The quest for Upgrade - Part 3

The upgrading process
MSi laptops - Well designed
In contrast of what most of the other brands do, MSi gaming laptops are easily moddable. Look at my notebook:

The bottom side of my notebook with the chassis removed

Just removing the bottom part of the chassis everything is exposed and ready to be replaced. We have the hard disk slots south and west while above the motherboard the CPU and GPU are ready to be removed, also CPU, GPU and fan are three separated pieces. This is important: you can remove and clean the fan without the need to replace the thermal grease below the heat plates (even though it's a good behaviour replace it at least once a year to increase the lifespan of your components).

The operation

A note to beginners: use a good screwdriver and do not apply force when using it expecially when remounting the heatpipe on the CPU: the CPU top side is fragile as glass.
Also it's important to put a very thin layer of thermal grease on both CPU and GPU. It's common to put a drop of grease on the center and then use a corrugated paper to spread it to the whole core area.
Do not use too much grease but be really sure to cover all the CPU cores areas.
Another note: the grease with the net (that you can see near my CPU bridge, near point D) can be reused or replaced with common thermal grease.
Also remove the battery and any other power source (except for the BIOS battery), I also suggest to wait a few minutes to begin after you unplug every power source.

With the help of a friend giving me moral support (with jokes like "You are going to broke it!") I begun removing the old CPU, removing the thermal grease cleaning it with alcool and cotton, then applying the same procedure at the GPU. Usual stuff.
The fan as been removed as well: even if it was not entirely necessary it gave me much more freedom of movement.

Here my notebook without the components:
A overview of my motherboard after I detached the CPU, GPU, fan and heatpipes

A = the MXM slot
B = the CPU bridge
D = some components that need the grease as well, I reused that grease adding a bit where it was missing.

With the care of a mom holding his son or a surgeon handling it's pig heart or a Guild Wars 2 player running for a Guild Rush mission avoiding that damn traps or a... ops... sorry: I diverged.
With great care I attached the GPU and CPU.

For the GPU, take care: the GPU is not put directly in the same orientation of the slot but rather layed on the slot with an angle of about 45° then gently put down. It share the same behaviour with the RAM. The card will keep an angle of about 20°: keep this until you put the heat plate. It's the heat plate that push the card in an perfect horizontal position.

Take care to do not thighten too much the screws but be really sure all the surfaces covered with the thermal grease touches the equivalent surfaces on the heat plate.
It may happen that some surfaces (expecially those at the opposite side of the MXM slot) can't touch until you drive the screws. This is fine but put extremely attention that after this operation everything is covered and the card can't move.

You don't remove the CPU directly instead you rotate the screw (near point B, this screw cannot be removed) of about 270° degrees, this lock and unlock the CPU. This behaviour it's similar to desktop's bridges but in those you can find a screw or a lever.

Both CPU and GPU must have the grease before you put the heat pipes. I suggest, with great care, to add the grease after you put both pieces on the motherboard: they will stand still and in the right position. As usualy do not use much force.

Me applying the grease after all the components has been mounted

As you can see from the picture I didn't put the grease until i placed both pieces. In my case the GPU get easily the orizontal position withouth the heat pipe pressing it.
After putting a drop of greas in the cores I used an old business card to spread it. I know, it's not exactly a professional tool but belive me: it's delicate and spread the grease quite well. Do not use plastic coated paper, just corrugated paper, as I suggested before.

Mount everything except the chassis cover (and the battery) and test. Cross your finger!

Test - Linux
First of all I boot my Fedora Linux installation.
No need to upgrade drivers, no need to configure anything. The card works!

The Nvidia control panel showing my GTX 675MX.

Testing with Kingdom of Amalur: Reckoing gave me +100% of performance! From about 40 FPS to 70~100 in almost any area, emulated with Wine.
Guild Wars 2 is still laggy (about 20 FPS) but this game is limited by actual Wine implementation (no threads) and my CPU rather then the GPU. This game, emulated, was almost unplayable with my other Intel i7.
I tested few native games that require much power:
Xonotic FPS are awesome as well as Brutal Legend, both never drop below 60fps (I often use VSync, I should try without...)

Some day I will run proper benchmarks but as I wrote it's nonsense compare this powerful GPU with my old one.

Test - Windows
Then I had the brilliant idea to hurt myself by booting Windows.

"Windows is not the answer. Windows is the question. NO is the answer."

At the beginning Windows was incredibly slow to boot (no, I mean: slower then it's normal slowness) then it booted at 640x480 of resolution, deleted the previous Nvidia installation and could not find the graphic card.
So I downloaded the latest Nvidia drivers... and those drivers were unable to find my graphic card telling me there is no compatible products on the computer.
If this happen to you, don't panic!
I discovered my card is a SAMPLE: a card sent usually to writers and reviewers to test it and give feedback. The Nvidia drivers of course works on these cards but they lack information on their identifier tables.
As I did, you just have to modify the drivers before the installation and everything will resolve. There is one problem though: acting this way you break the signature of the driver and Windows will prevent you to install them.
There is a solution to this problem as well: set the debug flag at the boot option in Windows telling it to ignore the signature. This is quite risky and you should not do that unless you really know what are you doing.

I'll cover this process on the Appendix section.

Since you have to edit the Nvidia identifier table you can give any name you wish to your card.
Now I'm an happy owner of an Arcades GeFord 675MX.

The CPU-Z tab showing my graphic card


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