XPS 17 9700 with liquid metal

Discussion in 'Dell XPS and Studio XPS' started by PsyberEMT, Sep 27, 2020.

  1. PsyberEMT

    PsyberEMT Notebook Enthusiast

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    I finally received my replacement XPS 17 after over a month of fighting with Dell support. The first one had the janky trackpad issue that was *supposedly* fixed.

    Being a systems engineer tinkering is in my nature. I always repaste laptops with Kryonaut as soon as I receive them as I've found it far superior to the toothpaste used at the factory. In this case, though, I was confused as the results were worse than the toothpaste.

    I opened the laptop back up and verified that my application was good and contact appeared to be good. I cleaned everything and realized that there are very fine micro channels cut into the copper shim between the CPU silicon and the vapor chamber. Kryonaut is a pretty thin paste, but it seems it didn't work it's way into those channels very well, leaving air. In looking at a picture of a replacement vapor chamber there is a pretty hefty stamp of TIM on there, I'm wondering if it's actually pressed on with a little bit of pressure to ensure it works it's way into the channels prior to mounting? Maybe spreading the Kryonaut a few times on the shim with the included spatula would've yielded better results?

    Undeterred, I decided to see how Conduconaut liquid metal would work instead! There are already replacement vapor chambers available on eBay as there is no question the gallium will alloy with the copper over time and require replacement before I sell the unit in a few years.

    Please do forgive my cell phone photography skills...I never was very artistic.

    The micro channels cleaned of TIM

    Step 1 - clean CPU die of all TIM and protect the few surface conductive pads with Kapton tape

    Step 2 - create a protective overhang with Kapton tape around the CPU package. This should capture any LM that might leak out when the laptop is vertical in a bag or otherwise. I'm not particularly concerned with this, though, because the copper shim is so much larger than the die itself. Extra LM will likely just adhere to the shim.

    Small amount of LM on the copper shim

    CB 20 results. 3476 before with the Kryonaut, 4136 after. Done on a cooling pad both times. I did this run with CB set to highest thread priority (realtime crashed it for some reason) with nothing else running. I did a few other tests while monitoring temps and power draw in XTU. With turbo short set to 135 watts and turbo long set to 120 watts with a 128s duration it never dropped below 96 watts package draw during the test. Lowest clock speed was around 3.8 ghz. The highest power draw I saw during the test was 121 watts. Of course it still hit 100C...that's a LOT of heat to manage.

    For those asking why I'd risk a $3,000 laptop...tinkering is what I do lol. Also the fans were driving me crazy. Regardless of the setting in Dell Power Manager they still spun up way too often because the machine was getting hotter than it should have. Seems DPM is still buggy as they are still unpredictable even after LM, but they are dramatically quieter overall, so it's far more tolerable.

    Would I suggest you do this to your laptop? Absolutely not. I actually wouldn't even advise repasting it because of the micro channels unless you have some way to force paste down into the channels.

    I'll open the unit back up in a few months to check on things. I usually replace LM in laptops yearly as over time it will alloy with the copper and in theory become less effective. Steve from Gamer's Nexus did a 1 year checkup on a LM'd desktop and saw some alloying but only like 1c temperature increase overall.
    Schmoo2k and pressing like this.
  2. Spartan@HIDevolution

    Spartan@HIDevolution Company Representative

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    Great job!

    Kryonaut is the worst thermal paste I've used. Its thermal performance is average to start off with and it quickly deteriorates in performance. I mean in the matter of 3 days temps started rising from max 89C to 99C on my previous Clevo P870DM3 laptop.

    Also see:




    There is a new Thermal Grizzly Kryonaut Extreme that is much improved which we ordered and will test to see if it's good enough to offer to our customers.
    hfm, SoftDev, Schmoo2k and 1 other person like this.

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