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PC COOLING

Arctic Silver Thermal Adhesive
By: Dev Harware
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  • Rating: 4 stars4 stars4 stars4 stars4 stars / 17
    2003-10-09

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    By now pretty much everyone has heard of Artic Silver Thermal Compound. While how big of an advantage one gains from using this over the standard white "grease" that comes with heatsinks is debatable, that Artic Silver makes the best Thermal Compound available is not. Apparently Artic Silver wasn't happy simply having the best goop around, they took it one step further and created a thermal adhesive.

    Manufacturer:  Arctic Silver
    Price: $14.00 (
    Sidewinder Computers)

     

    By now pretty much everyone has heard of Artic Silver Thermal Compound.  While how big of an advantage one gains from using this over the standard white "grease" that comes with heatsinks is debatable, that Artic Silver makes the best Thermal Compound available is not.  Apparently Artic Silver wasn't happy simply having the best goop around, they took it one step further and created a thermal adhesive.

    Thermal adhesive?  Yup.  The thermally conductive version of super glue for lack of a better description.   You may be wondering what the hell you would ever wanna use something like this for, well lemme tell ya.  I have wasted hours of my life getting intimate with zip ties and rubber bands trying to attach heat sinks to video card chipsets, memory chips, and basically anything that was warm to the touch in my case.  This product may just be the solution to all those zip ties.   Let's take a look... 

    Packaging:

     

    The packaging is pretty much non existent, you get two tubes, Part A and Part B, and a reusable spreader.  The reason for two tubes is that this is an epoxy.  A very strong bond is created when you mix the two parts together, but alone they remain in the liquid form.  Part A is a resin and Part B is a curing agent, but really all you need to know is that when you mix these two things together, they get hard as hell and nothing short of a major earthquake is gonna break it.  

     

    Application:

    We're gonna take ya thru a quick run down of how to actually use AS Thermal Adhesive, but one piece of advice first.  If you buy this stuff, read Artic Silvers instructions thoroughly before you start spreading this stuff everywhere! They have a bunch of warnings and technical info that I'm not gonna bore ya with here.  

    We decided to bust out a VisionTek GeForce2 GTS 64mb card to demo this, here's what we started with..

     


    AS (Artic Silver) recommends a 50%/50% mix ratio with this stuff, so obviously this means you need to mix it, don't be a hero and try to throw equal amounts of it on your chip and think you'll be straight, you WILL muck shiz all up!  Find a flat surface that you can throw away when you're done, you WILL NOT get it off of whatever you use!  We chose a plastic packaging sheet that came with a Blorb, and it worked like a charm.

     

     

    When mixed it cures very fast, depending on room temperature, humidity, etc... It may only be in a workable state for five minutes, so only mix what you can use quickly!  AS calls this the "Pot Life", but I know if I mention "pot" to you guys you'll lose your train of thought, so I'll just say "the time before it gets hard".  Well, that may send ya off on a tangent too. :^)  Anyways...

    Use the wand that comes with the adhesive to mix it thoroughly, then apply a thin coat to ONE side of the mating surface.  AS recommends that you use the wand to apply the compound to the chip, we disagree slightly.  We used the wand to put the adhesive on the chip, but then deployed an OCA technique to spread it.  For as long as we've been applying heat sink grease, we've always used a business card to get it nice and even.  You don't want a super thick layer of this stuff, just enough to fill the potholes and provide a flat mating surface.

     


     

    Alright, let's head over to the next page, apply some heatsinks, see how well this stuff works, and wrap it up.  I promise, not too much more!  So grab a beer and hit the next botton....

     

     

    Once you get the thermal adhesive evenly spread, it should look something like this:

     


     

    I want to jump a bit off here.  If you'll notice in the picture above, all the leads for the memory are VERY close to the surface of the chip.  AS recommends that you place silicone over the leads before you start this project as this compound is capable of acting as a conductor, we thought we were smarter than that and didn't follow that advice.  We weren't..  You can also notice in the picture that the adhesive is thicker than most grease you're used to.  Simply put, it is a bit of a pain in the ass to get spread evenly, let alone neatly!  We got lucky, we didn't create a $300 paper weight, but you may not be so lucky!  Please, to steal a line from Tommy Boy, FOR THE LOVE OF GOD!, plan ahead and protect your board.  I'm gonna rip this straight from the AS site:

    CAUTION!

