The TR Podcast 107: Chasing Ivy and mechanical keyboards

The Tech Report Podcast Date: March 4, 2012

Time: 1:13:55

Hosted by Jordan Drake

Co-Hosts: Scott Wasson, Geoff Gasior, and Cyril Kowaliski

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Show notes

This episode kicks off with a sizable amount of listener mail. We answer questions about Ivy Bridge, the best practices for applying thermal compound, and whether or not we’re going to use the upcoming Project CARS game for benching. Then, we dive into our news and reviews with an in-depth discussion of the upcoming iPad 3 and its rumored 7.85″ variant. From there, we talk about what Windows 8 has to offer, and what our newest system guide has to say for itself (“arrrrr”). Finally, we revel in mechanical keyboards as Geoff discusses two offerings from Thermaltake, the Meka G1 and the G-Unit.

Send in listener mail, and we’ll answer on the podcast. – jdrake@techreport.com

Follow us on Twitter – ScottJordanGeoffCyrilThe Tech Report

Listener mail/tweets:

30in display, integrated graphics, and Ivy Bridge (0:03:39) – from Pete:


“I’m looking ahead at a small form factor PC build to replace a Micro-ATX desktop that is strictly used for office work in the house. I would like to utilize a Mini-ITX setup with my single 30 inch Dell monitor. The current system is an Intel E7200 with Geforce 9800 graphics. It is loud and it takes up quite a bit of space. From the rumors on the web, the “not yet released” Ivy-bridge processor’s HD4000 graphics would appear well suited for this setup, since my preferred enclosure cannot fit a graphics card. I don’t know what motherboard options will be sufficient with respect to graphics.

Specifically, is there any known reason to immediately exclude Z68 from the list of motherboard options, when Ivy Bridge is actually released? The only up-front item I foresee is that Z68 w/ Ivy Bridge would give up native USB 3.0 and possibly triple display. I have not seen anything about Ivy Bridge requiring RAM faster than the 1333MHz desired by Sandy Bridge. I’m not in a hurry, it needs to be built by the end of 2012.quot;

TIM: Best practices? (0:08:40) – from Keanan:

“As a website that does a lot of CPU testing, I am curious to know what thermal interface material (TIM) does the team use when doing their testing and what application technique do they use to apply the material? Do they have a favorite brand like Arctic Silver 5 or Shin-Etsu? Do they use a bb size drop, a straight line, or a crisscross pattern? Do they allow the heat sink to spread it or spread it manually with a credit card?

Scouring the many pages of the interwebs you will read several different ways to apply TIM and which brand is the best. I often see amazing temperatures for the overclocked CPUs on this site and I am curious to hear Scott, Geoff, and Cyril’s approach as to what methods and products they use gain such amazing temps whether they have a best practice or not.”

Ivy Bridge in June? (0:16:38) – from Integer:

“Is Ivy Bridge really pushed to June? (Question based on this article). Only asking about the desktop quad cores.”

Project CARS (0:19:21) – from Michael:

“You guys should check out Project CARS under development by Slightly Mad Studios. Really uses multi core processors.”

Tech discussion:

    A look at TR’s new GPU test rigs – (0:01:23) – Read more

    Apple sets iPad 3 launch for March 7 – (0:21:40) – Read more

    Rumor: 7.85” iPad to hit production later than expected – (0:31:41) – Read more

    The Windows 8 Consumer Preview is now available – (0:34:19) – Read more

    TR’s March 2012 system guide – (0:41:57) – Read more

    Thermaltake’s Meka G1 and G-Unit keyboards – (0:59:07) – Read more

That’s all, folks! We’ll see you on the next episode.

Comments closed
    • esterhasz
    • 8 years ago

    Concerning the new CPU benchmark, I’d love to see OCR in there (e.g. Abby Finereader)!

    • odizzido
    • 8 years ago

    I am even worse for paste. I’ve switched heatsinks and never used paste. Worked fine.

    I don’t OC though.

