Long-term Liquid Ultra results

Discussion in 'Hardware Components and Aftermarket Upgrades' started by Raidriar, Dec 8, 2020.

  1. Raidriar

    Raidriar ლ(ಠ益ಠლ)

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    Many of you that frequent here know that I am a big proponent of liquid metal in laptops. I have applied Coolaboratory Liquid Ultra 2 times to my beloved behemoth, the M18x R2. First application back in 2013 lasted only a couple weeks, as I foolishly used too thick a thermal pad on the CPU phases and the heatsink no longer fit properly. No matter! Pulled, removed the 1.0mm thick thermal pad, replaced with a 0.5mm pad, applied some more liquid metal, and everything was hunky dory years and years. Fast forward to 2020, I brought her out of hibernation and played some ARK. I couldn't understand why my frames were randomly dropping and my fans were randomly ramping up and down. Silly me, didn't even bother to check what the CPU temp was doing. Opened up Throttlestop, found that my poor 3920XM was bouncing off T-Junction (105C!!!!!). Clearly, it was time for a check up. Many of you veterans with the M18x know tear down is an absolute chore to get to the CPU, but it had to be done. I figured I'd snap some photos of what I found in there for what is effectively 6 years of constant liquid metal application. Take a look!

    As you can see, the liquid metal has effectively permanently bonded to the die. I could not remove it without risking damage to the core. See the discoloration on the PCB around the die? Thats where liquid metal had previously slightly spilled out and has permanently discolored the PCB. This was an unexpected result for me.
    [​IMG]


    Liquid ultra has also bonded to the copper in the heatsink. This was an expected result, as it is known galinstan alloys with copper. It has become quite uneven however, and not even the included scuff pad with liquid ultra could really do a good job sanding it down. I left it alone.

    [​IMG]


    After wiping the die down with 91% IPA, i re-applied more liquid ultra without difficulty. It spreads much easier this time due to previous liquid metal bonding to the die.

    [​IMG]

    Cleaned the heatsink mating surface as best I could with the scuff pad and then cleaned with IPA, dabbed the excess liquid ultra from the brush on the mating surface. Again, spread very easily and attached without problem as the galinstan has already made a nice alloy with copper.

    [​IMG]


    I've heard people postulate the alloyed copper + galinstan and lack of a smooth mating surface would severely impact temperatures in the future or other theories regarding degraded performance in the future after liquid metal usage. I'm happy to say, it is not so. I am quite far from the alarming 105C I had seen earlier in the day.

    [​IMG]

    I'd wager this is one of the longest applications of liquid metal I've ever seen or read about in a laptop, and I can report that it works better and longer than any other compound. No need to freak out over liquid metal my friends. I can manage a re-application every 6 years. :)
     
    Last edited: Dec 8, 2020
  2. etern4l

    etern4l Notebook Virtuoso

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    Thanks for sharing. An honest report on the long term effects of LM supporting my strategy to avoid it unless absolutely necessary.
     
  3. Raidriar

    Raidriar ლ(ಠ益ಠლ)

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    I thought my post proved the opposite. 6 years on the same application is longer than any conventional paste can deliver and the alloying has negligible impact on performance. Unless you care about how your CPU and heatsink are cosmetically, there is no reason not to use liquid metal
     
    Ashtrix, dmanti, cdoublejj and 3 others like this.
  4. etern4l

    etern4l Notebook Virtuoso

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    Well, the pictures speak for themselves. Not saying it's an insurmountable issue, but it doesn't look pretty and would prefer not to have to deal with this myself.
     
  5. Reciever

    Reciever D! For Dragon!

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    Cosmetic != Performance and Performance > Cosmetic

    I could care less what my copper or die looks like, but I do care how it performs.
     
  6. etern4l

    etern4l Notebook Virtuoso

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    Performance under LM may or may not be improved. It's not just a cosmetic issue either: there are permanent physical changes, and some crude lapping etc is required to restore the die & heatsink to usable state. Hopefully the resulting alloy is not detrimental to performance should someone wish to revert to non-conductive paste, for whatever reason.
     
    Last edited: Dec 9, 2020
  7. 4W4K3

    4W4K3 Notebook Evangelist

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    "Hopefully" it's not determinantal? The original post PROVES it is NOT after more than 6 years of use. The "crude lapping" is done with the materials that are shipped with the LM, intentional tools for a standard job. Moreover, the LM life span is YEARS longer than traditional paste. Despite what may appear as a rough surface, the performance/cooling is still better than any pristine surface with traditional paste. If your take away from this is the die/heatsink is ruined you are ignoring the performance data and simply prioritizing your cosmetic preference. That's your right and opinion, even if it's based on nothing more than your personal preference.
     
  8. etern4l

    etern4l Notebook Virtuoso

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    If you read carefully, I asked whether prior LM application affects performance using subsequent application of a non-LM compound. As a matter of fact, this question is not addressed here. This might be relevant from resale value perspective, for instance.

    Additionally, this post doesn't really answer the question how this particular system would perform on comparison using a leading durable non-LM paste, say Phobya NGE
     
  9. 4W4K3

    4W4K3 Notebook Evangelist

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    In essence you're telling someone that has built a purpose built machine that you could never justify such modifications or use because he/she/someone else may not be able to return the machine to it's original state at a later date. The OP has no intention of using regular paste, as he has re-applied LM with success after 6 years and shared it here. Resale value or potential new owners are all supposition to prove your preference.
     
  10. etern4l

    etern4l Notebook Virtuoso

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    Essentially, I am not saying that at all - please re-read my comments if in doubt. No question regarding OPs choices and priorities, just a calm analysis of the post, and the anecdotal results.
     
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