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Is Your Silver-based Thermal Paste Really Silver? 788

Posted by CowboyNeal
from the critical-looks dept.
strider69666 writes "Over at Overclockers.com they have a review of several thermal compounds that claim to have 99% pure silver content. 'I decided to test Arctic Silver 5, Arctic Silver 3, OCZ Ultra II Premium Silver Compound, and CompUSA Silver Thermal Grease. This test was not conducted to test performance, but rather to determine if these compounds have Silver as an ingredient.' Using a professionally mixed testing solution, they found that several brands do not, in fact, contain any silver at all! So, are you getting what you are paying for?"
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Is Your Silver-based Thermal Paste Really Silver?

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  • by mriker (571666) on Friday January 23, 2004 @01:06AM (#8063493)
    Major props to OCZ. What an admirable and classy move. They can look forward to my business in the future.
  • invoice? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by herrvinny (698679) on Friday January 23, 2004 @01:09AM (#8063516)
    Beginning January 22nd 2004 we are issuing a full recall of any and all OCZ Ultra 2.

    Any Customers who wish to return OCZ Ultra 2 thermal paste with an invoice will in exchange for their full or partially used tube(s) receive:
    1- One (dependant on # of tubes returned) 3-gram OCZ thermal Compound (made by Arctic Silver Inc.) or one OCZ Dominator 2 Heatsink.
    2- One OCZ EL DDR T-Shirt
    3- One 10 dollar off rebate on any OCZ EL DDR Dual Channel Kit (at participating resellers)


    Sounds cool, but how many people will have saved a receipt?
  • by Dr_Marvin_Monroe (550052) on Friday January 23, 2004 @01:10AM (#8063519)
    This isn't too far fetched. They could be getting systematicly ripped-off by their suppliers too.

    Just a little screw-up at the (prob. offshore) supplier, I'm sure that OCZtech will be checking ALL the future batches...at least for another week or so.

    Now would be the best time to get a tube. This weeks batch will prob. be right on the spec.

  • Surface tension (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Explodo (743412) on Friday January 23, 2004 @01:14AM (#8063548)
    Does anyone else notice that the two tests that showed positive have let the drop of test solution spread out? Does the fact that the two that tested negative have the solution beaded up indicate very little interaction between the two substances? Where's a chemist on this? It doesn't look like they're mixing...
  • Re:RTFA (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Sage Gaspar (688563) on Friday January 23, 2004 @01:19AM (#8063590)
    So, explain to me, what is the new standard of measuring color that lists it by weight and volume?
  • by Haxx (314221) on Friday January 23, 2004 @01:20AM (#8063595) Homepage

    The overclocking thing bewilders me. These overclockers only push there cpu's to the limit so they can see a performance gain in the latest version of Quake.

    You can't overclock a cpu on a pc or a server that has any real use what-so-ever.

    Imagine overclocking the cpu on you employers mail server, then it becomes unstable and corrupts half the data!

    -Haxx

  • by ryanw (131814) on Friday January 23, 2004 @01:20AM (#8063596)
    So is "silver" even a necessity to CPU cooling? If people are purchasing this compound because it is "99% silver" and place it inbetween the CPU and the heatsink, isn't there more at stake here? I mean what if there were damaged CPUs due to the usage of this compound instead of one with 99% silver? Shouldn't they be paying for more than just re-emburse you for your bunk tube you paid for? What about the bunk CPU that it fried?
  • by Rob Simpson (533360) on Friday January 23, 2004 @01:39AM (#8063695)
    There are other reasons for using silver thermal paste and "overclocking" products than just overclocking. I have a layer of arctic silver with a masive copper heatsink [thermalright.com], but I don't overclock. Instead, I have the cpu cooled by a 120mm fan running nice and quiet on minimum speed. I also have a Zalman cooler on my video card. Both of these make my computer's noise level much less distracting than the jet engine it was before.
  • by juhaz (110830) on Friday January 23, 2004 @01:40AM (#8063702) Homepage
    So is "silver" even a necessity to CPU cooling?

