The Mighty Clevo P870DM-G "Phoenix" Gets an 8700K and GTX 1080 Upgrade

Discussion in 'Hardware Components and Aftermarket Upgrades' started by Mr. Fox, Mar 19, 2018.

  1. Mr. Fox

    Mr. Fox Undefiled BGA-Hating Elitist

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    It seems like only yesterday that I was assisting @Prema with the firmware mods and review of the EUROCOM SKY X9 (P870DM-G). What an amazing machine that was. It totally transformed my opinion of Clevo and I fell in love with the multi-generation product model that I now regard as the best high performance laptop ever made. The P870XX, including the latest P870TM, has no match.

    It was with great excitement that I bought my own P870DM-G from @tanzmeister. That beast was truly amazing by every measurement.

    Along came GTX 1080, and with it great disappointment for me and all other P870DM-G owners to learn that a simple and affordable GPU upgrade was out of the question. With mixed emotions, my Alienkiller found a new home with @Rage Set and it is now in the loving care of @Mr. Spock.

    With equal excitement, I purchased Alienkiller II (EVOC P870DM3) from our friends at HIDevolution and the eager firmware development with Brother @Prema that made that an even better product than its older brother. But, the fact that I could not simply upgrade the P870DM-G with GTX 1080 continued to be a sore subject that gnawed at my soul. Sure, it can use MSI 1070, but a machine as amazing as the P870DM-G deserved far better than a second-fiddle gamer-boy GPU upgrade.

    Fast-forward to 2018... the curse has been broken. The mighty Phoenix rises from the ashes to wreak the havoc it was born to inflict upon the pathetic and cursed world of crippled BGA turdbooks! I know some of you have been patiently waiting to see results for the GTX 1080 upgrade for the P870DM-G. Sorry it took so long to get this done.

    This is definitely not an upgrade for the faint of heart. Unfortunately, the good old days when we had MXM standards and many upgrades were a simple bolt-on affair seem to be over. The day of long-lasting, easily upgradable, properly serviceable, truly uncompromising high-performance laptops that perform extremely well has essentially passed.

    For those with the determination to get it done and the desire to give a nasty-finger salute to the retarded clowns (the ODMs) that have ruined everything with BGA and proprietary crap, this thread is for you.

    First off, this absolutely never would have happened without the following individuals that contributed time and money to the project. I am but the humble grunt here. Big shout out and mega-kudos to:

    @tanzmeister – for providing a special price on the system and for the donor GTX 1080

    @Jon Webb – for purchasing this system from Tanzmeister and donating it to the cause

    @Prema – for the hours of labor that went into the BIOS mods that made the 7700K and GTX 1080 work

    @Khenglish – for the steady hand and superior soldering skills that rewired the MXM slot to power the GPU

    @Ted@HIDevolution and @Donald@HIDevolution - for the donated 1080 GPU "T" heat sink and for ordering the power cables that were needed

    I lacked the courage and self-confidence to do the do the MXM wiring mod. Khenglish knocked it out in a few days and also beefed up the CPU power delivery circuit while he had it. Hopefully, we will see the 8700K upgrade in place soon. The BIOS is ready, but there are some other mods we did not expect that will have to take place at the hardware level before that can happen.

    But, this thread is all about the GPU, and I know most of the highly intelligent and discriminating folks that purchased a P870DM-G did so for gaming. That is the one thing that most of you care about, and nothing (at the moment) games better in a laptop than the wicked Clevo GTX 1080. So, without further ado, let’s have a look at the hardware mods.

    CHASSIS MODS

    The front frame has to be trimmed due to the massive Clevo GTX 1080 form factor. One of the stand-offs for the retainer screws has to be removed from the metal bracket. A stand-off underneath the GPU (attached to the palm rest) has to be chopped off so the GPU can lay flat in the chassis.
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    Below are some photos of the finished chassis mods with the GPU in place.
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    POWER CABLE MOD


    I obtained GTX 980 and GTX 1080 power cables from HIDevolution, consulted the Clevo Service Manuals for the P870DM-G and P870DM3 and built a power cable that tapped into both of the motherboard's auxiliary power jacks for the GTX 980.

