Jump to content
EwinRacing Flash Series Gaming Chairs

M17x-R2 Cooling Mod by Ashtefere

Recommended Posts

This cooling mod was originally performed by Ashterfere and is being reproduced here:

This post will be updated with the latest info as we get it.

To start, we need to identify a few parts so you know what to look for.



This is the GPU core. Be careful, its fragile. The HD5870m wont have a metal bumper around the edge, this is just an example image.

Retention Clip


Also known as a retention arm, retention bracket, etc.

This holds down the GPU cooler to the GPU die and ram.

C-Clips, AKA 3/4 washer


These are attached to the screws on the retention clip. They keep the screws held ONTO the retention clip so they dont fall off.

So, to begin.

The "Problem"

I use the term "problem" lightly, as the heat of the HD5870m is within specification. The problem I think is that the default GPU cooler is not being used to anywhere near its full potential.

We will be using Furmark to measure worst case scenario temperatures. No game will ever reach these temperatures, they will in fact run the cards much cooler. But this gives us a good benchmark to work off.

Here is the average temperatures of a user (TurbodTalon) in the forum running furmark before the mod:


71.5c on the display i/o temp, 92.5c on the memory i/o and 82.5c on the shader cores.

These are actually very good temps. My temps before this were ~80c, ~105c, ~90c respectively, as it is winter here and I run the heating pretty high.

If you do ALL of the mods listed here, you will get something like:


61c on the display i/0, 69.0c on the memory i/o and ~65cc (the above screenshot has min accidently ticked instead of max) on the shader core. Keep in mind, my ambient temps are around 27c in the above screenshot (higher than TurbodTalon's) - your result will probably be lower again.

This is a temperature drop of 10c, 24c, and ~22c respectively.

This is huge - and all we are doing is rearranging some things and doing some ghetto.

First you need to know straight up - depending on your country this may or may not void the warranty of your graphics cards. Even if it does, the dell technician that comes out to service you if you need it may not even care OR notice you have done this mod.

Now, how to do it?

First, this is what you need.

  1. AS5 or similar THIN thermal paste
  2. TX-3 or MX3 or similar THICK thermal paste
  3. Electrical tape or similar heat resistant tape that doesnt leave residue
  4. Time
  5. Courage

We will begin from easiest mod to hardest.



All of the heatsink ducts dont sit flush or sealed against the fan ducts. This means air goes out the sides, and doesnt go 100% through the fins. Inefficient, lots of noise and no cooling.

I used duct tape to fix this. Same with CPU cooler (optional). I recommend electrical tape to avoid any residue that may hamper your warranty.

Its fiddly getting it all in for the cards - what I did (optional!) is removed ONE screw from each graphic's cards blower fan assembly.

The screws to remove are the ones you CANT see when the card is in place slotted into the MXM slot.

Obviously, you cant screw this screw, so you need to remove it.

The other 2 should be accessible when you place the card into the mxm slot.

This essentially makes the fan/heatsink/gpu one part, and easier to manage.

What this mod achieves is slightly quieter fan noise and more air through the copper fin arrays.


Here is a rough diagram of how the dell GPU heatsink sits on the Graphics cards:


The pink area in the above diagram is the rather thick and nasty thermal pads that dell use on their cooling block.

The blue area is the OEM dell thermal interface material that dell use.

As you can see, the height of the thermal pads on top of the memory actually increases the gap between the GPU die and the GPU core.

What we want is:


Here we have removed the thermal pad, and replaced the bad thermal interface material with something thinner (AS5 in my case).

This provides much better contact with the GPU core, and reduces the gap between GPU and RAM to < 0.5mm.

So, heres the step by step.


Remove the heatsink and clean off all the thermal interface material.

Save the thermal pads somewhere safe, in case you ever need to RMA

Put them in a ziplock bag so no dust gets on them.


Remove the thermal interface material from the GPU die and RAM chips of the card.


Place a half grain of rice size drop of your THIN thermal interface material on your gpu die.


Place a full grain of rice size drop of your THICK thermal interface material on each ram chip.


Replace the heatsink and screw it down, then replace the cards.


This one is not for the faint of heart. If you are not careful you could crush your GPU die, and then its GG to your GPU.

