TIM remover and cleaner – Patrick Walsh
ArctiClean is a Thermal Interface Material (TIM) cleaner. Typically Isopropyl alcohol, Acetone or Xylene products are used. These products do work but have some inherent flaws. Some are dangerous (flammable), or are dangerous to the PCB of your electronics. Sometimes the contents of these products are hard to ascertain; also, some may have additives that will impede heat transfer, such as fragrances in nail polish remover.
ArctiClean will likely be marketed for enthusiasts who want top performance and cooling, but I see another market – the computer repair shop business, as this product is faster and easier to use than the tradition freeze, scrap, alcohol and wipe method which I showed HERE. It makes sense for businesses that need to remove the TIM to use ArctiClean. Arcticlean is also great for enthusiasts, like me, who want a good and easy TIM cleaner. I also found that it does a great job of getting the TIM off razor blades used for spreading TIM.
The ArctiClean kit is comprised of two steps and two bottles for each step, in equal quantities.
Step 1: Thermal Material Remover (TMR)
The TMR is used to dissolve the TIM to allow easy removal from the surface. It is citrus based and is not very viscous.
Step 2: Thermal Surface Purifier (TSP)
The TSP is used to remove any trace of the TMR and to give the surface, especially metal waterblocks or heatsinks, corrosion protection. The TSP is more viscous than the TMR.
Gather all the required tools you will need; if you are going to be applying a thermal paste, include that and all equipment to properly install it. To simply remove a Thermal Interface Material, you will need Step 1 and Step 2, ArctiClean and a lint free cloth, such as a glasses cleaning cloth.
- Apply a few drops of the TMR to the surface to be cleaned. Use enough to cover the surface with a thin layer of TMR.
- Allow the TMR to begin dissolving the TIM. In some pastes, you can see the TIM separate into different materials, with some TIM suspended in the TMR.
- Wipe off the TMR and TIM with a lint free cloth. Ensure that the area is free of TIM and TMR. If need be, use more TMR to remove all TIM from the surface.
- Use a small amount of TSP on the surface and rub it in, covering the whole surface.
- Apply TIM and mount cooling apparatus.
Did I see a 5 degree Celsius improvement on my temps?
Whether or not it improves temps is something that I cannot accurately measure, so I won’t. Instead of giving you false quantitative information, I will present accurate and honest qualitative information.
Overall I was very impressed with the new ArctiClean product. It was quick, easy to use and made TIM removal less of a chore. ArctiClean seems to work on a variety of TIMs, and I used AS5, AS3 and Star Brand white thermal paste. It even did a good job on the pastes AS3 and Star that I burned onto a heatsink with a lighter.
It should work on thermal pads and may have some success with thermal epoxies. It is definitely a product I would recommend to anyone trying to remove TIM, but it may not be practical if you rarely do so. It worked very well on my CPU and heatsink, and will continue to do in the future for me.
Thanks to Nevin and Colin for this product to review.