The best performers in our tests were OCZ's Freeze and Tuniq's TX-2. Factoring in the margin of error in testing, they performed the same.
Coming in at a close second is Noctua's NT-H1, which shared the same idle temperatures as the Freeze and TX-2, but was slightly behind in load temperatures. The Stars-700 compound performed surpisingly well considering we considered it to be a premium generic compound, but it was able to match the idle temperatures of the best compounds we tested but fell slightly short when the processor was loaded. Arctic Silver's Ceramique was the worst performer out of the bunch. The 25 hours of curing time helped improve temperatures slightly, but it still fell behind by 2 and 3 degrees celcius respectively for idle and load when compared to the best performers.
Using a price search engine, the prices of Noctua's NT-H1, OCZ's Freeze and Tuniq's TX-2 were approximately the same price. Arctic Silver's Ceramique was the cheapest of the bunch, and I could not find pricing on Stars-700. Arctic Silver's Ceramique didn't perform as well as any of the other thermal compounds we tested. It requires a curing time to achieve it's optimal performance. It was however the cheapest thermal compound by a small margin, and it's wide operating temperature range allow it to be used with extreme cooling methods. For most users though, there are better options available.
The Stars-700 performed well, and although I could find no information on pricing or availability, if you get this thermal compound packaged with a heatsink you purchase, don't be afraid to use it. It performed well, even better than the premium compound Ceramique. Tuniq's TX-2 came in a close second. It was just 1 degree celcius away from the top of the pack. It doesn't require a curing time after application and isn't electrically conductive. Tuniq's TX-2 earned a Silver Award.
Noctua's NT-H1's performance led it to the top of the leaderboard. It doesn't require a curing time after application and isn't electrically conductive. It earns the Editor's Choice Award.
OCZ's Freeze had the absolute best performance of the thermal compounds tested today. It doesn't require a curing time after application and isn't electrically conductive. OCZ has a great distribution network thanks to its widespread memory products, which should make Freeze easily available. It earns the Editor's Choice Award.