Date: Monday , February 19, 2018
When it comes to AMD's Threadripper and applying the TIM, we have found it to be a totally different animal in terms of how we have applied TIM to smaller sized CPUs in the past. The old "dot in the center" application did not work well. The old "X across the IHS" did not work well. The old "coat the entire IHS" did not work well. The size of the Threadripper IHS does not play well with the way we have learned to apply the TIM in the past. However, a couple of those techniques used together are what we have found to be the answer.
Worth mentioning, if you want a few pointers on how to efficiently and safely get your Threadripper down into the TR4 socket, please give our How To Install the AMD Threadripper CPU video and article a look.
Below we have put together a video that is hopefully beneficial to you in what we have found to give us the best 100% load temperatures with our Threadripper at 4GHz. The method shown below is what we have been using in all our Threadripper waterblock and AIO testing. The best way to describes it is that we are using a very thin coating of TIM across our entire IHS, and then going back and using the "grain of rice" application technique over the active cores. The video shows three separate TIM applications with two different thermal interface materials and the mating footprint that we achieved and what we think is important about those.
There are two things that we did not cover in the video. First, you can pre-heat your TIM or your Threadripper if you are using a more viscous TIM which are popular nowadays. To preheat the TIM you can use a heat gun or hairdryer and heat up the tube that it comes in. We have also used a cup of very hot water as well and let the TIM syringe rest in it to heat it up. If you do that, just make sure you carefully dry off the syringe as you do not want any water in your TIM material.
As for heating up the Threadripper, a heat gun can be used for this, but the best way to do it has been to turn on the system with the bare Threadripper in the socket. While the CPU does have circuitry to shut down the CPU if it overheats, I would suggest using this method at your own risk. I turn on the system and place my bare finger onto the IHS over one of the active dies and leave it there till it starts to burn me. At that point I turn off the power supply. This will leave you with a Threadripper that will stay nice and warm while you apply the TIM. If you are using a very thick and viscous TIM, it may be your best bet.
All of the water blocks we have worked with have installation kits that attach in different ways and use different amounts of force applied to the water block in order to hold it down against the IHS. This is incredibly important. You might recall how much better our temperature results were with the Swiftech Apogee SKF TR4 water block once we upped the spring rate using the Koolance 400A-S water block's hold-down springs. That difference was 8.3C under 100% load, which of course is a huge delta to most enthusiasts. It is our opinion that you do not need to use a spring kit on the Threadripper CPUs at all. Back when we started this, you might recall that we were making custom mounts for Threadripper since there were not products on the market to address enthusiast cooling for the CPU. We were putting an incredible amount of force down onto the IHS with no bad results whatsoever. Some Threadripper water block designs lend themselves to be able to use "custom" mounting techniques so you might keep that in mind when you purchase. Koolance has the highest spring rate that we have been exposed to with XSPC running a close second. Also, a trip to the local hardware store might net you some as well if you are lucky.
Lint Free Cloths
Finger Cots (I use Medium size so they are tight on my finger and you want ones with NO texture.)
Falcon 152a Canned Air Duster
MG Chemicals Isopropyl Alcohol 99%
MG Chemical Super Thermal Grease 2
Prolimatech PK-1 TIM
UPDATE - 02/21/2018: The picture below shows a mount I did last night with our WaterCool.de HEATKILLER IV PRO water block for Threadripper. This shows how a near-perfect TIM footprint should look after the TIM has had time to flow under temperature. I left the picture at full resolution so you could get a good look.
We do know that this is not the end-all be-all when it comes to Threadripper TIM application. We are simply relating to our readers what has proven to work best for us after doing hundreds of AIO and water block installs. However you decide to apply your TIM is up to you, but we have found that you want "to do it right" in order to get the best temperatures you possibly can. We cannot suggest enough that you resign yourself to doing some test fittings with your water blocks and coolers in order to see if you are "doing it right." Not "doing it right" on a Threadripper install will cost you a lot in terms of die temperature, and if you are looking to overclock this CPU and have it run 100% stable, you will want every degree of cooling you can get.
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