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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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  • So.... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by dacarr (562277) on Friday January 23, 2004 @02:00AM (#8063444) Homepage Journal
    Who do all these people who are concerned about false labelling go to for enforcement?
  • by green pizza (159161) on Friday January 23, 2004 @02:01AM (#8063454) Homepage
    Is silver so expensive that these compaines have no way of adding silver to the paste? What made them think nobody would ever put their pastes to the test?

    IIRC, copper conducts heat better than silver... why not make a copper paste, surly it would be much cheaper to make. Or would the companies use copper-colored pigment and lie to us about the copper too?
  • by DAldredge (2353) <SlashdotEmail@GMail.Com> on Friday January 23, 2004 @02:03AM (#8063474) Journal
    The price of silver today at market close was about 6.20 USD per ounce. Not that expensive considering what these products cost.
  • Nice... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Chordonblue (585047) on Friday January 23, 2004 @02:06AM (#8063492) Journal
    Now THAT'S how damage control should work. The company took full responsibility and is offering a generous compensation.

    It is disturbing that they had not caught this earlier, but I think that they are more than making up for their shortcomings.

    I wish more organizations worked like this. Good word of mouth goes a long way on the Internet - see New Egg's success as an example.

  • Re:o boy (Score:2, Interesting)

    by DAldredge (2353) <SlashdotEmail@GMail.Com> on Friday January 23, 2004 @02:08AM (#8063506) Journal
    Well, too much in your system can turn you blue. Do a google search on Colloidal Silver.

    Medicinal silver is most often sold as colloidal silver protein (CSP). In a recent case report, a 56-year-old man noticed a blue discoloration under his fingernails.1 He had been taking CSP supplements daily for 3 years, in hopes of preventing colds and allergies. The diagnosis was argyria, a blue-black tinting of the skin and mucous membranes caused by a build-up of silver. Numerous similar cases have been reported in recent years.2,3
    In argyria, silver deposited in the body reacts with the sun through a process similar to that of the development of a photographic negative. This leads to permanent discoloration of the skin. Changes may be seen in the eyes, lips, and nose as well.
    The condition was even more common in decades past, when CSP was an accepted medical treatment. Fortunately, argyria is seldom dangerous, although in some cases nerve damage may occur.
  • Re:So.... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by evilviper (135110) on Friday January 23, 2004 @02:13AM (#8063543) Journal
    Who do all these people who are concerned about false labelling go to for enforcement?

    Well, class-action lawsuits are the end-all solution.

    Short of that:

    That's the FTC's job, but they don't seem interested in reports from the public.

    I prefer the Better Business Bureau. I've filed a few complaints, and so far I've always gotten results.

    Big companies don't even bother to show-up for small claims court appearances. So you could get up to $5,000 via a default ruling if/when they don't show.

  • Re:So.... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by welshsocialist (542986) <hoshie@mailinator.com> on Friday January 23, 2004 @02:16AM (#8063565) Homepage
    My guess would be the local BBB [hamptonroadsbbb.org], the State Attorney General [state.va.us], or anyone who will listen.
  • by fatalist23 (534463) on Friday January 23, 2004 @02:19AM (#8063589)
    When I read the above post, the first thing into my head was high school chemistry class and trying to get silver to precipitate... Much to my dismay, the article writer has chosen the easy way out with some color changing liquid which tells you when it's reacting with silver.

    I was looking forward to poking fun at his titration technique... I mean, it was hellish trying to get as much precipitate as "expected" in those godamn experiments.
  • by The Clockwork Troll (655321) on Friday January 23, 2004 @02:24AM (#8063620) 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?

    I know, I know, to forgive is divine, but attitudes like yours send the message "it is OK to be irresponsible as long as you say you're sorry."

    Am I off-base?

