In context: Among the oldest debates in PC building centers around the way in which to use thermal paste. An individual blob, multiple blobs, a cross, or perhaps a butter spread? Igor’s Lab recently tried to compare methods, but limited to GPUs, whereas the debate usually concerns CPUs.
A fresh test from Igor’s Lab suggests applying thermal paste in a “sausage-like” straight-line down the center is the greatest technique, at the very least for graphics processors. The outcomes include caveats and so are unlikely to solve age-old arguments about how exactly far better spread the paste on a CPU.
Igor tested three thermal paste methods on a reference RTX 3080 running Furmark when using Alphacool’s Aurora GPX-N water backplate and exactly the same company’s Apex thermal grease at a 20C room temperature. A DIY liquid cooler, while a little labor-intensive rather than as cheap as a pre-installed air cooler, can spend less compared to investing in a liquid-cooled GPU.
To make sure reliable test outcomes, Igor took care to properly clean the GPU prior to trying each method. Then spent 10 minutes warming it and 5 minutes measuring the temperature.
The sausage method achieved temperatures around 3C cooler than applying an individual dot (which Intel suggests for CPUs) and 5C cooler than spreading the paste over the surface of the GPU. However, a significant detail is how Igor screwed the cooler onto the GPU, firmly setting the screws using one side, then your other before tightening both. Igor claims that GPU manufacturers do that to use pressure to the paste properly.
Another caveat is that the line method significantly differs with larger, high-end GPUs. Igor admits that the original dot style is most likely sufficient for smaller mainstream GPUs (just like the RTX 3060, that is rising in Steam’s survey charts) since they have less area to cover.
Even though you aren’t thinking about the test, this article offers a thorough guide on applying thermal paste, whether for GPUs or CPUs. It covers steps like cleaning the processor’s surface, paste viscosity, and safely attaching the cooler.