Retrofitting SLI 1070 MXM into a 4yr old laptop

Discussion in 'Modding' started by bennyg, Jun 22, 2017.

  1. bennyg

    bennyg Member

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    UPDATE:
    Latest Firestrike: 20412
    https://www.3dmark.com/fs/13971347

    Firestrike Ultra: 8117
    https://www.3dmark.com/fs/13971437

    Timespy: 9130
    https://www.3dmark.com/spy/2619397

    Timespy Extreme: 4042
    https://www.3dmark.com/spy/2619446

    CPU 3940XM at 4.3 @ 1.31V ("extra turbo voltage" +3)
    GPUs clock up to 1975MHz / 0.975V with 9100MHz on the memory; clocks are controlled by a custom edited curve in MSI Afterburner, as these cards are occasionally unstable over 1.013V (suspected MS-1W0V1 rev 02S issue). However they can do 1975mhz at 0.975V still power throttled at 160W and temps are the limiter; the voltage cap is not a practical limit.
    Above benchmarks are (budget) 16Gb DDR3 CL11 @ 1600mhz; now has 24Gb CL10 @ 1800mhz which seems to add a % or two to physics bench scores


    ---

    Didn't really plan this at all. I've been sitting on the idea since Pascal first came out, keeping an eye on ebay and taobao and stuff like Pascal vbios TDP tweaks, then last month a bunch of the cards popped up on ebay for $600usd each posted, ebay suckered me in with a 10% voucher to bring on the impulse buy.

    The laptop is a previous gen SLI model, Clevo P370EM, Ivy bridge mobile socketed cpu, DDR3, even has an optical drive. I picked it up late last year pretty cheap ($600 for a model that was >$3000 new) as I think the 7970M in there had failed and been repaired (amazingly... the soldering job there is something even *I* can look down upon, and the only soldering I'm reliably capable of is heat gun and low temp solder paste!)

    Shortly after this I bought the beast P870DM, super powerful, amazingly engineered, 4K screen upgrade, love it. Had a screwdriver drop in the LGA1151 socket a couple months ago and broke off a pin :upset: Ordered a replacement motherboard, something must have been stuck in a ribbon connector, caused a short when I fired it up first time, ever so slightly melted the ribbon cable and connector for the power button board :upset::upset::upset: both those mobos are at a guy hopefully getting fixed. One good thing was I was able to order (5x) new generic flex ribbon for 1/5th the price of the Clevo part.

    So I had this sitting gathering dust all this year, then these 1070s arrived, and sat there calling from inside their static bags. The stock heatsinks were designed for 75W GPUs so suck at cooling the 120W 1070s ==> as I said.... unplanned

    The end (well so far, the below was with the CPU pegged at 1.2ghz and the GPUs well below their power limit because I had the thing plugged into a woefully inadequate 230W PSU!! But it's proof that SLI works):
    [​IMG]

    EDIT
    Damn u photobucket.
    Full imgur album here
     
    Last edited: Nov 16, 2017
  2. OP
    OP
    bennyg

    bennyg Member

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    Full specs:
    Originally released in 2012.
    Clevo P370EM (also known as the Sager NP9370)
    i7-3740QM (2.7-3.8GHz - with +400MHz raised turbo limit and unlocked turbo limits it is effectively overclocked to 3.9GHz all core and 4.1ghz max single turbo)
    16Gb DDR3 1600mhz
    64Gb mSATA, some Samsung thing. Backup storage 480Gb Toshiba Dynastore, super budget SSD but it was cheap and maintains ~200MB/s so does its job.
    Two MXM slots. First release was with 670M GTX cards, these were not Kepler (ugly rebadging chicanery) but cut down 570s with 336 cores, 1.5Gb memory on a 192bit bus. The heatsinks I have were designed for these GPUs. It was later offered with GTX 680Ms (1344 core/4Gb/256bit Kepler) and 7970M (1280sp Pitcairn)
    Four USB 3.0. One combo USB 2.0/eSATA port. HDMI and Displayport out. Well specced at the time, this was Clevo's flagship desktop replacement laptop
    I'm not a fan of the clickpad or lacking separate left and right click buttons (the whole touchpad surface is pressed like it's a mouse button), I find it imprecise.

