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NightWalker

[NW] Upgrade the C90S to a 9600m GT 512mb DDR3

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NightWalker

BETA:

This guide, unfortunately, is still in the "beta" phase because there is problem present that I could use a hand with from the community. I will reedit this post when the issue gets resolved with 3DMark06 scores and load temperatures.

Everyone who has bought a C90S has been waiting, desperately I might add, for a GPU upgrade. Well, this guide will show you how to upgrade your C90S from the extremely hot and poorly performing 8600m GT (DDR2 or DDR3 version) to the cooler running and better performing 9600m GT 512mb DDR3 card.

This upgrade can be done in two different ways, one relatively quick way that will yield less benefits, and one time consuming harder way that will yield some very impressive results. I will outline both of them, however I am not going to get that in depth with the "easy" way because I feel it is not a permanent solution and shouldn't be used for a prolonged time.

Okay, so before we get going too far there's a few things you are going to need to do this the right way. I'll break it down into the things you NEED as well as the things that would make the job much easier.

Tools/Supplies needed:

Screwdriver

Sandpaper

Saw with a "metal" blade

Drill and drill bits

A couple of very small computer screws

Thermal paste

Thermal pads (size/thickness depends on method used)

Patience and a steady hand

Things that make the job much easier:

Air compressor

Cut off wheel

Dremel or other rotary tool

Clamps

Gather up/borrow all the tools, order a pizza, grab some soda, and get ready for about 4 hours of work.

Step 1 - Buy what you need:

Well, first you'll need the card, it can be bought from eBay. Here's a link: http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewI...em=180298030911 or just search for "9600m GT MXM". I suggest you buy some decent thermal paste and also thermal pads. Here's a picture of my card when I received it:

DSC01002.jpg

DSC01009.jpg

Step 2 - Figuring out what modifications need to be done:

As you will quickly notice upon inspection of your new card, the "heatsink mounting plate" is completely different from the one Asus uses. It uses smaller screws and it sits higher up then the Asus plate. This will in turn make the the "heat spreader" from the 8600m GT sit higher as well and not make contact with the GPU core or memory.

Further more, the plates CAN NOT be swapped because Asus' plate is of a much thicker design and will not fit the 9600m card. So basically, we're stuck with working around this mounting plate, which isn't too bad of a thing because it seems to be the standard size plate used for most other MXM-II cards as well.

This is the plate I'm referring to, and the area that is different than the Asus plate:

plate1.jpg

plate2.jpg

There are two ways to overcome this problem both with there own set of benefits and drawbacks listed below.

Method 1: The "easy" way. NOT recommended:

Benefits:

1. The modifications necessary are easy, and should be able to be completed in under an hour.

Drawbacks:

1. Due to the memory chips being slightly closer to the core, and the heat spreader not being designed for the 9600m, only half of each memory chip will be cooled.

2. Even modified, the mounting screws for the VGA heatsink will sit dangerously close to the electrical components/circuits on the 9600m.

3. You are still using the god awful aluminum 8600m heatspread.

Now that the positives and negatives are out of the way, let's move on. As I previously stated, I'm not going to get very in depth with this method because I really don't recommend it and consider it a potential danger for short circuits if done incorrectly. However, if you are extremely impatient and don't mind risking a brand new graphics card, or you absolutely can't find a way to do the other method, here's what needs to be done..

Basically, all you need to do is grind down one corner of the heatspreader so that it clears one of the circuits on the 9600m. I didn't bother to take a picture of what the heatspreader looks like BEFORE the modification because you'll be staring at your own. However, here's what the heatspreader should look like AFTER you are done grinding:

ghettoplate.jpg

The spot highlighted shows the area we just ground down. Also, be sure to test fit the heatspreader on the 9600m multiple times and if it's making contact with ANY electrical components, remove it and grind that area down.

If everything is okay after you are done test fitting it then find some tiny screws (the stock ones will not even come close to working) and install the heatspreader onto the 9600m, while still checking for any contact with electrical components.

