Arctic MX-2 vs. MX-4 thermal paste! Bonus: passive cooling and heating coffee

Let’s compare Arctic thermal paste MX-2 and the newer MX-4 in a laptop. Bonus: passive cooling with a block of aluminum and heating coffee on your CPU. Seeing is believing, so check out the video which will give you more details.

Our laptop is an old school Lenovo ThinkPad T410 with a 35W TDP CPU. Effective cooling is desperately needed on pre-Sandy Bridge laptops.

  • CPU Intel Core-i7 620M, 3.3 GHz Turbo, dual core (2/4)
  • GPU GMA HD Intel 5700MHD (Ironlake)
  • RAM 8GB DDR3

As a bonus we will add a block of aluminum to maximize passive cooling and heat my coffee at the same time.

Arctic MX-2 MX-4 cooler block
Extra cooling and coffee heating with an aluminum block?
Intel Core i7 620M CPU and iGPU 35W TDP running quite hot

First take a look how the paste applies [watch video]. The old no-name paste is a bit stiff and feels gritty. Arctic MX-2 feels quite stiff as well. MX-4 is more liquid and better to spread around. Both MX-2 and MX-4 are metal-free and non-electrical conductive which eliminates risks of causing short circuit if some of the paste spills over.

Our stress software will be Prime95 in single and quad threaded mode. The no-name paste did poorly at high load and the CPU ran into its heat limit. The Arctic paste did better with a small advantage for the newer MX-4 under high load. I believe worth the investment because every degree counts in a laptop. However, there was little difference at idle desktop between the three pastes.

Results: winner is the aluminum block

Big winner is the block of aluminum that was put on top of the heat pipe for extra passive cooling. We got low idle temperatures and best cooling under full stress. Of course you need an external monitor and keyboard for that setup. I actually used that setup for more than a year. And yes, it does keep coffee warm but not very hot.

Thanks for reading! You can check out more of this blog or my YouTube channel.


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