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How To: Cube i9 Heat Sink Mod & Boost Power Limits With Results

How To: Cube i9 Heat Sink Mod & Boost Power Limits With Results

Those following my Cube i9 posts and YouTube videos would have seen that I bricked the tablet. But now I ‘m back up and running, more about that here and the Cube i9 bios recovery flash method write up is here. Just before I bricked it, I did a cheap and relatively easy heat sink mod. It’s very basic, but has a huge impact on overall thermals. Why Cube or any of the Chinese manufacturers don’t do this is quite baffling or just use a copper heat sink like Dell does on their Core M tablets? It has to be down to cost savings.

This is just an extra I’ve done on my Cube i9. I will not effect the review on the site. The review, like all the reviews here will be based on the unmodified tablet as is from the factory.

WARNING: This is a modification, please only do this mod if you are capable and have experience. This is just a guide, I’m not an expert or responsible if you mess it up and kill the tablet, cause premature component failure, burn your house down etc.

 

 

Cube i9 motherboard and cpu

A 20mm copper shim:

What it consists of is a 20mm x 20mm copper shim that’s 1mm thick, you then use some thermal adhesive paste to secure it in the middle of the aluminum stock heatsink (where the CPU die would touch the stock heat sink) And since it’s only a small copper plate (You can find them on ebay) it shouldn’t be near anything that would cause any shorts.

Cube i9 Copper Heat Sink Mod V1

Then you can either use more thermal adhesive or better in case you need to remove it I opted to use some thermal paste for contact between the CPU and copper shim. I used IC Diamond 7, but any brand name thermal compound would be just fine. No need to use the super good stuff since its not a desktop i7 6770k, just a little low power Core M. Make sure you screw the heatsink back in place starting from one corner to the opposite to give even pressure on the thermal paste and so it spreads evenly. I went overboard on my first go, just use a small rice size or spread it super thin, whatever method you prefer to apply thermal paste.

Cube i9 Copper Heat Sink Mod

Now you can replace the thermal pad on the top of the stock heat sink or leave it as is. I replaced it using  one with the same dimensions with a better quality pad. 1mm in thickness is all that’s required. You can add more thermal pads to the top of the factory heat sink to help transfer even more heat to the rear alloy casing. It’s up to you. This mod should lower your Core M3-6Y30 temperatures a good 20 degrees when under sustained full load.

Of course, if you’re into doing things properly, you could fabricate a new whole heat sink based on the stock design but made out of copper. Make sure you use some heat resistant insulator tape or plastic under it however, as you don’t want to short out anything under that heat sink!

Power limits, increase them to push the Core M3 even harder. 

Due to the limited thermal dissipation the aluminum stock heat sink has, Cube opted to lower the power limits of the package in order to help cap the heat output (Also it might help  increased battery?) The Microsoft Surface Pro 4 using the same chipset has a slightly higher power limit of around 9W and much better thermals and design of course. So Cube used 7W Turbo Boost Power Max Setting. And if you have done the heat sink mod, now you can do this if you want to match and even better the Surface Pro 4 M3’s performance.

Another warning! Only increase the Power Limits if you have the copper thermal mod. Otherwise, you’ll just hit thermal throttling, gain nothing and even possibly go over the 88 degrees I encountered on the stock cooling set up. Plus you could even cause the system to shut off to prevent overheating.

Just move the Turbo Boost Power Max setting up to say 10W and also increase the Turbo Short Power Max. I tried some crazy high numbers, nothing happened, according to HWInfo it didn’t go over about 12W in total the peak.

Download Intel Extreme Tuning Utility (Intel XTU)

Cube i9 power boost limits

The result of increasing the Turbo Power Boost Limits, is it allows the total package CPU+GPU and everything to consume more power, turbo a little higher and most of the benefit goes to the GPU which now consumes a good 2 watts max more.

The Results:

In a real game like Battlefield 4 and not a benchmark, it almost doubled the frame rates and made it playable. The same would go for 3D applications like AutoCad and Cinebench mark etc.

Here is a quick set of results. 3DMark Ice Storm 1.2 stock power limit (with heat sink mod) Vs Ice Storm 1.2 with power limit increased via XTU
http://www.3dmark.com/compare/is/3752213/is/3751797

Graphics gets a nice 30% bump!