    The chassis itself was updated with internals as the generations progressed: P370SM with a Haswell socket CPU, and then P375SMA/P377SMA with all the way up to SLI 980M GTX's (an 8Gb, slightly underclocked 1536sp GM104 i.e. GTX 970) until replaced with the P870DM in 2015.

    I like the boxy featureless look of Clevos. No LEDs other than the keyboard backlight, and no red dragons or anything. These pass for business machines except they are big and heavy and have shocken battery life, and nice high res screens.
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    The 1070s are these wierd shaped things:

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Holy busy PCB batman! Barely a square mm without something on it... That's a full 1070 core with 8gb GDDR5, 5+1 phase VRM on a board not much bigger than 85mm x 100mm. ~half the size of a zotac 1070 Mini?

    The reference MXM 3.0b spec followed for the last decade for high end laptop GPUs is a plain rectangle. This card has an added wing on one side and a tab on the other meaning it doesn't fit in heaps of laptops where there's usually not much space around the slots. Lucky nothing important was in the way of these cards fitting in, only requiring dremel work on the internal frame.

    The SLI cable was the same one used on the 670M's. Though slightly different positions for the SLI connector means it doesn't sit flat like stock but is actually ok.
     
    Last edited: Nov 16, 2017
  3. OP
    OP
    bennyg

    bennyg Member

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    edit: see imgur album in OP. CBF relinking these all, sorry.

    Initial fit in the master slot.
    The wing contacts the frame that houses the CPU fan on the right, and at the other end the tab sits uncomfortably close to the frame surrounding a screw hole so I shaved it down there just a bit.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    The bits in blue texta are where the slave card contacts the frame:
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    All sitting nice and flat!
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    Now, to get the SLI cable to fit. Since the cable is custom for this chassis, ad the slots are at right angles, and the SLI connectors are in a slightly different place to stock, the cable doesn't play nice. Can't even plug it in on the master card.
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    Bit more of the frame removed makes space:
    [​IMG]

    There's a twist on the SLI cable but it at least fits and isn't hitting or rubbing anything.
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Nov 16, 2017
  4. OP
    OP
    bennyg

    bennyg Member

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    edit: see imgur album in OP. CBF relinking these all, sorry.

    Driver modding and compatibility.

    The first thing about Pascal upgrades is that Pascal (and Polaris) dropped support for the standard notebook screen connection protocol of the last decade - LVDS. LVDS bandwidth maxes out at 1920x1080x60Hz and is now replaced with eDP in all laptops sold now. While Nvidia's 3D Vision failed to reach a critical mass with something like only 40 games ever getting support, and was eventually cancelled, the happy side effect is that the 1920x1080x120Hz panel required for stereoscopic '60Hz' meant that certain laptop models such as this P370EM shipped with BOTH functioning LVDS and eDP (30 pin) ports on the motherboard as it had a 3D variant.

    Why this is relevant is I don't have an eDP panel or the cable specific for it in this laptop, only LVDS. So there is no functioning internal display until I do. Thus without a display installing drivers was always going to be a hassle.
    Worse... the DP-out wouldn't work without a GPU driver installed.
    My monitor doesn't have HDMI in. And it may not have worked either, like DP.
    So my last resort was to chuck back in the old GPU (which can use the internal display), set up a remote connection software on my other laptop and set it to autorun, and then just boot the laptop and then try to install the driver via the remote connection.

    [​IMG]
    Nvidia INF data for laptops has a device ID (the card DEV_1BA1) and a subsystem ID (the chassis SUBSYS_03711558) and drivers only have profiles for combos of the two that actually existed.

