April 8, 2015

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


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

  1. Are you willing to make another back case panel with only wider intakes, without the noctua and sell it? if you do i'm ready to buy it, i'll pay for shipping and whatever youre going to charge to actually make the mod ( considering the fact that youre price is reasonable). I have the same laptop ( sager np 8268-s which is also known as clevo p150 sm-a. my email is bharadwajnani@gmail.com. Give me a reply and we will take it further.

  2. How do you make the fan rings and that cover, the cover that u put made it very beautiful, it's way prettier than stock cover haha.

    1. I made a template for the rings in Adobe Illustrator and then cut them out of a sheet of thin black plastic and glued them onto the P150SM back cover. (I can give you the template if you like) By the cover you mean the HDD tray cover? I removed the original rubber foot by grinding it off and filled in the hole with auto body filler than then sanded it smooth and wrapped it in matte black vinyl.

    2. Can you send the template to me? And yes, I was speaking about the HDD tray, did you think about putting a 120mm slim cooler, like a CoolerMaster XtraFlo 120 Slim (who is 15mm only) in place of yours 80mm? I have ordered a 2nd back cover to mod and was wondering about this... Thanks!

    3. I have thought about using a 120mm one, but it would interfere with the GPU fan and the center support of the laptop between the CPU and GPU that the back panel screws into. (I've measured it) If you can find a 10mm thick fan that would be ideal, the 80mm I have is 15mm thick and its almost to thick and requires you to lift the laptop up a fair bit with taller feet.

      Here is a link to the template I have made for the fan rings. I hope it suits your needs, This one is 8.5 x 11 inches so it will print out on a standard desktop 2D printer.


    4. In which material did you made the fan rings? It's simply paper? I was searching for 10mm fan, but the ones that I saw, simply doesn't have any CFM worth of the trouble, but did you know the Noctua NF-A9x14 PWM? It's 90mm, but only 14mm of thickness, I'm thinking about buying one to put on my machine, it appears that 90mm is the maximum size that will fit. Which model is your 80mm fan? Wanna know the specs. And lastly, thanks for the template, it will help me much!

    5. I used a thin plastic to make the fan rings which I taped the template to as a guide. I wasn't able to find very many 10mm thick ones either and the ones I have tried were cheap and didn't last. That fan looks promising but it might be worth finding a 5v fan so you can run it off of the GPU fan header and have it be controlled with the system fan if you are interested in that. 90mm might be cutting it close but I think it would work well. Another thing to consider is where the center of the fan will be places as there will no direct airflow there, ideally you want the blades to be directly over the GPU and heatpipes. Either way anything will help though. You may also want to add some extra stick on copper RAM heatsinks to the top of the GPU to aid with heat dissipation after you add an extra fan.

      I used this Cooler Master fan, I would put the model # but I cant seem to find it by model # so I've linked its Amazon page.


      I don't recommend it as its a sleeve bearing fan and mine began rattling a few weeks after I purchased it. Although I did started running it on 20v and it seemed to reduce the noise and increase airflow by a lot and takes the extra voltage no problem.

    6. I was thinking about this one http://www.amazon.com/Akasa-Ultra-Profile-Intel-Cooler/dp/B00D5T1QTC/ref=sr_1_1?s=electronics&ie=UTF8&qid=1444583360&sr=1-1&keywords=akasa+low+profile+cooler, it's an Akasa AK-CC7129BP01, my plan is to retire the fan (who is a 75x10mm) from the heatsink (it's fixed with screws) and use only the fan on the notebook, in my country, this fan is way cheaper than in Amazon, so the price isn't a point. I forgot the idea of 5V fans, because all the ones that I found, deliver less than 15CFM and have a negligible static pressure too. This one that I linked could be used to cool down an i3 processor, so I think they can do the job. Other thing about this one it that if I make a hole in the back panel, the cooler will be only a bit out of the notebook and I can put a wire grill to protect him, what do you think?