By this point you should see what I was talking about when I said only half of each memory chip would be cooled. There isn't much you can do about this, just make sure you applied decent thermal pads before you install the heatspreader for the last time and be sure to monitor your temps.

Also, when you go to install the VGA heatsink onto the heatspreader be sure to only tighten the screws down about half way. If you tighten them down all the way they can make contact with some of the electrical components on the 9600m.

That's really all there is to this method, I never ran my system for longer than about 10 minutes with it like this so I couldn't tell you what the idle temps will be, however I'm sure they won't be that great. If you absolutely must use this method, I suggest you use it with a laptop cooler at the very least.

Method 2 - "The ultra cool, super shiny, pain in the butt method":

Benefits:

1. When you are done you will have an 1/8" thick all copper heatspreader!

2. Complete cooling solution that will be 100% plug and play with the C90S' VGA heatsink, except for one screw

3. The heatsink should be compatible with other "standard mounting plate" MXM-II cards.

4. If done correctly, you won't have to worry about short circuits or not being able to tighten screws completely.

5. Significant idle temperature drops. (*BETA NOTE* Load temps have yet to be tested due to the present problem.)

6. It's shiny.

Drawbacks:

1. Time consuming.

2. Difficult to fabricate and actually make.

3. Lots of various tools needed to complete the job. [/b]

Okay, so we've gone over the benefits and drawbacks again and if you think you're up for this project here's a few pictures of what you will end up with if you do it correctly:

SSPX0027.jpg

DSC00999.jpg

DSC00998.jpg

If you're still up for it, you'll need to start off by purchasing an 1/8" thick, 4" long, and 3" wide piece of copper. You can purchase a longer or wider piece of copper, just be sure its at least 4" long, 3" wide, and an 1/8" thick. Also, stick with an 1/8" for thickness. Any bigger and it WILL NOT fit, any smaller and you will probably have less cooling.

For reference I purchased an 8" long, 6" wide, 1/8" thick piece of copper on eBay for, if I remember correctly, about $30 shipped. This is what I worked with and it's what's pictured, but stay within the specifications given above and you should be fine.

You're going to start off with this (or something similar):

SSPX0018.jpg

You will first need to get some paper and build a "template" of what the heatsink needs to look like by tracing your 9600m and removing any areas that may come in contact with any of the 9600m's electrical components.

Since I'm such a nice guy and have already done this myself I'm going to save you about 45 minutes worth of work and let you print out the template I have already made and scanned. You can download the template image from here: *BETA NOTES* The template has not yet been scanned! I will be scanning it and uploading it soon! Just be sure NOT to resize the image!

Now you should be left with a paper template that looks like this:

DSC00996.jpg

The next step is to trace the outline of the template onto the copper plate. I used a pencil for doing this and pressed down very hard to make an impression. When you get done your copper plate should look like this:

SSPX0019.jpg

The picture isn't the best but in person the trace was more then visible. Now we have to cut the shape of our new heatspreader out from the piece of copper stock. I used a large clamp to hold the copper in place, a cut off wheel for the smaller areas that needed to be cut, and a saw with a metal cutting blade for the larger areas. You will need to rotate the copper multiple times and probably curse a half dozen times to get the job done.

When you get done cutting you should be left with a very jagged piece of copper that looks like this:

SSPX0022.jpg

Next step is to sand down all the jagged edges and top and bottom sides of the heatspreader. I used an air compressed rotary tool with a few sanding bits to get the edges nice and smooth and an electric sander on the top and bottom sides. A dremel will work as well, and if all else fails, a piece of sand paper and some elbow grease. When you get done with this step your new heatspreader should look like this:

SSPX0025.jpg

Now we will need to drill the necessary holes to mount the heatspreader to the 9600m. First you will need to place your paper template on top of your newly designed copper heatspreader and mark the areas that need to be drilled with a pencil like this:

SSPX0026.jpg

This part is a little tricky, and I'll do my best to explain what needs to be done clearly. You will need to "double drill" the holes, and by that I mean you will need to drill HALFWAY through the copper with a drill bit two sizes bigger then the screws needed to secure the heatspreader to the 9600m's "mounting plate".

