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OCZ Freeze Extreme Thermal Compound Review

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Prof. Dr. Silver

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OCZ Freeze Extreme Thermal Compound Review




Manufacturer's Part Number: OCZTFRZTC
Manufacturer's Product Page: OCZ Technology
Price: $5.00-$12.00CAD
Availability: Now
Quantity: 3 grams / tube


OCZ is in the business of innovation; this is a company that is competing in an industry that thrives on the unrelenting need to improve and adapt. That is a good marketing slogan, but what do they really do? OCZ Technology Group (a member of JEDEC) designs, develops and manufactures ground-breaking, high performance memory and computer components that set industry standards. OCZ products are the first choice for users needing high-reliability, ultra-high performance solutions. Here’s the ‘About OCZ’:

Entering the memory market in August 2000, OCZ Technology was built around the determination to manufacture the best high speed DDR and RDRAM. In 2007, PC Power & Cooling and Hypersonic PC were brought into the OCZ Technology Group, forming a well-rounded, highly innovative organization that places the company at the forefront of high-end computing. Nowadays the people of OCZ work to improve communication with CPU and motherboard chipset manufacturers prior to the release of their products. Only in this manner can we fine-tune our memory's SPD settings, ensuring a synergistic relationship between the memory module, memory controller, and microprocessor. In today’s rapidly evolving semiconductor industry, such communication is not simply research, but a necessary component of our manufacturing process.

So what is today’s review all about? It is not about power supplies (though OCZ has some good ones with their purchase of PC Power & Cooling) or memory products made by OCZ. Instead, we are going to discuss one of their newest products: a thermal compound. If you all remember correctly, we said in our last thermal compound review that we were going to use that product until something better came out. Well, OCZ has come out with their own new thermal compound and it is looking to capture top spot in our tests.

OCZ's new compound is aptly named Freeze Extreme and it is supposedly up to as much as ten percent better than their previous (now EOL) Ultra 5+ thermal compound. It comes in a compact, solid, easy to use and economical 3 gram tube which is par for the course when it comes to the thermal compound industry. While we are on the subject of money, depending on where you look, OCZ Freeze is actually a lot cheaper than many of the other thermal compounds out there based on how much you get for the price you pay. However, as with all products the price of the OCZ Freeze can vary quite a bit from store to store; we have seen it retailing for as little as $5.00 to as much as $12.00CAD per tube. If OCZ's Freeze can perform as well as it promises, then we may have a new top dog.


 
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Prof. Dr. Silver

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Specifications / How Thermal Compound Works

OCZ Freeze Thermal Compound Specifications

From OCZ:

Using the latest innovations in thermal management compounds, OCZ Freeze has higher heat conductivity potential than leading silver-based thermal pastes on the market today, offering an ultra-reliable solution for all computing environments. Combining low thermal resistance with high conductivity, OCZ Freeze is the premium choice for enthusiasts looking to get the maximum overclock from their CPU, and supports the stability needed to push your system to its limit.

Let’s hope the last part of that sentence is true! Here are some of the OCZ Freeze product descriptions:

- High Thermal Conductivity
- Low Thermal Resistance
- Non-Electrical Conductive
- Non-Capacitive
- Non-Curing Time needed
- Oxidation, Ozone and Solvent Resistant
- Environmentally Safe
- Non Toxic

• Thermal Resistance: 0.032 degrees C/W
• Dielectric [email protected] 1KHz: 10.0
• Specific Gravity: 3.5g / cm3
• Thermal Conductivity: 3.8 Watts / Meter –oC
• Net Weight: 3 grams syringe


While the more technical mumbo jumbo like thermal resistance may be lost on many, these specifications do tell an interesting story. The low thermal resistance means that the transfer of heat between the processor and the heatsink will be quick without the compound restricting it too much. The specific gravity measurement basically gives you the denisty of this compound and such a low number means that the OCZ Freeze should spread quite easity.

All of these specifications look exactly like what we would all want in a thermal compound; an instantly-curing, non-electrically conductive, environmentally safe product that can help cool off our hottest-running processors. Something that should be focused on is the fact that OCZ is trying to "go green" by making sure that their Freeze Extreme is non toxic.


