How does the conductivity of the thermal pads affect their performance?

The thermal conductivity of the thermal pads is measured in W / mK (watts per meter Kelvin), and is a measure that defines the ability of the material to change its temperature, so that the higher its thermal conductivity, the better it will be able to pierce the heat that generates the processor towards the heatsink. However, the higher this conductivity, the higher the price of the product, but is it worth paying more in terms of performance?

How much does the conductivity of a thermal pad improve performance?

In order to answer this question we have relied on the original tests of Igor’s Lab, linked at the end of this article, who has tested the latest thermal pads GP-Extreme of Gelid Solutions and, in addition, EC360 Silver from Jaden Technologies, both with 12 W / mK theoretical conductivity per their technical specifications. To this test he has added the thermal pads that an RTX 3080 comes from the factory whose theoretical conductivity is 11 W / mK.

This has been tested, as we have mentioned, on a graphics card RTX 3080 with liquid cooling, and the objective is to see the effectiveness of one and the other thermal pad in GDDR6X memory since, after some complaints and rumors, it was seen that the temperature of the memory in these graphics cards was skyrocketing and therefore there were not few users who chose to gut their graphics card to change the thermal pads in order to obtain a better temperature result.

In the following temperature graph of the GDDR6X memory we can see that the temperature rises quite quickly in all cases, but at a certain point it stabilizes and does not rise any more, and also the variations are just 1º C up or down in Anyway.

GDDR6X RTX 3080 Thermal Pad Temperature

Let’s first analyze the blue line, which corresponds to the reference thermal pads whose conductivity is 11 W / mK. On paper, they should perform worse than the other two models used (12 W / mK conductivity), but this temperature graph shows that in the end their performance has been just the opposite of what was expected, beating the other two models in performance. and for quite a bit. But let’s start with the best of them and then move on to execution, because there is hardly any other way to describe this result.

At the moment of truth, Jaden’s EC360 seems to have a thermal conductivity that would be closer to 8W / mK and not the 12 that the manufacturer advertises, which is a detriment of a third of what was advertised and we can say They are deliberately misleading customers.

Thermal pad RTX 3080 performance

As for the Gelid thermal pads… What can we say? If the result seen with the EC360s has been surprising, the 80º C that have been obtained with these from Gelid is even more so, and they suppose a conductivity of about 3 W / mK approximately, a quarter of what was announced and showing that, of Again, the manufacturer is misleading customers.

In conclusion: beware of the conductivity advertised by the manufacturer

EC360 SIlver

Once again we see that in the end the customer has no way of knowing exactly what they are buying until they try it out for themselves. Blind reliance on brand labels or specifications is a mistake, and one realizes over and over again that some vendors greatly exaggerate their product specification figures until they are done. real tests. Of course, we are not a standards organization or anything like that, but we can do an objective evaluation of performance.

Therefore and answering the initial question, we can say that a higher thermal conductivity does not have to mean a higher performance in a thermal pad, and the recommendation is not trusting the specs techniques that brands give and instead it is better to read neutral comparative analyzes, because that is where we will see the real performance of the product and what we can expect from it if we decide to buy it.

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