Heatsink compound: Silicon or Arctic Silver?

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Ken Finley:
In the past I have always used the traditional white silicon heat grease compound whenever I have changed out an electrical component that requires a heatsink.

When building computers, we use a compound known as Arctic Silver between the CPU and the heatsink.

I would like some input as to if you feel this product is acceptable to use in it's stead, or perhaps superior.

Thank you, and 73

Charles P Hayloe:
Arctic Silver is a high performance thermal compound used primarly for computer microprocessors.  This is because standard thermal compounds are not efficiant enough for the high thermal transfer rate in that application.  Now, as far as RF power transistors, I have used this compound with sucess.  These are small surface area devices that generated tremedous heat for their size.  Also (more importantly) RF transistors DO NOT require an electrical insulating washer as they are bolted directly to the sink.  Remember, there are silver particles in this stuff!!  So use at your own risk if you decide to use on devices requiring an electrical insulating washer.  Anyway, outside RF transistors and microprossesors, I think that the traditional white compound is quite sufficiant.  The key with the white stuff is to periodically replace the compound after several years or under high thermal cycling due to the drying out effect.  73's

david broad:
On commercial equipment using the mrf 245's with the silicone heat compound I'd see some drift downward in power output of a few watts as the transistor heated for about 30 sec, while using the silver compound there was no drop in power.

Winston Smith:
As the other poster indicated, as long as your RF power module doesn't require an insulator, the Arctic Silver should work great.

I am a recent convert to Arctic Silver, having always regarded it as snake oil.  However, I recently had to clean out dust & dirt from the fins on a notebook heat sink and when I put it all back together with white thermal paste, my temperatures were higher than I thought they should run.  Pulling it back apart and trying a small dab of AS, I immediately saw a drop of 15-20 deg F. under full CPU load. I am now a believer!

As hot as some of the RF power modules get on today's miniaturized transceivers, we need all of the cooling we can get.

Roy Lincoln:
The white heatsink compound is known as Wakefield compound. It is still the traditional heatsink compound in use in commercial radio to this day.


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