How Thermal Compound Works

Let’s explain first what TIM (Thermal Interface Material) really is. Thermal Interface Material is a substance designed to take heat from one object and transfer it to another. It could be silicon based, metal based or ceramic based. We’ll use all three different ones today in our tests. It is mostly used in the computer industry for dissipation of heat through a heatsink. CPUs and GPUs generate tons of heat and we all know that heat is bad for our computers. So we want the product that is going to help us most in keeping our rigs cool. The workings of TIM are based on a difficult formula that looks like this:



Hold onto your hats folks, this is where it gets complicated.

Thermal conductivity = heat flow rate × distance / (area × temperature difference). In physics, thermal conductivity, "k" is the property of a material that indicates its ability to conduct heat. It is defined as the quantity of heat, "ΔQ", transmitted during time "Δt" through a thickness "L", in a direction normal to a surface of area "A", due to a temperature difference "ΔT", under steady state conditions and when the heat transfer is dependent only on the temperature gradient. (Thanks to Wikipedia.)

Well, that is not the only difficult part. When we're talking TIM, we also have to look at the density, viscosity, thermal resistance and now that OCZ claims that Freeze is non-conductive, we also have to look at a new term: Dielectric Constant. Our product has a density/gravity of 3.5 g/cm3 which is explained like this: Density is mass (m) per unit volume (V). To keep it short, OCZ Freeze is 3.5 times denser than water. Which is better for the thermal conductivity and thermal resistance. See how it all comes together? Viscosity is explained like this: the measure of the resistance of a fluid to being deformed by either shear stress or extensional stress. In other words: the thickness of a fluid. It is measured in cP (Poise). As for dielectric constant numbers, the lower its value, the less relative static permittivity is has. In Laymen’s terms: It is non-conductive.

Now, let us take the CPU/Heatsink combination for example. These two surfaces are never really flat, meaning that if you put the heatsink on the CPU, there will be AIR in between the two of them. And that is BAD. Air is 8000 times less efficient in conducting heat than your thermal paste. What the thermal paste does is basically fills up the minute gaps, scratches and dents in between the two, so that heat can dissipate faster.
 
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Prof. Dr. Silver

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Packaging / Usage Characteristics

Packaging


OCZ Freeze came to us in retail packaging which was very similar to how some RAM is packed nowadays. Meanwhile, the back of the package shows a short description of OCZ Freeze, some caution marks, product specifications and a UPC code.


The 3 gram tube of OCZ Freeze Extreme is securely sealed in a hard, see-through plastic cover that protects its contents quite well. Unfortunately, getting into one of these clamshell packages is next to impossible without the use of a good scissor but it can prevent theft at a retail store level.


The OCZ Freeze tube is a syringe filled with 3 grams of TIM, which is supposedly enough to apply onto a surface of 60cm². This tube is somewhat smaller than their older Ultra 5+, but it contains the same amount of thermal compound. What we've noticed also, is that the OCZ Freeze labelling is right-hand oriented while the Ultra 5+ is left-hand oriented. This is a weird little detail, but the lefties among us will know what I'm talking about.


Usage Characteristics

After having used many different thermal compounds, I have come to realize that every manufacturer requests their compound to be applied in a certain way. In the case of the OCZ Freeze, OCZ provides you with a page on their website, which gives you a detailed description of how to use your new thermal compound.

Here is an excerpt:

“The presence of an Integrated Heatspreader (IHS) on the CPU greatly facilitates the application of the thermal compound. Place a small amount of Freeze (roughly the size of a grain of rice) on the center of the IHS. Lower the CPU cooler directly down onto the CPU to minimize smearing, and push it gently into place. It may appear that only a fraction of the heat spreader has paste installed, the cooler will squeeze the paste out to the appropriate width over time. If necessary, the CPU cooler can be wiggled slightly to facilitate the initial spreading of the thermal compound.”


Even though this OCZ thermal compound is neither silver nor metal based, it has a very light grey color like many other pastes out there. It comes out of the tube easily and its consistency makes it very spreadable over your CPU/GPU. The consistency of OCZ Freeze is a bit thicker than MX-2 but a lot more fluid than AS-5, which in turn makes it really easy to work with in case you wish to spread it out with your fingers or a small spatula.

Due to the huge pressure of modern heatsinks, the thermal compound will spread out easily and equally over your CPU. When you take your heatsink off and look at the base of the cooler, you will see that the paste worked the way it was supposed to; the thermal compound is basically squeezed to the outside edges of your chip, from underneath the base, due to the pressure.

