Nanotherm PCM+ - "The after effects raises questions"

 

FINAL UPDATE:

Edit: I will just to fix up this final release.  It seems to me that the Nanotherm "version 2" of the PCM+ does the same exact thing.  Makes no difference at all.  You will find my results when I do write up the review of the version 2 product...Anyways, I am going to say it is up to you to use it or not.  From my findings, you should stay away from using it....At all.  The only way you could use it is for aluminum heatsinks.  If you have copper heatsinks, then Arctic Silver Ceramique/Arctic Silver 5 is the way to go...

You can find the exact same problem from forums such as overclockers.com forums and hardocp forums where tests are done and the findings are the same.

What happened so far?  Did Nanotherm do anything about this?  Yes they did, and there will be no doubts that Nanotherm is back on top.  Nanotherm will very soon be introducing a few new products containing advanced corrosion inhibitors.  Please look below at the end of this message for the press releases.  This will be a preparation method before using the PCM+ or any TIM for that matter.  Nanotherm has said that they have already released a new and improved version of the PCM+ with the anti-corrsion formula already in the formula so any oxidation from reacting to the copper should be diminished.  If that's not enough, Nanotherm is also releasing a stand-alone corrosion inhibitor product that can be used as the final cleaning and surface treating step after lapping and prior to thermal compound application - with whatever TIM the user may decide to use.  Nanotherm has not been sitting on their bums and not doing anything.

So what does this all mean?  This means Nanotherm will be releasing new products to help prevent anything like this from happening again and a new PCM+ with the corrosion inhibitor liquid already in the mix.  They will be bringing new surface preparation methods into the mix so you can prepare you HSF before applying any compound of your choice.  Which is a good thing by all means.

With the new formula, easy to install compound and giving excellent performance as shown in the review, please look for the new formulated PCM+. 

If this is any indication on the quality of service that Nanotherm brings in listening to their customers, then they are tops and I respect companies that take charge in a good way; fixing the problems.  This issue is lay to rest with new steps and a reformulated formula.  I further conclude that Nanotherm PCM+ (with the new formula) is still the thermal compound to look for.  And you can get it out of your head, Nanotherm PCM+ is safe to use.

What do I think Nanotherm should do in the future?  In the future, if Nanotherm tested their compounds fully, with long term testing, it would help them greatly. 

And the final question that I have been asked many times.  Why did I even release this article?  The answer is simply because this is not supposed to happen.  I felt that if I did not bring this up, I would have been lying to myself and to the readers.  It wouldn't be fair to leave this alone.  Because through searching on other forums, I have seen that it has happened to others but they didn't know what it was, thought it was normal and just left it as that.  They also did not like it happening to their newly purchased cooler..  It can be safe to say that no one likes having a thermal compound that oxidizes their cooler...Am I correct?  Yes, some bad could have come out of this but some good also.  The good is that Nanotherm is excellent in listening to their customers and cares about the quality of their products.  To solve this problem, new products, the advanced corrosion inhibitors, will be released and it will benefit everyone.  The bad is some publicity, but that can always be rewritten overtime.

Press Release on new products:

"New and Improved" Nanotherm PCM+, New Nanotherm Products and Soon-to-be-Released Products

- New and Improved Nanotherm PCM+ : We have recently completed the formulation of our "new and improved" Nanotherm PCM+, which now includes an advanced "all metal" corrosion inhibitor" package to protect the mating metal heat transfer surfaces on aluminum and copper HSFs and Waterblocks from oxidation and corrosion. The Nanotherm PCM+ is the first (and only) thermal interface material to include advanced, "all metal" (both ferrous and non-ferrous), multi-duty corrosion inhibitors that protect not only against flash corrosion, but provide contact corrosion and vapor corrosion protection, as well. All this with the same outstanding material characteristics and superior thermal performance as the original Nanotherm PCM+ formulation

- Lapping Kits - There are 2 kits. The Standard Lapping Kit includes 8 different grits of Wet-or-Dry sandpaper in 4.5" x 5.5" sheets in 400, 600, 800, 1000, 1200, 1500, 2000 and 2500 grit. The Deluxe Lapping Kit includes the same 8 sheets / grits of sandpaper and also includes a "bullet proof" 6" x 6" square of .250" thick, flat polycarbonate Lapping Surface.

- New Lapping Fluid / TIM Remover and Surface Cleaner Products with Advanced Corrosion Inhibitors - We're all over this corrosion inhibitor stuff! Yes, we have other new products that contain these wonderful new environmentally-safe corrosion-inhibitor products that work synergistically with, compliment and enhance our current line of thermal interface materials and our new Lapping Kit, as well.

They will also enhance further enhance your revenues and profitability, as they are unique products in their own right. The first is our soon-to-be-released citrus-based Lapping Fluid & TIM Remover, which, of course, contains corrosion inhibitors to prevent flash corrosion during the Lapping process. The 2nd (sister) product is our upcoming Lapped Surface Cleaner product with flash and contact corrosion inhibitors that not only cleans and protects surfaces - it leaves Zero Residue. We're refining and testing the final formulations of these products and expect to have them available within the next 2 - 3 weeks to compliment the Lapping Kits.

We're also working on a unique new Heat Transfer Fluid and Water Cooling Kit which we hope to have available by early December.

