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DaneGRClose

M17x-R3 CPU & GPU Re-Pasting Guide w/Pics!

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Ok guys at the request of a few people I'm doing a guide with pics on how to repaste your R3 and the results I got from doing so. First off keep in mind a few things:

-Repasting is risky, if you don't know what you're doing you could harm your components which invalidates your warranty. Now as long as you have some technical skill and go slow you should be fine but as always I take NO RESPONSIBILITY if you damage your hardware. If you have a question ask it before proceeding to prevent damage.

-Some of the steps below may be slightly different depending on what GPU you have, all of the CPU's will be the same however.

-The temps I was getting and that most have reported with the Nvidia GTX 460m are very good even with stock paste, if you're not going to be benchmarking or applying heavy overclocks you don't need to do this unless you have experience and want the lower temps.

Now that that's out of the way let's get on to the fun stuff ;)

Here are the items you'll need:

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-Paste: I recommend MX-4, TX-4, or OCZ Freeze. I used MX-4 in this guide.

-Pads: The pads I used are Fujipoly Premium 0.5mm pads that I purchased from frozencpu.com. Depending on if you want to replace all the pads or not you may also need 1.0mm and 2.0mm pads(see below).

-Either Arctic Clean -OR- Alcohol(not the drinking kind lol): I used Arctic Clean here but honestly after using both the Arctic Clean is no better and is more expensive than good high purity rubbing alcohol. If you use alcohol get 90% or higher as it cleans better and leaves less residue.

-Cotton Swabs and Lint Free Cloth: The cotton swabs need to be quality tightly wound swabs or they'll leave cotton residue, also a good quality lint free cloth that hasn't been used on anything else to prevent residue.

-Precision Screwdrivers: I can't stress how important it is to have a good set of precision screwdrivers, a bad set of screwdrivers or using non-precision size screwdrivers can easily strip screws and/or cause damage. If you don't have any you can pick them up at Radio Shack, Home Depot, Lowes, etc.

Temps with Stock Paste:

Below you can see the temps are very good for stock paste, but good is never enough :P:D and the temps could always be better. After running Prime 95 and Furmark at the same time the max CPU temps were 84 degrees and the max GPU temp was 75 degrees. These were at stock clocks on the GPU and a 100.0 BCLK on the CPU. I didn't take idle temps as idle temps are nice to compare, but really they don't matter on a gaming rig.

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Battery and Bottom Panel:

First remove your battery, under it there will be two small screws that need to be removed to slide the bottom panel off. Once the screws are removed slide the panel toward the back of the computer(toward the heatsinks).

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Now you'll have a view of the internals of the laptop, the CPU and it's heatsink/fan are in yellow, the GPU and it's heatsink/fan are in green.

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GPU:

First remove the screws highlighted in yellow on the fan, also disconnect the fan cable highlighted in green. Once those are disconnected remove the fan by lifting it on the end where the purple arrow is pointing then sliding it out. Once the fan is out you can remove the heatsink, the screws for the heatsink are circled in red. By each screw there will be a number, it's important to remove the screws in this order 4 - 3 - 2 - 1 by backing them out in small increments(1/4-1/2 turn) then moving to the next until they are all the way out to prevent bending/warping the heatsink. Once you have done this lift the heatsink on the same end as the fan carefully and pull the heatsink out.

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Once you get the heatsink off you'll see a bunch of funky colored pads on the heatsink, and a whole ton of gray molasses looking junk that Dell calls thermal paste on the heatsink and GPU core :P You'll need to remove the "paste" by placing a few drops of either alcohol or step 1 of the Arctic Clean on the paste on the heatsink and gpu core, be careful to get it on only the old paste as making a huge mess of the paste or cleaner can cause problems also avoid getting any on the pads as well. Allow the cleaner to soak for a minute or two then use the cotton swabs to wipe it off carefully, you'll likely have to repeat this multiple times until the swabs no longer have any gray/black color to them. If you are using Arctic Clean once you have a clean surface apply step 2, let it soak and wipe it clean.

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Once cleaned your gpu core and heatsink should look something like this:

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Now you'll need to cut and replace the pads, I used only .5mm pads and all of them will go directly on the heatsink and are gray colored in the picture. The only pad I didn't remove from the heatsink is the purple one outlined in the picture because it's in the 2-3mm thick range and seems to work just fine based on the results.

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Now the one thing that threw me for a loop were the pads on the backside of the card, yes underneath it. The pads underneath work just fine as I reused them so unless you're more experienced you can skip to the next step. There is a large, approximately 2mm thick pad that has a rubbery texture between the mobo and one bank of the Vram, there is also pads between part of the backing plate and the other bank of Vram. I really have to wonder what on earth Dell was thinking here especially on the Vram under the backing plate. Feel free to replace them if you want, I just left them there not wanting to mess with the backing plate and not having 2mm pads.