This mod is done to increase the pressure of the heatsink, so it contacts the GPU Die better, and contacts the ram better.

This mod should be done at the same time as the thermal pad mod, and requires the thermal pad mod to work.


Remove the c-clips from the screws on the retention clip. An easy way to do this is to stick a small hobby probe or screwdriver into one of the 2 gaps on the inner ring of the c-clip, then push the c-clip away from each screw. It will pop out easily, but make sure you direct it towards something that will catch it.

I lost one that decided it wanted to be an astronaut.

I hope it has a safe voyage.


Remove the screws from the retention bracket.


Re-attach the c-clips to the screws while they are OUT of the retention clip.


Re-attach the heatsink to the pre-thermal pasted GPU board.


VERY CAREFULLY put the screws with c-clips attached back into the retention clip, and then screw each screw in numbered order just enough to grip without coming back out. This should be 2-3 turns at most. No more, or you may crack the GPU die.


Check to make sure the board isnt warping to much on one corner. If it is, you have screwed that screw too tight. The board may bend a little, but it will be barely noticable. What will bend the most is the GPU Heatsink. We want this, as it closes the gap between the ram and heatsink even more.

And you are done.

With all of these mods, not only will you get better temps, but the GPU fans will never spin higher than 30%

Cooler AND quieter, with just a bit of fiddling.

  • Thumbs Up 1

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

Couldn't you just buy a copper shim and put it between the heatsink and the GPU? I tried it with my W860CU and it worked.

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites
Couldn't you just buy a copper shim and put it between the heatsink and the GPU? I tried it with my W860CU and it worked.

You could but you get better heat transfer with a retention mod. With a copper shim you're adding an extra layer of metal to transfer heat through.

  • Thumbs Up 1

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

Oh, yeah i agree with you there. It's just just less risky. I'm no expert when it comes to this, and I don't treat GPUs delicately - fried my first 5870M by trying the retention mod on the W860CU :(.

Nice site you guys have here by the way, basically all the tech pros from NBR :).

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

Any thoughts where to get MX-3 or TX-3 paste cheap? It's about $20 on Amazon.com with shipping. :)

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites
Well Ive no idea whether that one also works as 'thick' one as suggested in the guide?

I just checked MX-4, MX-3 and OCZ Freeze since I have them all open, they are thick enough for the job

  • Thumbs Up 1

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites
I just checked MX-4, MX-3 and OCZ Freeze since I have them all open, they are thick enough for the job

Good to know you have them each right on hand to compare...smile.png

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites


Hey, I just did this mod. With HWInfo32 after this mod I still get pretty high temps (95/96C on GPU Core/Memory).

EDIT: Holy crap. I forgot to do the duct tape mod. This mod alone lowered the temp by 10 C !!! Right now Furmark is running at ~86-89 C steadily but with fans on highest.

EDIT2: Could you please provide better resolution screenshot of Furmark? :) I'll be uploading mine in a few mins.

EDIT3: Furmark run w/ monitoring:


Edited by unreal25
Added some stuff + downloaded the newest GPU-Z and works fine. :P

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

The duct tape mod helped me a lot and with just a basic addition of washers to the gpu heatsink retention arms... it helped a good amount for having not changed my pastes or thermal pads. Nice job Unreal.

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

89C is still way too hot. My GPU with retention mod doesn't go above 82C with full burn.

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

OK, so I think I didn't really get the retention mod properly. So, the idea behind taking off c-clips is to move them a little higher? (So you can tighten a screw a little more?)

Btw, there's 1 RAM chip that's not completely covered by the heatsink. What's up with that, Dell? :)

Oh and I used thin precision screwdrivers to tighten the heatsink and the retention brackets. Its harder to put too much pressure with those.

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

The washers I used are posted in Michael's R2 teardown. The inner circle is 3mm wide to and outer diameter is 8mm wide.


Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

Yeah, the purpose of the retention mod is to move the c-clip from the bottom side of the heatsink plate to the top side of the heatsink plate.

Then, you have more than enough pressure - literally more than enough - without any washers.

You also need to be aware that the section of the heatsink that hangs over the VRM and choke modules does not actually cool these modules. Instead, it gets in the way of a level mount. You are best removing the metal sections that push down on the VRM/choke modules entirely (which I have done).