    No. Some people (usually overclockers) buy these "silver" compounds because they think it conducts heat better than other materials - and it probably does - but practically it isn't any better than the others, there's supposed to be _very_ little of this stuff in between the CPU and cooler, so any difference with any other compound that is fluid enough to fill all the cracks it's supposed to, is very small, and probably not even noticeable.

    If people are purchasing this compound because it is "99% silver" and place it inbetween the CPU and the heatsink, isn't there more at stake here? I mean what if there were damaged CPUs due to the usage of this compound instead of one with 99% silver?

    I don't see how one could fry their CPU (assuming the compound isn't useless in the more important aspects) with this, so what if it makes a 1'C difference, the thing would've fried anyway

    If you push your system over the limits it's designed to go, you should monitor it, instead of trusting some magical "silver bullet" will save you - and if you don't keep an eye of those temperatures, you're an idiot. And deserve your new keychain that used to be an expensive CPU.
  • Re:So.... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by TwinkieStix (571736) on Friday January 23, 2004 @01:45AM (#8063737) Homepage
    About small claims court:
    It's a big misnomer that companies rarely show up and you'll win your $5000. Every first semester law class (well, the two 100 level classes I took did) will teach you that, except in traffic court, every civil lawsuit is guaranteed at least one appeal. Small claims court doesn't allow for lawyers, and so corporations will no-show to small claims court, and then appeal with their army of attorneys. Sometimes there will be a settlement that involves a non disclosure which is why we don't here about it on Slashdot.
  • by jrockway (229604) <jon-nospam@jrock.us> on Friday January 23, 2004 @01:48AM (#8063749) Homepage Journal
    Toothpaste works quite well as thermal compound. As long as it's not air in between the heatsink and core, you're fine. Granted, toothpaste dries out and becomes an insulator, so you shouldn't use that. But the silver, according to a review that I can't find (sorry :( ), doesn't make much of a difference. The white stuff that came on your heatsink is fine. I like the white stuff that thermalright includes with their heatsinks, personally. Nice and sticky-ish. Good stuff, IMO.

    Actually, I like silver compound because it's shiny. I like shiny things... (also it's thinner, so you can get a thin layer on your core. But Thermalright suggests that you get a good-sized layer on your core and heatsink, so maybe thin isn't good. I don't really know.)
  • by queequeg1 (180099) on Friday January 23, 2004 @01:53AM (#8063785)
    WHile this sort of response does show that OCZ is unwilling to pass the buck (a very admirable quality), one would hope that any halfway decent operation would know enough about applied sampling techniques to avoid this sort of problem in the first place. It almost sounds like they did an initial testing (that resulted in the 25/70 figures) and then testing after the article came out, with nothing in the interim. A good sized product run requires a surprisingly small amount of sampling to uncover a significant defect in a single measureable product quality (e.g. silver content). Hopefully they won't be as sloppy when sending out the replacements.
  • Re:Nice... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by phorm (591458) on Friday January 23, 2004 @01:56AM (#8063795) Journal
    it is provided by a foreign manufacturer with our specifications

    I wonder where the foreign manufacturer is though, and how easy they are to prosecute. Now I feel sorry for OCZ, because it looks like they're the ones getting the shaft.

    I wonder if this is one of those nasty effects of outsourcing/exterior-suppliers that will become apparent over time, sneaky cost-cutting and lower accountability.
  • by juhaz (110830) on Friday January 23, 2004 @02:14AM (#8063878) Homepage
    You can't overclock a cpu on a pc or a server that has any real use what-so-ever.

    You're wrong.

    Moderately overclocked systems are not useless. Sure, you shouldn't use overclocked CPU in a mission critical server (doh), but they make perfectly fine real-world desktops, I'm typing this on one and it's stable as a rock. It's predecessor(s) were as well. The speed difference is nothing staggering, and maybe it only saved twenty bucks from the next speed grade, but so what?

    This is not black and white so that something's either at stock speed or so much over the limits it's extremely unstable, you go for a speed that's stable under full load - and you test that it really is stable, or bit under that to be sure.

