SILVER THERMAL PASTES - BUYERS BEWARE!

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Test of silver content in popular silver greases – Silversinksam

UPDATE 1/23: OCZ is recalling OCZ Ultra II Premium Silver Compound – Details HERE.

I decided to test Arctic Silver 5, Arctic Silver 3, OCZ Ultra II Premium Silver Compound, and CompUSA Silver Thermal Grease. This test was not conducted to test performance, but rather to determine if these compounds have Silver as an ingredient.

All Testing was done twice, once on a jeweler’s acid free ‘Black stone’, and the test was repeated on paper. The testing solution was Nitric acid and Muriatic acid that was pre-mixed professionally.

Test 1

The tests produced some very disturbing results:

OCZ Ultra II Premium Silver compound and the CompUSA Silver Thermal Grease has ZERO silver in it.

The testing solution stayed orange – if it had any silver in it, the acids would turn varying degrees of red, depending on the purity of the silver present. OCZ claims that OCZ Ultra II Premium Silver compound is, “Made with 99.9% pure micronized silver, Over 70% silver content by weight”.

I cannot concur and my tests conclusively show that there is Zero micronized silver present, and Zero silver content by weight.

Arctic Silver 3 and Arctic Silver 5 were also tested and both produced a blood red color, indicating 90% – 100% purity of Silver in both Arctic Silver 3 and Arctic Silver 5. Arctic Silver’s claim of, “Contains 99.9% pure silver” by my testing is accurate and of the compounds tested, only Arctic Silver products produced results showing that Silver is in fact present.

The tubes in the picture below from left to right, Arctic Silver 5, Arctic Silver 3, OCZ Ultra II Premium Silver Compound and CompUSA Silver Thermal Grease.

Test2

In picture 3 below, from left to right is Arctic Silver 5, Arctic Silver 3 and OCZ Ultra II Premium Silver Compound. The compounds were placed on the paper and the acid was place on the compound undisturbed. Notice how the acid drop placed on the OCZ Ultra II Premium Silver Compound remains orange, indicating zero silver present:

Test3

When you go into a jewelry store and buy a sterling silver or a fine silver necklace, you expect the jewelry to be made of sterling or fine silver. The same should apply to silver thermal pastes – if the silver paste has no silver in it and the manufacturer says it does, that is misleading.

Based on my testing, I can not recommend OCZ Ultra II Premium Silver Compound or CompUSA Silver Thermal Grease, as they are both misleading products with zero silver in them. If you want a product that actually has silver as an ingredient, Arctic Silver 3, Arctic Silver 5 or Arctic Silver Adhesive tested OK.

Ed Note: Silversinksam’s conclusions have been verified by an independent testing laboratory – details will follow in Part II of this article.

Part II

As promised, I am releasing the Laboratory findings that were conducted before I even wrote one word regarding Part 1 of my article.

I appreciate all the support and inquiries I received via email; many people asked me what prompted me to test for silver, so I will explain this first.

One afternoon I decided to test the composition and abrasiveness of my thermal paste and material collection.

Greases

I had them all lined up and rubbed my finger over each sample, cleaning my finger after each was sampled. After doing this, I noticed something very peculiar – the pastes containing ‘Silver’ on the right caught my eye.

I looked at the Arctic Silver products and they seemed to be a light grey to almost silver color (Arctic Silver II and Arctic Silver adhesive was the most silver in color amongst the Arctic Silver products I had). I couldn’t help noticing that the CompUSA and the OCZ Ultra II Premium Silver Compound was extremely silver in color. It was perfect in its silver color – too perfect! When one is in the market to buy a Diamond and you find a stone that is perfect upon inspection, it’s either very, very expensive or it could be a Cubic Zirconium.

Here is the picture of exactly how silver in color Compusa’s Silver Grease and OCZ’s Ultra II Premium Silver Compound looked:

PII Case Diagram

Now my curiosity got the better of me – I looked at the packaging the CompUSA Silver grease came in and it stated, “Made with 99% pure micronized silver, 85 to 90% silver content by weight”.

Front
Back

I then hopped over to CompUSA’s website and looked up this product: Silver Thermal Grease, 2-pack, Manufacturer FMI, Mfg Part # EQ40096J, Product Number 288619. Then I noticed a discrepancy: the website listed this – “Made with 97% Pure Micronized Silver, 75%-80% Silver content by weight”.

There was something rotten in Denmark – I needed to do some more investigating.

