Liquid Metal w/ Stock Heatsink

lukeintheo

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May 27, 2021
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Hey Guys,

Just wondering if it would be okay to replace my regular thermal paste with liquid metal on the stock cooler. I was worried about any corrosion between the liquid metal and the heatsink material.

Thanks
 

Armenius

Extremely [H]
Joined
Jan 28, 2014
Messages
34,328
Hey Guys,

Just wondering if it would be okay to replace my regular thermal paste with liquid metal on the stock cooler. I was worried about any corrosion between the liquid metal and the heatsink material.

Thanks
Aluminum is soluble in gallium. An aluminum heatsink will melt when in contact with liquid metal.

Gallium diffuses into copper, meaning a copper heatsink will be effectively welded to any surface it comes into contact with when exposed to liquid metal and the heat cycle of the GPU.

If the heatsink is nickel plated, then you should be okay. The only effect will be staining.

I wouldn't do it. You can risk shorting anything the liquid metal comes into contact with. The liquid metal also needs to be replaced much more frequently than paste (1-2 years compared to 5-7). The higher frequency combined with the increased difficulty of cleaning the old liquid metal makes it not really ideal.
 

lukeintheo

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May 27, 2021
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80
Aluminum is soluble in gallium. An aluminum heatsink will melt when in contact with liquid metal.

Gallium diffuses into copper, meaning a copper heatsink will be effectively welded to any surface it comes into contact with when exposed to liquid metal and the heat cycle of the GPU.

If the heatsink is nickel plated, then you should be okay. The only effect will be staining.

I wouldn't do it. You can risk shorting anything the liquid metal comes into contact with. The liquid metal also needs to be replaced much more frequently than paste (1-2 years compared to 5-7). The higher frequency combined with the increased difficulty of cleaning the old liquid metal makes it not really ideal.
Yeah I know that with waterblocks you should be fine. Thanks for the amazing explanation.
 

Hakaba

Gawd
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Jul 22, 2013
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1,016
Going to say…. Sure you can do it (depending on the heatsink material). But I don’t think it is worth it. Sure, you will drop a few degrees, however, I don’t think you will see a super noticeable increase in performance.
 

lukeintheo

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Going to say…. Sure you can do it (depending on the heatsink material). But I don’t think it is worth it. Sure, you will drop a few degrees, however, I don’t think you will see a super noticeable increase in performance.
Yeah.

It was more on the temp side then trying to squeeze more performance. I have my pc inside a spare closet and even under volting I'm still not satisfied with the temps.

Thanks guys.
 

chameleoneel

Supreme [H]ardness
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6,108
Aluminum is soluble in gallium. An aluminum heatsink will melt when in contact with liquid metal.

Gallium diffuses into copper, meaning a copper heatsink will be effectively welded to any surface it comes into contact with when exposed to liquid metal and the heat cycle of the GPU.

If the heatsink is nickel plated, then you should be okay. The only effect will be staining.

I wouldn't do it. You can risk shorting anything the liquid metal comes into contact with. The liquid metal also needs to be replaced much more frequently than paste (1-2 years compared to 5-7). The higher frequency combined with the increased difficulty of cleaning the old liquid metal makes it not really ideal.
Not saying its impossible but: I haven't heard of any issues with a copper heatsink "welding" to a CPU or GPU chip. It will certainly tarnish both the copper heatsink and the chip.

Otherwise, PS5 uses liquid metal. I have an RTX 2060 which has had liquid metal on it since summer 2019.
 

Nenu

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Apr 28, 2007
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20,183
I feel like I dodged a bullet not using this stuff in the early days, I like to give high performance paste a try.
Early reports of it destroying alluminium and ingress into copper gave me pause.
In the end I settled on Thermagic Ex ZF-Extreme, they claim @ 14.6W/mk, works well.
Super safe option, a bit hard to spread though.
 

RazorWind

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Messages
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Yeah I know that with waterblocks you should be fine. Thanks for the amazing explanation.
The real threat isn't damage to the heatsink, but to the card itself. If you don't take steps to keep it in place, liquid metal TIM can get off of the die and into places you didn't intend, where it creates short circuits, dissolves the solder that holds the components on the board, and in extreme cases, even causes them to fall off.
Not saying its impossible but: I haven't heard of any issues with a copper heatsink "welding" to a CPU or GPU chip. It will certainly tarnish both the copper heatsink and the chip.

Otherwise, PS5 uses liquid metal. I have an RTX 2060 which has had liquid metal on it since summer 2019.
The PS5 has special measures to keep the TIM in place, though. If you look at the iFixit teardown page, you'll notice its design includes a gasket around the CPU/GPU die that helps to contain the TIM. That gasket isn't found on most graphics cards, because they're not meant for this type of TIM.

OP sounds like a good candidate for water cooling, frankly. It's not clear why he's keeping the PC in a closet, but that's the real problem, here.
 

lukeintheo

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Not saying its impossible but: I haven't heard of any issues with a copper heatsink "welding" to a CPU or GPU chip. It will certainly tarnish both the copper heatsink and the chip.