    So the stock nvidia installer "can't find compatible hardware" without adding strings to the INF file where the installer looks for the lists of hardware strings. The other far easier method is to just remove the SUBSYS ID and hope the version of the driver it chooses for the class of GPU it fits into works. In this case there are two DEV IDs for 1070s, DEV_1BA1 and DEV_1BE1, both seem to pop up on MXM boards so it doesn't seem as simple as one's the mobile 1070 (with 2048 cores and slightly lower clocks) and the other's the desktop 1070 (1920 cores and slightly higher clocks), but the INF mod I found that had worked for others doing an MSI MXM upgrades into other laptops and worked here too.

    The card was detectable and readable by the system. If not outputting to anything...
    HWinfo: (also provided a temperature reading in Sensors readout)
    [​IMG]

    Eventually after having to guess the correct key sequence to choose the Disable Driver Signature Enforcement startup mode from the legacy safe mode boot menu... I got it installed:
    [​IMG]

    and working:
    [​IMG]
    The thermal paste had been reused multiple times as I was fitting the cards so that's why temps are terrible here (a -200mhz/-1000mhz underclock on its way to 100C if I let it run)

    Then the second was installed along with a proper paste job (even if it is just mixed-together stuff from my dont-care tube, about half of it is from ancient big tube of AS5) and some fresh thermal pads:
    [​IMG]
    done!
    [​IMG]

    Nvidia control panel even nicely enabled SLI after a reboot for me!

    [​IMG]

    After taking this I ran Time Spy and got a shocking score. As soon as the card started being used, CPU frequency was pegged at 1.2GHz in a firmware perma-throttle... I was running a CPU drawing up to 60W, two GPUs drawing up to 120W each, and the rest of the components (except screen) off a single 230W adapter - not a 330W like I thought. So a throttle would kick in when power draw got too high that would persist until I removed ad reinserted the charger, or rebooted. I have a joiner for two 330W's that can feed up to 660W but gettting up there would mean melting silicon until the motherboard VRM blew. The P870DM on the other hand is specced to withstand burst draw of over 1200W and deliver up to 266W through each GPU slot... yes that's a laptop easily capable of sustaining a skylake/kabylake 5.0GHz OC and nuts overclocks.

    Anyway I was amazed that a pair of 2016 generation GPUs, squished by MSI onto a funny shaped but as-close-to-MXM-as-possible PCB, for use in their uber expensive ($4000aud+) G65VR mini-tower SFF gaming PC, basically worked straight away into a Clevo model that's almost 5 years old. Giving what hopefully will be not too far off 1080ti performance at the end of it.

    The overclocked quad core CPU is actually pretty damn strong for how old it is. It's about 25% slower across the board than a stock 6700K. So how much that (and the budget cl11 ddr3-1600 ram) ends up bottlenecking the performance will be interesting to see.
     
    Last edited: Nov 16, 2017
  5. partybear

    partybear Member

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    Wow that was very cool and interesting to read.
     
  6. Hive

    Hive Member

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    *unplugs*
    2 seconds later
    98%
    5 seconds later
    65%
    shortly later
    2%

    *Windows is hibernating*

    Beast of a machine... jealous.
     
  7. OP
    OP
    bennyg

    bennyg Member

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    It was just the adapter, plugged in the 330W brick and it goes alright.

    Firestrike 17621
    [​IMG]

    Time Spy 8370
    [​IMG]

    Stock 1070 clocks
    CPU with unlimited turbo limits +400Mhz (so 3.9Ghz with turbo to 4.1ghz)
    Budget CL11-DDR3-1600
    Heatsinks are ok for short bursts. Highest was 85C on Time spy graphics test 2

    Time to catch up with responsibilities in RL ... haven't yet had an opportunity to try a game for a decent period to see how thermals go in the longer term.
     
