Hardware Liquid Metal

Jiehfeng

The One
OP
Member
Joined
Aug 15, 2012
Messages
5,420
Trophies
1
Age
20
Location
netti netti.
Website
www.youtube.com
XP
5,615
Country
Sri Lanka
I can't seem to find many concise videos of the thermal improvement of using Liquid Metal by either delidding or using it instead of thermal paste.

Is it really good like some videos say, a 20C improvement? If so, why don't companies use it all the time in CPUs and GPUs? I see the PS5 uses it or something, maybe it is only taking off now?
 
  • Like
Reactions: KiiWii

spectral

Well-Known Member
Member
Joined
Nov 10, 2012
Messages
585
Trophies
0
Age
40
XP
1,583
Country
I can't seem to find many concise videos of the thermal improvement of using Liquid Metal by either delidding or using it instead of thermal paste.

Is it really good like some videos say, a 20C improvement? If so, why don't companies use it all the time in CPUs and GPUs? I see the PS5 uses it or something, maybe it is only taking off now?
It's much better than normal thermal compound. The main reason its not used more is pretty much that TC is cheaper and safer. You have to be very careful when working with LM as if any at all gets on other components/traces it will short them out.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Jiehfeng

Jiehfeng

The One
OP
Member
Joined
Aug 15, 2012
Messages
5,420
Trophies
1
Age
20
Location
netti netti.
Website
www.youtube.com
XP
5,615
Country
Sri Lanka
It's much better than normal thermal compound. The main reason its not used more is pretty much that TC is cheaper and safer. You have to be very careful when working with LM as if any at all gets on other components/traces it will short them out.

So companies don't do it because it isn't the safest? I mean, even though it's a higher cost as you say, wouldn't the better thermals be a good selling point or advertisement?
 

spectral

Well-Known Member
Member
Joined
Nov 10, 2012
Messages
585
Trophies
0
Age
40
XP
1,583
Country
So companies don't do it because it isn't the safest? I mean, even though it's a higher cost as you say, wouldn't the better thermals be a good selling point or advertisement?

For companies I'd think the primary reason is cost. They'll have manufacturing down well enough that few if any mistakes would happen. Companies aren't usually that interested in making something the best it can though. They're interested in making it as cheaply as possible without it being so bad it breaks. Usually it works out for them, sometimes they push it too far and you have a disaster like the 360's RROD.

You have to remember the kind of scale they're dealing with. To us it doesn't sound like a lot to say that it will increase the cost by lets say $5( I don't know the actual amount). But when you are manufacturing millions of units it adds up.
 
Last edited by spectral,
  • Like
Reactions: Jiehfeng
Joined
Dec 24, 2008
Messages
4,429
Trophies
3
XP
6,730
Country
United Kingdom
Liquid metal contains gallium which can damage copper over time, and most heatsinks are made of copper. Basically, it's an enthusiast grade product which most people are better off not messing with. The gains can be good but it's not worth it unless you're going for extreme overclocking. I was very surprised by the PS5 using it.
 

Jiehfeng

The One
OP
Member
Joined
Aug 15, 2012
Messages
5,420
Trophies
1
Age
20
Location
netti netti.
Website
www.youtube.com
XP
5,615
Country
Sri Lanka
Liquid metal contains gallium which can damage copper over time, and most heatsinks are made of copper. Basically, it's an enthusiast grade product which most people are better off not messing with. The gains can be good but it's not worth it unless you're going for extreme overclocking. I was very surprised by the PS5 using it.

Well if you think about it, if you're the manufacturer of a whole PC or in this case, a console, you may as well use liquid metal as you know what the components used are (like having a non-copper heatsink) and can avoid shorting unlike how a end user might make that mistake. Maybe they thought the thermal improvement was worth it.
 
Joined
Dec 24, 2008
Messages
4,429
Trophies
3
XP
6,730
Country
United Kingdom
Well if you think about it, if you're the manufacturer of a whole PC or in this case, a console, you may as well use liquid metal as you know what the components used are (like having a non-copper heatsink) and can avoid shorting unlike how a end user might make that mistake. Maybe they thought the thermal improvement was worth it.
It will be interesting to see how their experiment turns out in the long run. They probably used it because it was necessary for the amount of heat being produced. It also is less of a risk in a console as there's no need to be able to replace the cpu so it doesn't matter if the heatsink gets fused to it.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Jiehfeng

Tom Bombadildo

Dick, With Balls
Editorial Team
Joined
Jul 11, 2009
Messages
14,304
Trophies
1
Age
27
Location
I forgot
Website
POCKET.LIKEITS
XP
17,336
Country
United States
https://www.gamersnexus.net/guides/...iquid-metal-vs-thermal-paste-benchmarks-7900x < Here you can see a comparison between the temperature differences while running various synthetic benchmarks.

