Ultimate ASUS G73JH CPU + GPU upgrade guide (Hybrid heatsink mod, soldering/desoldering heatpipes, lapping guide +more!)

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  1. TnF

    TnF Notebook Consultant

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    Hello again guys. After my partial upgrade failure with the DELL 7970M i've now completed my G73JH upgrade. I bought this laptop from summer 2010, and i finished all my university studies with it, and now i've fully upgraded it so i can extend its life until i find a job and see what i'm going to do then. I must first apologize since i didn't took enough photos when i was doing the mods since i was working fast to get it finished. However i'll do my best to explain each step and explain why i did it (of course for max performance :p) I won't go into disassembly details as these have been covered by the disassembly manual. Also please mind that i did most of the steps in a different timeframe so photos do not always represent the finalised upgrade.

    Now let's start:

    1) CPU upgrade - i7 940XM
    This is a very simple upgrade. Just disassemble the laptop, take out the mobo and remove the heatsink. Now it's a good time to do some lapping (explained in part 1b). There is a big plastic screw at the base of the socket. Turn anti-clockwise to unlock, take out the old cpu, put the new one in, make sure it is sat correctly and turn clockwise again to lock it in position. Make sure the arrow on the cpu is pointing the top right corner as you see the image below.

    [​IMG]

    If you skip lapping, apply your preferred thermal compound and re-install the heatsink. Personally i use Coolaboratory Liquid Ultra for both CPU and GPU as the contact surface is cooper.
    I suggest that you running the latest bios version 213 or 213 modded V5 which will give you full access to the CPU cores. You can find this on the forums here but i suggest that you do not set power limits or multipliers in the bios unless you know what you are doing. Else you can you Throttlestop which again you can find in the forums here and set the following settings:
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    These are the maximum stable settings that will allow you to activate turbo mode and still be stable. Otherwise you can increase single core multiplier to 4Ghz and it will be ~90% stable (sometimes after much time running programs will randomly crash but no BSOD). I suggest you follow throttlestop's guide and increase multipliers and power limits little by little as every system is different.

    1a) Power supply
    In order to run both an 940XM and a 7970M overclocked you need a power supply of at least 240W. What i'm using which i found is most cost efficient is a DELL alienware power supply. Just cut the wires and solder a new plug. There are 3 wires, ground (- black), power (+19V red or white) and a small green wire which is not needed and you shouldn't connect it. I used a new right angle (90oC) plug that comes with a cable, and this is the best plug to use as it is spring loaded. Much better that the stock straight one which failed a dozen of times.

    Here are links to the parts:
    DC Power Cable 5.5x2.5mm Male Right Angle To 5.5x2.5mm Male Right M/M Cord CCTV | eBay
    NEW GENUINE DELL ADAPTER CHARGER ALIENWARE PRECISION 0J211H PA-9E 0U896K 0Y044M | eBay

    Make sure you buy a DELTA ELECTRONICS power supply because FLEXTRONICS has been know to fail; a lot!

    1b) Heatsink lapping and polishing
    This is not an essential step, but can improve your temps significantly if you want the best performance out of your heatsink. Also if you are using Coolaboratory pastes after a long time the gallium/indium metal will diffuse into cooper reducing thermal transfer so it is required that you polish before re-applying the past for max performance. The issue with heatsinks is that the will usually don't come flat out of the factory. While the cpu die won't be perfectly flat either it's usually much better than the heatsink. So statistically speaking most of the times lapping will increase thermal transfer. I won't go into much detail as there are many tutorials out there, but the steps are simple:

    Get a flat solid surface. Usually a piece of glass will work, i only had my scales here so i used this (which is funny since you can also monitor the pressure you are using while lapping).
    Get quality wet type silicone sandpaper grades P400 to P2000 or even P2500 if you can find. While i have P2500 now i didn't had when i did the process but you can see what finish you can acquire even with a used P2000 sheet.

