Arctic Cooling MX-2 Thermal Compound Review

by Prof. Dr. Silver     |     January 8, 2008

Arctic Cooling MX-2 Specifications

Arctic Cooling MX-2 is a high thermal conductivity and low thermal resistance compound for components that require optimum thermal dissipation. It is ideally suited for use in CPU, GPU cooling and other applications between power semiconductor components and heat sinks where thermal conductivity is a major factor.

Here is a short, but pretty extensive list of Arctic Cooling MX-2 capabilities:

- High Thermal Conductivity
- Low Thermal Resistance
- Non-Electrical Conductive
- Non-Capacitive
- Non-Curing
- Non-Corrosive
- No Bleeding
- Odourless

As for ALL the technical specifications:

Density : 3.35 g/ cm3
Viscosity : 2850 poise
Net Weight: 4 g

This chart above shows us that the new MX-2 is beating all of its contenders in the performance race of cooling down our hot computer parts. Just remember, this chart is part of the Arctic Cooling marketing package so take it with a grain of salt.

How Thermal Compound Works

Let’s explain first what TIM (Thermal Interface Material) really is. Thermal Interface Material is a substance designed to take heat from one object and transfer it to another. It could be silicon based, metal based or ceramic based. We’ll use all three of them today in our tests. It is mostly used in the computer industry for dissipation of heat through a heatsink. CPUs and GPUs generate tons of heat and we all know that heat is bad for our computers. So we want the product that is going to help us most in keeping our rigs cool.

The workings of TIM are based on a difficult formula that looks like this:

Hold onto your hats folks, this is where it gets complicated.

Thermal conductivity = heat flow rate × distance / (area × temperature difference). In physics, thermal conductivity, "k" is the property of a material that indicates its ability to conduct heat. It is defined as the quantity of heat, "ΔQ", transmitted during time "Δt" through a thickness "L", in a direction normal to a surface of area "A", due to a temperature difference "ΔT", under steady state conditions and when the heat transfer is dependent only on the temperature gradient. (Thanks to Wikipedia.)

Well, that is not the only difficult part. When we're talking TIM, we also have to look at the density, viscosity and low thermal resistance of a product. Our product has a density of 3.35 g/cm3 which is explained like this: Density is mass (m) per unit volume (V). To keep it short, MX-2 is 3.36 times denser than water. Which is better for the thermal conductivity and thermal resistance. See how it all comes together? Viscosity is explained like this: the measure of the resistance of a fluid to being deformed by either shear stress or extensional stress. In other words: the thickness of a fluid. It is measured in cP(Poise). 2850 cP means that it is a thick fluid, very unlikely to flow. Compare it to corn syrup at 1380 cP.

Now, let us take the CPU/Heatsink combination for example. These two surfaces are never really flat, meaning that if you put the heatsink on the CPU, there will be AIR in between the two of them. And that is BAD. Air is 8000 times less efficient in conducting heat than your thermal paste. What the thermal paste does is basically fills up the minute gaps, scratches and dents in between the two, so that heat can dissipate faster.

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