    Even though Arctic Silver Thermal Adhesive is specifically engineered for high electrical resistance, you should keep it away from processor, memory, and motherboard  traces,  pins and leads. The cured adhesive is slightly capacitive and can cause problems if it bridges two close-proximity electrical paths.

    Don't say I didn't warn ya...  Moving on.  

    Once that is complete, now you simply need to line up your heat sink of choice and place it firmly over the chip.  Make damn sure you place it where you want it, because it ain't coming off once that adhesive sets up!

     


     

    If you've followed all the instructions, yes, even the ones that we pulled the old "Do as I say, not as I do", you should have something that looks something like this:

     


     

    As long as you mix only what you can immediately use, and apply it with some common sense you should have no problems.  If everything went JUST RIGHT, you're video card (or chipset) should now be in a position to stay much cooler.

     

    Observations:

    I wanna talk just a bit about what potential gains you can expect from this.  We had fully prepared to show you comparative results as far as temperature goes.  That was before we realized that there basically wasn't one!  There are some people that claim that cooling your memory chips allow you to overclock more.  While I am not a firm believer in that logic, I do believe that it could possibly prolong the life of the memory.  Granted, as fast as technology evolves, chances are good you will no longer be running the card by the time it would have died of natural causes.  Even with that said, dissipating heat certainly can't hurt! Besides, ignoring any potential performance gain, heat sinks on your memory just look cool!  So sure, I suppose you may get a small gain thermally by using this product over the rubber bands, but it's real selling point, to me anyways, is it's pure convenience. That and the fact that you don't have to fear that rubber band breaking and your $300 video card becoming toast, when you put this stuff on right, that bond simply will not break!  (Not even if ya want it to!)

    Let's go over a few very real practical purposes for this thermal adhesive.   As I mentioned in my opening, with some video cards,  barring the zip ties and rubber bands, there is simply no way to attach an aftermarket heat sink.  With this it becomes possible.  On motherboard chipsets, those that come with heat sinks are usually attached with an Elmer's glue like substance, and some mobo's simply do not come with heat sinks  at all.  For both of these situations this adhesive is a perfect fit.  It allows you to place a heat sink places where you normally would have to rely on frag tape or rubber bands!  While frag tape certainly had its place in our community, with the development of adhesive, it is now past its prime.  I for one have never been able to get a heat sink with any weight to it to stay in place with frag tape.  With this adhesive that is no longer a problem.

    Please realize, that even though the bond formed is a strong one, it isn't the wisest thing to put 5 lbs. of copper on a chipset and rely solely on the chipsets setting to support that weight.  So again, USE COMMON SENSE!

     

    Conclusion:

    This is a product that definitely has a place in the overclocking community.  There are simply to many practical applications for this not to have a spot in your toolbox.  Whether it's now or 6 months from now, if you are a modder, this is something you will use.

    The fact that it is indeed capable of conducting electricity is somewhat of a drawback, but with proper preparation this should not be an issue.  Use common sense, don't spread it like mayonnaise on a Whopper, and you'll be straight.  

    Do I recommend this?  I'd have to say without a doubt yes, but only for the proper applications. If you're heat sink is capable of clipping onto the board, use normal heat sink grease and go with that, it's easier and less permanent.  but if you're trying to put a heat sink on a memory chip, or replace the "greeny" with a real heat sink, this stuff is irreplaceable. 

    That'll do it from here I reckon.  This wasn't meant to be a barn burning review, just something to give you an idea as to if this is for you or not.  Hopefully we've accomplished that, hell, if nothing else I hope ya at least had a beer!


    DISCLAIMER: The content provided in this article is not warranted or guaranteed by Developer Shed, Inc. The content provided is intended for entertainment and/or educational purposes in order to introduce to the reader key ideas, concepts, and/or product reviews. As such it is incumbent upon the reader to employ real-world tactics for security and implementation of best practices. We are not liable for any negative consequences that may result from implementing any information covered in our articles or tutorials. If this is a hardware review, it is not recommended to open and/or modify your hardware.

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