Ice Storm 1.2

And if we compare a stock heat sink unmodified Cube i9 to my Cube i9 with the copper heat shim mod and power limit increase:

Some scores are up over 50%!

Ice Storm 1.2

Now your mileage will vary, some chipsets might get slightly more, difference graphics drivers etc, so don’t expect to get these scores on your own i9 or you could get even higher than mine. In theroy this method should work on other Core M3 tablets like the Teclast X3 Pro, Voyo Vbook V3 Ultimate, and future units.

Profile photo of Chris G
Chinese tablet news, hands on videos and reviews of the latest Chinese tablets. I don't review or cover just anything, only tablets I think are good enough and worth the attention.

29 Comments

  1. Profile photo of Sebastian

    Hi Chris,

    I was wondering if you ever attempted to replace the aluminum stock heatsink with a copper one, like it can be seen here:
    https://forum.xda-developers.com/showpost.php?p=66528200&postcount=109

    I was trying to do this full copper heatsink mod, but I cant get the schematics to print out correctly, since the DPI number that Wootever gave seems to be wrong…

    Anyone ever did that mod and can help me??

  2. Profile photo of hamayan

    You placed 20 x 20 x 1 mm thermal pad on the top side. Good, but what if I also place a thermal pad on the bottom side (along with the copper shim) like Scott did? Instead you used a thermal adhesive there. Which is better?

    If I go with the thermal pad option, how much thickness should it have? (Scott used 20 x 20 x 1 mm thermal pad there)

    Scott’s mod: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6zM7Za78THU&index=6&list=FLPOu_xDaF_KfvSooN5jRJgg

    Thanks in advance.

    • Profile photo of Chris G

      It would work, but I wouldn’t use anything larger than 0.5mm in the inner/bottom side. I’m not sure if that’s better as I only did it my way here in the video. And the results were more than acceptable.

  3. Profile photo of Jan

    Hi Chris,

    Did a copper shim mod today(actually put 5 in total ;)) and after changing power limits I get no bump in performance whatsoever. Tested before and after and got the exact same fps in fraps. Any ideas?

    Thanks,
    Jan

    • Profile photo of Chris G

      Plug in the power cable and check if it improves. If it does (And should if I’m correct) You might have to fiddle with the power settings. Make sure the Intel GFX has any power saving features disabled. Out of interest where else did you add copper shims? The RAM too?

      • Profile photo of Jan

        Oh, didn’t think of testing while plugged into the mains. Maybe it does need all the juice to actually be able to boost. Will give it a go today and see whether I can figure this out.

        I put 4 copper shims on the back of the CPU plate via self adhesive thermal tape. Thought that this might help to spread the heat a little bit better.

        • Profile photo of Jan

          Yeah, played with all that some more and I did not get any results. Maybe I’m expecting too much? I basically played Legend Of Grimrock at high settings which got me around 35-37fps on the stock settings. After changing power limits to 10W and 18W no boost is visible – the game still hovers around 35-37 fps. Tested while plugged into mains with 515 set to performance and all power saving options turned off.
          It’s not like I intended to play the current AAA titles on my Cube. I actually got it to play old classic titles which its perfect for anyway =) Still, would be nice to understand what I’m doing wrong and why I get no visible boost 🙁

          • Profile photo of Chris G

            What are your temps? Maybe it’s throttling, look in intel XTU. As mentioned in the article results would vary. But no gain seems odd.

          • Profile photo of Jan

            Sorry Chris, could not reply directly to your latest comment.

            Well looking at XTU it does indeed hit throttling every once in a while during stres tests. temp seems to go up to 80 degrees which I understand to be quite a big number considering copper shim mod? maybe I’ve done it incorrectly. Maybe shouldn’t have put 4 shims on the top of the plate but rather just one in the center or leave just the thermal pad on there. Probably won’t bother ‘fixing’ this as I’m still quite pleased with the performance of the tablet.

            Anyway, I still think I get no boost in performance as when I play the games I don’t really hit throttling and as far as I can tell results are identical. Also, when stres testing GPU in XTU the temps are exactly the same on stock power limits vs bumped power limits although maybe I’m incorrect in thinking that they should be any different.