Otherwise, PS5 uses liquid metal. I have an RTX 2060 which has had liquid metal on it since summer 2019.
Thanks for letting me know about that 2060
 

lukeintheo

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I feel like I dodged a bullet not using this stuff in the early days, I like to give high performance paste a try.
Early reports of it destroying alluminium and ingress into copper gave me pause.
In the end I settled on Thermagic Ex ZF-Extreme, they claim @ 14.6W/mk, works well.
Super safe option, a bit hard to spread though.
Is this regular thermal paste that you can safely use in your GPU?
 

lukeintheo

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The real threat isn't damage to the heatsink, but to the card itself. If you don't take steps to keep it in place, liquid metal TIM can get off of the die and into places you didn't intend, where it creates short circuits, dissolves the solder that holds the components on the board, and in extreme cases, even causes them to fall off.

The PS5 has special measures to keep the TIM in place, though. If you look at the iFixit teardown page, you'll notice its design includes a gasket around the CPU/GPU die that helps to contain the TIM. That gasket isn't found on most graphics cards, because they're not meant for this type of TIM.

OP sounds like a good candidate for water cooling, frankly. It's not clear why he's keeping the PC in a closet, but that's the real problem, here.
I know you can use nail polish as well to protect the components around the die. Correct?
 

chameleoneel

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Thanks for letting me know about that 2060
I would try a regular paste first and see if you like the results.

I put liquid metal on this 2060, because it has a smallish hetsink and I think it probably doesn't make optimal contact with the gpu. It never cooled well with paste.
 

RazorWind

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I know you can use nail polish as well to protect the components around the die. Correct?

Sort of. You can use it to protect the super tiny SMD components on the GPU substrate, but it won't protect the rest of the board unless you use an awful lot of it, and even then, you won't be able to protect the BGA connections under the GPU and memory. For those, you'd need to underfill them, which isn't exactly trivial.

The bottom line is that while you can do this, and probably even get away with it, it's not a very good idea. If you're putting a PC in an unventilated closet, that's the real problem, and no amount of changing TIM is going to get you around the need to vent the heat out of the space where the PC is. Open the door, move it out into a larger space, or install a vent of some kind, and that will reduce your core temperatures.
 
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Sort of. You can use it to protect the super tiny SMD components on the GPU substrate, but it won't protect the rest of the board unless you use an awful lot of it, and even then, you won't be able to protect the BGA connections under the GPU and memory. For those, you'd need to underfill them, which isn't exactly trivial.

The bottom line is that while you can do this, and probably even get away with it, it's not a very good idea. If you're putting a PC in an unventilated closet, that's the real problem, and no amount of changing TIM is going to get you around the need to vent the heat out of the space where the PC is. Open the door, move it out into a larger space, or install a vent of some kind, and that will reduce your core temperatures.
It's a real pita to deal with as well. I would not bother with it unless you can re-seal with something like the IHS. I've done lots of sandy/ivy/haswell cpus because the gains were significant
 

travm

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Feb 26, 2016
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1,862
Yeah.

It was more on the temp side then trying to squeeze more performance. I have my pc inside a spare closet and even under volting I'm still not satisfied with the temps.

Thanks guys.
Be aware that your temps issue in a closet is likely an ambient temperature issue. No amount of amazing cooler can help reduce temps when the issue is hot air intake.
 

Falkentyne

[H]ard|Gawd
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Jul 19, 2000
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1,843
Hey Guys,

Just wondering if it would be okay to replace my regular thermal paste with liquid metal on the stock cooler. I was worried about any corrosion between the liquid metal and the heatsink material.

Thanks

Is the heatsink made out of pure copper or nickel plated copper?
If yes, then no problem. Just try sanding "wiping" the copper or nickel plating with 1500 grit sandpaper to make the surface rough, then clean it off fully, and then take about 10 minutes to slowly spread a few very small drops of liquid metal fully around the "contact area" of the heatsink (where the GPU surface contacts the heatsink). Do NOT apply any downwards pressure besides gravity as you don't want to get micro-fragments of grit from the microscopic valleys you created.
After about 10 minutes of this, you will notice that the LM seems "less runny" and almost a change in consistency. After this point, apply a new small drop (like half a rice grain sized) to the heatsink again, spread it around, then apply a drop to the GPU surface, spread it around and then mount it (make sure you have proper sized thermal pads as you do NOT want the pads to be too thick as that will stop proper contact with the core!).

Do this and your LM application will last a very, very long time.
(the point of this is LM loves surfaces that are slightly rough, as this gives better adhesion, then by continously wiping it around, you help 'accelerate' gallium absorption into the copper, early on, along with the oxygen, which helps prevent extra absorption later (which is why you apply a 2nd layer after doing the 10-15 min slow wipe).
 

lukeintheo

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Be aware that your temps issue in a closet is likely an ambient temperature issue. No amount of amazing cooler can help reduce temps when the issue is hot air intake.
I know that. I will try moving to another room to get the temps improved. Thanks
 
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