    Last edited: Jun 23, 2017
  8. aussie-revhead

    aussie-revhead Member

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    Interesting read benny but you're nuts ... :lol: :lol: :lol:

    What can you do to improve the gpu cooling? Can you undervolt the gpus?

    :thumbup:
     
  9. davros123

    davros123 Member

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    Great story. Amazing. It must have been like riding a rollercoaster...and getting stuck upside down a few times ;)
     
  10. OP
    OP
    bennyg

    bennyg Member

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    Temps actually aren't horrible.

    Originally 79C/86C for the GPUs with very un-special paste which is similar to what the old fermis got.

    EC on the laptop chassis that controls all the fans has a preset fan speed curve, it waits until the slave GPU hits 90C until it turns the fans to full then temps slowly lower to their stable point.

    I liquid metalled them, dropped to 73C/82C. Hitting the board power limits of 120W each mining eth at just over 30mh/s each, that is on a two pipe heatsink designed for 75W. I am really surprised, I was totally expecting to have to underclock the bejeezus out of them.

    Havent yet installed any game on it that stretches the 1070s on a 1080p60 screen.

    Expensive little money making foot heater for now ;)
     
  11. OP
    OP
    bennyg

    bennyg Member

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    Liquid metalled everything, dropped temperatures by ~10C idle but only ~3C each load, the heatsink is the limiter. CPU overclocked as far as the locked laptop quad will go, 3.9ghz steady with 60W draw, never goes above 73C even though I'm pretty sure the fan is making less noise (not spinning as fast)

    The smaller 2 piece heat sinks are really easy to get great fit on and it needed bugger all Conductonaut maybe a 1/4 rice grain on each die and another 1/4 to wet each heatsink. Important: since these Pascal GPUs have no retainer around the die so all the pressure from the mounts is directly onto the die. Careful not to overtighten!!

    The half kilo plus big beasts on the 980Ms on my P870DM took many many corrections to get decent enough to not have big gaps.
     
  12. datfreak

    datfreak Member

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    I was going to joke 'who cares about sli benchmarks, what is important is how much eth does it make. You even mine bro?' then I read:
    respect :thumbup: Jealous here also.
     
  13. robertjp_1

    robertjp_1 Member

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    If you can do this why couldn't HP fix the HP ZD8020ap.
     
  14. Turbine

    Turbine Member

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    Great read!
     
  15. OP
    OP
    bennyg

    bennyg Member

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    Thanks.

    I figured out the weird fan behaviour, it finally dawned on me it was still on its stock system BIOS. A guy called Prema has done BIOS mods for a range of Clevos over the years, removing hidden power limits, unlocking hidden options, and adding a "max fans" hotkey. Stock, it would not kick fans to full until the slave card hit 90C. Then it'd cool to 79/86C. After I liquid metalled, if it was cold enough ambient, the master gpu could drop below 70C and the fans would turn off! At which point it'd heat back up and start the cycle again. (Clevo fan control is way behind the big OEMs like MSI and Asus and on the EM stock there was NO OPTION to control them. The firmware in the EC had its one fan curve and that is IT. Its a bit better in current models with at least a choice between different profiles but still isn't fully custom like tweakers i.e. me - would prefer!)

    With max fans it usually settles on about 69C/76C for the two GPUs when eth mining with a flat -200mhz core /+675mhz memory profile set in MSI Afterburner.

    Games? Havent installed anything that loads up the gpus at 1080p60 yet. I'm about to order a LG 1080p 120Hz panel and eDP cable - lucky this laptop had a 3D variant and these parts were factory so should plug right in and work no probs.

