Alienware Area 51m - Official Guide to applying Liquid Metal + RTX VRM cooling mod

Discussion in '2015+ Alienware 13 / 15 / 17' started by DaMafiaGamer, Aug 2, 2019.

  1. DaMafiaGamer

    DaMafiaGamer Notebook Deity

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    DISCLAIMER: This mod is NOT officially supported on the Alienware Area 51M laptop, YOU assume all the risk and liability by attempting this repaste/mod on your own laptop. This thread was created merely to guide people on how to repaste/mod their Alienwares!

    If you have never used liquid metal before it is advised that you read up on it, it is a conductive liquid, so if it is accidentally spilled on any components, motherboard etc, it MUST be cleaned completely before turning on the laptop!

    Things you will need:

    Liquid Metal - preferably thermal grizzly conductonaut.

    Some sort of earbud to apply the liquid metal with.

    Thermal pad exactly double the thickness (1.5mm or less) of the one placed on the rtx 20xx vrms which should be.

    Some sort of tape, Kapton tape is advised. Although adhesive tape will work fine which is what I used.

    Disassembly and Cleaning

    You will need to disassemble the laptop and clean off the thermal paste, here is a link to the perfect guide that @ssj92 made, subscribe whilst your there, it would mean a lot to him:



    VRM Thermal Pad Mod

    As many of you may know, the Alienware Area 51m rtx 2080/2070 gpu module was and still is prone to frying due to the vrms reaching their thermal runaway point and therefore burning out and producing a smoke show :D

    The reason lies below:

    [​IMG]

    As you can see the original thermal pad makes literally little to no contact with the rtx gpu vrms on the top half, like what were you thinking dell?!

    So, to solve this issue we need to use a thermal pad which is exactly double the thickness, the new thermal pad must be lower than 1.5mm or equivalent in thickness, replace the original rubbish one as shown below:

    [​IMG]

    Make sure the thermal pad is NOT TOO THICK otherwise the gpu will not fit inside the chassis!

    As you can see the contact points are way more pronounced in the picture below:

    [​IMG]

    This is what the original thermal pad should have been doing, no wonder our RTX cards are cooking in the heat!

    Now just put the heatsink back on the back of the gpu and screw it into place. Place it in the chassis, screw in both pci cables and slot in the power cable.

    Pre-Application and Application of LM

    So before you start applying liquid metal you will need thoroughly clean the GPU die and the surrounding capacitors, this is important so that the tape can make proper contact with the pcb!

    The RTX die should look a bit cleaner than this:

    [​IMG]

    Now you will need to apply tape to the capacitors surrounding the die like so:

    [​IMG]

    Make sure you start applying the tape from the edge of the die so that the tape can stick between the pcb and capacitors like shown above. Use a fingernail or tweezer so that you end up with air pockets where the capacitors are situated. This means that you will have a proper seal and liquid metal will not be able to get underneath the tape.

    Now you can apply liquid metal on the die. Considering the rtx die is quite big compared to pascal, slightly more liquid metal is needed to cover it entirely. You should apply slightly less than a pea drop like shown below:

    [​IMG]

    Now gently spread the liquid metal with an earbud so that it covers the whole of the die, make sure to not go over the edges of the die too much otherwise the liquid metal may leak out from the side! You should end up with something like this, if it looks dryer in texture try adding a tiny spec of more liquid metal so you can see a kind of shiny surface:

    [​IMG]

    Now you need to apply liquid metal on the cpu side, luckily there are no capacitors that need covering, this is a fairly easy process. Use the exact pea size amount of liquid metal as used on the rtx die. Evenly spread it across with the earbud and you should end up with your cpu ihs (lid) looking like this, again if it looks dryer in texture try adding a tiny spec of liquid metal so you can see the shiny surface as seen below:

    [​IMG]

    Try NOT to go over the corners with this one, if you ever need to take the CPU out liquid metal will get on your hands and could possibly get on the cpu socket. It is a wise idea to try and put in a foam dam here if your new to this procedure, ask @Mr. Fox or @Papusan about this if you need clarification, they know what I'm on about!

    This much contact space is more than enough, you don't need more, the heatsink can handle the heat dispassion just fine!

    Now its time to apply liquid metal on the heatsink part, use the same sequence I wrote at the top, this time use slightly less metal paste, if you have too much on your CPU or GPU take a swab of that and dump it on the heatsink area.

    Your heatsink should end up looking like this, space out the liquid metal more on the cpu side than shown in the picture, make sure its less than the engraved arrows in the heatsink, that is the cpu/heatsink contact boundary!

    [​IMG]

    Now its finally time to put the heatsink back on the GPU and CPU:

    [​IMG]

    Make sure to tighten the screws diagonally on the CPU and GPU sides!

    Now its time to assemble the laptop back together and see if the laptop boots:

    [​IMG]

    If you see a boot screen congratulations you've done it! Now do some load testing and check your temps before gaming!
     
    Last edited: Aug 3, 2019
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  2. Rei Fukai

    Rei Fukai Notebook Deity

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    Great guide. Interested how much LM would improve the temps since the 51m heatsink is much beefier than the 17 Rx line up !
     
