Cube i9

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Cube i9 Internals, 4G M.2 Slot, How to Open and Copper Heat sink Mod

Cube i9 Internals, 4G M.2 Slot, How to Open and Copper Heat sink Mod

I opened up my Cube i9 before I bricked the bios to have a look at the internals. Here are some images of the Cube i9 from this semi teardown. There is a SIM reader slot on the motherboard and a spare M.2 (NGFF) 22 x 42mm slot for a Huawei LTE or similar 4G modem. I’m not sure it will support another SSD, I highly doubt it.

This this alone to me proves the Cube i9 will come with an upgraded LTE model or it was planned and later axed due to costs?

Before I killed my unit, I did a quick and easy copper heatsink mod as a quick test, the results were great. However, I cannot show you proof of how much it lowered temps as I then bricked the tablet soon after. But what my 20mm x 20mm x 1mm copper shim and new thermal pad did was lowered max temps around 21 degrees. It brought the highest temp down from 88 degrees to around 67 degrees.

I result was a Geekbench 3 and 3dmark Icestorm 1.2 score of the Surface Pro 4 M3 6Y30.

This video above shows my mod, all I did was use the copper plate and some thermal adhesive to secure it to the heat spreader. And then some paste instead of the thermal pads on the CPU die and screwed in back in place.

Lastly, a new thermal pad on the top of the stock aluminum head spreader/heatsink. Due to my tablet being dead I highly doubt I have enough notes to finish a full review of it. But all benchmarks and results will, like always be based on an unmodified stock unit.

Curiosity got the best of me I’m highly pissed off right now at how stupid I was and easy it is to brick the Cube i9. DO NOT enter the bios flash menu or settings. There is no sub menu, no safe, no confirmation. IT WILL WIPE the bios and proceed to flash nothing and fail. The end result isn’t pretty.

And a quick guide on how to open the Cube i9:

Video tech reviewer and tech blogger. I have a huge interest in the latest tech, tablets, laptops, mobiles, drones, and even e-scooters. Active in the tech community since 2008 days of the Omnia i900 Windows phone. Samsungi8910omnia.com, Samsunggalaxysforums.com founder from way back.

33 Comments

  1. Hello,

    Did you test to put a sim card in the reader?
    You says that a huawai moden can be connected, could you tell me witch model?

    Thanks
    Best regards

  2. Great to hear you managed to un-brick the i9! Even took the time to read over at the XDA forum as to what you did to fix it. Nicely done!

  3. Hey Chris, congrats for getting it back up. Do you think that, with what you know now, you could at least try to see whether that second M.2 slot is usable by an SSD?

  4. Hi, Chris
    it’s great to know that such an easy tip can improve so much this Chinese tablets performance
    At the same time it’s quite scary too: I mean if their engineers where not able to find such an easy solution (or their manager rejected it as too expensive) …….what awkward errors might they have done, that we’re not still aware of?!?!?!

    • In terms of screwups I think a BIOS self destruct option is going to take some beating 🙂

  5. Great Chris!!! Congrats!!!! now let that bios alone =)

  6. I think I’m already in love with the tablet, reading your reviews

  7. Awwh man that sucks! R.I.P

    I was waiting for a teclast x3 vs cube i9 (gaming) owwww 🙁

    If I go for the cube i9 I shall try this tweak as I’m planning on mostly gaming, its good that you managed to get the benchmarks score around a surface pro 4… Would of been really good to see how well it helped the fps

    Sorry for your loss 🙁

  8. Chris, I feel really sorry for you on this issue. Could you get it to the UK? If so I think I could help…
    BTW, I think Viktor is on the money about those pads around the chip being test access points.

    • I can courier it. Or I’ll be in England on the 19th. PM me if you think you can fix this before I throw it out the Window. If those pads are test points there should be 8 of them right? We are missing one?

      • I would hazard a guess that there’s either a control signal tied to a rail or else the ground ref is taken from another point hence the missing pad. If we’re looking at in circuit reprogramming I wouldn’t have any trouble getting wires soldered onto the solder blobs by the chip anyway (I’m assuming they’re the pads for the chip?).