    Of course overclocked to the extreme rig with LN2 cooling or something equally stupid doesn't have any use what-so-ever - but they're intended to, people do that as a hobby, or to compete with eachother.
  • Re:Nice... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by blair1q (305137) on Friday January 23, 2004 @02:37AM (#8063962) Journal
    Mmm-hmm.

    I got a tube of some sort of thermal goop when I bought a new fan for my video card (the old one was spalling or got a dented ball bearing or something).

    I spread the goop on the chip, clipped on the new fan, and THREW THE REST OF THE TUBE AWAY.

    So the moral is: if you're going to do a recall, do it on a disposable product.
  • by PReDiToR (687141) on Friday January 23, 2004 @02:40AM (#8063975) Homepage Journal
    Why would you give them your business as opposed to the manufacturers who have actually had substantial amounts of silver in their product all along?

    Because acts like this one, with the compensation levels they are displaying should be a guiding light to all companies.
    Accidents happen, they were duped, even after asking for testing to be done on the product.

    I can put you $1,000 on the gamble that CompUSA do NOTHING about their product and basically sweep the problem under the mat.

    Using OCZ products shows CompUSA and companies of their ilk that consumers appreciate it when we are treat like people instead of accounts.

    The T-Shirt gets me. LAN party talking point anyone? Word of mouth at its best.
  • by cujo_1111 (627504) on Friday January 23, 2004 @02:41AM (#8063978) Homepage Journal
    This was probably due more to you putting the heatsink on properly than as a result of using the thermal paste. Or you used more paste than factory and it filled more cracks.
  • Re:Nice... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Serveert (102805) on Friday January 23, 2004 @03:07AM (#8064065)
    Just another risk you take with outsourcing, you get what you pay for. It may seem cheap at first.
  • by teg (97890) on Friday January 23, 2004 @03:12AM (#8064078) Homepage

    From the Slashdot article:

    Over at Overclockers.com they have a review of several thermal compounds that claim to have 99% pure silver content.

    The claim is that the silver content is 70% by weight, and that the silver used is 99.9% pure. Not that the compounds have 99% silver content,

    If you want 99% silver on top of your CPU, try spreading some silverware on top of it.

  • by tankdilla (652987) on Friday January 23, 2004 @03:59AM (#8064192) Homepage Journal
    ...but thermal paste is something you apply once and never see again

    I always wonder why they sell so much thermal/silver paste in one package if you're only going to use a little bit, and probably won't use much more until much later. Unless you're testing a lot of chips or heatsinks, who actually uses all of their thermal/silver paste?

  • by StrawberryFrog (67065) on Friday January 23, 2004 @04:26AM (#8064254) Homepage Journal
    Quit believing advertising, and you will be just fine

    "Contains 90% silver" is a simple and testable claim, and clearly not just ad-speak. There are laws against outright lies on the box of any product in most countries. This is a good thing.
  • Re:bah (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Machine9 (627913) on Friday January 23, 2004 @04:59AM (#8064359) Homepage
    Actually, I though Mithril was -not- heat conductive. afterall, it's kinda designed for fighting all sorts of fiery foes.
  • by EmagGeek (574360) <gterich@@@aol...com> on Friday January 23, 2004 @05:35AM (#8064462) Journal
    "Our product is advertised correctly. Before micronization, the silver that was used was rated at 97% percent pure. The silver was then put through our micronization process and added to a substrate to create our product compound."

    This is precisely what it means. It's not funny, it's just the language that advertisers are allowed to use. In fact, putting the phrase "97% pure micronized silver" on the package isn't making any claims at all about anything. If it were to say:

    Contains 97% Pure Micronized Silver

    it would likely mean

    Contains (97% Pure) (Micronized Silver)

    and not

    (Contains 97%) (Pure Micronized Silver)

    They're making a claim about the raw material they used to make their product, not their product.

    Also, 100% doesn't mean 100% in advertising speak. Take a bag of potato chips that says "Contains 100% Russett Potatoes" on the bag. Obviously, this is not true. It also contains oil, salt, preservatives, and whatever else, and there is almost as much oil as there is potato. Likewise, they're only making a claim as to the origin of the potatoes, not the contents of the bag. 100% of the potatoes are of the variety "Russett," not 100% of the contents of this bag are potatoes.

