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What is a thermal compound and what is the purpose of it (in computers)?

Author :

Submitted : 2018-06-15 13:47:33    Popularity:     

Tags: compound  thermal  computers  purpose  

long story short, it works as a soft temprature transfering compound that makes uneven surface contacts even, and ensures the maximum heat transfer between two

Answers:

long story short, it works as a soft temprature transfering compound that makes uneven surface contacts even, and ensures the maximum heat transfer between two contacts, like CPU and it's cooler. but the quality matters alot here, it defines that MAXIMUM heat transfer.

It goes between the CPU and cooler. It keeps the CPU from getting too hot by transferring the heat TO the cooler.

It's the same in computers as any other electronics.

The purpose is to fill microscopic imperfections in the metal surfaces and eliminate the tiny air pockets that would otherwise exist between the heatsink and whatever its attached to.

The "perfect" substance is low enough viscosity to flow out and not hold the heatsink away from the CPU (or whatever it's attached to) while also having low thermal resistance. It should drive air out as the two squeeze together but not prevent near metal-to-metal contact once things are fully seated.

This is a diagram of the principle - the grease/compound just fills microscopic air spaces and no more:
http://www.tglobalthermal.com/images/wha...


The best ones are basically a light grease filled with microscopic ceramic or copper / silver particles.


A lot of the stuff sold a "Computer" heat transfer paste is actually too thick and forms a layer rather than squeezing out; that is bad!

There is also a lot of near myth and superstition - some people insist there should be a thick layer and cannot grasp that it's then adding to thermal resistance rather than reducing it...

To put it on context, some magazines and web site have done comparative tests with many different brands and formulations - plus other substances for reference.


Mayonnaise is better than 90% of PC heat transfer compounds!
(Though it's likely to dry out or go mouldy fairly quick..)

It's just a thin, greasy paste; that's the essence of the requirement.


In practice, the generic white industrial heatsink compound sold at most electronics suppliers is one of the other top scoring ones, in the top 10%; the high conductivity versions of that are just about as good as you can get & cost a fraction of what many special PC compounds do.
[We use Fischer WLPK]

As another answer says, "Copperslip" or other copper-based anti seize greases are also pretty good; better than average though not perfect - a good compromise in an emergency (though any grease is better than a dry metal-to-metal joint).


You should just be able to put a pea-size blob of the compound in the middle of the CPU and it squeeze out when the heatsink is placed on top. (The CPU and heatsink need to be spotlessly clean first).

Non-metallic compounds have the advantage that they cannot cause shorts to the motherboard or CPU connections if they ooze too far; metal-based stuff can wreck things if it gets in to electrical connections or on the motherboard tracks...


[Electronics designer, programmer and manufacturer for 40+ years].

The surfaces of a heatsink or heatspreader is not perfect. Some of these surfaces may look flat and shiny but they are not perfect. The thermal compound acts as a bridge which seals up any small airgaps that prevent the thermal transfer.

The base material of Thermal Compound is usually made up of silicon with a few other substances thrown into the mix.

These old wivestales methods have been tested and they do work but they don't work as well as these top of the line thermal compounds. If you're in the market to buy something, then look for a Thermal Compound that will last for a very long time. Car parts, anything found at Safeway, and these cheaper pastes aren't known for their longevity.

For lack of a deep technical explanation it's metal particles mixed with high temperature Greese its purpose is to help conduct heat from the surface of the CPU to the surface of the CPU heatsink where the fan can blow away the Heat. Manufacturers of thermal compound like to get a lot of money for it!

You can go to your local auto parts store at the counter and buy a $1 foil package of spark plug anti seize that works better then the $65 tube of thermal paste and yes I have tested it with an infrared laser tester the $1 spark plug paste works better than the $65 thermal paste



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