The reason you need to do this is to give the heads of the screws an area to sit that will keep them flush with the top of the heatspreader. In other words, you are keeping the heads of the screws from protruding above the top of the heatspreader and causing the VGA heatsink not to make proper contact with it.

So, use a drill bit two sizes bigger than the screw ( bigger than the screw NOT the "head" of the screw) and drill HALFWAY through the heatspreader. Drill SLOWLY!! If you drill too fast and go straight through the heatspreader, you will have just wasted all this time and work!

When you get done drilling halfway through, you will then need to use a drill bit the same size as the screw and drill another hole completely through the heatspreader. This second hole is for actually connecting the heatspreader to the 9600m's "mounting plate". When you get done drilling your new heatspreader will almost be complete and should look like this:

SSPX0027.jpg

Now you will need to install the heatspreader onto the 9600m, then install the 9600m into your C90S and screw it down. Now line the VGA heatsink up and you will notice right away that one screw cannot be used. This is fine however, because it's not needed and the heatsink stays secured without it.

With the VGA heatsink lined up and sitting how it would if it was screwed down, trace the two VGA screw mounting areas with a pencil onto your heatspreader.

Disassemble the heatspreader from the 9600m and drill the final two holes necessary. Be sure to use a drill bit the same size as the VGA mounting screws. Use the spare VGA mounting screw you have to make "threads" in your two newly drilled VGA mounting holes. This can be done by slowly turning the screw down into the hole. You might have to elongate the hole a little, but try not to.

After you get done threading the holes check and make sure there are no jagged edges or little pieces of copper left in the drill holes. Sand down the top and bottom sides one more time to remove any jagged copper on the top or bottom sides. Clean the entire heatspreader up and you will finally be done with the fabrication stage!

All that's left to do is install it onto the 9600m and put everything back together in your C90S. When you get done this is what you'll be left with:

DSC00999.jpg

DSC00998.jpg

If you've made it this far, pat yourself on the back, you just did a heck of a job!

Step 3 - Installing the drivers and testing everything:

This is the easy part lol, I used drivers from laptopvideo2go.com and they worked just fine. Here's a GPU-Z screen capture:

gpuz.jpg

Idle temps hover around 69-71* Celsius without a laptop cooler and the fans not spinning at all. They jump down to 65* with the fans turned on very low. If the fans turn on any higher than that the temps plummet to around 59-61*. Unfortunately, I haven't been able to get any gaming temps due to the problem listed below....

THE PROBLEM:

Okay, so here's my issue that I've been racking my brain with for the past two days. I CAN'T GET THE CARD TO SWITCH INTO "3d mode"! What I mean by this is the clocks won't go above 275 core and 300 memory. I checked the bios image in Nibitor and those clock rates are listed under "Thrtl" and also as the startup clock rates. Here's a screen capture from Nibitor:

nibitor.jpg

I've tried the following:

1. Tried about a dozen drivers listed as being compatible with the 9600m GT.

2. Tried flashing the card to remove the "extra" profile. This results in "NVIDIA monitor" not being able to read the clock speeds and other programs still showing them as 275/300.

3. Tried flashing the card with the "thrtl" profile upped to 500/1250/800. This results in the card displaying massive amounts of garbage when you get past the Vista boot screen.

4. Tried the card on a fresh XP SP2 install without any Asus drivers being installed.

5. Used Turbo Gear to set my power profile to "power saver" and hold my E6700 at 1050Ghz.

6. Tried a spare 120 AC adapter.

7. Installed a driver with a modified .inf to get rid of powermeizer (which I do not believe worked).

As you can see no matter what I've done the clocks just WILL NOT switch into "3d mode", or to where they should be. The card will downclock to 169/338/100 no problem when I'm just browsing or something, so powermeizer does work and the card is capable of moving it's clocks for lack of a better word.