    [​IMG]

    Steps:
    -Make sure everything is always wet. I use water, but you can used a bit of soap too, or even diesel fuel to do this. Rinse everything when changing from one grid to another to prevent particle contamination which will ruin your work.
    -Place the sand paper on your solid surface. Start lapping the heatsink back and forth with light pressure in one direction until you see clear straight mark lines.
    -Then change to the next grid. Rotate your heatsink 90 degrees and start lapping until you can no longer see marks from the previous grid (as the will be perpendicular to the new lines). Use a bright light to check from various angles.
    -Repeat until you get to the last grid. It is generally more effective to reduce pressure as you move to a higher grid but P2000 and higher are the most sensitive to this as they wear generally very quickly.

    By the end you will have something like this:
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    Also i did bent the leaf springs a little bit more to give more tension to the CPU. If you are going to to this make sure all 4 corners are bent the same and only do it very lightly max 2-3mm by the end.

    2) GPU upgrade - 7970M !

    This was the most frustrating upgrade. I wanted to do it properly and i ended up having to torture myself with playing with vbioses and the stupid DELL card. So i'll say it. DELL cards won't work properly. Look at this thread if you want to find more info. Instead buy a CLEVO 7970M REV v1.2! It is the only one that will work both fans, clocks, and HDMI properly. Don't buy v1.1, it is known to have issues too. I just finished the install today, overclocked to 1035/1400Mhz on stock voltage, max 82oC and got P7017 score in 3DMark 11: AMD Radeon HD 7970M video card benchmark result - Intel Core i7-940 Processor,ASUSTeK Computer Inc. G73Jh

    For this setup you will need to built a hybrid heatsink. This means you have to buy a 7970M heatsink and your 5870m heatsink, desolder the heatpipes, and solder them again so that you will make a 7970M heatsink that will fit perfectly in a G73JH chassis. Personally i found and bought an MSI 7970M heatsink. This is a single piece heasinks which means you don't have to worry much about the voltage regulators not cooling properly and it has surface pins which increase the surface area improving cooling by convection. So let's get started:

    2a) Soldering, de-soldering heatpipes properly without damaging them!
    First for god's sake (or f**k's if you are an atheist), don't get the propane torch and start blowing on them. You will damage the heatpipes. Heatpipes are sensitive devices which use a working fluid to transfer heat. If for any reason you get a leak it's over. It's not possible to fix them without specialised equipment. This is the reason people tried this and had failure. Too much heat, increased pressure and then burst of the pipe; kaput. The way factories do this is to get everything up to soldering temperature. The solder used is special alloy which bonds both to cooper and aluminium. I found most of this solder melts at ~180oC. So get your kitchen oven to work. Set it to 180C pop the heatsink in, wait 5-10mins and use your gloves to take out the pipes. However when you are soldering you must make sure you position everything as you want it, because all of the connections will melt at the same time. And you can't insulate one place to make it stay connected as it will work as it will prevent the other connection from desoldering (i've tried it). Instead use a mechanical clamp:

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    ALSO! Make sure you don't move the damn cooper plate as it is usually soldered to the heatsink and it will come off if you are not careful!

    For the MSI heatsink i had to trim one corner to make it fit:
    Before
    [​IMG]

    After
    [​IMG]

    In addition after getting the CLEVO card i had to trim this too as the voltage regulators where taller than the DELL card:
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    As for the bottom mount (x-bracket), the CLEVO one was using too small (in diameter) screws which will not be suitable with the MSI heatsink as it is a single piece and requires more pressure. Since i had the DELL x-bracket, i drilled some holes and glued machine screws to the bottom. I did measure up everything in advance as the MSI heatsink uses very special sprung screws:
    [​IMG]

    2b) More steps - making a proper installation
    As you already might know, the 5870M that the G73jh comes with used a wider proprietary format. This means one of the two mounting positions is in a wrong place. Hopefully ASUS engineer's leaved another hole in the correct position. So i took the screw from the bottom side out and then used my soldering iron to pop it out and re-solder it to the the other hole:
    [​IMG]

    I must advice you to DO THIS, as the whole heatsink will place much stress on the circuit board and you don't want to break it!