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Now that everything is cleaned and in place you need to apply the thermal paste to the GPU core. I used slightly more than a half of a grain of rice worth of paste right in the center of the core, once the heatsink is reapplied give it a slight(a few degrees is all you need) rotation and screw the heatsink down in the reverse method as you used to remove it. Then install the fan again and the GPU is done! :D :D :D

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CPU:

Again the first step is to remove the fan by removing the screws in yellow. Then pull the cable in green and lift the fan on the end near the purple arrow to slide it out. Once the fan is out loosen the screws in red in the 4 - 3 - 2 - 1 order(1/4-1/2 turn each at a time) and lift the heatsink on the end near the arrow to slide the heatsink up and out.

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The pictures of the heatsink and CPU show more of what kind of mess you're in for that our good friends Dell have left behind. Apply the thermal material cleaner, let it soak, and wipe it off with the swabs. Repeat if necessary until the swabs are no longer gray/black. Again if you're using Arctic Clean apply step 2 now, let it soak, then wipe it clean.

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Once you're finished it will look something like this:

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Now that it's all clean you'll need to apply your thermal paste to the CPU. I used a line slightly thinner than a grain of rice, in the center of the CPU about 1/3-1/2 the length of the CPU. Once your paste is applied put the heatsink back on, give it a very very slight turn(again a few degrees), and retighten the screws in the opposite direction as what you took them off. 1 - 2 - 3 - 4 in very small increments(1/4-1/2 turn each) until tightened again. With the CPU try to have it as level as possible as if it's not flush with the CPU you may have to try again to achieve improved temps.

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Once you're done with that re-install the CPU fan, bottom panel, and battery and you're done.

Here are my temps after repasting with both Furmark and Prime95 running simultaneously for 33 mins. You'll see the max temp of the CPU dropped to 74 degrees, an improvement of 10 degrees. The max temps of the GPU dropped to 67 degrees, an improvement of 8 degrees.

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As always if you have any questions or want to see anything else like: guides, synthetic or game benchmarks, etc just shoot me a PM or post something and I'll get it up.

Edited by DaneGRClose
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Nicely done Dane. Thanks for the write up, I'm sure it will come in quite useful.

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Thanks Brian, you bet, luckily your 6970m that's on the way doesn't have vram on the back side of the board, Joebarchuck at the "place which won't be named" verified that last night. I'd imagine that Vram on the back of the board is going to limit my overclock which is frustrating to say the least.

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I don't remember the heatsinks on the R2 unfortunately, it's just a standard AW heatsink with a copper pad surrounded by I would guess aluminum, copper heat pipes and I would guess aluminum fins. Almost the same exact type of a heatsink the M15x carries.

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Great guide Dane. Nice temps a 8-10 degree celcius difference can be like night and day. Great job.

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So what would have better CPU performance 2920XM in an M17X R3 or M18X?

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CPU performance shoudl be the same in either system provided there's adequate power.

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hmmm guess we are left waiting to see if the 240 is the only adapter for M18X or will they offer the 320 for those who "Get the Works" with theirs...

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I just completed my first repasting, thanks to this guide (CPU only)

Used the "credit card" method, and I think I fkd up. Couldn't quite get the MX-4 to a uniform thickness across the CPU.

Temps dropped like 4 degrees under load, which is fairly insignificant (max is now 80C under extreme load @105.71 bclk)

Any advice?

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Yeah, first off don't use the credit card method. IMO it's too easy to "fk"(lol) up so I've always used the "Rice drop" method on the GPU and the line method on the CPU. If you have a larger surface like a desktop part manual spreading can work well but with a laptop especially if the part is still in the computer you have very little room to work with to ensure an even and thin spread. With the CPU apply a thin line about 50% of the length of the CPU, push the heatsink down as level as possible and give a very very slight twist to reduce the likelihood of air pockets in the paste. Also keep in mind that the old saying of "less is more" is very true, you want the absolute thinnest layer possible while still filling all of the gap between the heatsink and die which isn't much. Hope this helps, just post if you have any more questions/issues.

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most PITA paste i ever used in that regard is the Shin Etsu! I am sure that any one who ever tried to apply it will agree with me here..

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Shin-Etsu is the devils faecal matter!

I nearly went insane repasting for a mate who bought a tube of it, swore that I'd never use it again, don't give a flying f$%k how much it lowers the temps.

I've heard that the indigo extreme metal pad thingys are a prick to get right, never tried myself.

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I'll stick with the MX-4, it seems so much easier to apply. 80 celcius @ 105.71 congrats!

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I just tried the MX-4, very nice paste. I didn't see much a temp difference between the MX-4 and IC Diamond.

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most PITA paste i ever used in that regard is the Shin Etsu! I am sure that any one who ever tried to apply it will agree with me here..

Might be a dumb question but what are PITA pastes?

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Wow I feel like an airhead now!

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