Thermal paste is probably the most disregarded part of building a PC. However, thermal grease can be a very important factor for users wanting to overclock or game heavily. One of the leading manufacturers in this field is Arctic Cooling with their Arctic Silver range. Arctic Silver 5 has always been the most favourable paste, but today, we have another manufacturer, Noctua, challenging Arctic Cooling for the title of the thermal paste king. Let’s fight…
Noctua aims at establishing a new level of quality and performance “Designed in Austria” through paying attention to the users’ needs in a market burdened with all kinds of frills and furbelows and providing sound-optimised premium components, which serve their purpose in a smart, precise and reliable manner.
- Excellent performance
- Maximum ease of use & efficient dosage
- Top-performance right from the start
- Excellent long-term stability
- Not electrically conductive, non-corroding
- Suitable for compressor cooling
|Volume||1.4ml (for at least 15 applications)|
|Specific Gravity||2.49 g/cm³|
|Recommended storage time (before use)||up to 2 years|
|Recommended usage time (on the CPU)||up to 3 years|
|Peak operating temperature||-50°C to +110°C|
|Recommended operating temperature||-40°C to +90°C|
The Noctua NT-H1 arrives in a plastic packet which is coloured in Noctua’s normal styling. The front of the packet has its features listed neatly on the right-hand side.
At the back of the packaging there are more specifications and features. Also, there is a four step instruction – assisting you how to apply the paste – and a little briefing about the product which is written in 7 different languages.
For a syringe of thermal paste, this packaging is a little over-the-top, however its eye catching and eye catching it needs to be on shop shelves.
The TIM (Thermal Interface Material) arrives in a syringe around 4 ½“ long. Inside is 1.4ml of paste which is enough for about 15 applications – a good amount for most enthusiasts.
Compared to the syringes of its competitor thermal pastes, the Noctua is the same length of the Arctic Silver 5, but slightly thinner. The Thermaltake’s syringe is half the size of the NT-H1, but double the width – making the Thermaltake and Noctua about the same size.
Wrapped around the syringe is a sticker which gives a brief description and some obvious warnings about the paste:
- Do not ingest. Seek medical advice immediately if ingested.
- Keep away from children and pets.
- Avoid skin or eye contact
Unlike Arctic Silver 5, this thermal compound doesn’t need a 200 hour burn-in time before it sets in for ultimate effectiveness. Instead, the Noctua works at its peak straight away meaning it’s an ideal paste for testing etc.
As the TIM is not electrically conductive and is also non-corrosive, if you did – for some reason- accidently squirt some over your motherboard, it will not cause any problems. This is nice to know for most people I’m sure.
The paste is light grey in colour and slightly thicker than the other pastes – unlike the Arctic Silver, the NT-H1 has no shine. When spreading it with a razor knife, it was much more difficult that the other paste as its much drier. This could be a bit of a problem for anyone wanting to spread the paste evenly over their processor. However, Noctua recommend using a different method for spreading the paste. That is:
“Put the heatsink onto the CPU; turn it back and forth a few times in order to spread the paste”.
We actually use this method at Tech-Reviews anyway, as it’s much quicker and a lot less hassle- whilst still giving a good result.
The first step to applying the paste was removing my current paste – Zalman’s own-branded thermal paste which they stock with their CPU water-blocks. To do this, I used Akasa’s TIM clean which is basically a nice smelling version of Isopropyl Alcohol.
To apply the Noctua NT-H1 I followed Noctua’s recommendations: squeeze out a small blob (4 – 5mm) on the centre of my Intel e6750’s IHS (Integrated Heat Spreader). After this, I rotated my Zalman water-block to spread the paste evenly over the CPU IHS (Integrated Heat Spreader). This technique seemed to have worked.
|Processor||Intel C2D E6750 @ Stock|
|Motherboard||Asus P5K Premium|
|Memory||Crucial Ballistix 4GB (2x 2GB)|
|Hard Disk Drive||Western Digital SE16 500GB|
|Power Supply||Kingwin Mach 1 10000W|
|Graphics Card||Vivikoo 8600GT|
|CPU Cooler||Zalman CPU Waterblock|
We’ll be using a Zalman Water block for all the. The temperatures will be recorded using Intel’s Thermal Analysis Tool which uses the CPU’s own diode for accurate readings. For idle testing, we’ll leave the computer standing for 30 minutes straight after a reboot and then we’ll record the average temperature from three temperature recordings. For load results, we’ll run two processes of CPU Burn-In to maximise the usage on both cores.
Ambient temperature is 24C.
We’ll be comparing the CPU temps at both idle and load with four other thermal pastes – all of which will be applied in the same way with the same amount of paste. These other thermal pastes are:
- Zalman ZM-TG2
- Arctic Silver 5
- Thermaltake A2014
All of these compounds have been highly praised by the media, so they’re a tough competition for the Noctua NT-H1
The results are fairly conclusive with the Noctua coming first followed by the Zalman and then Arctic Silver. The temperatures of each pastes don’t differ hugely, however, those users wanting to overclock will want to lose every extra degree possible.
Noctua’s NT-H1 retails at around £5 for a 1.4g syringe. For 15 applications, it’s quite a good price. However, with a 3.4g syringe of Arctic Silver 5 selling for around the same price, you’d be better off going for the AS5 as the temperatures don’t differentiate hugely.
From this review, we can only conclude that the NT-H1 is a great buy for any overclocker or hardcore gamer who wants to lose as much of those valuable degrees as possible as it’s the paste which offers the greatest performance out-of-the-box.
But for £5 for a 1.4g tube, most users will be best suited to buying the AS5 as the syringe contains more than double as much paste and a performance offering which is nearly the same.
That said, the Noctua NT-H1 is another great product from Noctua which offers great performance- it’s just a shame amount the price.