    2c) VBIOS flashing even when you f**k up!
    Another thing to do at this point is to just solder 2 wires. In case you have a bad flash and the laptop won't POST connecting/shorting these wires together will allow you to POST and then do a blind flash. This basically deactivates the EEPROM of the GPU card. And the nice thing? You won't even have to disassemble the laptop again!

    [​IMG]

    See this small chip here? It's the EEPROM. There is one small dot on top of the chip in one side. This is pin 1. When is connected with pin 8 (the one opposite), it will deactivate the EEPROM. I have these cables routed under the bottom cover so if i need to recover from a bad flash i connected them together with a clip, boot up, and just before i hit enter to flash, i remove the clip so that the EEPROM will re-activate and get flashed. Nice trick isn't it?

    2d) Vbios flashing
    While there is are 2 threads on this, i'll leave you with the proper VBIOS for the CLEVO v1.2 card and some tips:
    Before you do the GPU installation, make your bootable disk with the vbios or any other that you want, and set the bios settings so that will boot up straight from the flash disk so that you don't have to mess around more while you are blind flashing. Also make a .bat file that will automatically reboot after flashing so that you know when it finishes the flashing operation. In addition activate the boot sound and disable UEFI. Here's is my bootable disk. Flash2.bat and flash20.bat will work on this card (1st is stock, 2nd is stock with overdrive enabled): Zippyshare.com - flash-clevo.rar Also don't bother with the other roms as i was testing them with the DELL card. If you buy a new CLEVO v1.2 card it will POST but you will still need to do a blind flash.

    3) Improving cooling (a little more)
    I did some more things just to improve cooling a little. First is using aluminium foil tape to close gaps and improve airflow. Take care as it is conductive so don't touch the circuit. Second i had some heatpipes of usable length and i decided to install them. They will only improve heat conductivity slightly but the additional mass will help to stabilise heat spikes. Since everything was installed by this point i decided to take a shortcut and use the foil tape to stick them where they could fit. I used 2 of them on top of the CPU as there was a lot of space, and another one retrofitted to the GPU heatsink. Thirdly i installed another fan. This is a DELTA BFB0505HA, ball bearing, and is connected to fan controller pulling 5V from the USB and using a thermocouple to control speed automatically. In addition i cut some more vents below it on the bottom cover:

    Before
    [​IMG]

    After
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    In addition, i cut new 4mm rubber feet to increase the height a bit and the airflow as i was missing much. Bought from here:
    RUBBER SHEET VARIOUS SIZES X 1MM TO 25MM THICKNESS AVAILABLE | eBay

    Fan controller from here:
    Smart Speed Controller For Laptop / Notebook Cooling Fan DC 5V 2-3 Pins | eBay

    As for the thermal pads on the gpu i used 1mm Phobya 7W/mk on the vram chips from here:
    Phobya Thermal Pad XT 7W/mk 1mm (120x20mm) | eBay

    4) MISC
    -Another upgrade i've done to my G73 is to add another two WIFI antennas when i was using a wifi card with 3 antennae input, and now with my 6250 AGN i found out they have a much higher gain allowing me to find and connect to networks much further and better than the stock ones:
    Tyco Universal Wireless Laptop Antenna - Mini PCI U.FL - I can't find it on ebay now

    -This fan i added...S**ks. Too much noise considering is ball bearings. DELTA electronics won't list proper dimensions so the BFB0505HHA (yes one more H) is larger when in the datasheet says them have the same dimensions..Also they don't even have a catalogue for the KSB series (the main fans in the G73) so unless you have them in front of you it's a hit or miss if they will fit.

    -Crysis 3 plays 1080p with settings maxed out and MSAA 2x anti-aliasing on stock 850/1200Mhz clocks - I didn't even play Far cry 3 yet!

    I know this guide is a bit fuzzy, it's because i just wrote it in 3 hours. I'll update it a bit if i have time. And remember, thanks and try to give back to the community in your own way! Cheers!

    5)MORE UPGRADES!

