Prolimatech PK-2 & PK-3 TIM ReviewCPU Cooling, VGA Cooling
Reviewed by: RHKCommander959
Reviewed on: August 8, 2012
Price: $6 -$35
Often times people wonder what thermal paste is and which is best to use when they assemble their cooling devices. Thermal Interface Material, often abbreviated as TIM, is an agent applied between a heat sink and CPU/GPU cores or other integrated circuits and hot electronics. While the base of a heat sink may appear flat, they are not truly flat or smooth although lapping (the process of removing small layers at a time) can increase these traits. TIM fills the gaps between the hot object and the heat sink, thus it helps with heat conduction. In a perfect world if both surfaces were perfectly smooth and flat then paste wouldn't be needed.
Integrated Heat Spreaders (IHS) are installed on most processors and larger GPU cores. These are metal lids that protect the fragile core from damage, such as by a bad heat sink installation. The IHS conducts heat away from the cores underneath by solder or TIM. The top is usually uneven and can be easily seen through lapping. Thermal paste fills the unevenness between the two bodies. Prolimatech has provided samples of two of its newest TIMs — PK-2 and PK-3. Both come in three capacities: 1.5g, 5g, and 30g. PK-2 is thinner and meant for easy application while PK-3 is thicker and intended for higher thermal conductivity.
PK-2 comes in a green box while PK-3 comes in orange. All boxes no matter the size have the same basic design. Website at the top left, logo and TIM type in the center, “Nano Aluminum High-grade Thermal Compound” and the capacity at the bottom right. At the top is a small hole for hanging the tubes up generally in a retail setting. The back of the boxes list the relative composition by weight of the two pastes. Both have the same ranges for Aluminum and Antioxidant while PK-3 has more Zinc Oxide and less oil than PK-2. The TIMs are made in Taiwan.
The sides of each box list the features and specifications. The features of PK-3 are high thermal conductivity, low thermal resistance, long-term stability, low dry-out, non-corrosive, electrically non-conductive, and no “burn-in” time required. PK-2 features: easy application, long-term stability, low dry-out, non-corrosive, electrically non-conductive, no “burn-in” time required. Specifications for PK-3 include: specific gravity of 2.7g/cm³, adhesiveness of 330,000 Cps, thermal conductivity of 11.2 W/m-ºC, and thermal impedance of 0.013 ºC-in²/W. PK-2 specifications include: specific gravity of 2.5g/cm³, adhesiveness of 250,000 Cps, thermal conductivity of 10.2 W/m-ºC, and thermal impedance of 0.015 ºC-in²/W. Both boxes come with a syringe of TIM and one easy-to-spread spoon that ladies will recognize as disposable makeup spatulas. The 1.5g boxes only come with a piece of cardboard for spreading.
The only thing left to do is unpack the boxes and look at the contents on the next page.
As with virtually every other liquid TIM, the Prolimatech PK-2 and PK-3 come in syringes. Sizes range from 1.5g, 5g, up to 30g. Each syringe is labeled to resemble the boxes that they came in, and warn to keep away from children, and avoid contact with eyes and mouth. The 30g syringes use a twist cap while the smaller sized syringes have caps that just pop on and off, although twisting makes it easier.
The 1.5g syringes come with a piece of cardboard paper for spreading while the larger syringes get makeup spatulas for easy spreading. The proper application of TIM varies on its thickness and what it is being used on. Most IHS cores are fine with a drop of TIM in the center except when used with direct heatpipe heat sinks where grooves cause the paste to travel unevenly. On bare cores and thermoelectric cooler blocks it is crucial to spread the TIM over the whole surface or else hot spots can form and cause deterioration. Thinner pastes are easily spread by heat sink mounting or by hand whereas thicker pastes won't cooperate with manual spreading. Spreading methods can be highly contested but for applications on an IHS the key part is to have paste above the core-region; having paste at the outer edges provide little to no difference. So spreading by hand on the IHS or letting the heat sink do it doesn't matter much except in those few instances.
Time to move on to the specifications and features page.
|Prolimatech PK-2||Prolimatech PK-3|
|Capacities||1.5g, 5g, 30g||1.5g, 5g, 30g|
|Adhesiveness||250000 Cps||330000 Cps|
|Thermal Conductivity||10.2 W/m-°C||11.2 W/m-°C|
- Easy Application
- Low Dry-Out
- Electrically Non-Conductive
- Wide range of application temperature
- High Thermal Conductivity
- Low Thermal Resistance
- Long-Term Stability
- No "burn-in" time required
All information courtesy of Prolimatech at http://www.prolimatech.com/en/products/detail.asp?id=1558 and http://www.prolimatech.com/en/products/detail.asp?id=1582
To test the Prolimatech TIMs, I will test it twice; both times applying fresh TIM and taking idle and load measurements with Real Temp. If the two test temperatures are far apart, then a third test will be run to ensure accuracy. The final result is the average of the results. Idle temperature is measured at the Windows Desktop 20 minutes idle after start-up. Load temperature is measured during three hour runs of Prime95's Blend stress-test. All testing is done with the processor overclocked to 4.4 GHz for worst case scenario and overclocking results.
- Processor: Core i7 2600K @ 4.4 GHz 100 x 44
- CPU Cooling: Corsair H100
- Motherboard: GIGABYTE Z68AP-D3
- Memory: Mushkin 991996 Redline PC3-17000 9-11-10-28 16 GB
- Video Card: XFX HD 7970 Black Edition
- PSU: Mushkin 800W Modular
- Hard Drives: Patriot WildFire 120 GB SSD
- Case: Corsair 600T
- Optical Drive: LG DVD-RW
- OS: Windows 7 Pro 64-Bit SP1
Comparison Thermal Compounds:
- Prolimatech PK-2
- Prolimatech PK-3
- Shin-Etsu G751
- IC Diamond
IC Diamond and MASSCOOL G751 Shin-Etsu are both venerated and regarded as high quality TIMs. The Prolimatech TIMs fit right in between the two at load while coming in slightly behind at idle. Temperature deviation was less than 2 °C between any of the pastes at idle and load. PK-2 and IC Diamond acted very similarly.
For the best operating temperatures and thus lifespan a good TIM is needed. There are countless TIMs out on the market anymore; some have been around for a long time while new ones roll out. The lower the temperatures the better. Qualities such as thickness and cost can be very important factors as well. Most consumers want the best performance for their money but not every TIM is created equally!
Prolimatech PK-2 and PK-3 are two new products that compete with some of the best out there. Right now it is slightly difficult to purchase but can be had for less than Arctic Silver 5! IC Diamond 7 is very competitively priced too though. Both pastes were easily spreadable with the spatula. All of the tested products came close in performance so the cost per gram could sway customers one way or another.
If you can get your hands on either of these products for an affordable price you wont be disappointed!
- Great cooling performance
- Easily spread
- Spreader included