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Thoughts on the recent Igor's Lab thermal paste application article?

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Igor's Lab has a new article on thermal paste application specifically for large GPU dies: https://www.igorslab.de/en/blob-or-full-flat-heat-conducting-paste-on-the-gpu-correctly-applied/

This has re-piqued my interest in this beaten to death topic which I thought was mostly settled. The advice I see most often today is use a ton of paste and let the excess squeeze out the sides, it won't hurt performance and at worst it just makes a mess. Igor specifically refutes this claim with his testing.

He also endorses the new alphacool apex paste, which he praises for it's higher viscosity that he claims helps with coverage and longevity in this application. He claims that thinner pastes, such as MX-4 (which I have personally been using mostly because it claims 8 years of endurance and that is very important to me) has no place on large direct die applications because in his own words: "You don’t have this problem with thin paste, but then the paste quickly runs out of the large gaps. Or it dries out and the layer becomes thinner and thinner after thermal heating and eventually cracks at the sides." He also goes on to recommend a specific mounting technique, deviating from the diagonal method I've seen employed most of the time.

I suppose I have a couple questions for the community:

Does everyone agree with his results? The majority of complaints I've seen in response come down to his sloppy application of paste while using the "spread" method. The other concern with the "sausage" method is the possibility of not achieving full coverage, which can be very bad without a heat spreader.

Do these complaints hold any water? Alphacool makes no claims about the longevity of their new apex paste, which has me a bit hesitant to try it on an upcoming hardline build where re-pasting will be a real pain. Does anyone know of any other proven, "thicker" paste options with reasonable performance and long term durability?
 

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Just a reminder for everyone this is for GPUs only.

I think Igor does great work and trusted source. The big take away here in the thermal paste type. He made it clear that "thin" and "thick" have different properties. In the end I will still cover the whole die and smooth it out with a plastic knife. It smooths it out so no paste area is larger and makes sure the whole die has contact. Check the temps to make sure its within tolerance and that's it.

Igor said the block pressure can only "push" so much thermal paste to the sides, that is why a blob in the middle, X, or even full coverage doesn't (may not) work well. This comes down the type of paste and the amount you put down.

To recap, if you use the same paste and video card, put a line down the middle. Otherwise all bets are off. This is the problem with all these tests. So many people have done it and get different answers. Not only is does the size of the area matter, but the type of paste and pressure that will be applied.
 
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Hi,
Doubt the blab application was large enough
But I large X and blab the center a bit more never with arctic paste though but with nt-h1 it's my fav.
 
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I'm planning to just get a good quality thermal pad myself for next build. Paste is a pain and how to spread has many explains. I just feel pads have have gotten close enough and avoid the pitfalls of re-apply and try again after that comes with paste dry out.
 
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Fascinating that the full surface application has the worse temperatures and by a lot at that; I will, however, continue to use this method as I want to be sure nothing is left dry.

I am very skeptical, but more than willing to be shown wrong.
 
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I had a look at the photos by Igor's lab. The "full surface" (spread) method used too little paste. The blob also seems small. He should try again with "too much" paste, I think surprising results will arise.

As far as I've tested so far with my RX480, the more paste, the better the chances that full die coverage will be achieved. There's no real way to use "too much" paste unless it's very viscous and the cooler mounting pressure can't squeeze off the excess.
 
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Fascinating that the full surface application has the worse temperatures and by a lot at that; I will, however, continue to use this method as I want to be sure nothing is left dry.

I am very skeptical, but more than willing to be shown wrong.
Hi,
Not really after looking at the spread again it looks better for laying tile than gpu or cpu application so yeah worst spread I've ever seen frankly :laugh:
Damn use a credit card or something flat not a title trowel :eek:

1662378492152.png
 

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Hi,
Not really after looking at the spread again it looks better for laying tile than gpu or cpu application so yeah worst spread I've ever seen frankly :laugh:
Damn use a credit card or something flat not a title trowel :eek:

View attachment 260728

Looks like a good way to end up with small air pockets. I wouldn't apply this way. I don't care what the expert says.
 
