Clevo P150SM Cooling/Hardware/Visual Mods [Build Log]

2015.04.08 | Yuki Rea
http://www.3dmark.com/3dm/5947854

I originally bought my Clevo P150SM in January of 2014 as a PC I could take with me to university which was hour and a half away from my home. It originally came with a GTX 770M, i7-4700MQ 2.4 GHz which is overclocked to 3.6 GHz, 8GB of RAM, and a 1TB HDD and I have used it every day since I purchased it, I like it so much it has actually replaced my desktop with a liquid cooled 5 GHz AMD FX8350, crossfire AMD HD 7970's, and an eyefinity setup. After owning it for about a year I sold my desktop setup and decided to upgrade my laptop. I installed 24 GB of RAM, an 8GB GTX 980M which is now overclocked to 1.44 GHz, 2x 1TB Samsung 840 EVO mSATA SSDs, and 2x Samsung 2.5inch 2TB HDD's.
After upgrading to a GTX 980M my temps were not good enough to allow me to really overclock at all, I needed to prop up the back of my laptop to let more air into the fans and the GPU was always around to 80c when gaming. This is normal for laptops but I needed to find a practical way to cool my laptop better without carrying one of those awful huge cooling pads around with me everywhere.

If you would like to see the 770m to 980M upgrade process please go here:
Upgrading Clevo P150SM from GTX 770m to GTX 980m

Build Log

The first mod I made was simply cutting larger vent holes into the bottom of the case where the fans are, this helped but not as much as I would have liked. My temps were better and I was able to overclock my GPU but I needed to have my fans maxed at 100% which sort of sounds like a hair dryer, gross. (I will admit still not as bad as my crossfire HD 7970's)

When I bought my 980M it came with a different heatsink than my 770M had. The 980M heatsink had a dedicated memory/VRM heatsink which meant that there was less room to cool the GPU itself. The 770M heastink was one solid unit while the 980M heatsink was in 2 parts, I decided to detach the memory portion of the 770M heatsink and bend the 980M memory/VRM heatsink inward so it sits inside the fan to make room the larger 770M heatsink which would now cool just the GPU core. I needed to make some slight modifications to the GPU fan to allow the memory/VRM heatsink to sit inside it, I cut a small notch on each side to allow the heatpipe to go through.



I also ordered a heatpipe from ebay to fill the hole in the heatsink fins where the 770M memory/VRM portion of the heatsink attached to. I used this heatpipe to help transfer heat from the GPU core more efficiently into the heatsink fins. This mod reduced the time it takes for my GPU to heat up and knocked a degree or two off of my maximum temperature, I wasn't expecting much as I was not actually increasing the surface area of the fins by adding another heatpipe. The heatpipe kinked a bit when bending, but not enough to prevent it from functioning. I used a generous amount of thermal paste and aluminum tape to secure the heatpipe.



I've read that the heatsinks on the Clevo P150 and P170 series often are bent when soldering the heatpipes to the copper plate that touches the die so I decided to lap my GPU and CPU heatsinks to flatten them out. I used a rotary tool to cut off the metal rings that are used to guide the heatsink over the screw holes to allow the heatsink to contact the sandpaper. When lapping a heatsink it is important that you use a very flat surface, I used a piece of glass which I taped my sandpaper to. I used 800, 1000, and 1500 grit sandpaper, I recommend going up to at least 1500 grit because you can still see large scratches when only using 1000 grit. This should also be done wet, I ran the  heatsink under water and used a bit of dish soap to make it easier to slide the heatsink over the sandpaper.



Lapping my heatsinks made it take much longer for my GPU and CPU to heat up, it also knocked a few degrees off of my max temps but it didn't improve as much as I would have liked so I did a little experiment. I flipped my laptop over with the bottom cover off and placed a 120mm fan over the GPU and fan, my temps were literally unbelievable. They almost never broke 60c under normal gaming load and my max load temps were around 64c. I already had a suspicion that hot air was getting caught inside the case causing the GPU to heat up and this just re-enforced that theory. I decided to mod a fan into the bottom of the case to help keep air moving around inside the case. Since the fan I ordered was 12v it wasn't able to be powered by the built in fan headers on my motherboard so I needed to find a 12v pin somewhere on my motherboard. I thought all SATA power connectors were the same but apparently mine do not supply 12v and I did not see any mentions of 12v components in my laptops service manual so I soldered wires directly to the 20v DC input and stepped it down to 12v with a resistor. I also split that line into 2 lines and stepped one of them down to 7v and made a fan controller out of a 3 stage switch that I removed from an ATX power supply.

After installing my additional fan I decided to mod the bottom of my case a bit more, my rubber feet were getting rather worn so I decided to remove them and replace them with taller rubber feet from some of my old desktop PC cases. I widened the CPU intake to make it the same size as the GPU intake and used a metal plate from a second P150SM GPU fan to replace the existing one which had a smaller hole.

I later cut a hole in the back panel to allow the new fan to exhaust heat out the back of the case. I have also modified the GPU blower fan to sit further away from the heatsink to allow air to be more evenly distributed through both sides of the heatsink. Felt feet were added to the bottom of the PC tower case feet to prevent scratches on glass tables and because I like to be able to slide my notebook easily around my desk. I cut the rubber foot off of the HDD bay cover and filled the hole with auto body filler and wrapped it in black 3M vinyl. I made a template in illustrator and used it to cut the rings around the fan intakes you see out of a thin black plastic material. I also made a simple carrying handle out of a strap from an old backpack, the handle is simply zip tied onto the rear exhaust vents.



With all of these mods my temps have improved greatly, during normal gaming load the hottest I have seen my GPU so far is 65c, remember this is overclocked! during a full load test I reach about 75c on the GPU. This may not seem like a huge improvement but instead of the fans being maxed out at all times like they were before they do have to spin nearly as fast to get much better temperatures.

I always find myself running out of USB ports so I decided to add an internal 2 port USB hub into the 2.5 inch drive hot-swap bay. This process was fairly simple, I just de-soldered the pins on one of the USB ports and soldered wires to the PCB intercepting the USB signal before it gets to the actual port. I take those wires and solder them to what used to be the 'male' part of the USB hub I am modifying and remove the last USB port on the USB hub and solder wires from it back to the original USB port to effectively add an additional 2 ports.



While I was modding I decided to wrap my laptop in matte black 3M vinyl. After closing up my laptop the screen had stopped working, I opened it up to find some of the cables of the LVDS display connector to be damaged and one was broken where the hinge is, they must have gotten pinched at some point. However the casing where the hinge was has completely worn away on my laptop so keep that in mind if you are looking to buy this notebook. I assume this is just something to do with my particular notebook because I've not heard anyone else complain.


I ended up replacing the blue power LED with a green one to match the keyboard and stripping the stock brown paint off the speaker grill and painting it matte black to match the rest of the laptop.

Go the the link below to see by guide on how to replace the LED
Clevo P150SM Power LED Replacment / Color Change