  9. Thanks for the high resolution photos.
    There are two interesting chips near the USB-C port:

    Etron EJ898
    – A USB Power Delivery 2.0 controller IC.
    – Can deliver power up to 100 watts, (5 Amps at 20 Volts).
    – It is suitable for the USB 3.1, USB 3.0, and USB 2.0 interfaces.

    PI3USB30532
    – Routing USB3.0 SuperSpeed and DP1.2 signals through the USB Type C Connector.

    So they integrated a real USB 3.1 controller which is very pleasant.

    • Yes, that is good. I think with a nice USB Type-c hub like that new Dell one we could charge and use it as a one port docking solution. And with my cheap and nasty thermal mod I was able to lower thermals to 67 degrees max Vs 88 degrees and it performed just like the Surface Pro 4 in benchmarks at least. Sad thing was I bricked it 30 minutes after the mod was done 🙁

  10. Chris, Great review, and I’ve been bitten by a “black hole BIOS” before, too. In the video, you spoke of using a BIOS update on SD card inserted into the SD slot on the i9, but in one of the first pix you have an EEPROM programmer connected to your SP4 with a DIP clip on the i9 BIOS. Were you trying to burn a new BIOS using the programmer… and with no joy?

    • Oh, that photo is my attempt to flash the bios update after the brick with a USB programmer. But the clips just can’t connect with the eprom. The chip is too low and small and I don’t have the skill to remove it via solder iron. Even the larger Atom Winbond chips are too much for me wit ha solder iron. My hands are too shaky, the tablet is boxed. But return to China will end up costing a heap, it must be classed as a Dangerous good and I don’t even have the battery spec sheet for that. So looks like a lost cause for now.

      At least my quick heatsink mod was a success.

      • It looks like that’s a WSON package, which is leadless and to add to the difficulties there’s a pad under the chip too. Tricky…

      • There is a way… but it takes a jeweler’s rig. Working with a large magnifying glass on a stand, using a jeweler’s screwdriver, drill small holes in each leg big enough for small, solid core (insulated) wire. Hole fits the wire gauge used. The other end of the wire is spiraled up like a small saucer and soldered to become a contact pad for your DIP clip. Use a piece of cardboard (one thick piece with smooth sides where the contact pads will attach) the witdth of the DIP clip and attach the “contact pads” to the cardboard with rubber cement. I would try that before tossing the i9. You can ask a jewelry repair shop to do the first step if you don’t have access to a jeweler’s rig. Jewelry repair shops drill and solder silver every day.

        • You can solder the leads to the BIOS DIP leads and leave them attached, or even connectorize them if you want. If the BIOS is an SMD, you drill holes in the solder pads.

          • When I need to do precision drilling like that I use a small milling machine and angle poise lamp/magnifier. In this case I believe the chip is a 25Q64FV, which is a leadless package and therefore has no legs to drill through. Also blindly drilling holes in a multiplayer PCB would be an insanely bad idea in my opinion.
            But the cardboard/spiral wire thing has given me an idea…

          • Jonathan… agreed about multilayer PCBs, but the hole is not through a layer. If the solder pad is really small, the hole is just wide and deep enough to seat a sewing needle or other conductor with a blob of electrically conductive adhesive on the tip.

          • Hualalai, I like your desire to make a mechanically sound connection but do you realise that there will probably be a power plane less than 6 mil under the top signal layer?

          • Thanks everyone for the tips. Okay, I’m back in action, Cube i9 flashed. Whole day on it but ultimately this is what did it http://forum.xda-developers.com/showpost.php?p=66188047&postcount=14 A pro tip from Wootever on XDA forums. Who would have thought a sponge would help me haha. I had cut and modded my clips but no way to secure it until this post.

            The worst brick recovery I’ve ever done! It was a nightmare. Just glad my Cube i9 is back up and running and my little thermal mod works wonders.

          • Very glad you got it back up, I’ve never seen that trick before 🙂

  11. Gosh. Sorry dude. Thanks for the info.

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