AMD Ryzen Threadripper Waterblock Comparison #1

We have been waiting for AMD Threadripper CPU custom cooling parts to make their way to us. We have our first two purpose-built Threadripper waterblocks from XSPC and Bykski. We put both these coolers to the test with our 4GHz overclocked Threadripper in hour long stress tests to see how our temperatures fare.


Threadripper Thermal Interface Material

One of the biggest issues with cooling Threadripper is getting your Thermal Interface Material (TIM) properly applied. There is so much more surface area to cover, some ways that have worked with us on smaller Integrated Heat Spreaders (IHS) in the past just proved to not be solutions. I have taken more pictures of TIM mating surfaces and studied them than I ever have before. Here are some pictures of what not to do.

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However, I will not bore you with pages and pages of that. Looking around I did find that AMD actually had a video online of its suggested TIM installation for Threadripper. I gave that application method a shot and came up with results a bit less than desireable. Given how "flat" the Threadripper IHS is, and our XSPC block is, we also tried the thin-spread spatula method, which is similar to using a straight edge.

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The mate looked good, but the temperatures said otherwise. It was apparent that we were getting some air trapped in between the mating surfaces.

What I settled on working best after a lot of testing is shown below.

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I prefer to use my finger to spread the TIM, that way I can feel exactly where the TIM is too thick and too thin. The very thin application of TIM allows the five small dots of TIM to flow across the surface expelling any air pockets and giving us good coverage. Going back and forth with XSPC on this, they found that a similar application with a single dot of TIM in the middle was giving them good temperatures and good mates. YMMV.

Below you can see in the video exactly how we are applying the TIM. The TIM we are using in the video is our testbench default we use, we do have a TIM with higher heat conductivity that we use in testing.

As always, everyone has their own opinion on how TIM application needs to be done, and if you have a way that works better for you, we fully understand. After spending several weeks with Threadripper TIM applications, this is what has worked best for us. All that said, if you are planning on owning a Threadripper system, it would behoove you to pay close attention to your TIM application. Given the many brands of TIMs and waterblock mounting systems that will be out there, it would likely be good advice to make several test installations of your system, with a bit of burn-in time to allow your TIM to flow across the surface, and then check your mating surface while making some notes on load temperatures.

Now finally onto our XSPC and Bykski waterblock temperatures.