    • ssidbroadcast
    • 8 years ago

    Bah. No 7800 Ati talk? πŸ™

    • tbone8ty
    • 8 years ago

    Really Scott? Just your finger to apply TIM? Wow

    There is a difference what you use!

      • Damage
      • 8 years ago

      I may just start using finger oil as my preferred TIM. Seems to work OK!

        • Arclight
        • 8 years ago

        I suspect they are all gelous of your finger skills. Erhm involving TIM ofc….

    • Welch
    • 8 years ago

    I’m really surprised to hear you guys say that some of the higher end thermal pastes are a waste. I’m going to go out and say that you guys are completely wrong on this. I used to be fanatical about this too back with my Athlon 2600+, it was to the point that I would redo the thermal compound once every few months (which was a complete waste) and I’ve learned a few good things from the experience.

    1.) Thermal Compounds other than the white silicon ones DO make a good difference ONLY if used with a decent heat sink.

    2.) Most application methods work just fine as long as you don’t touch it with your fingers (the grease from your fingers does not transfer heat well) and you clean the old stuff of properly using 99% rubbing alcohol.

    3.) You give the system time! Your temps will not accurately reflect a change until your thermal compound has settled in for some time, each of these compounds (depending on what they are made out of) takes a different time period to cure and settle into the gaps between the CPU and heat-sink after a number of hot/cold cycles too.

    [url<]http://www.dansdata.com/goop.htm[/url<] This review that you refer to in the podcast is VERY antiquated (come on, they are using Arctic Silver 3....). It dates back to 2002, which in itself isn't reason to discredit it. However, the guys testing methods do. Not only did he not use a CPU to test the compounds, he doesn't make any mention of his cleaning methods between using different compounds (testing the white stuff first). He uses his finger to apply the paste which is bad form when it comes to thermal transfer and the heat sink he used in itself by today's standards isn't fit for cooling half modern hardware (it was back then). You'll also notice that he does not at all talk about how long he allowed these different compounds to cure on the heat-sink, more than likely because he did not. It is probably one of the worst reviews I've ever seen regarding thermal compounds. Other users here on the forums a good number of years ago did much more detailed and accurate tests. Regarding the "Curing" period of a thermal compound, here is information taken directly from Arctic Silver's website. I realize its from the guys who make the stuff so they are bound to try and sell it anyway they can, but this information about cure times holds true for many of the other compounds currently available on the market. "Arctic Silver 5 does not contain any silicone. The suspension fluid is a proprietary mixture of advanced polysynthetic oils that work together to provide three distinctive functional phases. As it comes from the syringe, Arctic Silver 5's consistency is engineered for easy application. During the CPU's initial use, the compound thins out to enhance the filling of the microscopic valleys and ensure the best physical contact between the heatsink and the CPU core. Then the compound thickens slightly over the next 50 to 200 hours of use to its final consistency designed for long-term stability." In order for the higher end thermal pastes to be worth the price premium they command, you need a heat-sink which is capable of moving more thermal energy preferably as much as your paste. I'd like to ask that Tech Report take some of this information into consideration and do a proper review with different compounds to come to your own conclusion using the most scientific methods possible. I think that you'll find that some of those higher end compounds are completely worth it if the user is going to OC and has the rest of the cooling hardware to match it. I realize you guys are always busy with the next big thing, but this is a question that seem to resurface itself at least once a year in full force, but never truly gets answered by TR other than to refer people to outside sources that don't have data worth reading, I like to see data from you guys because when its on your test benches, you tend to strive for the most accurate of results, leaving no heat sink unturned :). Unless you'd like to send me some thermal compounds from sponsors, in which case I will provide the computers/parts in order to write up this review myself with pictures and all ;). And.... Thermal paste isn't that hard to keep off of you, just gotta be patient.

      • Damage
      • 8 years ago

      So what you’re saying is: “You’re wrong, and I want you to prove it!” πŸ™‚

        • Welch
        • 8 years ago

        Yep Damage, prove it :). I know you guys can do this sort of compound testing in the most accurate way possible.