        • Profile photo of Chris G

          Sounds like the mod is at fault then. Just on centered in the middle is all you really need I think. Did the trick for me and my i9 flies (For a Core M3) Unless is do a v2 mod and I would only replace the whole factory heatsink with copper and use the largest thermal pad I could.

  4. Profile photo of Sam

    hi,
    first of all thanks Chris for your efforts for the multiple reviews, tutorials and mod ideas.

    My cube i9 is on it’s way and I’m interested in doing this mod after a while.
    Can someone tell me the thickness of the metal plate which ia used for the stock design heat sink? As mentioned by Chris, I’m thinking of rebuilding it out of copper.
    Thanks in advance.

    • Profile photo of Chris G

      Mines sealed up again, but I’m 99% sure it was 1mm thick.

      • Profile photo of Sam

        Thanks for the confirmation of the thickness.
        I just asked a friend of mine which is a roofer, and they have a lot of little piecea like this in their bin. So i can easily get one. He just asked me to cut it for me. So if one of you is doing the mod, please just measure the major outer dimensions of the used stock aluminum? plate and let us know here. It’s just to preper a few things in advance while I’m waiting until my cube arrives. Thanks.

  5. Profile photo of Sx C

    Undervolting it should get you another couple of degree celsius

  6. Profile photo of Rodrigo Flores Zegarra

    Hi Chriss, my Cube i9 is about to enter my country (Peru), the problem is that when entering have to go through customs and to get her out I need to obtain a permit to remove I need general data displayed alongside box, you think you could please send me a picture of the side of the box where the specifications of the tablet are? Without that I can not get my Cube i9 customs :(. Reviews this this is what I need picture, this picture is my laptop. I appreciate it if you could help. https://imgur.com/XxWYfYB

    • Profile photo of Chris G

      Rodrigo, this is a problem as the box doesn’t have specs listed like that on it. I’m sure it doesn’t. I’m currently out traveling but I don’t remember any specs listed on it.

  7. Profile photo of BHW

    Hello Chris,
    Could you also show us how to change the heat sink for the Teclast X16 Pro, since the Windows version of the X16 Pro gets too hot?
    This will make the X16 Pro an amzing tablet
    Thank you

    • Profile photo of Chris G

      Hi, it would be the same concept, never opened the X16 Pro I had so not sure, but find the soc and add a 15mm x 15mm or maybe even 20mm, 1mm thick copper shim to it and then you will have to size up what thickness of thermal pad to use on top of it to then give contact to the rear housing.

  8. Profile photo of Ragnar Ironblood

    I wonder, whether doing the same on i7 Stylus provides similar boost. How much is battery life decreased? It would be awesome to see benchmark comparison between i7 and i9.

    • Profile photo of Chris G

      Hi, is it is possible on the i7/i7 Stylus models. Battery life for me is around the same when not gaming. But if I game it looks to lower it by around 15% (Estimated)

      • Profile photo of Nicholas

        I’ve got a Core M-5Y71 Dell V11Pro and tried to increase power limits, but it won’t increase beyond the default 6W. The i7/i7 Stylus models use a 5Y10, right? Is it any different for them?

        • Profile photo of Chris G

          It can only be increased if the bios is unlocked. And Dell would have it locked for sure.

  9. Profile photo of Rob

    Hi Chris, just wondered if we will ever see android (dual boot) on these core m tablets? Getting impossible to buy a decent android tablet from China (nothing available with an SoC better than the z8300) and this would be great if it were possible.

    • Profile photo of Chris G

      There is the Onda V919 Core M 3G that has a 5Y19 in it, retina screen. But it had a few issues, not sure if we will see a Core M3 dual boot.

      • Profile photo of Dean

        Chris, Can you test installing one of the third party android os’s like remix?
        I ordered this tablet and would prefer an android environment.

  10. Profile photo of

    This is a superb article; thanks for your work getting this done and testing it. That’s a pretty stunning gain for a two dollar piece of copper and some paste.

    Did you notice any issues longer term with this, such as overly reduced battery life, or temperatures creeping back up towards throttling? Did the external housing heat up overmuch?

    Looking forward to the final conclusions on this tablet from yourselves – seems like the best bit of kit you can get right now.

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