As to why it's not used, subcon959 hit the nail on the head: The Gallium used in liquid metal compounds will slowly eat away at copper (and very quickly eat away at aluminum), which will basically ruin your cooler over time (more real world information on that here) which isn't remotely consumer friendly for long-term products like coolers on GPUs or CPUs. It's also quite expensive to manufacture, and applying it also requires relatively "precise" handling, as it's metal and is electrically conductive (which means if you spill so much as a drop on any two contacts that aren't supposed to touch, you'll cause a short circuit and probably kill whatever you're applying liquid metal to), and you only want a very very thin coating on the die of CPU.

One way around the metal reactions is to use nickel plating over copper, as gallium can't eat through nickel because of a "diffusion barrier" that doesn't react with gallium. I would bet this is exactly how Sony got around the issue, the copper contact point that is touching the CPU is in all likelyhood nickel plated, so it won't eat through the cooler.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Jiehfeng and Zense

The Real Jdbye

*is birb*
Member
Joined
Mar 17, 2010
Messages
21,330
Trophies
3
Location
Space
XP
10,189
Country
Norway
I can't seem to find many concise videos of the thermal improvement of using Liquid Metal by either delidding or using it instead of thermal paste.

Is it really good like some videos say, a 20C improvement? If so, why don't companies use it all the time in CPUs and GPUs? I see the PS5 uses it or something, maybe it is only taking off now?
One reason is that it has a tendency to seep over time due to gravity, it might get into places it's not supposed to be even if it was perfectly applied and short something, so it's not a long term solution, and requires maintenance.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Jiehfeng

Zense

GBARunner2 config: Touch touchscreen -> Press R
Member
Joined
Apr 20, 2008
Messages
1,860
Trophies
1
XP
3,223
Country
Italy
One thing I have not seen mentioned here that is very crucial and is one of my worries for the PS5's liquid metal is that liquid metal tends to become "dry" much quicker than any other thermal paste. I believe the recommended time to reapply liquid metal is around 3-4 months although this does depend on the usage.

I've applied liquid metal many times even on laptop cpus and gpus without problem, but it is indeed something you should only try if you make your proper preparations and are carful. The temperature improvements are true indeed.

As for the difficulty in applying it being the reason it isn't widely used in products, I think it is more because of the above mentioned drying issues more than it industrially being difficult to implement it. I believe the longest lasting ones are those thermal pads, though they don't have the best performance. Of course there are shitty pads that dry out quickly.
 
Last edited by Zense,
  • Like
Reactions: Jiehfeng

Tom Bombadildo

Dick, With Balls
Editorial Team
Joined
Jul 11, 2009
Messages
14,304
Trophies
1
Age
27
Location
I forgot
Website
POCKET.LIKEITS
XP
17,336
Country
United States
One thing I have not seen mentioned here that is very crucial and is one of my worries for the PS5's liquid metal is that liquid metal tends to dry out much quicker than any other thermal paste. I believe the recommended time to reapply liquid metal is around 3-4 months although this does depend on the usage.

I've applied liquid metal many times even on laptop cpus and gpus without problem, but it is indeed something you should only try if you make your proper preparations and are carful. The temperature improvements are true indeed.

As for the difficulty in applying it being the reason it isn't widely used in products, I think it is more because of the above mentioned drying issues more than it industrially being difficult to implement it. I believe the longest lasting ones are those thermal pads, though they don't have the best performance. Of course there are shitty pads that dry out quickly.
Liquid metal only "dries out" if there's a gap between the CPU and the heatsink for air to get in, so long as you're using a proper cooler with proper contact liquid metal will basically never dry out. I've personally seen a rig with a 2700k that had liquid metal applied back in like 2014 or so that is (last I knew about a year ago anyways) still running at basically the same temps as when it was applied.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Zense and Jiehfeng

Jiehfeng

The One
OP
Member
Joined
Aug 15, 2012
Messages
5,420
Trophies
1
Age
20
Location
netti netti.
Website
www.youtube.com
XP
5,615
Country
Sri Lanka
Thanks for the answers, I think I'm clear on the topic. As for whether I would try this, I won't for now. I get max 65C on both CPU and GPU so there's no point in liquid metal unless I'm overclocking, and even then I think I could get away with higher fan speeds.
 

Zense

GBARunner2 config: Touch touchscreen -> Press R
Member
Joined
Apr 20, 2008
Messages
1,860
Trophies
1
XP
3,223
Country
Italy
Liquid metal only "dries out" if there's a gap between the CPU and the heatsink for air to get in, so long as you're using a proper cooler with proper contact liquid metal will basically never dry out. I've personally seen a rig with a 2700k that had liquid metal applied back in like 2014 or so that is (last I knew about a year ago anyways) still running at basically the same temps as when it was applied.
Thanks for clearing that up! I guess the heatsinks' material being slowly eaten away is a more relevant issue for consumers and not so much for manufacturers, at least directly. Indirectly though for a manufacturer it would mean increased costs needing to sell both liquid metal and a specific heatsink that combats/solves the problem of corrosion.
 
Last edited by Zense,
General chit-chat
Help Users
    KennieDaMeanie @ KennieDaMeanie: Nah let's just talk about fecal matter it may run off the norms