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Wanting people's experiences using Liquid Metal on laptops

The thermal compound solution in my laptop (Lenovo P17 with i7 10750H and RTX Quadro 5000) is failing because I stupidly repasted with something that wouldn't last a long time in these conditions, and the temps have been slowly rising. Even at its best this laptop has been pretty hot but the noise is becoming pretty annoying just doing basic workstation tasks and even light games. I've been thinking since I need to reopen this laptop (first time was replacing the GPU), I might try liquid metal on these components because I think it'd be a pretty reasonable use case.

 

I have some reservations about longevity though, and causing problems to the board. The heatsink to my memory is pure copper so it shouldn't be a problem there, however I just want to get your experiences with this stuff and whether I should go forward. Any tips would be helpful as well.

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Posted (edited)

There are serious caveats to using liquid metal. It’s an indium gallium mix, and the gallium is incompatible with some metals and will eat holes in them.  Without knowing what metals it could come into contact with, a yes or no is difficult because what laptop it is being put on is unknown.

Edited by Bombastinator

Life is like a bowl of chocolates: there are all these little crinkly paper cups everywhere.

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3 minutes ago, Bombastinator said:

There are serious caveats to using liquid metal. It’s an indium gallium mix, and the gallium is incompatible with some metals and will eat holes in them.  Without knowing what laptop you even have a yes or no is difficult because what metal it is being put on is unknown.

I did mention my laptop in the post. It's the Lenovo P17. I've taken this laptop apart before, and I'm fairly sure the heatsink is pure copper.

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Posted (edited)
54 minutes ago, Brian McKee said:

I did mention my laptop in the post. It's the Lenovo P17. I've taken this laptop apart before, and I'm fairly sure the heatsink is pure copper.

I hope you insured it.  Copper doesn’t react, BUT, “Pure” is complicated these days unless they actually mean it.  The stuff is expensive so folks try to mix other things in with it a lot.  It’d there are traces you will get staining.  If there is more you will get pitting.  I’m beginning to wonder if gallium is sort of a really slow “acid test” for copper

Edited by Bombastinator

Life is like a bowl of chocolates: there are all these little crinkly paper cups everywhere.

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59 minutes ago, Bombastinator said:

I hope you insured it.  Copper doesn’t react, BUT, “Pure” is complicated these days unless they actually mean it.  The stuff is expensive so folks try to mix other things in with it a lot.  It’d there are traces you will get staining.  If there is more you will get pitting.  I’m beginning to wonder if gallium is sort of a really slow “acid test” for copper

I mean short of people's experience with this exact board I don't think I'd know that unless I try. Not like replacing the heatsink is that difficult just a little costly. I'm more wondering about people's experience with liquid metal spilling out and how long till it needed maintenance in general.

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It seems to mostly depend on the mounting pressure of the specific model and whether you decide to also build a protective dam/barrier or not. Not really experienced with the P17, but if it's not known for unreasonably bad heatsink fits and you're sure the entire contact area is copper, it should be fine. As long as you're careful in the application and moving the laptop around afterward most people who've done LM well don't seem to complain about leaks and such.

 

If the heatsink doesn't have the greatest fit/pressure mount, I have heard of LM drying out over time (it seems it's more exposure to air, rather than a pump-out/thermal degradation like thermal paste). Since you have to remove and reapply to find out if this is the case though, most users seem to notice when temps start to rise after a while. A good application and fit seems like it lasts much longer than normal thermal paste in general, but again, it's highly susceptible to the initial fit and pressure, and that can vary even between machines of the same model.

 

Bit of the luck of the draw, but if you're willing to spend a couple hours making sure you do the application properly and make sure to protect the rest of the board from potential leakage, it's not like it'll hurt to give it a try. 

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23 hours ago, Brian McKee said:

I mean short of people's experience with this exact board I don't think I'd know that unless I try. Not like replacing the heatsink is that difficult just a little costly. I'm more wondering about people's experience with liquid metal spilling out and how long till it needed maintenance in general.

You might wanna just try something like kryonaut instead of going directlt with liquid metal. That stuff will over time affect your copper cooler permanently unless ita 100% pure. Which I doubt it is.

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Posted (edited)
2 hours ago, jaslion said:

You might wanna just try something like kryonaut instead of going directlt with liquid metal. That stuff will over time affect your copper cooler permanently unless ita 100% pure. Which I doubt it is.

really pure copper isn’t orange btw. It’s a deep salmon red. It’s sometimes called “low oxygen copper”. Most electrical wire needs to be made new because recycled copper won’t work for it, but it’s usually fine for heat sinks so heat sinks (like cold plates) are usually made of recycled copper electrical wire.  With all its various oxides mixed in.  

Edited by Bombastinator

Life is like a bowl of chocolates: there are all these little crinkly paper cups everywhere.

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