Notebook graphics-card upgrade

On one of those spur-of-the-moment things, I purchased an Acer Aspire 5520g in the new year with dedicated nVidia 8400m G graphics – it was at sale price and had most of the features I was looking for. The following week however, I realised that I had purchased an expensive slideshow viewer when the thing came anywhere near games like COD4 and Bioshock.

I tried bios-overclocking the graphics card with some improvement – however I stumbled upon MXM-Upgrade and opened up my unit and decided to take a punt on a graphics upgrade:

Acer Aspire 5520 pre-modification

I sourced an nVidia 8600m GT from and upgraded (nVision MXM-Upgrade forum).

Once the AS5 thermal grease was halfway bedded in, I bios-overclocked the card and got back to playing games!

However, I did start to become concerned that my keyboard was feeling a little warm after running intensive games. I ordered a Zalman Notebook Cooler ZM-NC2000 and decided to start monitoring the temperature sensors to see what impact the cooler had… at which point I realised that no one utility accurately captured the sensor information I was looking for – and none displayed my machine-specific sensor information in D3D 9 and 10 games or logged it to Perfmon/Reliability and Performance Monitor.

…so gaming became hacking:

On the chance that the implementation behind some of the sources of sensor data will be of use to someone, I’ll cover some of the details when I can - probably focusing on the D2D injection (esp. D3D 10) and the Vista ACPI-querying driver I authored.

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2 Responses to Notebook graphics-card upgrade

  1. Julien says:


    I am having cooling issues with this laptop. The CPU temps are unstable. It jumps from 49 to 60′C in a second which is not good at all.

    Any way to fix it? I am planning to remove thermal pads and use grease instead. Is that ok?

    Thank u.

  2. admin says:

    @Julien I grabbed a Zalman notebook cooler (ZM-NC2000) which I found useful in lowering temps when I was gaming and I’ve have retained it for use with my new gaming laptop. Going any further is likely to void your warranty…

    So the pesky warranty thing out of the way – if you are opening the case, I’d check that your fan isn’t blocked with cruft – seems to be a general problem.

    My 5520g’s CPU already had generic thermal grease on it rather than pads – which I replaced with Arctic Silver when I was working on it. And it helped somewhat.

    The 5520g’s GPU on the other hand required a bit of tooling when I modded it – a combination of thicker thermal pads for the memory and again Arctic Silver to replace the existing thermal grease.

    I think the issue with pads vs. grease is that pads might be used to cover a bigger gap – whereas thermal grease shouldn’t be coated on too think and isn’t suitable to bridge gaps. used to have some good info for applying grease etc.

    Finally – 60c was icy cold when I was cranking my modded unit up (hence the custom temp. monitoring). For what it is worth, my 5520g is dead… succumbing to what looked like a fault in the nVidia MCP. I didn’t loose a lot of sleep over it as I’d well and truly thrashed it.

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