DIY Thermal Modifications

I’ve got photos of old heat sink, tools required and procedure to remove the heat sink etc.

When i get a chance I’ll post here

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I would like to know where heat pads can be sourced at a fair price as they seem very expensive especially the thicker ones.

look on ebay for heat pads & heat sinks, I found a few cheap usb external fans.

For info on dismantling boxes look on youtube

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What thickness copper shims have people used? I’m sure the thicker the better but I could be wrong! I’m going to use thermal glue on the shim and them once set I’ll be gluing a heat sink on top, will this work?

Dirt cheap heat sinks on ebay UK: https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/Heat-Sink-BGA-FPGAs-Double-Sided-Adhesive-9-51-C-W-BGA-28-mm-9-mm-28-mm/114038809816?hash=item1a8d3e24d8:g:eLcAAOSw0j5dydEn

I just bought two packs of five as they are a silly price!

I finally got around to modding my X96 Air which was getting waay too hot and throttling.
As I posted (elsewhere?) I turned the box upside down, so the existing heatplate was on top, and removed the part of the case with the label … about 1.5" square hole. This helped a little.
Today I found some heatsinks … one a suitable 1.5" square and this had been removed from an old motherboard so had spring retention clips attached.
I removed the old ‘plate’ and not having any new heat pads or thermal glue, I sliced the existing heat pad in two to halve its thickness.
I put the new heatsink into the square hole of the case, from the board side, so that the retention springs were pressing against the case. Placed the reduce size heatpad on the cpu.
Then assembled the case … this necessitated some manual pressure against the retention springs, but the case clips held firm.
So that resulted in the heatsink being firmly pressed against the CPU heatpad for best thermal transfer.
The top 0.5" of the heatsink fins protrude through the case.
I have run a test now and here are results from playing a UHD (H.265) file over the LAN via NFS, but played into a 1080 monitor which necessitates the video res to be changed …

 CoreELEC:~ # uptime
 14:45:18 up  1:08,  load average: 2.72, 2.54, 2.63
CoreELEC:~ # cat /sys/devices/virtual/thermal/thermal_zone*/temp
54900
56900

With better heatpads and maybe some ventilation holes in the case this temperature could be reduced.
So far I do not think it is worth any further mod effort. That temperature is probably worst case for my use.

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Thats fairly good, mine peaks out at about 51C with a lazy fan and improved heatsink so really you are doing as well as me for less effort.

Shoog

Yes, I am fairly pleased with the temps … particularly considering the ambient at the time was 24C.

Whenever I get to take it apart next I will drill some air vent holes in top and bottom to prevent build up of hot air.

On my Mecool KM8 (S905X), besides fitting a larger passive cooler, I just enlarged existing holes on the bottom, and lifted it slightly by different placement of round rubber feet:

Temperature stays between 50-58°C, depending on played material…

I have considered a usb powered fan to just sit my X96 Max+ on. Found one on ebay for £4.

I hate fans, and try to do anything to avoid them…

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A USB fan is likely to be a poor choice since its a fan designed to run at 5v and so is running full speed. A 12v run off a USB is running at the edge of stalling so is very quiet.

Shoog

I won’t bother with a fan or any cooling. It goes up to 74, it works ok at that.

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My experience was that thermal throttling kicked in at 70C. The way to test this is to set the governor to performance in CE settings addon and then use the information panel to watch the CPU clock speed. If the clock speed changes then you are seeing thermal throttling.

Shoog

DO NOT BUY A X96 MAX+
This box has a horrible thermal design and they redesigned the motherboard new and moved the processor but still are using the original case so the 4 mm thick heat transfer pad has only 60% contact with the sheat metal heat sink.
This results if you use it as an Android box in temps over 83 C /182 F and a reset / reboot in an 23 C 74 F environment just by Kodi doing database work or watching a sinmle HD clip.
Here is the old design with external antennas and the new design with integrated antennas.

the old and the new design

Since you can not rotate the metal plate you need to rotate the bottom 180 degrees and you den up with something like that.

OK this is all shit and first we need to get the heat out of the case, since these geniusses put the board upside down in the case all the heat gets trappedin the processor area and the holes in the bottom do nothing since there can not be any air movement.
So let´s get constructive destructive…

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We start with the processor heat transfer first.
Throw away the stupid 4mm silicone pad and put some heat transfer paste on the processor. Then we take a 10mm x 30mm 3mm copper M2 SSD cooler what we have left over from screwing around with an apollo lake ultra book.
Over that comes a very thin double sided thermal transfer tape to keep the sheet metal in place.

No we need to keep pressure directly over the processor. This is done by 3 washers what sit around the mounting pin of the sheet metal cooler.
but this brings the pressure not directly on the processor so the mounting pin meets the dremel.
Then the 3 washers are getting reduced to 2 and since I drilled a bunch of holes into the bottom earlier to test if just simple swiss cheese methode would work (it did not enough) the 3rd washer gets replaced with a 1mm slotted aluminum plate (remember the apollo lake, a leftover from my heat sinking there).
The washers get held in place directly over the processor by some aluminum sticky tape.


pictured the 3 washer stage.

The top gets the swiss cheese treatment since I found out that the topside from the board produces quite some heat too.
I wanted the look not too butchered up so I used some mounting band what has nice holes in equal spaces.
Also the logo should be not holed.


the holes were smoothed later on.

WIth this setup the box reaches 75C 167F playing for half an hour in a 29C 84F environment.
We are still takling under Android where the box runs between 80 and 100% Kodi processor load.
In CE we are at 60 C 140F and in cooler room conditions, around 22C 72F, the box runs 10C 50F cooler.
The inside of the box runs now with acceptable temps.
Both measured through the air holes onto the board in Android under load.

The bottom also got some feet extensions so there is now a good, and with the hand over the top noticeable, air movement going on.

Aliexpress got a claim that I get 19 Euro from the 38 Euro price back.
(I forgot that there was a keyboard what made the price a bit higher, so I might settle for 15 Euro back, for my work)

If everything works as it does now, I will glue some black fly screen from the inside to keep the bugs out of the box.

By the way, since the sd card slot just runs slow usb 2 speed with 25/18 RW I copied the sd card onto a 64GB Sandisk Ultra Fit usb 3.0 what runs over the 4 port hub with measured 140/50 RW.

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In case I need more cooling, I ordered 2 double raspi coolers which I can devide, since 1 cooler with one fan should be enough for the android box.
At a price of 4.65 Euro for 4 fans, I could not resist.

the size of a devided unit is 25mm * 25mm * 13mm and uses 0.75 W on 5V

The fan would just stick a few mm out of the case and could be covered with a Stainless Steel Sink Strainer for a fancy look and to keep bugs out

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Sorry very noob moder here…

Would a kit like this, plus some holes drilling do it for the X96 Air?

Unsure about the height, it is 6mm, will it fit?

Or will i be better of going with a bunch of small heatsinks?

h1

Bigger is better. Those sorts of sizes will simply add thermal inertia but wont stop the chip getting to throttling temps.

Shoog

Am i getting close? I prefer not to completely cut the case.
It is 38*38 and 6 mm high.