 

Update 3: I got a response from Scott explaining that he got responses from others that have used PCM+ and they said they have not had similar problems.  Scott has raised a question of Alcohol when cleaning the die if it is 91% or better or may be the part of being discolored.  Funny thing is I don't use alcohol, I use the Akasa TIM Clean.  He also states that the compound should not react with copper.  After sharing a new theory from a friend that is a Computer Engineer, Scott thinks we might just have hit the nail.  More testing is required though.  (The Computer Engineer) says: "Most manufactures of Copper heatsinks use a thin coating of lacquer or other sealant to ensure that the copper doesn't react with the Oxygen and form the all to often seen 'green facia' or weathering. This would be fatal to thermal conductivity, so the coating is there to protect the copper from becoming copper oxide. However, it is possible that these 'lacquers' are interacting chemically with the compounds used in the PCM from Nanotherm. It is also possible that this reaction only occurs when heat is added, which is why you only see it where the CPU was contacting the surface".  This is the theory that just might be the culprit.

I suggest looking here because it doesn't seem to be just me. 

I am more determined than ever to pursue this issue.  It's for the people that I am doing this.  From my great source that is a computer engineer, continued oxidation (that's what the burn marks are) can be/lead to be a MAJOR issue in the long-run.  As you can see, the oxidation is occurring right where the CPU die and heatsink contact with each other.  Copper Oxide has a order of magnitude (10x) less thermal conductivity ratio than Copper. This can cause direct CPU thermal failure, and can be difficult to remove without damaging either the CPU or the HeatSink. 

Yes I know heat makes oxidation grow over time but this happened at a high-rate of magnitude.  

Even the cooler I just tested 4 days ago started to have the same effects (I can see the same thing forming because of the imprint).  A aluminum cooler is in the process of testing with the PCM+ also.  I would like to suggest Nanotherm do some more long-term testing if they haven't already.  I have used many other silver compounds such as Nanotherm Blue II, XTC, Arctic Silver 3, and Ceramique on this cooler and others and have not had this oxidation happen.  The oxidation just happened in instant magic.

Things I did to get this oxidation

Basically, this is the part where I tell you from the start what and how I installed the compound and after had the oxidation. 

1. I always clean first the CPU die with a soft tissue paper (I shake the lint off first).  I use Akasa TIM Clean to do this.  The same thing holds for cleaning the HSF.  If I ever used alcohol, I have alcohol pads that are 95% alcohol content,

2. I get the Nanotherm PCM+ and shake it very well (in the instructions).  After that I drop a small tiny amount of compound on my CPU die.  I spread it with the applicator that is clean.  Then I install the HSF onto the board.  In no way do I touch the base or put the base of the cooler where it gets dirty.  I never touch it with my finger on the base because it is bad to do that. 

After maybe 1-3 weeks after that I removed the Spire cooler to conduct another review.  That was when I was puzzled to what happened.  My CPU die was not burnt or oxidized, the cooler was the only one that was affected.  The CPU die imprint was oxidized on and between there were more oxidation.  Think about it, something this big would have to be formed by high 100-200+ degree temperatures and we only looking at below 50c.

 

Update 2: I am waiting for Scott to email me still on a follow up from what I am about to tell you...  Another person has just fallen to this issue and used Nanotherm PCM+ on a SLK HSF.  Here is a picture of it.  Well then I guess it's not only me.

The same thing happens.  You know what the true test would be?  I would like to ask people who used the PCM+ for over a week or so if you can remove your coolers and see if it has hit you.  Please email me if you do get this with the name of your HSF, a picture to prove it, CPU, and motherboard.  I would like to compile a list of coolers that are affected.  You heard this exclusively at Modsynergy.com

Update 1: Scott and I are looking into what happened or the main reason why.  We don't know yet.  As I said above, I like the PCM+ and will continue using it because it's king as of now.  Since the compound isn't supposed to do any of these after effects, my rating will stay as it is in the review.  Scott tells me that I'm the first one with this incident.  For some of you who think I might be bashing the PCM+, I'm not.  I just found something interesting and am sharing it with you guys.  I am currently testing another cooler to see if the same thing comes up.  So let me say to you that you can use the PCM+ and buy as much as you want.

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While preparing for my Thermaltake Silent Boost HSF review, I have come across after-effects of what using this thermal compound.  What does "Phase Change" actually mean in this case?  Why are the after-effects in my case this bad?  Is it supposed to be like this?  Is this the way the thermal compound is supposed to work?  These are some questions that I raise to Nanotherm and am looking for answers. 

Here are the after effects of the Spire FalconRock using PCM+.  Never have I seen this happen with other compounds.  This could although be one incident.  You choose. 

Notice the copper inlay?  You now see the imprint of the die.  Also the middle has oxidation marks.  Other compounds I have used have never done this before.  Why is this happening with the PCM+?  Is this supposed to happen and why is it not informed to the public?  Is this only happening with my situation?  Some questions to raise to Nanotherm.  I will be using PCM+ on another cooler to see if it has the same after-effects because it could just be this one time.  I want to see if it happens further times to different coolers to see if it is a ongoing occurrence and not just happens once and every blue moon.  Only then will I make a final statement.  I am not saying from this one matter that I don't like the PCM+.  The performance is excellent and installation is easy.  However, if this happens to many others/or on another one of the coolers I will test, then it's very weird.  I install the HSF/Compound based on the instructions it gave.  About a drop or less of the liquid-like material and spread it on my die.

Don't take this as a final statement until the updates unfold.