My sister is an accomplished jeweler and I asked her if I could use a topical Nitric acid and Muriatic acid that was professionally mixed to simply spot check the pastes for traces of silver. This is exactly what I did and, as noted in part 1 of my article, I was shocked at what I discovered.

All of the Arctic Silver products I tested (Arctic Silver II (silicone based) Arctic Silver 3, Arctic Silver 5 and Arctic Silver Adhesive) all tested positive for silver on the topical level, as well as Nanotherm Silver XTC (not pictured). CompUSA’s Silver grease and OCZ’s Ultra II Premium Silver Compound did not test positive for any silver.

I went to OCZ’s website and confirmed that they stated their paste was made with 99% pure micronized silver with over 70% silver content by weight. At this point, I was shaking my head wondering if my topical testing was wrong. So I decided to get a lab report on CompUSA’s Silver grease and OCZ’s Ultra II Premium Silver Compound. I am not stupid enough to start pointing fingers if I cannot prove conclusively that I am 100% correct.

The Lab reports concurred with my findings and they included much more detailed information. Here are the laboratory findings:
{mospagebreak}

Silversinksam

Laboratory Test Results

Lab
Lab
Lab

OCZ Ultra II Silver Thermal Compound and CompUSA’s Silver Paste are composed of Aluminum Oxide in a Polymeric binder of dimethyl Siloxane (silicone); it appeared to have contained some organic silver coloring to give it a silver ‘appearance’, and possibly a small amount of aluminum flake. There were traces of hydrocarbons, copper and zinc.

The lab report also states that OCZ Ultra II Premium Silver compound AND CompUSA’s silver grease were most likely made by the same manufacturer and their chemical makeup was very similar, probably different batch numbers from the same manufacturer. That I found interesting. The Lab reports and my topical test clearly and unequivocally showed there is ZERO silver (Ag) in either.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank OCZ, especially to Ryan. Upon his hearing of my findings, they immediately sent a sample of their Ultra II Premium Silver compound to another laboratory. OCZ did their own testing, and they did this in less than 24 hours! OCZ’s testing concurred with both my initial testing and the Laboratory findings I had. OCZ Immediately issued a Product Recall!

On behalf of the Overclocking and hardware community, I want to formally praise OCZ’s fast action and this product recall – this is a testament to OCZ’s dedication to customer support.

Now the burden is on CompUSA to either prove or disprove these findings. Stay tuned – it should get interesting.

Silversinksam

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Discussion
  1. Cool, nice find on the recall announcement. The link in the article points to OCZ's site where the announcement no longer exists.

    As for the article, yes its 6-7 years old. The publish date next to the title of the actual article is accurate, listing 1/21/04. It was originally a multipage article on the old grey version of the site, but has been automatically converted twice through past site upgrades so I cleaned up the html a bit - it used to include a link to "page 2" which actually has been combined into this single article. A lot of people were clicking the page 2 link that was left in the article but page 2 no longer exists, so they were ending up on the 404 error page. When I fix the html and save the changes, the site automatically generates a discussion like this one - hence the revival of an old classic.
    yes back again with silversinksam, who speaks in english , unlike the labs which the data is very thick.

    when admitting fault OCZ had it independantly tested and found it to be really Light :-) on silver, not non-existant.

    6-7 years, arggg, so your just cleaning up? the "Recall" link is busted, and i cant find the data at OCZ.

    OCZ would like to take this time to address the recent article published at Overclockers.com, which shows that OCZ Ultra 2 thermal compound has no silver content.

    OCZ does not manufacture Ultra 2 thermal compound in house, it is provided by a foreign manufacturer with our specifications. Previous independent lab tests conducted at the request of OCZ have shown that the silver compound content in Ultra 2 is 25% by volume and 70% by weight.

    In response to this article, OCZ has submitted another batch of Ultra 2 to a third party for extensive lab testing. This Independent lab report show’s that the most recent batch of OCZ Ultra 2 indeed contains less than 1% silver by volume. While simultaneously we have received lab reports from an outside source indicating the silver content to be 30% by weight. This leads us to the conclusion that recent batch(s) of OCZ Ultra 2 from our supplier did not meet the agreed specifications.

    We accept full responsibility for these problems and we will be seeking legal action against our supplier.

    In order to help solve this problem we have contacted Arctic Silver Inc, and entered into a vendor agreement with them to supply OCZ thermal paste.