  • by Sivar (316343) <charlesnburns[ @ ] g m a i l . c om> on Friday January 23, 2004 @02:26AM (#8063637)
    IIRC, copper conducts heat better than silver... why not make a copper paste

    Copper is a great conductor of heat, but not as good as silver.
    Copper: 402 k(W/mK) @ 300 kelvin
    Silver: 430 k(W/mK) -- 7% better (in certain conditions).
    Diamond beats them all at 895 k(W/mK).
    Actually, there's a superfluid form of Helium-2 which, at already very low temperatures, blows anything else away in terms of heat conductivity. Of course, since it has to already be near absolute zero in temperature to have reasonably thermal conductivity, it would probably not make the best thermal "grease."
  • Made in China? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 23, 2004 @02:28AM (#8063645)
    Well the article is offline, but my educated guess is that the offending products are made in China. Just go ahead and try to sue a Chinese company for false advertising... or copyright infringement for that matter, or better yet, product liability, when your power supply fails a month after you bought it, or when your DVD-RW catches fire. If the WTO and related bodies don't bring China's legal system into line, consumers will eventually figure out that today's China is not quite the same as the Taiwan of twenty years ago or the Japan of forty years ago, and they'll start paying attention to the "made in" labels and won't be willing to pay as much for Chinese-made products.
  • by timmarhy (659436) on Friday January 23, 2004 @02:36AM (#8063678)
    all you posters saying "whats the problem" are missing the point, people pay a premium for silver paste becuase it supposedly contains enough silver to provide better heat conductivity. it's marketed as such and really, infomation should be made avaiable as to the silver content.
  • by mriker (571666) on Friday January 23, 2004 @02:39AM (#8063693)
    You do have a very good point, and if this was typical of OCZ, I would absolutely not give them my business. I find the situation they're claiming is quite plausable. Were they irresponsible to not test every shipment? Every tube? Perhaps, but there's a line of reasonable expectation there somewhere.

    Their accepting of responsibility (I'm probably jaded... it seems awfully rare that anyone takes responsibility for anything anymore), and the way in which they're making it up to those affected, cause me to buy their sincerety. Maybe this once, the PR machine fooled me, but at this point I'm willing to give them the benefit of the doubt.

  • well technically.... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by LuxFX (220822) on Friday January 23, 2004 @02:43AM (#8063715) Homepage Journal
    2 pack; 97% pure micronized silver
    75-80% silver content by weight

    (from CompUSA's website, regarding said silver compound)

    Wouldn't it be funny if CompUSA responded with:

    "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."

    When asked what substrate was used

    "The substrate is a a type of aerogel."

    Well that would explain why the compound is 70%-80% silver by weight!
  • by Tmack (593755) on Friday January 23, 2004 @02:52AM (#8063777) Homepage Journal
    Silver, being a metal, is very conductive. Conductivity in the electrical realm generally translates into better conductivity in the thermal range as well. So yes, a 99% silver compound would transmit heat from cpu to heatsink better than your standard paste. A 99% copper paste would be almost as effective, but its affenity for oxygen would cause it to break down into a green sludge of oxidized metal rather quickly.

    As far as the danger of putting a potentially conductive paste on top of your CPU, yes it can be dangerous, if you dont know what you are doing. The ceramic core of the cpu is the ONLY part that needs any paste. Covering the whole chip can short-circuit the bridges and other circuitry on that surface, and even though there is a protective layer of laquor, there is still a risk. Adding too much can allow it to ooze out onto the motherboard and short something else, possibly the CPU pins. Too much compound will also actually insulate the chip rather than cool it, as it adds more material that the heat has to conduct through. During my stint as a repair tech, I had a few fried CPU's from people not reading directions/having a clue, and covering the entire surface of the CPU with the stuff. All the paste is supposed to do is eliminate any air gap between CPU and heatsink. Newer CPU's mihgt come with a metal shim on top of the chip (Ala the old K6-2's), giving a wider dispersion path for the heat to travel before jumping to the heatsink through the paste.

    If you buy almost ANYTHING with a warantee, it only warantees itself, not what it might do to other things even if used properly. Is your car waranteed against getting into an accident? No. The lack of silver will reduce its conductivity, but the rest of the components in the compound still conduct failry well. The worst that would happen is a cpu might run warmer than it would with the silver. If your system is so critical that lack of silver burns up the CPU, you probably voided a different warantee already (Overclock something??).