    I also forgot a final "under bonnet" shot with heatsinks:
    [​IMG]
     
  16. Wolfje

    Wolfje Member

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    Very cool! Where did you get the MXM cards from? I have a P177SM-A with a cooked GTX 880M in it, been trying to find a replacement GPU for it for a while but eBay prices are a bit silly
     
  17. magao

    magao Member

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    Clevos are definitely designed as portable workstations and gaming machines - they're intended to be plugged in most of the time. I can get ~4 hours out of mine (plenty for a train trip to Sydney), but it's lower spec (2014 model, Core i7 4710MQ, HD4600+GTX860M - configured to use the HD4600 by default).

    As part of being a portable workstation, they also have plenty of options for storage. Mine has 2x 2.5" SATA bays + 1x mSATA, and the option of another 2.5" bay instead of the DVD drive.

    And matt screens! Haven't checked their current models, but when I bought mine they were about the only way I could get a machine that met my specs with a matt screen. The fact that they were considerably cheaper than anyone else yet the reviews all talked about them being quality machines sealed the deal.

    I've suggested to Metabox (AU Clevo mob) that they provide the option of a battery that slots into the DVD drive bay - they seemed interested in the idea at the time, but don't appear to have followed up on it.

    When I have to go to Sydney to meet up with my co-workers it's always an interesting comparison between their MacBooks and my Clevo (which including the screen is about 3 times the thickness).
     
    Last edited: Jul 5, 2017
  18. OP
    OP
    bennyg

    bennyg Member

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    If you search my thread on notebook review forums the link is in there. I dont think it'll fit if you have a similarly large capacitor too close to the slot like I do in my P170EM (the P177SM is an evolution of that). 1060 certainly works there though and any laptop with Optimus routing the dGPU through the iGPU wont have the internal display issues I have here

    edit:
    http://www.ebay.com.au/itm/NVidia-GTX-1070-8GB-N17E-G2-A1-Video-Graphics-Card-GPU106/182588894256
     
    Last edited: Jul 4, 2017
  19. MUTMAN

    MUTMAN Member

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    cool read bennyg :thumbup:

    post this up on clevo's FB or twitter or whatever and see if they are up for some new coolers for your frankinclevo
     
  20. OP
    OP
    bennyg

    bennyg Member

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    Ran few benches (systeminfo was AWOL)

    Firestrike standard: 17653 http://www.3dmark.com/fs/13037846

    Firestrike Extreme 12285 http://www.3dmark.com/fs/13037927

    Firestrike Ultra 7205 http://www.3dmark.com/fs/13037980

    Timespy 8579 http://www.3dmark.com/spy/2018131

    Also I just ordered a eDP cable (couldn't find anyone with stock, or a reasonable price so have settled for a slightly longer one from a previous model after making sure the eDP port spec was identical) and a 120Hz screen to fit.

    Thanks :)

    They don't have a fb page. "Clevo Notebooks" is claimed by a German reseller. I could buy updated SM-A heatsinks but they won't perform a whole lot better and would cost upwards of $200 for a set IF I can find someone with stock.

    Clevo themselves are a very strange company. They don't sell direct, their business model is through a large number of worldwide resellers (list) and have absolutely no interface with end consumers.

    Which wouldn't be a problem if they didn't lock the stock EC firmware down with power limits, rubbish fan control schemes, and sub-par keyboards for their top end models. It takes a custom BIOS+EC firmware written by this guy Prema, usually months sometimes years after release, to unleash the beast engineering potential in these things.

    But they are the only company who has consistently made desktop-socket CPU based laptops since Intel shifted mobile CPUs to BGA soldered only with Haswell, and one of the few that continue to make MXM spec interchangeable graphics slots.

    It's a love-hate relationship for us crazy idiots who for whatever reason like tinkering with these things. It's very niche. And while the usual criticism of the big DTR notebooks is "you can buy a desktop for cheaper" - it's not always true, value is sometimes there because the market is so niche - my P170EM which I got second hand on ebay for $1200 in mid 2013 less than half price vs new for a tick over 1yr old, still has raw CPU performance on par with current 7700HQ models (new, $2k+ now)
     
    Last edited: Jul 4, 2017

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