The quest for Upgrade - Part 2

Detailed specs, comparisons and per-piece history
Specifications
Here there are the specifications of my computer, before and now.
I highlighted only the changes. For reference the original specifications are here but the page refer to multiple versions.
Mine is bundled with the Intel i5, two hard disk slots (though only one was used) and there is no RAID controller.
Component Before Now
Processor Intel i5-460m Intel i7-720qm¹
RAM 2x2GB Elixir 1.333Mhz 2x4GB Kingston 1.333Mhz
Graphic Card (MSi) Nvidia GeForce 460M (Clevo) Nvidia GeForce 675MX
Hard Disk Western Digital Scorpio Black WD5000BEKT (500GB) WD Scorpio Black WD5000BEKT
+
WD Scorpio Back WD3200BEKT
(500GB + 320GB)
Power Supply² Bundled power supply of 150W (19.5V x 7,7A) Unknow-brand, power supply of 180W (19.5V x 9.9A)
Heat plate² Bundled heat plate for MSi GeForce 460M Replacement heat plate for MSi GeForce 675MX³

¹ = I switched back to my old i5, that shitty i7 was a test. Read further for more information.
² = Read further.
³ = Read further, this piece is quite important.

Motherboard chipset, processors and overclock
In this last 4 years Intel changed it's chipset too many times: PM series, HM series, QM/QS etc etc. My motherboard mount the PM56 chipset. Which means I'm stuck to the first generation of Intel i5 or i7 processor.

My Intel i5 is not bad but since the i7-920qm cost about 70$ I wanted to try it and apply a software overclock. Jumpering was not an option: I'm not confidend enough expecially after I spent so much money on the laptop itself and in the upgrade. The other only option was chaning the Front Side Bus frequencies.

My i7 just after the unboxing

The FSB chipset is an ICS9LPRS113AKLF. Or at least should be. Unfortunately I didn't see the chipset when I changed my components and it's not visible just by removing the bottom plate of the chassis. I also lost the links to the website that gives this information. Sorry.
However I'm pretty sure that is the chipset for the GX-660 and I think it's the same for my GT-663.

I did very few tests but I had no luck with SetFSB on Windows.
On Linux I ask the help of the author of Linux FSB, a guy of name Deusexbeer.
I have to thank him for his help but he was busy on his own and after provide me some code we lost contacts.

I reverted the processor back to my Intel i5-460M because I was in need of it (translation: I want to play Guild Wars 2 properly :P).
Since I'm stuck with that PM56 I have only two options: an Intel i5-680 or an Intel i7-940XM. The i7 is still a lot expensive (more then 580$ as of writing on eBay) but it's fully overclockable, the i5 provide not much advantage but it's much more cheaper (about 200$).

Hard Disks
My laptop version provide two SATA3 slots for the hard disks. My version do not have the RAID controller while the GT-663R version does.
Anyway both version are bundled with a Western Digital Scorpio Black. It's a 7,200RPM hard disk and this speed is quite rare these days. A very nice piece of equiment.
I added a similar hard disk from my previous laptop that is a Scorpio Black as well. I'll try and SSD someday.

For now I'm pleased with these hard disks.

Graphic Cards
Thanks to the MXM slots I paradoxically had less problem to upgrade the graphic card rather then the processor. Infact I was able to choose everything I wanted.
When I did my research the Nvidia 700 series was announced but still a myth, but the 600 serie was fully available.
I decided that if I really had to upgrade my laptop I had to do it properly. So I choosed only the top-tier cards: GeForce 670M, 670MX, 675M, 675MX, and the wonderful 680M.
The 685M was not out yet.
Then I remove the old Fermi based cards from my list (670M and 675M) and focus on the newer Kepler chipsets. The cost between the 670MX and 675MX was quite enough but compared to the 680M (about 1000$!) was nothing.

In the end I choosed the 675MX.

The newer Clevo Nvidia Geforce 675MX after unboxing

I think it's non-sense to compare my old card with the newer: two generation of difference and almost a tier of difference (the 460M was the slowest but amongst the higher tier cards, the 675MX is the third top-tier card).