    5a) Better 7970M and CPU cooling:
    I was dissembling the laptop so i said to do more cooling upgrades.
    I wanted to improve efficiency so instead of taping the extra heatpipes i glued them using thermal epoxy. I used Artic Alumina Thermal Adhesive which is the best reasonably priced thermal epoxy. It comes in two tubes, 2.5g each, and i required 2 sets, 10g total. Normally you should need a bit less but i made one mistake which i was doing the mod. This is a 5min epoxy so you have to work fast and accurately. This means you have to have everything measured and adjusted. However if you make a mistake you can use a hobby knife to cut the epoxy after is cured (but takes so much more time). What i did is that i had some spare heatpipes around, and i actually ordered another g73jh gpu heatsink to steal the heatpipes from. Then adjusted the bends and the chassis in order for everything to fit. I added 3 more heatpipes to the gpu two of which go over the heatfins which will require you to cut the chassis supports by snapping them clear with some plies. It is a tight fit especially at the corner where the chassis moves up and becomes thinner but it fits. Make sure that the screen bracket with sit flat, mine just pushes it like 0.5 of a degree up so i could use some small spacers on the other side but it's not really noticeable. In order to make the bends, put the heatpipes on the gpu side and start following the bends of your heatsink. Use a table with round edges to distribute the stress and try to bend as little, and as careful as possible. If you snap or rapture the heatpipe it's over. After you are done bending and test fitting, check your heatpipes to be functional. Heat one end and as soon as the other end which you are holding from heats up, take it off the heat and touch the end you where heating; it should feel colder if it is working properly. Finally when you are using the epoxy just go by applying the epoxy at the most critical faces first and adjust the position and verify before you let it sit. When i did the cpu heatsink mine was slightly off so it would hit a fan mounting point which meant i had to remove the epoxy and redo. I ended up with 5 heatpipes total for the gpu and 4 for the cpu:

    here you can see the extra 2 heatpipes on the gpu (the 5th was added later) since are on top of the 2 main heatpipes which are exactly on the bottom and you can't see it on the 2nd photo
    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    5b) Undervolting the 7970M
    I found best performance results by undervolting the gpu, to 1.025V from 1.050V, and overclocking from/to 850mhz>>950mhz core, and 1200mhz>>1300mhz vram.
    MGS: Ground zeroes plays at 1080p, half extra high and half high settings >30fps which the gpu stays at 78oC. I'm not sure how the heatsink mod improved the temps but undervolting works great for this gpu. You can do this by flashing a new vbios to your card.

    5c) Upgrading the display panel - fixing stuck/dead pixels
    I decided to upgrade to an AUO B173HW01 v4 (glossy) panel, because of the 90% NTSC gamut capability as i do some fair of designing work (this is a 95% AdobeRGB panel). This is still a TN panel so you get high response times, plus you can't add an internal IPS panel because of the 40-pin LVDS connector. My old panel was a HannStar HSD173PUW and while it has a better contrast from the AUO panel it really sucks in gamut. The AUO panel actually outperformed my external HDMI display in colour reproduction and brightness. I don't even use full brightness when i'm not doing design work because it literally blinds you :p The only other downsides to the contrast and therefore black, is some backlight leak on the bottom left, middle and right corners which is only noticeable when you display full black. So what's the deal? This model was discontinued, but i manage to source one from ebay by someone who had grade A- stock. I told him to send me one with stuck hot white pixels but he sent me one with two red stuck pixels....What i did was first to use Jscreenfix for 5mins but it didn't work. Then i used a different program called UDpixel, and while it was working i took a pen, wrapped the tip in some tissue paper and went to just barely touch the stuck pixels..i'm not sure if i even touched one, but they disappeared immediately! Then after 10min another one appeared in a different part of the screen and used the same method and it disappeared! I'm using this monitor for over two weeks now and i didn't had any more problems. I paid really low for this monitor and it is perfect now! Hope this helps!
     