      • UberGerbil
      • 8 years ago

      Xbit Labs did a very extensive survey of thermal compounds last year, in [url=http://www.xbitlabs.com/articles/coolers/display/thermal-interface-roundup-1_13.html#sect0<]two[/url<] [url=http://www.xbitlabs.com/articles/coolers/display/thermal-interface-roundup-2_7.html#sect0<]parts[/url<]. While they found some bad compounds, many were within a degree or two of each other, including many of the compounds bundled with mid-to-better coolers, and at least one compound that cost a mere $5. In several cases you can see examples of one compound costing several times what another costs (on a per gram basis) while giving less than a degree's difference in cooling efficiency. Yeah, if you want the absolutely best performance you'll want to pay $20 per gram and deal with the liquid metal in Nanoxia's Nano TF-1000 (no thanks). But you're not giving up much by spending a lot less, and as long as you stay away from the bottom of the table, there are plenty to choose from and there isn't much difference between them except price. There are plenty of cases where spending a lot more doesn't gain you anything at all. One thing I wish Xbit labs had done was provide a TR-style price/performance scatter plot on a $/g basis, because these things have various price points and quantities, making this issue more confusing than it should be.

        • Derfer
        • 8 years ago

        For most a tube of TIM will last awhile so even if it’s costing you $20 it’s not really worth noting. If you were doing a large volume of builds then I’d worry more about cost but for most of us performance is the only concern.

          • UberGerbil
          • 8 years ago

          And if the performance difference was more than a degree or two I’d agree with you, but if that’s all it is I’d rather devote the $20 to something else. Of course the really crazy overclockers have a completely different set of priorities anyway.

        • BobbinThreadbare
        • 8 years ago

        “liquid metal” “T_-1000”

        Uh oh.

      • just brew it!
      • 8 years ago

      Thermal paste mattered a lot more with the “bare die” Athlon XP CPUs, because you were trying to move a whole lot of heat through a tiny contact area. Now that the CPUs have metal lids on them, you’re more at the mercy of whatever the CPU manufacturer used to thermally bond the lid to the die; the compound you use between the CPU and the HSF matters a lot less since you’ve got a much larger surface area to transfer the heat through (thermal resistance of an interface is inversely related to surface area).

      [quote<]In order for the higher end thermal pastes to be worth the price premium they command, you need a heat-sink which is capable of moving more thermal energy preferably as much as your paste.[/quote<] Well... yes and no. The amount of heat moved is a function of both thermal resistance and temperature gradient. So in a situation where thermal resistance of the HSF-CPU interface is a significant issue (see above), better paste will [i<]lower[/i<] your temps by roughly the same number of degrees regardless of the quality of the HSF. (Absolute temperature will obviously be much higher with the crappy HSF though...)

      • JustAnEngineer
      • 8 years ago

      [quote=”Welch”<]This review that you refer to in the podcast is VERY antiquated...[/quote<] I can assure you that the laws of Thermodynamics haven't changed in the past decade (nor in the past century). Dan's test rig was a more severe and more consistent test for heat transfer than a CPU would have been.

      • Pholostan
      • 8 years ago

      [url<]http://www.hardwaresecrets.com/article/Thermal-Compound-Roundup-January-2012/1468[/url<] They've tested several compounds. Including toothpaste and mayonnaise πŸ™‚ Actually, mayonnaise is quite good. Toothpaste isn't though. Arctic silver is close to the top, but not the best. And as usual, how you apply the paste is quite important. In line with my own experiences, do not use too much. A dot as large a singe piece of rice on the middle of the cpu is enough. Trust me πŸ˜‰

    • codedivine
    • 8 years ago

    [quote=”Scott”<]"The white stuff. I just wipe it away with Kleenex"[/quote<] Okay ... whatever you say.

      • Arclight
      • 8 years ago

      I reffer you to Jon Lajoie’s song : “Alone in the universe”.

      Link for your convinience
      [url<]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ShTm8MnUAjo[/url<]

    • integer
    • 8 years ago

    Last three listener mail timestamps incorrect? They all mention (0:01:11).

      • codedivine
      • 8 years ago

      The Windows consumer preview timestamp is the same as thermaltake timestamp too.

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