Why not AMD?
While I'm a better fan of Nvidia for graphic cards I hope AMD will improve it's CPU and GPU and reach or even surpass Intel and Nvidia one day. Competition is always a benefit for consumers.
However it is not the case right now, not for CPUs at least.
AMD Graphic Cards, right now, are powerful and cheaper then Nvidia counterparts but I'm mostly a Linux user and AMD graphic driver are (still) not mature enough so the choice of Nvidia was a must.

Technically you have some limitations. The motherboards can support only one processor brand at time: I cannot put and AMD processor in my motherboard.
In theory the MXM slot is vendor neutral: I could get and AMD graphic card and use it. In practice I'm not sure, I didn't try.
I cannot think any component that may bother the card or the motherboard but maybe this process could require to flash the BIOS or the Nvidia controller for the HDMI port could give headache... I don't know.
This risk is up to you, if you want to try.

Power supply
A friend of mine suggest me: "Are you sure with the newer graphic card you have enough power?".
Doh!
Even now I'm not really sure. I was unable to find proper values for the graphic card TDP. Notebookcheck report a consumption of 72W for the GeForce 460M and 100W for the GeForce 675MX. Other sites report this values as well but I have no official confirmation (no data from the Nvidia website).

The risk of using a power supply that gives not enough power is to burn something.

So I start looking a power supply of 200W or more (I exagerated but I wanted to be sure). But guess what: they do NOT exists.
There are a few exception of some Alienware laptops (another friend of mine report a power supply of 19.5V x 12.3A for his Alienware M17x R3) but nothing for MSi.

The specification of a power supply for an Alienware M17x R3

After the usual fear and confusion I though: if a newer MSi model can handle my same card what happen if I use the power supply of that laptop?
And so I did. My power supply is the same for newer MSi laptop (the GT-70).
I was lucky since even a simple power supply is damn hard to create from scratch.
Note: I strongly suggest an original power supply. But I had one problem: MSi stop his activities of selling gaming laptops in Italy and the models after GT-683 never arrived. It's not possible find that power supply here in Italy. MSi reseller are rare (and most of all ignorant and not willing to help. Not MSi itself, just the resellers). I had to buy a substitute, risking a lot.

The heat plate
This was at the same time my biggest problem and luck.

When I had the pieces I begun the operation but after dismounting the original heat-plate and after I put the new graphic card inside the laptop I had a horrible surprise: the original heat pipe did not fit.

Look at this screeshot for clarification:

My old heat plate, the overlapping pieces are marked red.

Not all the surface of the plate touch the graphic cards: only the core of the GPU, the memories and some other chips. The black squares rapresent the squares that touch the memories while the red are overlapping squares. Those squares are not present in my newer plate and prevent the plate to lay correctly on the card. The core, for example, could not touch the plate due to these pieces. Not to mention that this plate was designed for 4xx series which have much less memory then 5xx or 6xx series... so even if I cut the pieces I had no guarrantees that all the memory chipset could receive enough cooling from the plate.

This time I had no fear nor confusion: I suffered pure terror and torment.
Ok, solution one: cut the pieces to fit the pipe.
Yes: I was crazy! And desperate! At this point I've spent over 500€ of equipment.

After I recovered my mental state I thought: if I bought the power supply of another model... why not buying the heat pipe of another model?
Now listen carefully because this is the cornerstone of the argument: I am fucking lucky because in the whole damn eBay only two people sold that pieces and now it seems to be out of production (or at least not available on eBay). Also one of those two users is a shop that do not ship here in Italy.
Also I was able to replace that piece because MSi used the same motherboard and chassis amongst all their gaming products.
Pay a lot of attention to this point: your chassis may have not the space for a newer card or heat plate/pipe or the heat plate may not exist or be available for purchase.
If this happen only a custom solution could suffice your needs, sometimes by cutting a piece from the heat plate with a flex.

English

Add new comment

Comment Text

  • Allowed HTML tags: <em> <strong> <cite> <blockquote> <code> <ul> <ol> <li> <dl> <dt> <dd>
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.

Plain text

  • No HTML tags allowed.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.
To prevent automated spam submissions leave this field empty.
CAPTCHA
Answer the question and don't bother me with spam.