My average GPU temps are very low, but I havent checked them in a while. At 800ish core (i think thats what im running) im getting about 72c-79c without the ducting mod.

This is purely due to removing the aluminium overhang that covers the VRM area.

You get total flatness, no bowing of the board, and can screw the screws down fully with the retention mod applied. The memory heatsinks also get a lot more pressure this way too (which raises the core temp a little, but lowers the ram temp).

Up to you if you want to do this though! No guarantees you wont pop a heatpipe and break the cooler entirely.


Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites
I used a hacksaw then a file to clean it up.


Can you post pics of this mod? I am planning on doing these mods tonight and I guess I could do this one too.

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

  • Similar Content

    • By Freddyicy
      I have spent a little time in the past few days looking around this site. I would love for someone to point me in the right direction to a forum that has information that could help me out with my problem.
      I have a:
      Alienware M17XR3 
      Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit
      Intel I7-2820QM 2.3
      Bios InsydeH20 Version 1.0 A12
      NVIDIA GeForce GTX 460M
      (4x) 4 GB Ram
      samsung 2.5" 256 SSD (SATA3.0Gbps)
      It has been an amazing machine for the last 10+ years. Minor issues, nothing that an Alien Respawn could not fix, till now! On battery power it works just perfect.  Then I plug it in and it's all OK until I try to do anything, and then the screen goes white. The screen sometimes goes yellow, sometimes blue, but mostly white screen. It will do nothing until I do a hard reset (holding the power button till it turns off and turn it back on) with the power unplugged.  If the power is not unplugged then it will go through boot up to windows swirling dots then go white again. If I plug it in and do nothing I can charge it, unplug and continue what i was doing. I have tried a lot of solutions bouncing around the internet, and thought I was having a DC Jack connection issue (replaced the ac/dc power adapter, then the motherboard). I get a better connection now but with the same white screen result. I stumbled into this forum and I'm hoping to find solutions to my issues.  Then upgrade like so many others have.
      Any ideas, comments or suggestions welcome.
      Thank you in advance!
    • By Swick1981
      Bios Release Version – v2.0.0

