaut
  3. Phobya LM

Graphics card cooling (GPU)

  1. Thermal Grizzly Conductonaut
  2. Coollaboratory Liquid Metal Pad
  3. not specified

Placement and classification of the Amazon bestseller "Arctic MX-4"

Just as a supplement: If you search for the top products mentioned above on Amazon, you will also come across thermal grease through massive advertising Arctic MX-4. This was also taken into account in the large test by Tom's Hardware, but only came in between 10 and 20. So you shouldn't allow yourself to be influenced by full-bodied advertising promises such as "Better than liquid metal".

The technical data usually already shows where the hare is going: While the Arctiv MX-4 (2019 version) only has a thermal conductivity of 8,5 W / mk, the Thermal Grizzly Kryonaut already has 12,5 W / mk. The thermal conductivity of the liquid metal variant "Conductonaut" from Thermal Grizzly has with 73 W / mk almost 10 times the thermal conductivity of the Artic MX-4. So it is better to stick to the "test winners" mentioned above instead of starting tests with products that simply beat the drum and therefore end up among the bestsellers on Amazon.

Update April 02.04.2021nd, 4: Note from two readers about Arctic MX-XNUMX and Mastermaker

I got a hint in the comments below that with two readers the Thermal Grizzly did not have as good values ​​as this one Arctic MX-4 or the Cooler Master (Master Gel Maker or MasterGel Pro V2). I cannot verify this statement, but at least I wanted to have it mentioned here because I was already assumed that I would receive payment for my item from Thermal Grizzly (it would be nice!).

 

Sources:

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3 comments

  1. Dude180 says:

    Mhh I've had pretty good experience with the Arctic MX-4 so far. Even in a VR render monster with an i9 installed - it was always a maximum of 65 ° at full capacity.

    Similar values ​​for gaming PCs. One should just be careful not to apply the paste too thick. Otherwise good contribution!

  2. trigger says:

    keep wondering what you get from Thermal Grizzly. for me the worst thermal paste that money can get. Gate-tested on two computers and got worse results than with the mx4 or mastermaker. others have had the same experience.

    • Jen Kleinholz says:

      Hello trigger! Unfortunately I don't get anything from them. But I wouldn't change anything about the statement that the Thermal Grizzly is good. It just did very well in the linked tests. However, it may be that the test was not tested against the MX4 or Mastermaker you mentioned. I am happy to include your statement above in the article and also refer to your two pastes.

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