    The color-coding of the GTX 980 power cables is obvious. Red for positive, black for ground. That is not the case for the color-coding on the GTX 1080 power cable.
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    The color-coding of the power cable for the GTX 1080 is not as obvious.
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    MXM CIRCUIT MOD


    Other than the heat sink, the most intimidating part of the mod is supplying power to typically reserved (unused) pins in the MXM slot that Clevo utilized to make their version of the GTX 1080 incompatible with a standard MXM slot. The mod is pretty straight-forward, but simply counting off the pins and worrying I might accidentally solder wires to the wrong pins and burn up the motherboard or GPU was too intimidating for me. I was going cross-eyed trying to count off and mark the pins. @Khenglish was gracious enough to do this part. He had already validated the proof of concept and paved the way to this by modding the MXM slot on his P170EM to install a GTX 1080 in that old beast.

    Below is an image from his P170EM MXM wiring mod. @Khenglish had to find a place for the GPU auxilary power for his P170EM, so that part is not necessary for the P870DM-G since we have connections on the motherboard.

    Side note: The modded MXM slot still works with normal MXM. The GTX 980M still worked exactly the same in the MXM slot after it had the power mod for the Clevo GTX 1080.
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    Below is how the finished MXM wiring mod looks on the P870DM-G. Rather than tapping into pins 278 and 280 for the 3.3V power, he found an adjacent junction point on the motherboard.
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    With the proper power mods for the GPU and MXM slot in place, the GTX 1080 booted like it was made for the P870DM-G. Even the driver installed itself automatically (no INF mod required) and G-SYNC works perfectly.
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    CUSTOM GTX 1080 HEAT SINK


    This was a new venture for me. I had never disassembled, tweaked and reassembled a heat sink before. I ruined a couple of them learning what not to do, but once I had figured out what doesn't work it was not too bad. The key is using lots of clamps to keep things from falling apart once the solder begins to flow, using low melting point solder and being very careful to not kink and ruin the heat pipes. The end product is not as pretty as a factory built heat sink, but it works pretty decent, especially considering it was done by a noob like me.

    My hot air station did not heat enough surface area for this task. What ultimately ended up working best was using a 1500W heat gun, getting the GPU side of the copper heat plate hot enough to melt the solder (138°C) on the opposite side while the pipes were clamped in place with solder paste.

    I tried using Cold Shield Thermal Gel, but that was not effective for heat pipes. Because they are made to conduct heat, the Cold Shield was not able to stop the heat from migrating as it would for normal copper pipes (like household water pipes). I ended up putting the radiator end of the heat sink in a deep stew pot filled with cold water to help keep the heat concentrated to the GPU end of the heat sink while soldering.

    Below are a few photos of the custom heat sink.
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    Below is the finished product.
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    As I was trial fitting the heat pipes prior to soldering, I found one last chassis mod was required. There is a post on the aluminum motherboard frame that needs to be broken off to allow clearance for one of the heat pipes.
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    So, you are all probably wondering how it works. I will share some preliminary results in the next post.


    03/30/2018 - Update
    The upgrade to 2560*1440 120Hz panel is in place.
    Manufacturer............. AUO
    Plug and Play ID......... AUO1496
    Data string.............. B173QTN01.4
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    04/13/2018 - Update
    8700K Upgrade Success
    Just went you thought it was crazy... it got crazier. More to follow. There's a little more firmware tweaking left to do. But, IT WORKS!
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    05/13/2018 - Update
    8700K Firmware is essentially finished. Everything that was not working before works now. The impossible is merely an inconvenience. Team PremaMod breaks all the rules. Intel i7-8700K runs perfectly on Z170. Windows 7 runs flawlessly on Skylake, Kaby Lake and Coffee Lake. Laptops work great with desktop CPUs. Everything everyone has been told by the Intel and Micro$oft cartels is a bald-faced lie.


    CUSTOM CPU HEAT SINK
    5/19/2018 - Update
    I have successfully modded a P870DM3 CPU heat sink by added two more heat pipes. It is not enough of an improvement to justify the effort. It takes a little bit longer to saturate the heat sink, but the TDP handling capacity seems more or less the same. It really needs a larger radiator and a stronger fan to see any meaningful gains in thermal management.

