★★★ ALIENWARE m15 R5 Ryzen Edition - [Repaste Guide | Results] ★★★

Discussion in '2015+ Alienware 13 / 15 / 17' started by iunlock, May 31, 2021.

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Will you be buying the m15 R5 or waiting for the Tiger Lake R6?

  1. AMD all the way. R5.

  2. Intel 11th Gen. Tiger Lake all the way.

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  1. iunlock

    iunlock 7980XE @ 5.4GHz

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    [​IMG]

    The day has finally come and thank you for your patience. First of all, I would like to start off by saying that it is extremely important to know what you're doing before working with Liquid Metal. Although this guide is focused on liquid metal, the use of traditional thermal paste is highly recommended. Proceed at your own risk and if you have any questions, I'll do my best to answer them.

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    Having the proper tools is key. Note: I ran out of Kapton tape, which I would recommend using. The Super 33+ will work fine on the GPU side, but unless you trim it perfectly on the CPU side, it'll end up being too thick and cause the CPU housing to bottom out.

    **Tips:**Organization is key. You can use something like an empty egg carton or something to keep your screws, bits and pieces organized.

    Prepare a comfortable work space, someplace wide enough without a lot of clutter. Go pick up a disposable table cloth at the dollar store or something and use your kitchen table if you need to. Having sufficient work space is ideal for many reasons.

    Use the proper bit to avoid stripping your screws. Size (PH1) works well. Let's begin!

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    It's best to get this out of the way now.

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    Battery Removal.

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    The 4x silver screws on the top are different than the 1x bronze colored screw on the bottom.

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    These are the locations where you'll have to remove the screws, plugs and ribbon cables. Be very careful with the ribbon cables as they are fragile and can tear. Keep your screws organized.

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    Main Power Plug: Remove the main Power Plug. I used the tool with the green handle in the picture to push it out.

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    Fan Cables: Do not pull on the wire as you can rip them out of the plug. Use a tool to pull or push on the edges to slide out the plug.

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    WiFi Cables: Use a plastic flat head tool to remove the cables. Place the flat head part under the base and give it a little wiggle and it'll loosen / pop off. See pic above.

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    IR Camera Plug: Avoid pulling it as it could rip the wires inside under the tape. I used a metal pointy tool to work the white plug out. Be very careful, have good leverage and take your time.

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    Ribbon Cables: Use a plastic flat head tool to carefully lift up the levers to remove the ribbon cables.

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    Rear LED Plug: I used a metal pointy tool to gently push this out working each side until it came loose. Avoid just pulling on the wire.

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    Remove the rear cover screws from the left and right side as shown above.

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    Remove the the rear cover by sliding the piece out straight backwards.

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    Carefully peel along the adhesive line on the black fabric.

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    Lay the black fabric piece flat back as shown.

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    Lift the metal lever bar to unlock it and hold the bar on its left and right side, pushing it backwards, to remove the display cable plug. This cable is very fragile. Any damage to this cable and it'll be a bad bad day. Take your time.

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    I used a metal pointy tool to push out the AW-HEAD. I'm holding it with tweezers for the photo only to show the AW-HEAD. This plug comes out pretty easily so very little force is needed.

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    Use a flat head plastic tool to slide out the main cable, being careful not to bend it. Try to keep this cable flat as possible.

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    Birds eye view with the motherboard out.


    REMOVING THE MOTHERBOARD:
    1. Double check to make sure that any connecting parts are detached from the motherboard.

    2. Double check to make sure that all the screws are out.
    Using two hands go around the motherboard to gently lift different areas a little to loosen it and to take mental note where there's resistance. For the areas that are stuck, double check to see what is causing it to stay stuck. Don't force lift any given area.

    * DO NOT just hold the fan and just pull up carelessly as that will bend your heat sinks.

    Focus on the top area (the rear) and the bottom area (near where the battery is located) of the motherboard to gently loosen the motherboard to lift it out. Once you've got a good grip and can see that the board will come out easily, lift the board straight up slowly.

    Note: Pay attention to the main Power cord black cable as the board could get stuck on that.

    Once the motherboard is out, place the motherboard (heat sink facing up) on top of a book / cardboard box etc.. so that the fans are hanging over the sides. You want the book / cardboard to support the main board area.

    If you just lay the motherboard on a flat surface the fans will bottom out first and it can bend the heat sink. This is why you'd want to place the motherboard on something with a width just big enough to support the main board to elevate it, with the fans hanging over the edges. (Motherboard with the heat sink facing up.)

    Take a moment to examine the board etc...I know that it may sound silly, but just familiarize yourself with all the components etc... because this....

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    Funky huh? Pretty neat though. I'd rather have this modular design over it being a part of the motherboard as that skinny bridge area would be pretty flimsy.