    99% of what advertisers tell you is probably just-barely-legal bullshit. This is something that I've come to simply accept over the years.
  • Re:bah (Score:3, Insightful)

    by ozbird (127571) on Friday January 23, 2004 @05:35AM (#8064464)
    Hehehe... Where's the "+1 Python skit" moderation option?
  • by MrAngryForNoReason (711935) on Friday January 23, 2004 @06:29AM (#8064570)

    Who cares if it contains silver or not.

    People care about it because if something claims to be 99% silver then it should damn well have some silver in it. Otherwise it is false advertising which is illegal.

    The purpose of a heat sink is to .. radiate heat - not to look good on your wrist.

    Which is exactly why you want it to contain silver, silver is one of the best conducters of heat there is. And you want it to conduct heat, not radiate it, the heatsink is to radiate the heat, the thermal transfer compound is just there to transfer the heat from the core to the heatsink.

  • by OblongPlatypus (233746) on Friday January 23, 2004 @06:51AM (#8064621)
    99% of what advertisers tell you is probably just-barely-legal bullshit.

    So is that (Barely Legal) (Bull Shit), as in bullshit from an 18 year old porn actress?

    Or (Barely Legal Bull) (Shit), as in the feces of an 18 year old bull?
  • by nuggz (69912) on Friday January 23, 2004 @06:53AM (#8064627) Homepage
    Why wouldn't you want copper?

    Copper is much cheaper.
    Silver only conducts 10% better then copper.

    Plus making sure you have a good contact by itself will do a lot just by itself.
  • by Tsu Dho Nimh (663417) <abacaxi@NoSpaM.hotmail.com> on Friday January 23, 2004 @06:56AM (#8064636)
    "they found that several brands do not, in fact, contain any silver at all! So, are you getting what you are paying for?"

    IF the ingredients list silver, and the ads say "silver", it MUST have silver in it, and as much as specified. This can be reported to the state's consumer affairs agency and/or the FTC for followup.

    However, merely using the word "silver" in the name is not always fraud ...

  • by thebigmacd (545973) on Friday January 23, 2004 @07:02AM (#8064651)
    Because unlike copper, the oxides ("rust") of silver conduct electricity and heat nearly as well as pure silver itself. Oxides of copper are insulators. As well, silver requires nitrogen or sulphur compounds to tarnish whereas copper tarnishes in moist air.
  • by pelsmith (308845) on Friday January 23, 2004 @07:45AM (#8064754)
    It's damage control people.
    They knew.
    They just didn't care.
    Now that they are caught they are passing the buck.

    Think about what they are offering: If you managed to save the receipt they will replace your current product.
    And you get a T-shirt that is specifically designed to be a give-away.
    And you get a coupon to buy more products.

    If you are honestly accepting their word that they were poor abused victims in this whole scam, then you are gullible.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 23, 2004 @08:15AM (#8064864)
    This Silver Paste fiasco is like an getting into an accident with your car! Your car didn't have airbags, although sold as such? And you got injured? I say you have damn good reason to claim damages - after all, you paid for those airbags for a reason, and you didn't get them, and you paid the price.

    Same thing with silver thermal paste. You buy the paste for heat protection - silver is one of the very best conductors of heat. But your CPU got toasted? And there was no real protection? Then I think you have a good claim against these guys. Perhaps not 100% liability, but certainly something significant.

    Let's ask Intel or AMD what they think about this fake thermal paste.

  • by rockwood (141675) on Friday January 23, 2004 @08:32AM (#8064947) Homepage Journal
    I have always believed that many companies do these type of 'misleading' advertisements. Like BugerKing or McDonalds saying "100% pure ground beef"...[yeah right!] I have concluded that this means "Whatever amount of beef is in it, is 100% pure beef, the rest of the burger is something else." Therefore I think the reference of 100% beef is in regards to the beed content itself and not the burger as a whole.

    I see this as being the issue with the Silver as well. Though it seems in some cases theyy couldn't find any, though maybe the microgram of 99.99% pure silver that they added to it was to minut to detect?

