Arctic Silver ArctiClean Review

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Testing

Thermal Pad Dissolving in ArctiClean 1

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After using a couple more cotton swabs to clean off the rest of the dissolved thermal pad goop, I applied a few drops of ArctiClean 2 Thermal Surface Purifier and wiped the base of the heatsink clean as indicated by the instructions. Once the surface was rubbed dry, I inspected it under a halogen lamp and found an extremely clean surface that looked great (other than the nasty ridges that were left on it by the factory).

ArctiClean is clearly superior to alcohol in this task as alcohol will not even phase a thermal pad
Once I completed the thermal pad testing, I was curious to see if ArctiClean would have better results than alcohol on a smooth copper-based waterblock when used to remove Arctic Silver 5.

From dozens of previous cleanings, I knew that alcohol can clean Arctic Silver 5 off of a polished copper sink but sometimes it takes several passes and a lot of rubbing to get the surface ready for another application of thermal grease. From the results it produced with the thermal pad I expected that ArctiClean would be able to get a smooth copper block cleaned and prepped with less time and effort but I was not sure how much of a difference there would be between it and alcohol.

In order to test them against one another, I smeared a decent amount of Arctic Silver 5 into the base while pushing it into the base with as much force as possible and then I warmed it up to around 140 degrees Fahrenheit to bake it on a little. After the block cooled,

I applied 4-5 drops of ArctiClean 1 to one side of the block and 4-5 drops of alcohol to the other. Since ArctiClean seemed to be a more potent cleaner, I used it on the side that had a decent bit more thermal grease thanks to my less-than-perfectly-symmetrical grease application job.

I then took clean cotton swabs and made the same number of cleaning passes to each side of the block. While both sides of the copper block looked clean afterwards, the ArctiClean side looked just a bit brighter which led me to believe that the alcohol side of the block was not quite as clean.


To check the alcohol side of the block for thermal grease residue, I went back and cleaned it with ArctiClean to see if any more residue would come off of it. The cotton swab used for the second cleaning picked up a noticeable amount of residue when compared to a cotton swab used for a second pass on the side originally cleaned with ArctiClean.

While there is no doubt that more cleaning with alcohol would have removed the remaining grease, the process was faster and easier with ArctiClean (cotton swabs photographed on the aluminum base for image clarity).

ArctiCleaned

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Conclusion
So, is ArctiClean worth the money? If you remove a lot of thermal pads, it is definitely worth it as it removes them quickly and easily without having to do any scraping on the base of the heatsink or waterblock and it does not have a strong chemical odor.

ArctiClean vs. Alcohol

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When it comes to cleaning thermal grease off of a smooth copper base, it is a little closer call but it still has advantages over the usual alcohol cleaning method because it is faster and requires less effort to get the surface 100% prepared for the next application of thermal grease.

Additionally, it is by no means an expensive product and one kit would handle quite a few cleanings. In closing, thanks to Arctic Silver for sending us a sample of ArctiClean for testing and for making another fine product for the enthusiast market.