Replacing Thermal Interface Material on an HP DV7T Laptop

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So you have a recent consumer notebook and think you might want to replace the OEM thermal interface material or just give the heat sink fins a deep cleaning.  Well, it may be easier than you think!

This writeup will cover what I did to replace the OEM thermal interface material on my HP DV7T laptop which will be similar to many other notebooks on the market, at least in difficulty to do your own servicing.

Now, let’s get started – the first thing you need will be tools:

  • At least a No. 1 Phillips-head screwdriver
  • Needle nose pliers
  • New TIM (thermal grease)
  • A flashlight may come in handy

You will want a clean, static free area to work and ground yourself to prevent ESD.  You will also want to try to get a copy of the service manual for your notebook.  I found mine HERE at HP.  Some OEMs make it easy to find the service manuals, while others bury them, and still more act as if these manuals are a state secret and simply don’t allow access.  A good place to begin looking is the Service Manual thread on the Overclockers forums.

 

You will need a method to keep your screws organized.  I use an egg carton and start at the bottom left of the laptop and work left to right.  I use a separate bin for each component, and when a component has different sized screws I separate them as well.

Editors note:  An 8.5×11 sheet of Styrofoam or cardboard also works well – any material which you can press the screws into that holds firmly.  I use this to organize the screws in a layout similar to where they belong in the laptop, which makes reassembly more automatic  – IMOG

Remove the two access panels from the bottom of the notebook to reveal the user replaceable parts.  This is the end of the easy part – everything else requires more work. At this point we remove the drives, RAM and WiFi card which is under the primary drive. The optical drive can be removed by removing one screw from just right of the OEM sticker then giving the drive a small tug. It should slide out easily.

 

Next we remove the switch cover and keyboard by removing the ten screws marked in red.

 

After removing the screws, pry the switch cover up using a plastic wedge or small flat blade screwdriver.  Not much force is needed and once one side is up the rest will come loose easily.

Once the switch cover is loose you will need to raise it and remove four screws securing the keyboard.   Only two are marked on this image but other two are easy to identify and are just outside the border of the picture.

 

Now you can remove the two ribbon cables for the switch cover and also the ribbon cable for the keyboard.  Pay attention to how the keyboard cable is attached as there is a lever on top of the socket that will need to be flipped up.  Also, reattaching this cable can be a pain.

 

Now we remove the speaker bar by disconnecting the cable from the motherboard and lifting the bar.

 

Now we are ready to remove the display.  First we have to disconnect the video cable shown below.

 

Next, disconnect the camera cable from the motherboard and then free that cable and the WiFi antennae cable from their routing.  Next you can remove the four screws securing the display but make sure to support the display and don’t allow it to fall.

 

Now we can go to work on the top cover.  Remove the indicated 4 screws and disconnect the power button.

 

On the bottom of the notebook we have thirteen screws to remove.  Once these are removed, flip the notebook back over and gently work the top cover loose.  The top cover snaps together at the front.

 

Here is what the top cover looks like once removed.

 

Now we can remove the motherboard from the base.  First, you will need to disconnect the two power connectors, USB ribbon cable and the woofer at the top right of the board.  Next, remove the daughter board and ribbon cable at bottom right.  Finally remove the three screws securing the motherboard along the bottom.

 

Now we can finally remove the board by lifting the right side to approximately 45° angle and then pull upward.

 

Finally, here is what we are after.  Disconnect the fan cable and loosen the six screws and give a gentle pull to release the heat sink assembly.  Clean the original material from the CPU, GPU and heat sinks but do not remove the thermal pads!  These pads do well enough for their purpose and removing them would create a significant gap.

 

All cleaned and ready to be reinstalled.  Just apply your new thermal interface material and reinstall the heat sink assembly.  There is a number by each of the six screws, just follow those.  Don’t forget to plug the fan back into the motherboard – you wouldn’t want to finish only to find out your fan does not work!

 

So, reassembly is the reverse of what was done, just work backwards paying particular attention to cable routing and putting the proper screws where they go.  In the end you should have an empty parts tray  and a working system.

So, you might wonder after all of this, does it help any?

The answer is that in this case it did help.  I tested before and after using LinX and found a reduction of 2°C maximum temperature on the cores before any curing has taken place.  I feel this was successful to get rid of the plastic stuff used at the factory and get a quality interface material that I am confident will last.  There also seems to be a slight reduction in heat seeping up through the palm rest and keyboard, but this is subjective.

Thanks for reading and please visit us in the forums for further discussion!

S. Wilson

 

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