    Next mod will be to obtain a P870TM1 CPU heat sink (made for 8700K) with direct contact between the heat pipes and CPU. If that brings as much improvement as expected, I will mod it as well, adding more heat pipes as I did with this mod.

    Photos are in the spoiler.

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    Last edited: Jun 13, 2018
  2. Mr. Fox

    Mr. Fox Undefiled BGA-Hating Elitist

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    The cooling on this is not really adequate for extreme overclocked benching unless I break out my portable AC unit. It would do fine on that, and I will get to it later on.

    I suspect most of you are interested in how it games and whether it stays cool enough for gaming. So, how does it work? I will let you guys decide. Here are my preliminary tests with some demanding titles.

    Nothing gets a GPU warmed up like a loop of Unigine Heaven with everything maxed out. Here are two full loops of Heaven followed by the benchmark results.
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    How hot did it get?
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    How about 2 back-to-back loops of 2 runs of Metro Last Light benchmark with everything maxed out?
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    Below are some screen shots showing the GPU temps...
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    And, here are a couple of screen shots showing framerate and temps at the end of 30 minutes of Crysis 3 gameplay with all the settings maxed out...
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    https://www.3dmark.com/3dm11/12776087
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    https://www.3dmark.com/fs/15515656
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    https://www.3dmark.com/spy/3766000
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    Last edited: Jun 16, 2018
    triturbo, infex, Mari1225 and 22 others like this.
  3. DreDre

    DreDre Notebook Geek

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    Everything is looking good Mr Fox!

    Sent from my SAMSUNG-SM-T807A using Tapatalk
     
  4. FTW_260

    FTW_260 Notebook Consultant

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  5. ssj92

    ssj92 Neutron Star

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    You gonna sell this thing in the future? :D

    Looking good, hope 8700K goes well, good job everyone! :cool:
     
  6. DreDre

    DreDre Notebook Geek

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    Looks like with all the mods and hard work the Gpu stays pretty cool with a decent overclock. 1800mhZ is a good overclock value. If it can stay in the 70s and low 80s temp wise this will be a success!

    Sent from my SAMSUNG-SM-T807A using Tapatalk
     
  7. Dr. AMK

    Dr. AMK The Strategist

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    Great Job as always, I have to get a barebone quickly :)
     
  8. jaybee83

    jaybee83 Biotech-Doc

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    w00t w000000t! this package contains so much awesomeness its close to bursting at the seams! hope itll be able to handle the 8700K, as well :D

    once ure done u should do a public NBR auction of this unique machine. or maybe as a giveaway in a contest? oooor just keep it and put it on a pedestal at home :D
     
  9. Danishblunt

    Danishblunt Notebook Virtuoso

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    Can you actually post useful benchmarks? I mean if you rave about how superior clevo notebooks are but somehow cannot figure out how to make proper benchmarks then I have absolutely nothing to add here other than, how do you even know?.

    Nobody uses Unigine heaven on high preset, so nothing to compare.
    Crysis 3 usually does get benchmarked in Welcome to the Jungle at the part where you dodge the tower cannons, since it's by far the most demanding scene in the game.

    Only correct benchmark was metro 2033, which sadly nobody uses so again, nothing to compare.

    Here is how you benchmark:
    - Heaven on highest preset and settings
    - 3Dmark Firestrike would be nice
    - Crysis 3, welcome to the jungle at cannons (would be mostly interested in this)
    - Witcher 3 in Novigrad.
    - Or even hardcore stresstest with furrmark + Prime

    Just something to give people in any way shape or form any idea on how it performs. So far all I see is, it turns on and seems to work. How does it compare to other GTX 1080 notebooks? Nobody knows.

    Nevertheless, nice work, Khenglish and Prema are beasts, well done my boys. Sadly I have no idea if it performs well or not.
     
  10. Dr. AMK

    Dr. AMK The Strategist

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    This is a very difficult mod for me, almost impossible. I suggest if the price after modding will be reasonable, that our respected resellers can do it professionally and we buy from them.
     
    ole!!!, Ashtrix, Scerate and 3 others like this.
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