      Updated or Modded Items:
      SVL7 Also created the PRR2.EXE tool that allows you to flash the new bios by unlocking it.  (FULL CREDIT GOES TO HIM FOR THAT FILE PRR2.EXE)
      Here are ALL the things I've added, modded, and enhanced on this bios -
      I've added FULL LEGACY SUPPORT ON THIS BIOS with ONE or TWO CARDS (SLI).  You can FINALLY use Win 7 OS on your machine and run the 900 series GPU's! 
      This is a MAJOR breakthrough!
      LEGACY SUPPORT Confirmed.  Works with 900 series GPu's in single OR SLI formation Updated the Intel RST Legacy to v12.9.0.2006 (Supports TRIM in RAID0 - CONFIRMED) Updated Intel RST UEFI to v12.9.0.2006 (Supports TRIM in RAID0 - CONFIRMED) Updated the ONBOARD Video Card for the HD3xxx to v2171 - FROM v2132 Updated ONBOARD Video Card for the HD4xxx to v2171 - FROM v2132 Updated the LAN Firmware & PXE Boot from to v2.0.6.6 ADDED NvMe Support for m18xr2 ADDED M.2 support for m18xr2 Updated CPU Microcode to v29 for the 2900 CPU's Updated CPU Microcode to v1c for the 3900 CPU's Updated GOP Driver for Intel Sandy Bridge CPU Updated GOP Driver for Intel Ivy Bridge CPU Updated MAIN GOP Policy module for the m18xR2 Eliminated some code that wasn't used in the m18xR2 Updated CSM Module (v2) Streamline some coding to make mod(s) run a little more efficiently (v2) Added FPARTS.TXT to rar file in v2. (I had forgot to add it in v1) v2.5 to be released shortly.  I've updated a few more modules that I didn't realize could be updated.  (It's only 3 modules, but it's still an update!)   It should be released in about a week.  Hope this helps ya'll!  
      Instructions to flash:
      Use a flash drive to create a boot disk into dos Unzip ALL files into the root of the flash drive (flash.bat, r2final.bin, fpt.exe, flash.bat, prr2.exe, fparts.txt,m18r2.hdr, m18r2.hdr.bin, readmefirst.txt) BOOT INTO DOS – Note, that when you set the bios to legacy in order to boot into dos, you MAY have to reinstall OS!  (Just be prepared to reinstall no matter what) Once you boot into dos, run the file flash.bat It will unlock your bios (THANKS TO SVL7’s BIOS UNLOCKING TOOL – ALL CREDIT TO HIM FOR THIS TOOL!) Let it flash… Reboot your pc, and enjoy the MASSIVE updates!  
      Be on the lookout as I do plan to release newer version with more updates in the future.  However, it wont be for at least a few weeks as I'm now working on legacy support for the m17xR4 and several other systems.  So please be patient!
      Thread link for more information and discussion:
    • By svl7
      Files contained in this archive:
      FTP-DOS.zip prr2.zip M18x R2 - BIOS A03 'unlocked.zip M18x R2 - BIOS A08 'unlocked.zip M18x_R2_-_BIOS_A08_-_[unlocked]_-_[IRST].zip M18x_R2_BIOS_A03_-_[unlocked] - [IRST].zip M18x_R2_BIOS_A09_-_[unlocked].zip [FPT]-M18x_R2_BIOS_A09_-_[unlocked].zip [FPT]-M18x_R2_BIOS_A10_-_[unlocked]_V2.zip M18x_R2_-_BIOS_A08_-_[unlocked].zip M18x_R2_BIOS_A03_-_[unlocked].zip  
      For information on how to use the files in this archive, see here:
      My donation link in case you want to buy me a beer
    • By Crustieraxe
      Hello Guys this is my first post here!
      So my original post was this:
      "I don't even know if any active forum is out there on this laptop and on this issue, but after installing my new DHCG2 LTN173HT02 120hz display, I am unable to boot up on it. I do have a modded bios which the video setting is set to PEG, and just about read every forum about this but have not found a solution. I have tried resetting the bios, made sure the cable is plugged into the Edp port, and have made sure I have an UFEI Windows installation and legacy mode is turned off. I don't know what else to do and if anyone could help it would mean alot to me! "
      The reason it was not booting up on a pure UEFI environment is because my 660m did not have the GOP compliant driver vbios. You would need this in order to boot up in a pure UEFI environment which at the time I didn't know, and my fix was to stick to legacy. Any card before the 660m will most likely require this if you need to boot up in a pure UEFI environment. If you do not have this vbios driver while it is set to UEFI and plug in the 120hz lcd, it will beep 8 times and you will be forced to plug back in the 60hz display to change it back to legacy.
      This was the vbios that I can say worked for me and had the GOP compliant driver for the 660m
      These are the steps to upgrade from a normal 1600x900 60hz display to a 1920x1080 3D 120hz Display which is needed if you want to update your graphics card to a more modern one.
      I am making this guide because I felt frustrated that for this awesome computer, there aren't really any post in 2020 to upgrade the LCD panel to the 3D 120hz one. And The older posts I scavaged through really helped me little in doing this upgrade.
      Anyways lets begin
      1) If you have a stock AMD graphics card, and are wanting to install the 120hz display, then your journey ends here and you will have to upgrade to an NVIDIA graphics card to do so. If you have an NVIDIA, you may continue
      1a) ( Only if upgrading to pascal graphics card )Your NVIDIA card Needs to have a GOP compliant vbios  or else it will not let you select the UEFI option on the bios. This is needed because you need to set a UEFI environment before upgrading to a 1060/1070 Since these cards don't support legacy mode. This means you will need to flash a vbios onto your card that will allow you to boot on a UEFI Environment. You will need to verify first wether your card has a GOP compliant vbios by searching up your vbios version in GPU-Z. If you have a 660m that doesn't have this, then here is the link to that vbios that does. https://www.techpowerup.com/vgabios/144032/144032 I think that all of the Nvida 6XXm are not GOP driver compliant and need this but do not quote me.