    You'll notice that the USB port component is separate from the board screwed in by two screws and slid into a m.2 like interface.

    Remove the screws and slide the USB part out.

    Once the screws are removed the USB part has a slight angle to it, kind of like a m.2 NVMe drive. Pull it out at that natural angle.

    Note: This USB Part has to come out as it obstructs the fans / heatsink from pulling straight up. ie... if you notice to the right-bottom of the picture above, the black fan hinge w/ the copper screw hole... the heat sink would not be able to lift straight up without that the USB part removed. This is important for when putting the heat sink back on straight after the final steps of repasting when putting it all back together.

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    There are six screws that will need to be removed in order to remove the heat sink. Double check that the fan power plugs are all removed.

    Follow the number order when unscrewing the screws. (Typically it's a criss cross pattern.)

    Note: From this birds eye view, regarding the USB part, you can see the area where the fan assembly lip sits under the USB part unit.

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    CLEANING UP THE STOCK THERMAL PASTE:

    ***Please read carefully***
    • Isopropyl (rubbing) Alcohol. 70%

    • Q-Tips

    • Wooden tooth picks

    • Paper towel / Shop Towel.
    It is very important to be mindful of the little resistors that reside around the CPU & GPU die. Be very very careful here as you could easily chip those off. THERE ARE NO SECOND CHANCES!

    You really have to treat this as a surgical cleaning job and with that much care. Take your time.

    Use a plastic flat head tool to remove the bulk of the thermal paste on top of the CPU / GPU die and use a pointy tool (wood or plastic) to maneuver around the tight areas. A wooden toothpick works well.

    Whenever your cleaning around or near the little resistors, barely use the weight of the tool for the force if that makes sense. ie... don't man handle it and just start picking away at the thermal paste. You're going to chip off a resistor and be completely SOL and eventually cry. I'm not kidding.

    THERE ARE NO SECOND CHANCES UNLESS YOU HAVE INSANE MICRO SOLDERING SKILLS WITH ALL THE PROPER TOOLS. Even then...there's no guarantee.

    For the top of the die surfaces you can use something like ArctiClean Formula 1 to dissolve the stock thermal paste and/or isopropyl alcohol (70%+) to clean it off using a small rolled up paper towel. Using a Q-Tip is best.

    Tip: Be very careful to not have your paper towel snag the surrounding resistors. Fold the paper towel small enough that it doesn't have any loose ends that can snag onto a resistor. Just use a Q-Tip lol.

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    Here's the motherboard with the heat sink assembly off.

    As you can see the issue isn't a lack of thermal paste lol, rather it's the lack of quality of the thermal paste that is the culprit.

    The stock thermal pads are actually pretty decent. I ended up reusing them.

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    If you plan to replace the pads, now's the time to do it. Everything should be very self explanatory.

    Use the proper thickness, cut to size if needed, and replace the stock pads etc...

    I ended up cutting out some of the black material cover to expose more of the cold plate. It's also to make some room for extra clearance. See below.

    Once you have the CPU and GPU cleaned, now it's time for the second part of the prep work.

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    Use liquid electrical tape or something similar that is non conductive to cover up the little resistors.

    Tip: Yes you can use clear nail polish as well too. Just ask your wife or gf. They're also only a dollar at the dollar store.

    Just dab a small amount on at a time until the resistors are fully covered.

    Let it dry completely before proceeding...

    Once the clear coat is dry use kapton tape to cover up the surrounding for some extra protection. Kapton tape is preferred as it is thinner than electrical tape and for this CPU area you don't want the metal rim to hit the heat sink first otherwise it'll interfere with the CPU die -> Cold Plate contact.

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    Use Kapton Tape to cover the the CPU die. Tape right up against the base of the CPU die.

    Note: For the GPU area you can use electrical tape since there's enough clearance there to compensate for the thickness of electrical tape.

    If you want to be fancy and use a foam barrier, wall or whatever to soothe your soul, you definitely can, but honestly there is no need. There has been a lot of talk on the internet when using LM to use a barrier etc... but look, here's the thing.

    You should not be using that much LM in the first place to even require some kind of barrier.

    If you're using that much LM, for one you're doing it wrong and two you're using way way too much. Remember, it's about using just the right amount, not over compensating and slapping it all together. I've opened up client laptops where they used a foam barrier and because too much LM was used, when they lifted off the heat sink, the LM soaked foam spilled LM everywhere onto the motherboard. Therefore, if you're using too much and counting on some foam barrier, that's not the right approach or thought process.