Cleaning up OCZ Freeze when you are changing your heatsink or processor is a breeze. Where MX-2 stayed rather fluid over the period of time that we have used it, OCZ Freeze became a bit dryer than it was when it came out of the tube. This dryness does not affect temperatures; it only makes the cleaning part a lot more pleasurable.


Another positive point is that since OCZ Freeze does not contain metal particles, it is NOT electrically conductive so it won't cause you any shorts if you happen to spill some onto places where it should not be. In addition, it does not need a curing or settling time, which is great because now we do not have to wait anymore before we see our temperatures dropping by significant amounts.
 
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Prof. Dr. Silver

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Testing Methodology

Testing Methodology

System Setup


Here is the system used for writing reviews such as this. You will see that we run the processor at regular and at overclocked speeds, so we can generate more heat to test TIM such as our test subject today: OCZ Freeze

• Processor: Intel Core 2 Duo E6850 @ 3.0Ghz running 1.3500V(Stock)
• Processor: Intel Core 2 Duo E6850 @ 3.6Ghz running 1.4250V(20% OC)
• CPU Cooling: Noctua NH-U12F with Noctua NF-S12-1200 Fan
• Memory: 2GB OCZ Platinum Rev. 2 DDR2 @ 900Mhz (4-4-4-12)
• Motherboard: ASUS P5N32-E SLI (680i)
• Disk Drive: ASUS DVD DRW-2014L1T
• Hard Drive: Seagate Barracuda 250GB SATAII
• OS: Windows Vista Ultimate x32
• Graphics Cards: BFG Tech 8800GTS 640Mb OC (550/1300/800MHz Stock OC)
• Drivers: Nvidia 169.28
• Monitor: Acer AL2216W (1680X1050)

The Intel Core 2 Duo E6850 is one of the fastest dual core processors to date running at 3.0GHz using only 1.35V. It runs fairly cool, however when it is overclocked, it can get pretty hot. Note that our case is open and on its side during our testing periods. We do this to decrease the cases cooling capacity, which could possibly lower the CPU's temperature and in addition, it allows us to better control the ambient temperature so it is the same during each test.

Curing times used:

- OCZ Freeze: None
- AC MX-2: None
- AS Ceramique: 25 hours
- OCZ Ultra 5+: 200 hours

OCZ Freeze does NOT have a curing time, which means testing can start right away. In our previous review, we had to wait 25 hours for the curing time for Ceramique but also OCZ Ultra 5+ which takes a mind-blowing 150-200 hours. Today we use the same recordings that we took in our last test and thus can we compare OCZ Freeze against other thermal compounds in the market. As you will notice, the temperature in the room is carefully monitored as is humidity.

Temperature Logging & Load Conditions

Stress Program: Orthos
Temperature logging program: CoreTemp 0.96.1
Ambient room temperature: 23.5°C (+/- 0.5°C)

For temperature logging, we used CoreTemp 0.96.1 and let it log the temperatures for the entire test period. After idling the computer for 20 minutes, we run Orthos to stress the two cores in our CPU for 20 minutes and then we turn our computer off to let it cool down again for 60 minutes. We take this long to let the ambient (room) temperatures settle as well. After doing all of that, we remove the heatsink, reapply the thermal compound we are testing and begin again after (if necessary) the curing time has expired. We do this for three mounts for all three compounds we are using in this review.

Why three mounts?

While this whole business of three separate mounts for three separate compounds may be a time-consuming process, there is a method to our madness. The issue with thermal compound testing is that there are so many variables to take into account and usually such a small difference between temperatures which could all be chalked up to different heatsink mounting methods from one test to the next. Those of you who are well-versed in water cooling know about the temperature changes that can be experienced from one mount to the next and the same thing goes for thermal compound.

To run one test with each compound and arbitrarily pull a winner out of our butts would not serve you much good. So, we will remount the heatsink three times for each thermal compound with a new application of TIM between each test. This way you will be able to see not only how much temperatures can change based on installation but also determine a clear-cut winner.

Of Average Temperatures...

Another one of the variables we wanted to eliminate with this testing methodology is the reading of "maximum" temperature results over a period of time. The issue with reporting maximum temperatures is that temperatures change on a millisecond basis and while a maximum temperature may be picked up by a logging program fine in one run, the next run may miss it entirely.

