Tuniq TX-2 Thermal Paste Page: 1
Introduction

All modern PC CPUs produce enough heat that they need a heat sink. Almost all of them need a heat sink with a fan. Many heat sinks come with some sort of thermal transfer paste pre-applied - typically a patch of grease; thermal paste; goop or whatever you want to call it.

With the heat output of modern CPU's, and even more imortantly, overclocked CPU's, there just has to be something between CPU and heat sink. The reason why there has to be something there is that the two mating surfaces of processor and sink aren't flat. They may look flat...They may have a mirror polish. But, on a microscopic scale, they are vastly different.

Without thermal transfer compound, everywhere heat sink metal doesn't mate with CPU package material is a teeny-tiny air gap. Air is a good thermal insulator. As long as your heat sink looks flat when you lay a ruler on it then there'll be a decent amount of actual contact, of course, but the amount of heat that'll actually make it around the air gaps may be surprisingly small. Hence, thermal compound. It's grease with lots of minuscule thermally conductive particles mixed into it, basically. It doesn't conduct heat as well as direct contact, but it's a heck of a lot better than air gaps.

Now here is where the picture becomes a little grey, and perhaps a little confusing for the uninitiated. Not all thermal pastes are created equal! Many people tend to purchase a thermal paste that the majority says is better, quite often without considering viable alternatives that exist out there. It's understandable, it is the nature of the consumer. Take Arctic Silver and their AS5 thermal paste for example. Sure it's a proven performer, but there are better performing pastes out there, and quite often cheaper than AS5. One of those pastes is sitting beside me right now.

Today I have been given the opportunity to test Tuniq's new TX-2 thermal paste which has been stated as achieving the best interface between the CPU and heatsink because of its uniquely designed molecular size and shape. For those of you who don't know who Tuniq are, they are a subsiduary of Sunbeamtech, and specialise in case modding hardware. Here's what they have to say about themselves:

As a division of Sunbeamtech, Tuniq considers itself in the fashion business of computing industry. We are committed to bring stylish, durable and high performance equipments to the world of computer modding. Our members consist of those who have more than 10 years experience in the industry and enthusiastic young designers full of innovative ideas.
Our manufacture center, which locates in Dong Guan, China, takes care of a portion of component manufacturing and ensures best quality with reasonable cost for our clients. This combination of enthusiasm and market sophistication makes us a strong and reliable choice in this market. The people in Tuniq are more than pleased to help in tuning your PC and make it into one unique to your own.

Tuniq TX-2

According to Tuniq, their TX-2 thermal paste is neither metal nor electrically conductive and is the most effective thermal compound for your CPU's and coolers. So I guess we're just going to have to test it out!

Let's have a look at the specifications of Tuniq's TX-2 thermal paste...


Specifications

The specifications for Tuniq's TX-2 thermal paste were taken directly, and unashamedly from the product web page .

Appearance  Grey
 Viscosity  285000 cP
 Thermal conductivity  4.5W/mK
 Operating temperature  -45°C ~ 200°C
 Specific Gravity  3.96 @ 25°C
 Volume  3.5g

With an operating temperature of -45 deg C through to 200 deg C, TX-2 could possibly be used as an alternative to Arctic Silver's Ceramique. Further, with a viscosity index of 285000 cP (centi-Poise) it falls somewhere between warm peanut butter and commercial grade toner ink. Mmmm easily spreadable...


Features

Whilst there isn't a heck of a lot of information on Tuniq's website regarding TX-2 thermal paste, it does include some impressive features. It will certainly be intersting to see how the Tuniq TX-2 stacks up against Arctic Silver 5.

* Low thermal resistance for superior heat transfer, 4.5W/mK
* Small molecular size makes a better contact between the heatsink and heatsource.
* Thin bond line for hi-efficiency conductivity
* Low bleed under high pressure
* Spreads easy - clean consistency
* Help the low-pressure clip design of cooler to achieve better cooling performance.
* RoHS compliant
* Not Electrically conductive

Let's head over the page and have a look at the TX-2's packaging.

Tuniq TX-2 Thermal Paste Page: 2
Packaging and Contents

The packaging that Tuniq has chosen to run with for their TX-2 thermal paste is simple and unassuming to say the least, but provides a little more than the OEM versions of AS5. The TX-2 thermal paste is packaged in a heat-sealed plastic bag with the product name on the front, and the TX-2's specifications on the rear.

Tuniq TX-2 packaging_front Tuniq TX-2 packaging_rear
TX-2 front package TX-2 rear package
 
Present and accounted for is one 3.5g syringe of Tuniq TX-2 thermal paste. Let's have a look at the contents a little closer...


Contents and A Closer Look

The single syringe of TX-2 thermal paste features the name on the front...just in case you forget, and the specifications again on the rear. One thing I like about the Tuniq TX-2 syringe applicator is that you feel like you are getting considerably more for your money, and it's a little easier to hold and control.

TX-2 syringe_front TX-2 syringe_rear

The syringe also has a neat little window so you can see how much more thermal paste you have left.

TX-2 thermal paste window

The size difference between Arctic Silver's AS5 and Tuniq's TX-2 thermal paste syringes is really quite evident, even though they hold exactly the same amount of product.

AS5 versus TX-2

I have included a closeup of both pastes just so you can see the difference between the two.