    Last edited: Feb 13, 2015
    pr0ton93, Reciever, JAY8387 and 6 others like this.
  2. Meaker@Sager

    Meaker@Sager Company Representative

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    Nice work all around. I like your technique for removing the heatpipes, very accessible for the adventurous.

    The msi heat sink can be used with all 0.5mm pads if it's all aligned properly.
     
  3. TnF

    TnF Notebook Consultant

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    Thanks. While my MSI heatsink came with thermal pads, like i said i replaced only the memory pads with Phobya 1mm which are almost no pliable. When i was doing a test fit, one side of the memory pads would slide out of position, meaning the heatsink is sitting a bit too high. However the MSI thermal pads are like play-dough and while they are a bit thicker 1.2-1.5mm when i clamped it down with the MSI screws everything had proper stiff contact. This heatsink uses very stiff springs on the mounting screws since it is a single heatsink that has to sit properly to so many components which makes it difficult to use higher tolerances by using thinner pads.

    Btw i ran FAR CRY 3, DX11, HDAO, 2x anti-aliasing, all maxed out 1080p, and i was able to have steady 30fps (v-sync on) without using the full GPU power (While overclocked to >1000Mhz). Temps where rising, but i kept playing until 1st time) The power supply decided to stop supplying power, and left be on battery, 2nd time)i reached a temp that the whole system was thermally shut down and i had to wait for it to cool (plus the power supply did the same as the 1st time). After i lowered clocks to 950Mhz and the settings a bit to test it i was able to play lots of time, at steady 93oC temps without any problems. While makes me think that the card overclocked draws more than 100W, as 8970M has a TDP of 100W while the 7970M 75W which only a 50Mhz difference, so 240W is not adequate for overclocking which this card. Also i noticed the power cord started warming up even though it's generally thicker. However even with a more powered adapter i don't think the G73Jh motherboard can handle the power, plus you need a really custom cooling system for this. If i had a CNC machine i would design and manufacture and water cooling system and by thinking of it perhaps compact enough to fit inside; would that be awesome? :) (Btw i'm a mechanical engineer so not much of a challenge for me :p )
     
  4. Meaker@Sager

    Meaker@Sager Company Representative

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    Yes on my own machines I throw away those pads and replace the whole lot with 0.5mm, the stock ones do their job but you get a big improvement, the only change may be the grinding you have done.
     
  5. TnF

    TnF Notebook Consultant

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    If i had the budget yes, but as you can see i replaced the most critical parts with high conductivity solutions, where the stock pad positions are softer and therefore compress much less than a 1mm. Either way believe me the, 2 heatpipes and the small heat exchanger at the end of the G73jh is NOT adequate for the heat generated when overclocking this card. We are talking for 100W> where the heat dissipation is much higher than the CPU (as mine is at 85W TDP now and runs colder under full load). So i wouldn't expect much improvement as the cooling system doesn't such capacity to reject heat.
     
  6. jmhdj

    jmhdj Notebook Evangelist

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    Only way I managed to shave off 5-6 degrees celsius on my g73sw with 680m is to ad 2 extra heatpipes on top of existing heatsink. It was necessary as in crysis and other high demanding games on max settings gpu will reach 90 degrees and begin to throttle. Now I am at max 85c and around 75c with other less demanding games. I did used arctic thermal adhesive though should tried soldering method probably for better results.
    174548.jpg 174614.jpg
     
  7. Meaker@Sager

    Meaker@Sager Company Representative

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    I suppose it was not designed for the beastly 100w cards, nice job though :)
     
  8. jmhdj

    jmhdj Notebook Evangelist

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    Heatsink from g73jh is not optimal for 680m but it was easiest and cheapest to use for mod. Had 680m for almost 2 years and it works like charm still.
     
  9. TnF

    TnF Notebook Consultant

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    I wanted to add more heatpipes but i didn't have ones of the correct size :/ Nice to see that it still fits!
     
  10. Meaker@Sager

    Meaker@Sager Company Representative

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    I might have to try that one day too :) where did you harvest the heatpipes from? Another similar cooler?
     
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