Zalman's STG1 Thermal Grease

Product: Zalman ZM-STG1 Thermal Grease
Provided By: ZalmanUSA
Price: $10.50 Online

Introduction:

Zalman is known as a leader in low noise and high performance CPU and GPU cooling solutions.  They have some great products that we've had the pleasure of reviewing over the past year or so.  When it comes to HSF units, cooling performance can be hampered or enhanced by the thermal compound that you place between your heat source and your heat sink.  Most HSF's that are included with a computer processor have some type of waxy compound that does the job - to some extent.  Most computer enthusiasts, professionals and custom system builders don't use the gunk that comes with a stock heatsink.  For those people, the choice over the past few years has generally been Arctic Silver products.  These are high performing thermal compounds that show improvement over generic paste for the most part.  Today we have a look at some thermal grease from Zalman and see if they can give Arctic Silver's Ceramique a run for the money.

Package & Product:

The package is quite large for such a little bottle of thermal grease, but the back includes the instructions for applying this paste.  For the most part, it's a no-brainer:

  1. 1) Clear off particles or residue from the contact surfaces of the heat source and heatsink.
  2. 2) Shake well then apply on the contact surfaces of the heat source and heatsink.
  3. 3) Install the heatsink.

ZM-STG1 Package
 ZM-STG1 Package

ZM-STG1 - Close Up
 ZM-STG1 - Close Up

As you no doubt noticed above, the ZM-STG1 doesn't come in a tube or a syringe link most other thermal grease.  It comes in a small jar and is brushed on.  The STG1 is much thinner than other paste and has a lower surface tension.  In theory, this should allow a thinner layer to be applied and therefore transfer heat more efficiently.  Let's face it, your heat sink is a much better conductor of heat than thermal grease, so we actually want as little as possible on the CPU.  Ideally, you want just enough to fill the imperfections and prevent air pockets.  You don't want to slap in on as thick as butter on my moms fresh bread. . . mmm. . . bread. . .

Application:

Applicator Brush
 Applicator Brush

We followed the instructions when using this thermal grease.  We cleaned up the CPU with some isopropyl alcohol and made sure there was no junk or crap on the CPU.  We then applied the STG1 on both the CPU and the HSF, as the instructions stated.  The STG1 is very runny and applies evenly and easily to the surfaces.  As we mentioned earlier, a very thin layer of the compound was applied to both the HSF and the CPU.  A thin layer will work better than a thick layer any day of the week, especially when applying the grease to two surfaces.

ZM-STG1 - On CPU
 ZM-STG1 - On CPU

ZM-STG1 - On HSF
 ZM-STG1 - On HSF

You can see in the above pictures how thin the STG1 applies.  You can actually see the surface of the HSF and almost read the CPU information through the grease.  We apply all thermal compounds in this manner, as the CPU and HSF bottom are flat enough to make good contact.  We don't need 0.125" of grease.

Test Setup & Results:



For comparison we used some Artic Silver Ceramique and ran through at two separate mounts and tests.  The results have been posted below win, lose or draw.  I was surprised at the results below as I didn't expect the STG1 to perform as good as it did compared to a leading thermal paste.  In order to keep things consistent we re-ran the tests again on a second day to confirm the temps we recorded the first time around.  Room temperature was between 17C - 19C throughout testing.  We don't have a temperature controlled environment, but we try to test when the room temperature is consistent.

Performance Comparison
Performance Comparison

As you notice in the chart above, at lower thermal output the STG1 outperforms the AS Ceramique by 2C - 3C.  However, as the thermal load increases, the performance gap widens.  Our overclocked speeds were 3.68GHz, on our Pentium D 805 processor - up from stock 2.66GHz.  To heat things up we also bumped up the core voltage to 1.525v.  At this speed, the Zalman thermal grease whips the Ceramique at full load by a massive 8C in our test setup.  As I mentioned before, we remounted and retested both thermal compounds to confirm our results.  Temperature was recorded using MBM5 with the case side off.

Conclusion:

The ZM-STG1 is Zalman's first attempt at thermal grease, and from our experience, they nailed it.  I was very surprised to see how much better this paste is over the competition.  I believe that the STG1 paste is superior due to it's low viscosity and that it applies so thin.  Other paste is quite thick and is hard to apply in such a thin layer.  Obviously the composition of the grease poses an advantage as well, and this grease works very well for Zalman.

Pros:

  • Better performance than other thermal compound.
  • Applies thin for best performance.
  • Good price.

Cons:

  • Application takes more time than with a tube and a scrapper.

Before I drop the final score on this product, I have to ask myself "Would I recommend this to other computer users?"  The answer is a definite yes!  Until I find something better, I won't be using anything else.

 

 

BCCHardware.com Rating
Quality:
10/10
Performance:
10/10
Ease Of Use:
9/10
Documentation:
10/10
Features:
10/10
Value:
10/10
Total Score 9.8

 

I'd like to thank ZalmanUSA for firing up a bucket load of goodies lately and including the ZM-STG1 thermal paste.

If you have any questions or comments regarding this review, please post them in our forum at the comments link below.