    Be thankfull a company is actually claiming responsibility and is willing to do SOMETHING about it, rather than ignore/deny etc. Stop complaining about how little they are doing, after all how much did you pay for their product vs how much this has to be costing them?

    Tm

    ps: I bet they are gona take the cost of this recall out of their supplier, seeing as the supplier sold them something claiming to have x% silver, but breached contract giving them 0%. Must have saved the supplier a load of $$ to not put that silver in, but guess they will pay for it now.

  • Re:Nice... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by flacco (324089) on Friday January 23, 2004 @03:22AM (#8063915)
    Now THAT'S how damage control should work. The company took full responsibility and is offering a generous compensation.

    if it's indeed a surprise to them. i'd want to see their receipts and see if the amount they pay their supplier went down substantially on the no-silver material. it could be collusion.

    in which case their actions are little more than "oh well, you caught us - can't blame us for trying!"

    Good word of mouth goes a long way on the Internet - see New Egg's success as an example.

    then maybe i should spread the word on how NewEgg fucked me on replacing my $600 digital camera and wouldn't return EVEN ONE of my e-mail contacts to them? (btw i originally heard about them through positive word of internet-mouth).

  • I don't care what element they are made out of; all I care about is that they work. If I was buying jewelry I might feel differently, but thermal paste is something you apply once and never see again. All that should matter is its performance. Then again, this could be considered false advertising, which would bother some people. But as long as it does its job, I don't care.

    Also, IANAMS (I am not a materials scientist), but the liquid test agents they're using may not work if the silver is in certain molecular compounds. The best way to examine these thermal pastes would be with a scanning electron microscope. I had the priledge of using one at NIST (National Institute for Standards in Technology located in Maryland), and we examined a ring and used some sort of technique to determine that the band of the ring had 75% atomic numbers of 79 and 25% atomic numbers of 29 and the jewel of the ring had 100% atomic number of 6. (We saw all of these as relative heights in a graph of some sort of spectrum). Needless to say, the ring was 18 carat Gold (24 carat = 100%) and the diamond was real. This immensely relieved the husband, whose wife's ring had been the one examined.
  • by Domini (103836) <lailoken@gmail.com> on Friday January 23, 2004 @03:53AM (#8064018) Journal
    Is it whitish?

    Like saying gold christmas wrapping paper should be pure gold.

    Unless they state it contains Silver Ag [atlantic.net], then they will have a problem.
  • by wildsurf (535389) on Friday January 23, 2004 @04:25AM (#8064114) Homepage
    As others have pointed out, silver is the best conductor, followed by copper, gold, and aluminum.

    This has ramifications in (of all places) the kitchen, where for serious cooking, heat conduction is of the essence. It is, for example, why copper cookware is considered a premium item, and why decent-quality stainless pots and pans have aluminum cores. Stainless steel, by comparison, has a pathetic thermal conductivity, about 5% that of copper. (This is why cheap stainless cookware is, well, cheap.)

    Anyway, I thought the comparison was interesting. (Betcha didn't realize your kitchen was full of heatsinks!) Hmm, I wonder if extra virgin olive oil would make a good thermal paste...
  • by tepples (727027) <tepples@gmaiBLUEl.com minus berry> on Friday January 23, 2004 @04:32AM (#8064133) Homepage Journal

    Actually, diamonds are dirt cheap. Nice ones for your girlfriend are expensive because they're big and clean.

    True now, but not for long. Apollo Diamond [apollodiamond.com] has received U.S. patents on its method of growing nearly-perfect cultured diamond crystals through vapor deposition. Competition with the De Beers cartel should drive prices down until the patent runs out in under 20 years, when the bottom will truly fall out of the diamond market.

  • by Stubtify (610318) on Friday January 23, 2004 @04:57AM (#8064188)
    Its funny because for the last 20 years silver has been going to surge 5-100X in the next 2-3 years.
  • This is offtopic, so I hope I don't go to mod hell..