For whatever reason though I just cant get it to switch into the default clocks. I'm pretty sure it's not getting enough power and that's what causing the issue. I'm using a 120W adapter already, but as Vicious' tests have shown in this thread: http://forum.notebookreview.com/showthread.php?t=219507 the desktop cpu, especially an E6700, eats up an ungodly amount of power and is close to the limit of the adapter. This along with the need to upgrade to a better adapter (the 120W) with the use of the 8600m GT DDR3 card in some cases makes me think this is a definite possibility.

The only thing that concerns me with this conclusion is the fact that IF this were the case, the card should have switched to it's default clocks when I forced the system into "power saver mode" with Turbo Gear. This mode locks the E6700 at 1050Ghz which should free up more than enough power to juice up the 9600m.

I'm out of ideas at this point other than to try a 180W "universal" adapter and see if that works. I've flashed the card about a dozen times already and it's just refusing to up clock higher than 275/300.

On an amusing side note, I played COD4 last night for an hour with these clocks and achieved nearly the same performance as my 8600m GT 512mb DDR2 :) Temps held at 65* lol. This card has some SERIOUS potential if I can just figure this issue out. Any help would be greatly appreciated!

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Dread Emepror

:)

You sir are king of the hill, and have inspired me to do the same once I have cash saved for a 9600m. :)

If you end up getting a 180W adapter off eBay... Please keep us posted on who you got it from, all the ones up atm are for HP laptops (on eBay Australia anyhoo.)

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Guest Suigi

You, sir, are a god among men.

Hopefully the upgrade to a 9600M GT is easier on an Acer Aspire 6920G than an Asus C90S.

Only time and cash will tell. I'll wait until the 9600M GT is a generation or two behind the times.

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Kayldera

Can you tell me what's written on the chip? What's inscribed on the g96xxxx part? I'm planning to get one on ebay but the seller is not sure if it is a 9500m gt or a 9600m gt...

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Guest Guest

Did you have to flash the cards with new vbios? or is it just plug and play. BTW, you mentioned thermal pads as well as thermal grease, which one is better?

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laichiongwee

hello, can you give me the 9600m GT code name ah??

something like G96-??-??

please...i need your help...

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sssniper
hello, can you give me the 9600m GT code name ah??

something like G96-??-??

please...i need your help...

G 96m

Manufacturer NVIDIA

Series GeForce 9M

Codename NB9P

Pipelines 32 - unified

Core Speed * 500 MHz

Shader Speed * 1250 MHz

Memory Speed * 800 MHz

Memory Bus Width 128 Bit

Memory Type GDDR3

Max. Amount of Memory 1024 MB

Shared Memory no

 

DirectX DirectX 10, Shader 4.0

Current Consumption 23 Watt

Transistors 314 Million

technology 65 nm

Features PCI-E 2.0, 1250 MHz Shader, 400 MHz GDDR2, 800 MHz GDDR3, PureVideo HD Technologie (VP3), Hybrid SLI HybridPower

Notebook Size medium sized

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sssniper
BETA:

For whatever reason though I just cant get it to switch into the default clocks. I'm pretty sure it's not getting enough power and that's what causing the issue. I'm using a 120W adapter already, but as Vicious' tests have shown in this thread: http://forum.notebookreview.com/showthread.php?t=219507 the desktop cpu, especially an E6700, eats up an ungodly amount of power and is close to the limit of the adapter. This along with the need to upgrade to a better adapter (the 120W) with the use of the 8600m GT DDR3 card in some cases makes me think this is a definite possibility.

The only thing that concerns me with this conclusion is the fact that IF this were the case, the card should have switched to it's default clocks when I forced the system into "power saver mode" with Turbo Gear. This mode locks the E6700 at 1050Ghz which should free up more than enough power to juice up the 9600m.

I'm out of ideas at this point other than to try a 180W "universal" adapter and see if that works. I've flashed the card about a dozen times already and it's just refusing to up clock higher than 275/300.

hi, have you solved your problem already? i just looked through the specs of 8600m gt (20 W current consumption) and 9600m gt (23 W current consumption). are you sure this 3 W difference is worth adapter`s changing if you had already got 120W one? :)

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