Tuniq TX-2 Thermal Compound
Author: Zahn Funk
Editor: Shawn Knight
Date: 11-23-2007
Provided by: Tuniq
Discuss: View Comments
The other white paste

So anyway, where was I? Oh yeah, everything else is just white paste.

Well it turns out TX-2 is gray. And just in case you weren't certain, Tuniq states this on the package, just to be clear, er.. gray. But really, how do you go about testing a thermal compound? I mean, it's not like we've got the scientific equipment lying around that can analyze this stuff and spit out its chemical makeup or determine its precise thermal conductivity. Those numbers don't mean anything to me. The only way I'm going to be able to talk to you about TX-2 is to use it, and compare it to something you already know. To put it into context.

So what other thermal paste can I pair up with this stuff? None other than Arctic Silver 5. Arctic Silver has long been considered the de facto maker of thermal paste. Ask any overclocker what they've got between their processor and heatsink and chances are it's AS5. Sure there's been other compounds to come and go, and many that have been compared, but none has really caught on in the world of computers and become as well-known as AS5. Of course, prior to that it was AS3, and before that AS II, but anyway, you get the idea. So throughout this review I'll be making references to AS5, and chances are you'll know what I'm talking about.

The first thing I'd like to mention is the size of the applicator. Although that syringe looks huge, only the very end has TX-2 compound in it. It's the same 3 grams you'll find in a tube of AS5. Tuniq puts a little cutout window in the label so you can see just how much paste is left. Initially this window was full, this picture shows how much remains after several applications. Anyway, the size of the TX-2 syringe makes it somewhat unwieldy to use with one hand. You almost need two, one to hold the syringe and one to push on the end, whereas with AS5 you can easily hold that tube between thumb and middle finger and apply with your index.

Once you get it out of the tube you'll find that the TX-2 has a thick consistency. It comes out about like toothpaste, seemingly thicker than AS5. After you start working it though it begins to soften up. One thing you'll quickly notice is that although it holds together pretty well, it doesn't really stick to anything else, at least not a smooth metal surface like a processor or heatsink base. As I would come to find out later, it makes cleaning up very easy, but trying to spread it can be challenging. It tends to stick to itself more easily than it sticks to another surface. So to apply it I end up just kind of dabbing small dots of it across the surface of my CPU. When I'm done it looks more like a game of Othello than an application of thermal compound.

This is mostly opposite of AS5. AS5 sticks very well to surfaces, in fact it can be hard to clean off. Sometimes I can flip the cleaning cloth over four or five times and still have it come away gray after rubbing the top of the CPU. Consequently you can spread AS5 pretty thinly and evenly over a surface.

The last observation I felt worth mentioning is that the TX-2 stayed moist, even after 24-48 hours of 100% CPU utilization burn-in. It came off in much the same consistency that it went on. This also aided in its cleanup. Conversely, AS5 seems to get thicker and more tacky the longer it stays on. It never dries up and hardens completely but after several months of undisturbed use it can become almost like glue. In fact I've had AS5 pull a processor straight out of a socket because it wouldn't come loose of the heatsink, resulting in numerous bent and mangled, but thankfully no broken, pins.

Continue on to testing and conclusion.

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