    Silver is cheap. Beyond cheap. Its everywhere.

    I know this because I make and sell silver jewelry. Scrap silver is essentially worthless.

    I have about 30lbs of 92.5 sitting here in a bucket that I will eventually melt down. And about 10 pounds of fine silver (99.9). Its simply not worth even trying to do anything with at this point.

    And that silver boom that is supposedly coming...

    I'll believe it when I see it.

    Do you know how much silver US customs has in its possession? Tons .. tons and tons and tons.

    The reason for this is, if something is imported into the United States, and it is stamped as 95.5, and customs tests any particular piece in that shipment, (regardless of whether it is a small bag, or a container full) and it comes out to something LESS than 92.5% pure, they melt the WHOLE shipment down. Do what you want with it.

    And trust me, they *do* test.

    Which, come to think of it, could be a way to stop this type of thing, but I thing that "melting it down" only applies to items that are stamped. And silver paste obviously is not stamped. But there is a possibility it is still controlled as precious or semi-precious metals. I'll ask my customs broker next time I talk to her.

  • by Lumpy (12016) on Friday January 23, 2004 @07:29AM (#8064571) Homepage
    Silver thermal paste is like a big go-faster wing on your Kia-Rio... it makes the buyer think he is smart.

    If you want the real stuff you need to look at what the United States military uses. if you want the absolute best thermal compound available, get anything that meets MIL SPEC MIL-C-47113.

    I found the only product so far available to the consumer in small quantities is GC electronics Type 44 Heat sink compound. the little 1/2 oz jar will last you, your friends, and your families lifetime.

  • by dnoyeb (547705) on Friday January 23, 2004 @08:17AM (#8064683) Homepage Journal
    Yea, and from the article I found the term "misleading" to be incorrect. It was not misleading, that is different. It was lying.

    Misleading would be to say it contains 90% "sliver."
  • Re:Use Vegemite!!! (Score:2, Interesting)

    by dj245 (732906) on Friday January 23, 2004 @08:50AM (#8064767) Homepage
    Vegemite works excellent until the water in the vegemite evaporates and your cpu turns into vegamite.

    Dan himself admits the water in the vegamite is the only thing that makes it good

  • Re:Nice... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by GigsVT (208848) on Friday January 23, 2004 @10:04AM (#8065158) Journal
    You should have complained on resellerratings.com

    Newegg staff read there, and generally that will get them sucking up to you, so you will post a retraction.

    Newegg seems to generally be very good, but for the few problems, they seem to want to fix them, especially when their reputation is on the line.
  • Re:No (Score:2, Interesting)

    by PaleBoy (564594) on Friday January 23, 2004 @10:40AM (#8065441)

    Strange, I figured since you were a secular humanist, you'd be more inclined to go with:

    "No damn cat, no damn cradle."

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 23, 2004 @11:29AM (#8065882)
    One thing to remember is that your outsourcing vendor does not share your business goals. They are there to make a profit NOT satisfy your customers. but this is just another example

    Remember the capacitor problems with counterfeit electrolyte this one bit many major electronic vendors.

    Another one to remember was ValuJet where they outsourced maintenance and cargo handling that one killed people

    At least here the vendor and customers ONLY got ripped off no people killed or fires started.
  • Interesting... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by cr0sh (43134) on Friday January 23, 2004 @04:13PM (#8069064) Homepage
    If some of these don't contain silver - what would be the best thing to use in this kind of experiment (or would it even work?):

    I have had the idea to try (though I haven't had the time yet) to make a copper-oxide solar cell, but instead of using the typical salt-water electrodes, I was thinking about silvering the backside, and then creating on the frontside using silver paste a grid of lines to act as the other electrode.

    Would this even work? Is there something else I should try (ideally, if there was a way to homebrew deposit a clear electrode on the front - could silver nitrate be used, or something similar)? Basically, copper oxide cells are easy and cheap to make, but the saltwater electrodes make them impractical to use for anything other than experiments...

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