Tuniq TX-4 Thermal Grease Review
Reviewed by: Indybird
Reviewed on: November 2, 2010
So you just went out and bought the top-of-the-line CPU cooler, and a whole bunch of case fans to keep your processor running nice and cool. At this point it’s pretty tempting to just slap the CPU cooler on exactly as it came and call it a day. However, there’s one thing that seems to be overlooked a lot, and that is thermal paste. The paste that typically comes with your cooler will do the job and net you decent temperatures. But why would you skip out on the chance for cooler temps without modifying your cooler? “Aftermarket” thermal paste will typically yield a temperature drop of 5 degrees or more over stock paste.
Today, we have Tuniq’s offering in the enthusiast thermal paste market, the Tuniq TX-4. Tuniq has improved on its TX-3 formula of thermal grease, yielding even better performance. As per its lineage, TX-4 is a thick and viscous, non-conductive thermal grease. The TX-4 iteration boasts a lower thermal resistance, easy-application TIM spreader, and longer life. Let's see how it fares in the fairly exclusive enthusiast Thermal Interface Material market.
The Tuniq TX-4 comes in a small plastic clamshell package. Visible from the front is the tube and spreader card. Around the back we get down to business. At the top are the technical features and qualities of the TX-4 grease. In the middle is a graph comparing the TX-4 with the previous generations, TX-3 and TX-2, along with “Standard Thermal Grease.” The scale of the graph is a little misleading, being that there is only a 3 degrees Celsius difference between TX-2 and TX-4. Below that are the basic application instructions and at the bottom are your chemical specs. It is also noted, both at the top and bottom, that Tuniq TX-4 is RoHS compliant.
With the exterior and packaging out of the way, let’s move on to the contents.
Tuniq TX-4 comes in a white tube with the standard squeeze design. Every single thermal paste you’ll buy will come like this, but what sets the TX-4 apart is that Tuniq has included a spreader to make the application a little easier. A handy feature on the spreader is a series of boxes outlining the suggested spread area for different types of processors.
Using any other paste that does not include its own spreader, I simply take an old credit card and spread it on with that. Aside from that, some manufacturer instructions for thermal paste will specifically have you not spread it by hand and let the pressure distribute it. It’s a debatable issue, but being that I personally prefer hand-spreading, the inclusion of a spreader is a novel idea.
Moving onto the actual application, I found the whole TX-4 package to be a less than desirable spreading experience. To start, the “TIM spreader” is made of a hard plastic and does not flex at all during application. It might be that I’ve just gotten used to applying with credit cards, but I found myself scraping off thermal grease instead of spreading it. My only other grievance is with the viscosity of the grease itself — this stuff is thick. You have to be very patient, and only apply very light pressure, otherwise you’re just going to scrape around (even with a softer spreader card).
-45 °C ~ 160 °C
- Better performance than TX-3 thermal grease
- Easy apply than TX-3 thermal grease
- 6.53W/mK Ultra-High thermal conductivity for superior heat transfer
- RoHS compliant
- Low bleed under high pressure
- Not electrically conductive
- High stability and reliability
All information courtesy of Tuniq at: http://www.tuniq.com.tw/accessories/tx4.html#01
To test the Tuniq TX-4 thermal paste, I will apply it twice; both times taking simple idle and load measurements via Speedfan. 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. Each application is allowed three days of stress testing (via CPU Burn) to set. Idle temperature is measured at the Windows Desktop 20 minutes idle after startup. Load temperature is measured during a 4-core stress-test via CPU Burn.
- Processor: AMD Phenom II X4 955 BE
- Cooling: Noctua NH-U12P
- Motherboard: ASUS M4A89GTD USB3
- Memory: Mushkin Blackline 996782 PC3 12800 2x2GB
- Video Card: XFX HD5870 1GB
- Power Supply: OCZ 700W Modular Power Supply
- Hard Drive: 1 x Seagate 750GB SATA
- Optical Drive: Lite-on DVD-RW SATA
- OS: Windows Vista Ultimate 64-Bit
Comparison Thermal Compounds:
- Arctic Silver 5
- Noctua NT-H1
As you can see, the Tuniq TX-4 outperforms the Noctua and the Arctic Silver, if only by a few degrees. Though these results may already be enough to justify one over the other, skeptics should note the differences will only increase with a longer set-in period.
As any cooling enthusiast knows, you have to have good heat transfer between your processor and cooler. Aside from lapping the processor and heatsink (a task a majority of users wouldn’t be up for), the best way to ensure adequate heat transfer is with thermal paste. In the realm of PC cooling, every degree counts, and as we saw here the Tuniq TX-4 beats out the competition in cooling capability.
Surprisingly, it is not purely the cooling capability that comes into concern when buying thermal paste. While applying the paste, I encountered two annoyances. The first being the hard-plastic TIM spreader included with the TX-4; being hard plastic, it doesn’t flex with the slightest of pressure and thus will often scrape the grease instead of spreading it. The second annoyance was the viscosity of the paste; being so thick, it was extremely hard to apply evenly (especially with the shortcomings of the TIM spreader).
In the end, however, 99% of enthusiasts will look at what thermal paste offers the best performance and amongst these three top-of-the-line pastes, the Tuniq TX-4 offers the best heat transfer. If you’re looking to squeeze every degree out of your enthusiast cooling system, then look no further than the Tuniq TX-4.
- Great cooling performance
- Included spreader is hard to use
- Grease is very thick and hard to spread