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[HARDWARE MOD] More than 5 minute mod to improve PCH cooling in P17xSM

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Over at NBR in the "Pidge from nVidia" thread I posted up a screenshot of my HWiNFO64 during a sidetrack discussion of GTX 880M temperatures.

D2 Ultima pointed out that my PCH was quite toasty:

"Woah, the PCH was hitting 98 and averaging 95 there. Those things have an upper limit of 100c-105c, you should probably keep an eye on it or maybe try a cooling mod for it?"

For those that are wondering... the PCH (Primary Controller Hub) is basically what used to a be known as a Southbridge.

This all lead to further derailment of that thread to a short discussion of on PCH temps. My PCH has actually seen 108.5C as of the day before yesterday. That prompted me to tear down my laptop that evening. I started late and worked until 2am. Then I went to bed and finished up the next morning. Ok, enough prep. This is what I did.

I had read that the P17xx series were a bit different than the P15x and P37x in terms of what it looks like under the keyboard. The other two models have free access to the PCH.

Here is a link to n=1's PCH cooling mod for the P370SM.

5 mniute mod to improving PCH cooling in P370SM

Well, it isn't quite so simple with the P17x series. As you can see, there is a big ol' chunk of plastic in the way. I can cut it, but I am not going near the assembled laptop with my dremel. A disassembly is in order to get to this thing. I am OK with that because I see it as a challenge and a chance to learn something (even if it's what not to do).

Here is what I thought was an interesting picture. I have the top case all but separated from the bottom case. Getting the keyboard off is pretty easy. Just be careful of the two ribbon connectors. One is for the keyboard and one is for the backlight. The backlight ribbon is a pain in the butt to put back. All of the other ribbon cable connectors slide away from connector to release the ribbon. The backlight connector flips up. I didn't know that and I slide it away and the lock popped off. After some fiddling with it I dug through the service manual and the light went on. It's a tiny little bugger, but I got it back into place and everything still works.

In this picture, the laptop is open and standing on the right side. The screen is on the far right and the bottom casing is on the far left. The top case is in the middle.

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Here you can barely see the PCH nestled under that nice, insulating plastic. No real hope of getting a breath of fresh air. In the second picture I have disassembled the laptop enough to get a better peek at the little hottie.

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My goal is to remove the top case so I can cut a hole in it and stack up thermal pads so they touch the bottom of the keyboard, which is a huge aluminum plate. This will make a nice heatsink for the PCH. This is the same thing that n=1 has done, only with less hassle than us P17x owners.

Here the top case has been removed and you can now clearly see the PCH.

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I just eyeballed the location and marked it with a sharpie so I would have a guide before I head out to the garage for cutting.

In a few minutes it's all done. I used a cutoff wheel at low speed. I cut straight down into the material from the top and then flipped it over and did the same thing from the bottom. Then I just pushed out the square cutout with my thumb. I am not too concerned about appearances with this mod as it won't normally be seen. After I was done cutting I used a wire brush at low speed to clean up the rough edges.

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I put the top case back on and find that my eyeballing wasn't too bad. Looks like I hit the mark pretty close. w00t!

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Now the only problem I have is I don't know how much stackup I need for my thermal pads. I used a 1/4 sheet of 1mm, 11.0 W/mK thermal pad from FrozenCPU.com which i cut with ordinary scissors. But, how tall to stack it? The answer is: modeling clay to the rescue. I just formed some modeling clay and stuck it on top of the PCH.

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Then I test fitted my keyboard, smushing the modeling clay.

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After that I removed the keyboard and measured the height of the smooshed modeling clay with my dial calipers. I measured .164" which is a bit more than 4mm.

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I cut and stacked 5 layers of 1mm thermal pad to make sure I had good contact.

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Then just put everything back together and played some games. The result was pretty good. The most I have seen is 85C on the PCH. The down side is the keyboard gets quite a bit warmer. I think the trade off is worth it. I was able to drop the max PCH temperature by 20c with this mod.

BONUS: For those that are wondering, all three antennas are routed up to the screen bezel even if your configuration only uses two antennas. This is nice to know. If you think about it, it's a lot easier for Clevo to do this by default. The parts aren't expensive and it's one less thing to track if they all get it.

20140901_091417_zpscd3e1294.jpg

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Really interesting thread, as all the threads involving personal creativity, time spent and effort made, but the silly photobucket limit spoils it.

 

Thank you for the information, though !

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