There are a multitude of thermal products on the market, and some better than others. I actually use two different products depending on the job itself.
First is what I call a replacement grade thermal grease. What I mean by this is that I will use it when I am out in the field working on a system under warranty, or in general on site. It's almost as good as the higher end grease, but the key thing I look for here is ease of application. I don't want to be onsite for an additional 15 minutes or more just getting an exact thickness or coating. Plus I want to use whatever is closest to the original manufacturer's specs.
Artic Silver 5 meets this requirement very well. It's a great thermal compound, and will often make a system a few degrees cooler than stock or manufacturer supplied grease. The best thing I love about it is that it takes very little skill or effort to apply it. Normall just a BB sized drop and a pushing around with the heatsink gets the entire die coated with grease in just a few seconds since it is so thin.
You can pick it up at most repair shops for around $10 to $20 a syringe, and it has enough to last 15 or so applications.
Next there is what I call high end, or new system grade. This is the stuff I use on building high performance systems, or on PC's that have higher thermal needs (gaming PC's and workstations). For this I use Shin-Etsu G751 it's a bit more expensive than normal grease, and MUCH harder to apply correctly. This application difficulty comes from the fact that the grease is thicker than most others. As a result people will accidently apply it too thick, apply too much, or in frustration do it incorrectly and contaminate the grease.
I apply Shin-Etsu by applying a bb sized drop and spreading it with a razor blade. The trick is to make sure you apply a very thin coating to the processor and that it is an even coat. If you apply it too thick the Shin-Etsu will not set properly and thus you will not get the benefits of the product. I have seen some heatsinks come with this already on it in a very thin screen pattern which works great.
Some people have done reviews of Shin-Etsu vs other products and found them to not to perform as well. This brings me to another key thing, and that it will take Shin-Etsu time to cure. For the first day or two you most likely will not see a major difference, however the fourth or longer days you should see better temperatures compared to the other products.
Again, like I said before this is a difficult product to apply, and if you don't have alot of experience with thermal grease, then this is probably not for you! In which case I recommend the Artic silver 5 listed above.
Shin-Etsu is available from several places online, but can be hard to find at times. It comes in a syringe that has enough for around 3 applications (sometimes loaded with more), and can be purchased in bulk if needed. You can buy some from Newegg for around $3 plus shipping.
Last Updated: 11/12/2009 08:07 PM