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Tuniq TX-3 Performance Thermal Paste

Manufacturer: Tuniq
Supplied by:
Tuniq
MSRP: $8

by Dean Barker  (5/07/2009)

Introduction

Tuniq is no stranger to high performance enthusiast gear.  Aside from coolers, cases and other accessories designed for the more discriminating user, they produce a line of performance oriented thermal paste, Tuniq TX.  We reviewed the Tuniq TX-2 a couple of years ago and came away very pleased.  Since then, development has continued and Tuniq's latest TX-3 is about to hit the market.

Before we get too far along let me point out the importance and uses of high end thermal paste.  As with many other components in your rig, it is an investment that forces you to ask what is the primary use of your computer.  If the machine you intend on building is for your grandmother to check her e-mail, well you may want to use generic goo.  But if your machine is your frag box that you are looking to overclock every last megahertz out of, you won't want to skimp on thermal interface material.  You paid good money for a high end cooler for better performance so why cheat yourself of an extra few degrees of cooling efficiency; go with performance thermal paste that conducts heat better, isn't electrically conductive and allows you to get the best performance you can out of a cooler.

Thermal Goo 101

High performance thermal paste works from the principle of all coolers not being perfectly flush on their base.  They have small gaps or pits there that may not even be visible to the eye.  The more gaps there are, the less surface area of the cooler is in contact with the processor, subsequently the less efficient a cooler is.  By filling those gaps, you are turning empty space into more useable area for heat to be conducted through.  Thus, we increase the efficiency of the cooler.  How well these pits get filled depends on the paste and how thermally conductive it is.

Tuniq TX-3 Paste

Tuniq's TX-3 comes in a 3 gram (1ml) plunger type tube.  Depressing the plunger gave us a thicker than expected consistency paste that deployed easily and offered no significant difficulty to spread.  Many people wonder how long will a 3 gram tube of thermal paste last or rather how many applications.  For the average user you can expect at least 25 applications per tube which is far more than 99% of users will need.  Dividing that down to cost per application you get something like 25 cents a shot.  Dropping your load temperatures at a cost of a quarter per use is money well spent.

The TX-3 has a gray putty like appearance when applied.  Its consistency was thicker than the TX-2 we worked with in the past and spread more like peanut butter than anything else.  One thing I liked about the thicker consistency is that it seems that it fills in larger areas better.  Take the exposed heatpipe design coolers of late.  The gaps between the heatpipes and the cooler's billet are minimal but they are more than microscopic.  Appling TX-3 on our test cooler which used the exposed heatpipe design gave me a better feel than did the softer interface materials.

Performance

Our thermal paste's performance will be tested by running each of our test products with five runs of 100% load on our Core 2 Duo processor cores by way of SiSoft Sandra Professional 2009's Burn In Module for 30 minutes with a final temperature reading taken at the end.  The highest and lowest results will be thrown out and the remaining three will be averaged and graphed. 

The Tuniq TX-3 Paste will be pitted against it's predecessor, TX-2 and some generic silicon paste.  Ambient room temperature at time of testing remained within one half a degree of 23.7 degrees C.

Test Bed

Results

Conclusion

Not surprisingly the Tuniq Performance Thermal Paste absolutely blew the doors off of the generic silicon goo.  As you could see from the results, that quality thermal paste is so good in fact that it can make a good cooler great and a great cooler, phenomenal.  What I did find surprising was the fact that the new and improved TX-3 did one and a half degrees better overall than its predecessor.  At the end of the day, you get a noteworthy enough performance boost that some would say on par with going from a moderate to a high end air cooler for an MSRP of eight bucks.  Tuniq has outdone themselves with the TX-3 and I for one will be anxious to see it made widely available.

Pros

  • Superior thermal conductivity

  • Not electrically conductive

  • Thicker consistency desirable for some applications

  • Gives credence to "new and improved"

  • Better than other similar products currently on the market

Cons

  • A little pricier than competition

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