    So the bottom line with this debate is, whatever floats your fancy. Do whatever will help you sleep better at night. Simple as that. The most important thing here is to use the right amount of LM and if you do, there is no need to worry about LM spilling anywhere. With using a little more than the right amount of LM, the most it would travel is just over the edge of the die. However, that goes right back to square one, you should not be using that much LM to begin with.

    I have my Macbook Pro LM'ed for crying out loud lol. The absolute worst laptop to be LM'ing, but I travel with it everywhere and it has been fine for several years. I've opened it up many times to check how LM does in a MBP and it stays right in place. Zero issues. So the point is, because the right amount was used there has been no issues whatsoever in the worst laptop to be LM'ing.

    Okay enough of that lol.. let's continue on...

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    Applying just the right amount is key.

    APPLYING THE LIQUID METAL:

    Make sure that the surface of the CPU and GPU die are very clean. Very very clean. Take a Q-Tip soaked in a little rubbing alcohol and give it another clean if you need to.

    Your LM kit should have come with a tightly spun Q-Tip or a brush depending on what you're using.

    Apply a small amount of LM and start spreading it over the surface of the die. Work from the center out.

    Check for any fibers that may have shed off along the way. If you see any use a tweezer to carefully remove it.

    The key is to use just the right amount of liquid metal. Not too little and not too much. It is not to be treated like regular thermal paste.

    Note: Surprisingly the heat sink makes pretty even contact with CPU and GPU die on the m15's, which is good news. Nice even contact.

    What is the right amount of liquid metal? - There should be just enough liquid metal to where it creates a thin mirror like surface on top of the die. No puddle or bubble.

    It's important not to use too much. If you add too much, take the syringe and try to suck the excess back up into the tube. At the same time you want to avoid using too little. The amount of LM should not look like the picture above, which is too little. That picture is just showing the liquid metal spread out evenly, before I would be adding a tad bit more to create that thin mirror like surface.

    There should not be a puddle or pool of liquid metal on top of the die. That's way too much.

    It's hard to fully illustrate through pictures, but in the picture above I only added a tad bit more, just enough to create a smooth thin mirror like surface.

    Note: For some reason a lot of my pictures came out blank white so I lost a lot of shots after this point. Luckily it wasn't more... but I pulled some pics from my 17R4 repaste that will illustrate the same message.

    Pic for illustration purposes:
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    Paint some of the liquid metal onto the cold plate to prime it. The reason for this is a bit scientific, but in short, it's to allow the copper cold plate to absorb the LM so that it doesn't take away from the amount of LM that is on the CPU/GPU die.

    Pic for illustration purposes:
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    It should look nice and shiny. Mirror like surface. The copper cold plate is porous and there is a chemical reaction that occurs with the LM. By seasoning it, it'll allow the copper cold plate to soak up what it needs to so that the conditions are ideal for thermal conductivity.

    Pic for illustration purposes:
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    Use a very thin amount just enough to create a mirror surface. It should look similar to this. Just enough to have a smooth thin sheen over the surface of the cold plate. Notice the reflection of the brush in the pic?

    Once you have the liquid metal applied, heat sink cold plate seasoned, and ready to put the heat sink back on, double check that everything is in place. Once you put the heat sink on, that's it. You want to avoid ever lifting the heat sink back up again, otherwise you'll have to redo the LM and it can be tedious, because any little containment that gets on the CPU/GPU die can cause the LM to separate in that given area.

    Before you fully seat the heat sink back on, stand above it and look through the mounting holes to use as your guidance. Once you get close, carefully let the heat sink down to rest with its own weight.

    Place the screws in each of the mounting points first, then tighten them in the numerical-order as shown on the heat sink. I usually tighten a 1/4 at a time all around, then go around to give it a final torque.

    Note: Make sure the fan cable plugs are where they need to be on the other side of the motherboard.

    Hold the board up and give it a good inspection. Everything good to go? Great, now time to reassemble.

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    Putting it all back together:

    When putting the motherboard back into the base/laptop, align the fan / fin area first by holding the board at a slight angle.

    Keep the board at the slight angle and make sure that all the ribbon cables, wifi cables etc.. are out from under the motherboard so that it does not get sandwiched underneath.

    As you slowly lay the board down keep an eye on everything. (ribbon cables etc..)

    Once the board is fully seated in place, plug/install "almost," everything back in.
    • All ribbon cables.

    • Battery and Cable.

    • m.2 SSD.
    You don't need to install the wifi card and clip the cables in at this time. We want to make sure that the laptop turns on successfully before putting everything back together.

    Note: With the ribbon cables they go in a certain way and you can tell that it is fully seated when the side edges are in their respected grooves inside of the slot.

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    Moment of Truth:

    Once the ribbon cables, battery cable and m.2 SSD are installed...