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Looks like a good way to end up with small air pockets. I wouldn't apply this way. I don't care what the expert says.
Hi,
I have had good results with the spread method
But both surfaces should be thin and smooth not rough and random ruts indeed air trap city.
 
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Hi,
I have had good results with the spread method
But both surfaces should be thin and smooth not rough and random ruts indeed air trap city.
I see this statement often online, the belief of air getting trapped if the thermal paste isn't applied smoothly enough. I don't know enough about this subject one way or another to have a solid opinion. I'm curious what people think of the information and photo in this post: https://www.overclock.net/threads/3090-gpu-hotspot-temperature-30c-delta.1777947/post-28953759

What's being presented there is that if the mount between the heatsink/waterblock is optimal almost all of the thermal paste will be forced out between the mating surfaces leaving only an extremely thin film of thermal paste. This makes a lot of sense. It's recommended that applying more is better than less to achieve this affect and avoid any possible gaps because all of it will be forced out due to the mounting pressure anyways. This is with extremely thick pastes such as Thermalright TFX.
 
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I see this statement often online, the belief of air getting trapped if the thermal paste isn't applied smoothly enough. I don't know enough about this subject one way or another to have a solid opinion. I'm curious what people think of the information and photo in this post: https://www.overclock.net/threads/3090-gpu-hotspot-temperature-30c-delta.1777947/post-28953759

What's being presented there is that if the mount between the heatsink/waterblock is optimal almost all of the thermal paste will be forced out between the mating surfaces leaving only an extremely thin film of thermal paste. This makes a lot of sense. It's recommended that applying more is better than less to achieve this affect and avoid any possible gaps because all of it will be forced out due to the mounting pressure anyways. This is with extremely thick pastes such as Thermalright TFX.
Hi,
I'm on older gpu's so I can't say anything about 20 or 30 series gpu's at all beside they were just to freaking expensive to bother with
Never spread paste on a gpu only on cpu
I'd use a large X and + on a gpu, not all that tall of paste either then call it a day.
 
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My TR coolers clamp down tight as fook, bubbles are not something I concern myself with, just an even application with the correct amount.. nothing more nothing less :D
 

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So this expert has never heard of a bad TIM application that had to be re-pasted because of temps being high? I have seen plenty of these on tech sites. If the TIM is spread all over the IHS in a haphazard way and the result is not good then what else could it be besides air pockets?

My TR coolers clamp down tight as fook, bubbles are not something I concern myself with, just an even application with the correct amount.. nothing more nothing less :D

I'm not sure what tight as fook is but I'm not comfortable with putting unusual pressure on the CPU pins when there's no need to.
 

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I'm not sure what tight as fook is but I'm not comfortable with putting unusual pressure on the CPU pins when there's no need to
Its fine, the pressure isn't on the pins anyways. And trust me, its not unusual, its well engineered.
 
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If the TIM is spread all over the IHS in a haphazard way and the result is not good then what else could it be besides air pockets?
I would say plain ol' air from "not enough in x place" than "air pockets," which implies a trapped bubble.
 
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Yeah I think cover is the key part between both surfaces. I usually cover both surfaces lightly and like a small dab in the center for a bit extra that can spread and settle once pressure is applied and during heat cycles over time. You don't want excess to the point it's oozing out the sides, but you don't want too little with too poor coverage either.
 
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Yeah I think cover is the key part between both surfaces. I usually cover both surfaces lightly and like a small dab in the center for a bit extra that can spread and settle once pressure is applied and during heat cycles over time. You don't want excess to the point it's oozing out the sides, but you don't want too little with too poor coverage either.
Exactly what I do, never had a problem with this method. Mount hardware, thats another story.

AM5 users will need to be a bit more careful with TIM and its parking garage.
 
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