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Juan
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Thermal pad replacement alternatives

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Hi. I've read the post "Dell Latitude D620 Teardown" and my question is: if the chipset's blue thermal pad is missing, can I replace it with a piece of copper and putting the thin layer of Artic Silver 5 between the copper and the chip and between the copper and the heatsink?

The question is due to I can't get that kind of thermal pad in my country, only can get very thin thermal pad and it seems of a different material. Or what other alternatives can I develop?

Edited by: oldturkey03 ( )

Thanks nicksmacan for the answer. I forgot something: the thermal pad is actually a "thermal gap filler" so the space between the chip and the heatsink it's about 0.8 milimeters; I think that a layer of artic silver 5 of this thickness wouldn't be efficient to transfer out the hot from the chipset. So, the idea about the piece of copper is suitable or not? is it dangerous or it can be good?

Juan,

it can work

Nick,

but it can be smoothed out with a buisnes card to remove most of them

Nick,

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Brett Hartt
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My only concern with using a piece of copper with thermal paste on the sides is that the thermal conductivity of copper may not be the same as the original thermal pad. I would assume that it could work, but I would do my best to try and replace the pad with a similar one.

A lot of time, there will be people selling pre-cut slices of thermal pad on ebay.

I have also purchased thermal pads from Digi-Key.

You should be able to read the processor temperature on the desktop. If you do decide to try and use a copper spacer, then be sure to check the temperature and make sure that it is within operating limits.

Good luck and let us know how it works out.

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Juan
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Ok. Thanks for the answers. I tried the copper alternative and it worked! The first thing was: made a clay mold to know the proper thickness of the gap; then I got a piece of copper (wire conductor with 4 milimeter in diameter), cut a piece 2 centimeter long and start to smashing it until got about the right thickness... Then I cut the piece so I got a piece of (1 x 1.5) square centimeter and I did the first presentation into the space to be filled; From here on out it was a matter of polishing (with a bench grinder) the piece until achieve the proper fit. Put very thin layer of artic silver 5 on chipset, heatsink, and the both sides of the copper piece, joined and then separated them to check de paste distribution and the paste excess areas, with a card smoothed the past and joined again; I made sure about the firmness of the piece and turn on the laptop. After 20 minutes of operation (playing DVD movie and watching manga from internet) check Everest panel and it gave me 40ºC for processor, 52ºC for motherboard and 57ºC for chipset; then measured temperatures with a thermocouple and the chipset gave me 42ºC on the body of the chip and 48ºC on the top of the chip (very near to the black area where the piece of copper makes contact); for processor it wasn't possible measure with thermocouple 'cause the heatsink completely covers the processor... until this moment the fan was switched on only twice at a slow speed not like before: at top speed.

So the conclusion is: the piece of copper works but only if you can fit it properly to fill accurately the gap between the chip and the heatsink.

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ToaD
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Liked Juan's solution but being lazy, figured it was too much trouble. A penny seemed to be just the right thickness so researched the copper content of pennies in different years. Grabbed one from the 70s which was in the 97 percent range, and used a generous amount of thermal paste to fill in the gaps on both sides of the penny.

So far so good. Can watch movies without the fan blasting or the machine shutting down.

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Rob Moore
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I have a Compaq Presario CQ56.

The computer had worked fine for the last year. Then it got slower and slower, and finally started freezing at random times. It actually got to the point where it was not reliable enough to use.

I took it completely apart to get to the fan. I can't believe I had to take the mother board out of this computer to get to the fan!.

I had to remove the heat sink/heat pipe to get to the screws for the fan enclosure. I removed this huge dust bunny from the fan vent. It was so thick it was like a felt pad.

I cleaned up the heat sink/heat pipe, CPU, and GPU discarding the GPU thermal pad (mistake). I used a silicone based heat sink compound to dope up the GPU and CPU.

After putting the computer back together it ran wonderfully. The fan was much quieter and did not run all the time at full speed.

I was so happy until I tried to play Angry Birds Seasons Demo.

I would get about two minutes of play then the graphics would break up, lines would be across the screen and the computer was frozen.

I then realized my mistake. When working with crappy laptops, with crappy cooling systems, if you remove a thermal pad, you replace it with another thermal pad.

I did not have another thermal pad and getting to the computer store is a pain without a car.

I tried the penny hack and it did not work. It did give me about seven minutes in angry birds before freezing instead of two.

So I guess I will have to wait until I can get to the computer store to buy the thermal pad before I will have a working computer.

At this point I have taken the computer completely apart and re assembled six times.

If that does not work I guess I will have to fork out some dough (pain considering I am unemployed) and replace the mother board and processor. It is just a single Celeron but the mother board will take a dual core Pentium.

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Doony
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I know this is an old, dead thread, but I'm sure people still find this page when searching for thermal pad info and I want to add my two cents worth. I still can not get over how many people do not know, or have doubts about the thermal conductivity of copper.

For anyone who does not know, or who doubts the thermal conductivity of copper, let me say that NO thermal pad will match the thermal conductivity of copper. Silver is the only "common" material that I know of with superior thermal conductivity to copper. And for those that think aluminum is such a great thermal conductor, aluminum has only about 1/2 the thermal conductivity of copper. If you don't believe me, look it up yourself. Unless thermal pads are imbued with some sort of non-existent thermal magic, they can not even come close to the thermal conductivity of copper. The copper is not the problem, it's all about proper fit and thickness and how well the surfaces meet, as well as using a high quality thermal paste on both sides. And of course, also being sure that the copper does not touch any electrical contacts and short something out.

Another thing to consider when using a copper shim is that many laptop heatsinks have multiple contact points (CPU, GPU, Chipset). On mine, the CPU makes direct contact with the heatsink and thermal pads are used on the GPU and chipset. If a copper shim was made too thick, this could possibly not allow the CPU to make proper contact with the heatsink and lead to even more serious problems. In the interest of simplicity, using a high quality thermal pad is often the best and easiest option. Also, keep in mind that all thermal pads are NOT created equal. A material with a higher W / mK number is better than one with a lower number.

Using an old copper penny to start with is not a terrible idea in a pinch, but it's definitely a McGuyver approach. However, not polishing the flat sides smooth is not really a good idea, especially if it will be used long term. I would also not use the penny whole unless I had no other alternative. It should be cut down to the size of the chip you will be using it on, and after it is cut to size, then polish both flat surfaces until as flat, smooth, and parallel as possible, and of course to the proper thickness. Once you think it is the right size, then use thermal paste on both sides and give it a test run. The downside of using thermal paste with a metal shim of any kind that is not fastened securely, is that over time and after thermal cycling, it can potentially begin to move. Once you know it is the right size and have tested that it will work properly and satisfactorily, it might be a good idea to use a thermal adhesive on ONE side of it to be sure it does not drift or move over time. Do Not use thermal adhesive on both sides or you'll likely never be able to remove your heatsink again without damaging something severely.

If you will be using your laptop in a warm climate, upgrading the stock thermal pads to higher quality thermal pads might be a good idea if you seem to be having heat related issues. This is one area manufacturers often skimp on, they use what is good enough in their opinion, not necessarilly what is best. FrozenCPU is a good place to get replacement thermal pads, and yes, they sell several different thicknesses, brands, and qualities of them. I hope this info helps someone, because I know the subject drove me crazy before I learned about it.

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ToaD
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Penny still going strong approaching two years now.

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