  • by Black Perl (12686) on Friday January 23, 2004 @09:29AM (#8065349)
    People care about it because if something claims to be 99% silver then it should damn well have some silver in it. Otherwise it is false advertising which is illegal.

    Are you sure they claim to have 99% silver, or is it 99% silver compounds? For example, silver nitrate is commonly used to make mirrors. It is cheap. It is also liquid, which could be combined with a thickening agent to make thermal grease. So I highly doubt we're talking about pure solid silver here.
  • Re:bah (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Alien54 (180860) on Friday January 23, 2004 @09:34AM (#8065388) Journal
    You had a quantum foam vacuum of pure nothingness to pop universes out of? I WISH I had a vacuum of pure nothingness to pop universes out of.

    But you are not telling the full story

    to explain to the kiddies:

    you know how physicists keep trying to meld particles together to show a unity of matter and energy, etc? getting particles that are more and more dense?

    well way back then we had a unity of not only matter and energy, but space and time. It was beautiful. You could create little pockets of whatever combination you wanted. You guys do not even have the words to describe it these days.

    then some of the younger squirts got jealous, and "spiked the punch".

    And this place is the result of the hangover we all got.

  • by meatspray (59961) * on Friday January 23, 2004 @09:45AM (#8065479) Homepage
    "Made with 99.9% pure micronized silver"

    The half ounce of micronized silver they added to the 4000 gallon batch of silver colored grease was 99.9% pure.

    Much in the same way that Made with real fruit juices doesn't gaurentee there's any reasonable ammount of fruit juices in it. Marketing at it's worst.
  • question (Score:2, Insightful)

    by alex_ant (535895) on Friday January 23, 2004 @09:54AM (#8065567) Homepage Journal
    Why don't Intel etc. sell their CPUs with an integrated (same block of ceramic or whatever) heatsink instead of in a flat square housing that they know is going to need a heatsink?
  • Re:So.... (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 23, 2004 @10:07AM (#8065694)
    Yes, the grammer police. They always feel above others but claim "I just don't understand". I feel sorry for you if you can not understand something that was not exactly structured the way you were taught. Being a productive member of society requires being able to adapt and communicate in different ways. My dog does not speak english and I know what she wants. Most people learn to adapt to others and are able to pick out and cope with different methods of communication. Obviously, your communications skills are very limited and you can only deal with something your were taught and can not understand things presented in different forms.
  • Re:bah (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 23, 2004 @10:30AM (#8065901)
    "Why should I care what an actor says about anything other than acting?"

    ...Because we live in a screwy country where the unwashed masses determine who is most suitable to make the highest level decisions, and someday that actor might be President or Governor. Stands a better chance than say, an economist, a teacher or a programmer.

    Best you can hope for is that the actor chosen is just a figurehead and the people behind him actually know what they are doing and are political zealots rather than just greedy.

  • by pagercam2 (533686) on Friday January 23, 2004 @12:43PM (#8067290)
    As I understand it, for a thermal coumpound you want a good thermal conductor but a electrical isolator. As the thermal paste is well a paste, it will move some dry hard as a rock but if the heat sink will be place and remove and replaced a paste is desirable, if it wipes off it may cause a short somewhere on the motherboard. So the question is do you really want silver? or what form is the silver contained in the paste? A silver soldered heatsink attached to the CPU at the factory would be the best solution.
  • by wash23 (735420) on Friday January 23, 2004 @01:00PM (#8067483)
    It seems possible that the silver in some of the thermal compounds might be "shielded" from the test solution by the other goop present. It might be better (if you cared that much) to try to isolate the silver particles before testing for their presence.
  • by FredFnord (635797) on Friday January 23, 2004 @07:22PM (#8071604)
    Okay. Let me see if I can make this easy for you.

    Take 100% pure silver, in a bar. What is its consistency?

    Melt it. Now what is its consistency?

    Grind it up into an ultra-fine powder. Now what is its consistency?

    Now take the ground up silver and mix it with, say, baby oil, until it's 90% silver and 10% baby oil. Now what is its consistency?

    And that's basically what the stuff is supposed to be, except that it's some kind of wax or oil that isn't made with babies.

    -fred

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