Instead what we are doing in this review is reporting to you the average temperature seen during both the idle and load tests. We feel that this will show a much more accurate representation as to what a thermal compound is capable of.

The Competitors


Pictured above are the two thermal compounds made by OCZ. We are also including our results from champions of past and present times; OCZ Ultra 5+ (which has now been replaced in OCZ's stable with the Freeze), Arctic Silver Ceramique and Arctic Cooling MX-2. Let’s go see if our new OCZ Freeze can take on this stiff competition.
 
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Prof. Dr. Silver

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Idle Temperature Results

Idle Temperature Results


Stock Temperatures



Overclocked Temperatures



Idling temperatures for OCZ Freeze on a non-overclocked processor average around 28.5°C while the other three do 28°C, 30°C and 30.5°C. It also performs admirably when the processor is overclocked and idle, but these tests are very close between all of the competitors due to the low amount of heat generated by the processor when it is at idle.
 
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Prof. Dr. Silver

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Load Temperature Testing

Load Temperature Testing


Stock Temperatures



Overclocked Temperatures



Under load while running at 3.0GHz OCZ Freeze almost manages to keep up with our current champion the Arctic Cooling MX-2. Not only is this an amazing feat but it shows that it can soundly beat both the Ceramique and to a lesser extent the Ultra 5+.​

When we overclock the CPU to 3.6GHz, thus generating more heat, the temperature rises to 50°C and OCZ Freeze keeps its performance levels at the same heights. It scales very well against MX-2 while staying ahead of the other two compounds. Interestingly, through all of these tests not once did the OCZ Freeze beat the older OCZ Ultra by anywhere near 10% and in some cases the two compounds performed neck and neck.​

It should be mentioned that in these tests you can really see the benefits of using three seperate mounts since temperatures do tend to vary from one mount to the next.​
 
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Prof. Dr. Silver

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Conclusion

Conclusion

All in all, while the OCZ Freeze was not the overall winner in terms of cooling performance, it did win some major victories agains some of the older compounds we tested it against. It runs an average of about 0.5°C warmer than the MX-2, 0.5°C cooler than OCZ Ultra 5+ and 1°C cooler than Ceramique on average. Since we have used averages, the temperature differences are a bit less pronounced so a difference of half a degree is quite impressive to say the least. While we do not like to bring the names of competitors into our conclusions, it is extremely hard not to draw parallels between OCZ's new thermal compound and Arctic Cooling's MX-2. Even though the MX-2 stays at the top of the heap in terms of overall performance OCZ's Freeze keeps things extremely close and that in itself is remarkable.

Enough about the actual performance of the Freeze since we are pretty sure we've drilled its great performance into you head already. What makes the OCZ Freeze stand out from alot of the competition is its ease of installation and how easy it is to remove. Not only is it the absolute perfect consistency for speading acoss your CPU but it solidifies to just the right texture for it not to become an unholy mess when it comes time to clean the bottom of your heatsink. Something that should also be mentioned is the price of this TIM; while we usually see some slight variations from one store to another, prices for OCZ Freeze can vary by as much as 110% depending on where you look. At between $5.00 and $7.00 the value you get for your money is through the roof but beware of paying far too much for this exact same product (think $12 to $14).

While we were kind of hoping that the 10% performance increase claim was true, we were absolutely not disappointed in its performance. To tell you the truth, a 10% performance in terms of thermal compound is VERY hard to accomplish unless you are comparing an extremely low-end compound to a high end diamond-based compound. Other than that, there are no negatives about the Freeze since OCZ brought a great thermal compound to the market that almost beats our top dog.

When push comes to shove, we have to give praise to OCZ for designing a great product. OCZ Freeze’s performance showed that while it is not ‘the’ ultimate winner, it is only a hair off but like we’ve said in the past; we can debate hours and hours over that one degree Celsius difference. Yet, what we really like about this compound is its user-friendliness and (depending on where you look) great price.


Pros:

• Ease of use
• Very inexpensive
• Not electrically conductive
• Easy to clean off
• Great Performance
• No Curing Time

Cons:

• Fairly large spectrum of prices for this product




Thanks to OCZ for sending us this product for review
 
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