Riding the Flow

musings from the shire

Thinkpad W701–anatomy of MXM video module

insides layoutRecently I’ve partially disassembled my Lenovo Thinkpad W701 laptop to check out the seating design of MXM 3.0 Type B module it uses, and to check out the construction of the heatsink/fan thermal module. This is to determine at least mechanical feasibility of upgrading to another MXM 3.0b video card (software compatibility is still uncertain – trying will be the only option).
I’ve took a lot of pictures to illustrate the whole process.

short screwlong screw
Pretty clever case design. Icons signify what particular bolt fastens. “V” signifies short screws, “VV” - long screws.
thermal module in case
GPU thermal module in its glory. Three heat pipes – that what gives massive amount (up to 100W TDP) of low-noise cooling. Here you could already see heatsink and L-shaped raised MXM clearance area for the switching coil elements.
quadro in case zoom
Thermal module removed. NVidia Quadro FX 2800M, as it sits inside case. Note very thick heatpads for supplementary elements.
insides layout
Overall case layout with keyboard and top cover off. Some notable parts are:
  1. CPU socket
  2. WiFi module in the miniPCIe slot
  3. MXM video card
  4. Top DIMM slots
thermal module bottom
The bottom side of the thermal module, cleaned from thermal grease already. Lenovo seem to use silver-based compound, judging from looks of it – very good! Note the L-shaped switching coil clearance area – fully covering possible clear-out area defined by MXM 3.0 standard. This should fit any MXM 3.0 card, regardless of exact switching coil placement.
heatsink mxm clearout zone
Side view on the MXM L-clearance switching coil area.
quadro top side
Nvidia Quadro FX 2800M MXM 3.0 Type B card, removed and cleaned from thermal grease.
quadro bottom side
Card in the heatsink, from the bottom. Note the x-shaped GPU die support plate.
switching coil clearance
Bad quality, but important picture. Demonstrates the very thick heatpads used and massive amount of reserve heatsink clearance available, making possible to fit alternate cards.
  1. Edge of MXM L-clearance area
  2. Edge of the memory chip, as you can see clearance is so wide, it even goes above memory chips a bit
  3. Edge of nearest switching coil. Note the very bit distance between 1 and 3, even on Radeons with switching coils closer to dies, more than enough space should be available
So far so good – looks that W701 should mechanically accept any MXM 3.0 Type B card without much trouble. Now its time for  next step – choosing a new card, buying, and plugging it in Smile

Update as 13/04/2011 - I've finished this upgrade attempt. In nutshell - it didn't work at all. You can read the results in my newer post here - Is Thinkpad W701 MXM? Kind of. Upgradeable? Nope :(

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