AS5 syringe Tuniq TX-2
 
You can see from the images above that the TX-2 is by far the less viscous of the two thermal pastes, which definitely makes the application considerably easier. Personally, I apply a small amount to the centre of the processor and then massage it around with my finger inserted into a plastic bag. I found that the TX-2 thermal paste was easier to apply when using this method due to its lower viscosity.

It is interesting to note that Tuniq don't include a prefered way of applying the thermal paste on their website,  nor is it included on the packaging. Furthermore, I found it odd that Tuniq doesn't recommend a curing time for TX-2 either.

Let's head over the page to see how the testing will be conducted...


Tuniq TX-2 Thermal Paste Page: 3
Testing Methodology

In order to conduct a fair review process that will highlight flaws or performance issues pertaining to a particular product, testing needs to be both realistic and validatable. When working with cooling gear, sure you can make comparative measurements, but issues can arise that will stop you from being able to take one person's results and transfer them to another person's computer. Even if that other computer has the same motherboard and processor. Subsequently, the testing that you will see here has been conducted under real-life operating conditions and every effort has been made to reduce the risk of human error clouding the end result.

Todays testing will be using the following hardware:

Hardware
* Intel Core2 Duo e6600 with Intel reference heatsink
* ASUS P5B Deluxe wifi/App motherboard
* 2GB Corsair PC2-6400 XMS2 RAM
* Gigabyte GeForce 7600 GS with Silent Pipe passive heatsink
* Antec EarthWatts 500W PSU
* Antec P160W case

Thermal Paste
*
Arctic Silver 5
* Tuniq TX-2

You will notice that I have chosen to run with Intel's reference heatsink for the duration of this review. The reason that I have chosen to do so is quite simple really. Because of the myriad of alternative cooling solutions available to you the consumer, if you can see impressive results from the reference cooler, then you know that an alternative heatsink should give significantly better results.

For the testing process I will be applying each respective thermal paste as evenly and consistently as possible, and then after mounting the heatsink, start up the system and let it idle for 30 minutes. Once the temperature has stabilised, it will be recorded. For load testing the CPU will endure 30 minutes of Stress Prime 2004 and again the temperature will be recorded. CPU temperatures will be taken using Core Temp Beta 0.95.4 and ambient temperatures will be taken using a mercury thermometer (allowed to aclimatise). Internal case temperatures will be measured using a Scythe Kama Thermo with the probe situated in the top quarter of the case. All testing will be conducted from within the case, with the side panel on. At the conclusion of each thermal paste testing phase, both the CPU and heatsink will be thoroughly cleaned using ArctiClean.

 Right enough of the formalities...on with the testing!

Tuniq TX-2 Thermal Paste Page: 4
Testing

The test results were very interesting to say the least. After the initial application of both types of thermal pastes, the Tuniq TX-2 reported consistently lower temperatures at idle than the AS5 thermal paste. Please bear in mind that this test didn't allow for the 200 hours curing time that Arctic Silver recommends. Yes I can still hear the purists and AS5 fans screaming 'noooo' as I type. At load temperature the Tuniq TX-2 and AS5 were dead-even


Tuniq vs AS5 1st application

Ambient Temperature - 28.9 Deg C
Case Temperature - 30.2 Deg C


TX-2 versus AS5 after 1 week

Ambient Temperature - 29.1 Deg C
Case Temperature - 30.5 Deg C

 
Allowing a week for both pastes to cure some, I then ran the idle and load tests again and the results were identical for both pastes. This is an impressive effort by Tuniq...well done!

Let's head over the page to see how the Tuniq TX-2 performed as a whole...


Tuniq TX-2 Thermal Paste Page: 5
Conclusion

So how well did Tuniq's TX-2 thermal paste perform in our review today?

One particular area that TX-2 performed exceptionally well in was the fact that it is able to give a very satisfactory performance straight out of the syringe.

To be honest, I find the 200 hours that Arctic Silver 5 takes to fully cure quite an annoyance. I want the ability to have my cake and to eat it too. Tuniq TX-2 thermal paste will give you this, which is evident from the performance graphs. Not only did it outperform Arctic Silver 5 at idle temperatures, it still managed to keep up with the favourite at load temperatures.

After allowing the Arctic Silver 5 thermal paste time to cure, and like-wise for the Tuniq TX-2; Tuniq's thermal paste still managed to perform just as admirably as the AS5. Quite simply, Tuniq TX-2 will provide identical performance to AS5, whilst being a little easier to apply.

One area that I'm a little unsure of is how the Tuniq TX-2 thermal paste may perform over time. Whilst I'm loathe to include an unknown as a negative, I think that the products molecular stability over a lengthy duration of use is an unknown, and as such warrants some thought. Will the different molecular make-up of the TX-2 lead to drying out or cracking over time...I guess that only time will tell. Arctic Silver 5 on the other hand has a proven track record.

From a pricing perspective, Tuniq's TX-2 is priced at exactly the same price-point as AS5, and so there is absolutely no reason for you to not give it a try. Newegg has the Tuniq TX-2 thermal paste available from US$5.99

Let's have a look at the breakdown:


The Good
• Performance equal to that of AS5
• Comparitively priced
• Ease of application

The Mediocre
• Unproven stability over time.

The Bad
• Nothing to report


Subsequently, I have chosen to award Tuniq's TX-2 thermal paste the Overclock3D.net 'Recommended Award'.

Recommended Award

A special thank you goes out to Tuniq for supplying the review sample

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