    7. I don't know if you would be able to find an easy and strong way to mount that fan without the heatsink other than gluing it to the heat pipes. You may want to consider just placing the whole heatsink onto the heatpipes with a little thermal paste and holding it down with zip ties or something wrapped around the entire GPU. If its not to thick that may be a great idea and will probably do a lot more for temps than just the fan alone. Also you most likely want some sort of switch or fan controller to turn the fan off when you want to use it on your lap or on a bed etc.

      I would love to see/hear more about your progress with this. If you would ever like to send photos or anything you can send them to me via Email or Twitter on this link: http://null-bin.blogspot.com/p/about.html


  3. The matte black vinyl looks pretty awesome, especially the fact that the rubber on our p150 usually becomes sticky (to dust), can you please post more pics of how it is covered? Im willing to do this, did it require you to disassemble the base and the lid? did you use a heatgun?

    Got the exact same specs :D (willing to upgrade to 980m too), punched holes like this xD ( dropped 4C): http://i.imgur.com/brc23DV.jpg

    Love your mods!

    Thank you!

    1. I love the feel of the black vinyl and it looks much better as well. For the best results I would remove all the panels that you are going to wrap so you can stretch the vinyl around the edges. Unfortunately I had to sell my P150 and do not have any more pictures to post but I am happy to help any other way I can. I did need to use a heat gun for the corners by the hinges, the touch pad buttons, and around the edges but a normal hair dryer will be more than enough for that.

      That way of drilling holes into the stock vents looks like a very elegant way of increasing airflow without totally cutting up the laptop, nice idea!

  4. Hi. I asked you a question on Twitter and you replied. I just wanted to ask did you do any further mods to the P150SM-A, (since its technically EOL), and i'm interested on cooling mods (I live in a tropical country near the equator, so its really friggin' warm, stuffy and humid. Would appreciate pointers from you.

    The latest Clevos seem to use some kind of heat trapping ceramic coating on top of their copper bars, and they've effectively increased the number of copper bars PER die/sink from 2 (in the P150SM-A) to 3-4. Do you have any ideas where to get OEM ones that have such amount? I suspect that just by increasing the number of copper bars on the fins leads to better cooling, although not sure about the black coloured ceramic coating (i have no idea what the spesific coating is)

    Would love to hear more from you.

    1. Hi, sorry for taking forever to reply. Increasing the number of heatpipes wont really improve temperatures very much because there isn't actually any extra surface area coming in to contact with the fan's moving air. It will only really cause it take longer to heat up. Clevo never made a P150 heatsink with more than 2 heatpipes for the GPU core. You could always get one of those older, larger, one-piece heatsinks and mod the 2 together for a bit extra thermal capacity on the GPU core like I did. The ceramic insulation coating helps prevent heat being dumped into the case before it gets to the heatsink fins. I am not sure exactly what is used either but I imagine you would have to buy it in large quantities and it may be expensive.

  5. How'd you mount the mesh over the fan covers? I'm looking to modify my P157SM by opening up under the CPU and GPU (I already spread out the intakes by %50) and I want to use mesh to give it a nice finished look, but I'm not sure how I should go about attaching it.

    1. I mounted the mesh originally with aluminum tape but later moved on to using hot glue. The aluminum tape worked well enough but if you decide to use hot glue, try not to make it to thick because the panel wont fit anymore.

  6. Hi Null,

    Just wanted to say thanks for the inspiration. :)
    I was running a P150SM (not -A) with a 4800MQ and a 780M, which I've upgraded to a 4930MX and a 980M (I got good deals on these as they're EOL).

    I'm following some of your mods to get the best out of the laptop plus some of my own.

    I'll be putting in a Scythe SlipStream Slim 120mm and 12mm thickness (I know, I'll lose the middle screw support and some rigidity, but I get cold air on the CPU and GPU), cutting the wires on a 330W PSU and running 2 parallel DC outputs, one bucked to 12V for the fan and the other for the laptop itself.

    I'll also be cutting the CPU/GPU fan circles as you did and putting in a speaker mesh.

    I'll try take pictures of these mods and post them somewhere.

    1. Awesome, sorry for the late reply. I would love to see photos or a log of the mods! You can post the link here if you like or tweet/email me, my contact information is on my "readme.txt" page.


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