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  3. DeeX

    DeeX Liquid Hz

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    Awesome post!
    but...
    If that is packing tape, I would highly suggest against using packing tape as it melts really easily with heat and in the least bit will create edges that lift at the edge of the die and the PCB.
    I would personally use Conformal Coating. Some times people use clear nail polish but that can have temperature issues as well.
    Conformal Coating is designed for exact objective saught.
    If you are going to use tape I would highly suggest Scotch Super 33+ electrical tape.
    Again, not sure if this is packing tape that you are using but I cannot think of a clear looking tape that exists that will for one properly cover the components.
    Since it does not conform to the components well, LM can easily still get under the clear tape and get to the components. I have seen this happen to someone before.

    Here is an example of Conformal Coating.
    https://www.amazon.com/MG-Chemicals...ormal+Coating&qid=1564781581&s=gateway&sr=8-1

    Here is the electrical tape:
    https://www.amazon.com/Scotch-Super...ectrical+tape&qid=1564781637&s=gateway&sr=8-4


    Also, last note...
    What size pad are you suggesting on the back of the GPU? You have mentioned, "double the thickness" of the stock pads, multiple times. Unless you inform users what size pad to get then they are at a loss left wondering and assuming the size you are referring to. I am not sure myself, but judging by your photos that pad you chose seems a bit thick. Perhaps @S.K can chime in as he has done a lot of hours of trial an error into pad size thickness. I believe the conclusion was a 1.5mm pad was suffice and the best option. Your pad looks like a 3mm pad. o_O.
    Sorry, I do not mean to sound critical but when you are posting guides that could potentially lead to people making detrimental mistakes in their own systems I feel the need to chime in.
    I hope you understand. :)
     
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  4. DaMafiaGamer

    DaMafiaGamer Notebook Deity

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    The reason conformal coating isn’t used is so that if dell inspect the device in case of failure there isn’t any evidence of any mods done. Otherwise I would advise conformal coating over what I have done. Thanks :)

    The pad is exactly 1.5mm like you said, it looks way bigger in the photo, idk why...
    That’s why I said double the thickness of the original, the photo maybe deceiving.
     
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  5. DeeX

    DeeX Liquid Hz

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    It improves temps by a few C when compared to high-end paste but nothing as dramatic as the R4/R5. @S.K has done quite a few rounds of testing with various pastes including conductonaut and has settled with Phobya NanoGrease Extreme for this heatsink at this pressure level. Paste applications in laptops cannot be compared to other systems has the contact and the pressure levels are so different in each one. A paste for one system might not be the best for another system etc etc. Because of SK's testing, I decided to try 3 of the pastes he tested. My results were similar.

    Gotcha, I suggest posting the exact size in your guide. Many people following the guide will be looking for key things like exact pad sizes etc.

    The conformal coating will not void the warranty. I have had systems that had issues that were not a result of LM which had a conformal coating on it and I had no issues doing warranty swaps and parts replacements. Besides, the conformal coating can be cleaned off.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 5, 2019
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  6. DaMafiaGamer

    DaMafiaGamer Notebook Deity

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    Interesting, didn’t know it could be cleared off, my old 4940mx had conformal coating on it and it didn’t come off at all!

    Also @DeeX ive been using tape for 4 years, I have never once seen it heat up to the point where the tape melts, that is roughly 110c which the die will never reach. I know because I used to make custom subwoofer enclosures using melted tape :D

    There is a big difference in temp between the die and pcb, about 30-40c difference when at max heat. You can check this with an infrared sensor too.

    Thank you for your help bro and I agree conformal coating should be used if people are willing to!
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 5, 2019
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  7. Papusan

    Papusan JOKEBOOK's Sucks! Dont waste your $$$ on FILTHY

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    And you don’t put the tape on top of the die:vbbiggrin: The PCB won’t run so hot and neither will it come so much heat down from heatsink outside the die area. Just use the thinnest Kapton tape. Even good quality electrical tape works well.
     
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  8. DaMafiaGamer

    DaMafiaGamer Notebook Deity

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    Exactly bro you know this stuff, this is common sense to you :D

    You know how I found out the difference, by accidentally placing my finger on a 7970m when it had just turned off, the pcb was warm but that die, jesus christ its like it came out of hell, literally barbecued my finger and somehow those amd chips can handle it, what are amd dies made off :D:D
     
  9. ssj92

    ssj92 Neutron Star

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    Nice! My VRMs had much deeper contact with the pads so I left them alone.
     
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  10. DeeX

    DeeX Liquid Hz

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    My comments were not about it melting like a flame would melt it but more like changing its state and changing the state of the adhesive.
    It's pretty easy for even some warm to make it so the edges lift. I fully believe it has worked for you well, but when you post a guide there will be many people that follow this and it is just my belief that one should suggest to the masses the option with the least amount of risk. Not everyone will have the same skill level that attempts this. That's all I meant.
    The scenarios that I mentioned did happen to someone and the problem was the edges lifted ever so slightly and LM indeed got under the tape.

    LOL, "PCB doesnt run so hot" you say, but then you suggest using Kapton tape which is rated for extreme temps +/-. Do you suggest packing tape?
    I just don't think that is the best suggestion. With prices for Kapton tape, electrical tape, conformal coating, or even clear nail polish being so affordable; Why not suggest one of those?
    I personally do not think packing tape is the best suggestion for a guide that people new to LM might follow, that's all. I personally would suggest the one that has the lowest risk of something going wrong.
    Thanks for reminding me about Kapton tape, I totally forgot about it. :)
     
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