January 15, 2015

Review: Gelid Solutions GC-2 and GC-Extreme Thermal Compound

GELID Solutions might not be as aggressive as other brands in terms of marketing, but there isn't a senior enthusiasts that doesn't knows the name GELID Solutions especially when it comes to PC cooling. We have GELID Solutions GC-Extreme and GC-2 arrived at our test lab for performance review, courtesy of Tech Armory and GELID Solutions

Thermal compound plays an important role when it comes to PC cooling. As we all know that most thermal compound is made of thermally conductive but non-electric conductive material to fill in small, micro-level surface pits and imperfections between a heatsink and heat source to improve the thermal dissipation. 


The packaging is kept simple and both shares identical specifications, well almost.Basically it's almost the same description as what you would've seen on premium thermal - compound non-corrosive, no bleeding, non-electrical conductive, no curing.

Both GC-2 and GC-Extreme comes with a spreader in case if you prefer to spread the thermal compound manually.

Viscosity Test
We've done a quick test on the viscosity of both thermal compound with the rice grain method to see how much it expands under pressure.

Arctic Cooling MX-4

We take one of the most commonly used thermal compound by the local enthusiasts here in Malaysia, the Arctic Cooling MX-4 as a reference in this test.


The bleed level of the GC-2 is pretty darn close to the Arctic Cooling MX-4 but judging by the traces of hairline traces, we see that the viscosity of the GC-2 is a little lesser compared to the Arctic Cooling MX-4.


All of 3 thermal compound used in this test doesn't spreads much under slight pressure but we can clearly see that GC-Extreme oozes way much lesser compared to the GC-2 and Arctic Cooling MX-4.

Thermal Performance Test
We've conducted the test with the AMD FX-8320E, Intel i7 4770K and 4790K running on 4.6GHz using a Corsair H100 hydro series CPU liquid cooler and the grain of rice application method. The system is then stressed by running the System Stability Test utility from AIDA64 Extreme. Temperature reading is then recorded and presented in the graph as below:

As both Gelid GC-Extreme, GC-2 and Arctic Cooling MX-4 were among the list of high quality thermal compound available, the minimal difference in temperature is somewhat expected. Both GC-2 and MX-4 performs pretty much on par after a long run, while the GC-Extreme takes the lead by a difference of 1°C ~ 2°C.

The notable difference is that each thermal compound behaves a little different in terms of temperature build up. The initial heat build up of the MX-4 relatively fast, but it turns to a steady raise upon reaching approximately 60°C~63°C. The GC-2 on the other hand, builds up heat in a much faster pace than the MX-4 and slowed down upon reaching approximately 66°C~68C°. The GC-Extreme exhibits the most stable temperature build up, though the final temperature reading is pretty much near to others in the end.

The advertised 'No-curing' doesn't seems to be accurate though, as the initial highest temperature peaked at around 2°C higher that the final temperature reading obtained - not really an issue here as the temperature does gets better after a few more run on the stress test.

If price per gram were to taken into account, we consider the GC-2 as the best bang for the buck thermal compound among the 3. Paying RM25 for a 7g GC-2 syringe that has relatively the same as performance the 4.5g MX-4 that cost roughly around RM28 - you pay less, but get more. The GC-Extreme has a very consistent performance comes a little expensive at the price of RM35 for each 3.5g syringe, still a worthy thermal compound to investment in if you're looking for a good thermal compound with consistent performance.

It's true that high quality thermal compound does gives better advantage with observable difference in performance behavior e.g. heat build up compared to most low cost thermal compound. At the end of the day, majority of people still cares more on final temperature reading - which in our case, doesn't shows too much of a difference. One of the most important factor that many has neglected is the application method; some just spreads it around the IHS of the CPU like nobody's business and ended up in a mess and not getting the temperature right even though the thermal compound used is one of the market's best, whereas those who did it correctly gets a very decent result even with branded but inexpensive thermal compound.