      2) On the 60hz display, I would start by making sure that you have windows 10 installed or reinstall with UEFI support as it is needed if you are installing a pascal graphics card. If you have legacy mode enabled, and are not planning to upgrade to a pascal graphics card and keeping your old Nvidia 6XXM, then disregard this and head on to step 5 (although I would recommend to read everything)
      3) turn the laptop off and boot into the bios. In order to boot into the bios, spam the F2 key while it is turning on.
      4) Once in the bios, go to the Boot menu, and make sure to Disable "Secure Boot", Make sure that importantly if you converted over to a UEFI installation of windows, UEFI mode is chosen (UEFI  Environment will be needed for a pascal graphic card and legacy will not be compatible) then again, if you are on a legacy installation of windows 10, disregard this if you don't want to upgrade to a pascal graphics card.
      5) we can now start looking at the 120hz display. I bought mine on ebay with this seller https://www.ebay.com/itm/New-Dell-Alienware-M17X-R4-17-3-FHD-WLED-3D-V-M-LCD-Screen-DP-N-DHCG2-GN36T/273644412867?hash=item3fb67a5fc3:g:9A0AAOSw5AhcP1pw:sc:USPSPriority!32720!US!-1 (Just in case the link goes bad, this was the listing name"Alienware M17X R4 17.3" FHD WLED 3D V M LCD Screen DP/N DHCG2 GN36T"  with the screen model being  LTN173HT02 and Dell part number GN36T )
      6) Since my listing came with the video cables, I did not have to go out and look for the video cable. If yours did not come with the cables, You will also NEED to get the video cable it is required. the Dell Part number is N392W. I cannot stress enough This video cable is required and the 60hz's video cable CANNOT be used with the 120hz one or else you will brick your computer from what I read.
      7) Once it comes In, we can start to take apart the computer to Install our new display. I watched this video to remove the old 60hz and install the 120hz panel 
      8) Before I would remove the whole 60hz lcd panel, I would first make sure that you can boot on the 120hz panel. Notice that there is one connecter with screws on both sides right next to where the 60hz screen connecter is. Make sure that you put the 120hz one with the connector where screws are. This is known as the Edp port and cannot be confused with the LVDS port. Again, you want to plug the new 120hz display into the EDP port and unplug the 60hz one.
      9) If the installation was done correctly, then you should have no problem booting with the screen. if it is giving you 8 beeps, then just plug in the 60hz display, and navigate back to the bios to make sure everything is in order and refer back to steps 2-3. If you happen to be an advanced user like me and went ahead and installed a modded bios, then on the 60hz display make sure that the video setting is set to PEG. I dont think this is necessary to have a modded bios since the bios automatically changes the video setting when the 120hz display is detected and should be a last resort option to install a modded bios. I got my modded A12 bios from a guy in this forum named klem for 10 US dollars thorough paypal. Shoot him a message in the forum below.
      10) Once the new LCD is tested and you know you can boot up with no problems, go ahead and finish removing the old 60hz LCD and proceed to finish installing the 120hz LCD. And you are done. 
      A couple of words from my personal experience: When I installed the 120hz display, and booted up windows on it, and turned the computer off, it refused to turn on for some weird reason. I don't know why it would turn on when the AC and battery where on. regardless of what this was, I fixed it by Reseting the CMOS. If you don't know how to do this, do a quick google search and after turning it on i got 5 beeps which i then turned the computer off, and then turned it back on which the computer just reset itself and when it turned back on I was able to boot up into windows.
      This is the forum that I was able to find about upgrading the graphics card to the 1060.
      Anyways I hope I at least helped someone transform their computer! In 2020!
    • By lilkuz2005
      hello all, i just got a gtx 980m from a seller on amazon. i have the card installed in my alienware m17x r4, i have updated the bios to A15 stock, in the bios its showing the card is there, in windows 10 the card is also shown in device manager, but it has the code 43 error, i have disabled driver signing and installed a modded driver but its not working, i have uefi legacy mode enabled, i need help getting this working, do i need a modded bios to get the card working? is my card a g-sync version ? any help with this would be great, also if it is a g-sync card, can i vbios flash it with a non g-sync vbios? how can i tell if this card is a clevo or msi ? thanks in advance
  • Create New...

Important Information

By using this site, you agree to our Terms of Use. We have placed cookies on your device to help make this website better. You can adjust your cookie settings, otherwise we'll assume you're okay to continue.