This Is What Liquid Metal Can Do To An Aluminum GPU Heatsink

De8auer displays the power of liquid metal on graphics cards. The usage of liquid metal on all devices is not possible. Not only is it incredibly difficult to apply, but it also necessitates precautions to prevent spills on essential components that may cause a shortage.

Recently, one of De8auer’s viewers presented him with a graphics card. The RTX 2060 graphics card was delivered to der8auer due to the observed excessive temps. It would reach temperatures as high as 100 °C before beginning to throttle. Despite this, the card was still usable.

It turns out that liquid metal was applied to the card (probably by a previous owner), who did an excellent job of protecting the capacitors surrounding the GPU die. But he was unaware that gallium-based liquid metal might combine with aluminum, aluminum-zinc alloy, and steel to produce an alloy. Gallium will diffuse into aluminum’s fractures and cause quick structural damage. In his video, Der8auer discusses this “grain boundary diffusion” mechanism in depth, but this 10-second demo from Thermaltake illustrates how it works.

Once gallium penetrates the grain boundary, the aluminum structure is irreparably destroyed. In this instance, polishing the structure would not be effective; thus, the gallium corrosion was removed using a CNC machine. To meet the additional height, it is necessary to replace the thermal pads and apply a new, safe thermal compound.

The card is now fully functional, and another RTX 2060 was preserved. Since not everyone is der8auer and has access to a CNC cutting machine, it would be sensible to hunt for an aftermarket cooler. On GPUs, it is always preferable to utilize standard thermal paste and high-quality thermal/copper pads rather than liquid metal.

Images Credit: de8auer