    Beginning January 22nd 2004 we are issuing a full recall of any and all OCZ Ultra 2.

    http://www.sysopt.com/forum/archive/index.php/t-155126.html
    @Psycogeec: It's been 6, almost 7 years since this article was published. Has anyone done better testing of this nature on the silver thermal paste subject? Linkage appreciated. I would have seen it if there was any done, but if we just imagine it was, then we could safely assume it was a derivative of this work Silversinksam initiated.

    See? Imagining and making claims is easy - only takes as long as it does for you to type them up. Backing up claims or actually working with real data takes time and effort, with a sprinkling of knowledge.

    That said... I know very little compared to many others here, especially those who have ran this site in the past. But from my short experience running this site, I do know there is no shortage of smart people who are capable of doing excellent work for their hobby. Unfortunately, good people with the time and inclination to perform actual testing and publish their results for the love of their hobby are in much shorter supply. Those who do it here, do it just for their own betterment, and the betterment of those who follow after them.

    Betterment. Improvement over the past.

    On the flip side of course, this is the internet, and there is certainly no shortage of "experts" who claim "this or that" was done wrong, or they "could" do it better... Despite the fact that nothing is holding them back from doing so.

    This is not some complex parallel dimension. This is simple: Do it better - we'll publish it. Otherwise, your critical statements appear to be hot air intended to tear down the work of others, while doing nothing to build it up.
    Then as we get into the lab tests, which are probably accurate, i see things that someones chemistry teacher might indicate messed with the "Scientific study" or some such BS , when one doesnt have 2 million dollers to study a BB of stuff.

    Placed the samples on aluminum foil? with no concideration for having taited the sample at that point. (whos teacher would be laughing then?)

    Burned it with no Spectrum analisis , which is what they have used to analise materials by seeing the colors that they burn in. and who could have afforded that?

    i dont know what a spetrum analisis would have shown, but somehow expected that to have occured in the lab test?

    then after a 500+* C burn assisted by various other compounds (which can increase the temps, and improve the oxidation), possible creation of compounds. then finished with a chart weighing in on elements that were added with "combusion" . appropriatly seperating the results .

    If the non-existant silver was glazed on the test equiptment burn exhaust ??? or some such rediculous thing, they didnt even mention trapping the tests exhaust or checking a filter??

    then not enough information supplied to attempt to analise what thier method was, the method often being very important to the flaws which exists with all scientific methods :-)

    all of which may have been on the 550 pages of fluff that would rot my brain trying to understand it

    could have tested it like that on the stove and had about as usefull of information and saved money :-)

    Only

    The manufcatures lawyers could probably find the 3 atoms of silver that existed , and only if they went back to the factory in china where it was left out :-) i am not doubting the results, just the level of the test.
    Some acids wont eat through silicon, and other oiley things, or at least not right away.

    if the "silver" assuming there was any, was wrapped in oils.

    Dont jewlers test with scratch marks to insure that human skin oils dont get in the way of the tests?

    for example, i have heard of people having thier gold checked, and the "ring" comes back with a small scratch on it, as probably warned by the jewler that they would do that.

    (course mabey the jewler just wrecked it and uses that as an excuse :-)

    i could see where the normal test indeed would not work, depending on what the silver is wrapped with?

    acids highy react with metals, you can eat up mercury, silver, i think even lead with nitric, but if your in the chemistry lab someday doing that, coat it with oil and see where it goes.

    another example is that round (red) Oil patch that they put on your battery posts. before those existed, greace or oil was used to keep acid from messing things up around the posts . i have effectivly use thin silicon spray to accomplish the same thing, last years keeping the acid from chewing up the metals.

    here we learned that stuff from Waxing things, ammonia will take the wax off, but if you want to CLR or vinegar or bleach something the wax can sort of protect the surface, so it doesnt have to be re-waxed. when i want to take the wax off, ammonia will lossen it and the wax and whatever is on top of it comes sliding off again. cheap trick to save time cleaning stuff.

    I am not trying to defend people who could be cheating me, just realising that silver or not they sure have a lot of oiley junk around them, poly whatevers and what not.

    .
    Oh snap, SSS is testing silver paste again!

    Great to hear that OCZ had such a quick response. I've always been pleased with their customer service and was getting worried as it seemed they were falsely advertising this paste. I have much less faith in CompUSA's reaction...

    Now I am curious as to how much greater thermal resistance the Al paste would have over the Ag. I'm sure the Al paste is better than generic "grease", but it would be good to know how much... anyway, that's off topic.

    Thanks SSS for always getting to the bottom of things!