    Press the Power Button and hold your breath.

    It is normal for it to take a little longer at first boot up after repasting.

    Once you see the circle dots loading into Windows you can now breathe.

    When it loads into Windows, open up hwinfo64 and run a quick CPU and GPU test. You can use 3DMark and just run a quick Fire Strike run or something.

    Pay attention to the temps. If they look good then you're all set!

    If the temps are jumping into the red and just redlining, then that means either:

    a.) The thermal pads that you used are too thick. (Assuming that you changed out the pads too.)

    OR

    b.) You may need to add a tad more liquid metal.

    These are the most common causes.

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    Congratulations:

    Great Job! Now it's time to put everything back together.

    Reinstall your WiFi Cable, Rear back over etc...

    You're all set! Enjoy and Happy Gaming...

    -

    RESULTS:

    I'll post the screen shots from my other thread here, but here is the link to my other post titled:
    ALIENWARE m15 Ryzen 5900HX | RTX 3070 - [GAME TEMPS]
    showing the Before and After with Liquid Metal.

    -

    I hope that this guide helps you guys achieve your repaste on your laptops. Keep in mind that you don't have to use liquid metal and you can just use regular traditional paste. At this point anything is better than the stock stuff.

    The recommended traditional paste that I have in my arsenal are: Grizzly Kyronaut and KPx (Kingpin, the blue stuff). There are other good pastes out there that you can find online and those will work just fine. Read the reviews and pay attention to the W/mk ratings on those traditional pastes.

    Below are the conductivity numbers for some of the top Liquid Metals and Traditional Pastes:(When looking at no-name brand thermal pastes the w/mk claims are to be taken with a grain of salt. From all my tests done so far, Grizzly Conductonaut has always topped CLLU/Pro by an average of ~3C. Results may vary. Every drop in C's count. Especially in a laptop. It could make all the difference in some scenarios.)

    Liquid Metals:
    Thermal Grizzly Conductonaut - 73 W/mk
    Coollaboratory Liquid Ultra - 38.4 W/mk
    Coollaboratory Liquid Pro - 32.6 W/mk

    Traditional Paste:
    Grizzly Kyronaut: 12.5 W/mk
    Gelid GC Extreme: 8.5 W/mk
    ICD: 4.5 W/mk

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    I'll revise this guide if there is any other info that I forgot to add. Stay tuned...

    Oh and one more thing. To all of you third party Dell techs, I know that you use my guide to service customer laptops. They send me pictures of you with my repaste guide pulled up on your tablet. I'm glad that you're using my guide and find it helpful and I really hope that it helps you to do a thorough job. Please pay attention to the screws and locations as this has been the biggest issue when I open up the laptops that you've serviced, where I find loose screws, missing screws and screws sandwiched between the thermal pad and memory chips. This guide should help you from making those mistakes.

    Have fun, good luck and game on....
     
    Last edited: Jun 1, 2021
  2. iunlock

    iunlock 7980XE @ 5.4GHz

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    w/ Liquid Metal:
    [​IMG]
     
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  3. iunlock

    iunlock 7980XE @ 5.4GHz

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    w/ Traditional Paste:
    [​IMG]
     
  4. iunlock

    iunlock 7980XE @ 5.4GHz

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    Bone Stock out of Box:
    [​IMG]
     
  5. iunlock

    iunlock 7980XE @ 5.4GHz

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  6. iunlock

    iunlock 7980XE @ 5.4GHz

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  7. ninja2000

    ninja2000 Mash IT

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    Brilliant guide iunlock. Thanks for taking the time to document it
     
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  8. Terreos

    Terreos Royal Guard

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    Well done tear down. Thank you for documenting everything. Looks time consuming, but not too terrible. Wish they would just stop the flipped motherboard thing. But I guess they gave back the upgradable ram so I should be grateful. ;)
     
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  9. iunlock

    iunlock 7980XE @ 5.4GHz

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    Very welcome guys. Thanks for the kind words. I hope that it helps you with your repastes.

    @Terreos I agree the flipped mobo is a bit annoying, but luckily it's not that hard to remove so that's a good thing. From the heat sink side on the mobo there's not enough room to fit the RAM slots, which is why they put it on the back. It's a trade off. Upgradable RAM + Flipped Mobo vs Soldered RAM + Flipped Mobo. Perhaps they could have designed it differently to where everything could be on one side, but oh well.
     
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  10. Papusan

    Papusan Jokebook's Sucks! Dont waste your $$$ on Filthy

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    Alienware went back to soldered ram for the brand new 15,6 inch x15. One step forward and two steps backwards:) Newer has to be better! http://forum.notebookreview.com/thr...ge-and-discussion.835993/page-8#post-11097937
     
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