Framework Laptop 16 Deep Dive - Liquid Metal

The Ryzen 7040 Series processor in Framework Laptop 16 is capable of running at a sustained 45W TDP (Thermal Design Power) and we put together an excellent thermal solution to ensure it can do that while keeping CPU temperature, touch temperatures, and fan noise to a minimum. That 45 watts of CPU power needs to be efficiently conducted into the vapor chamber, heatpipes, and fins to be carried away through airflow from the fans. Since neither the CPU die nor the vapor chamber surface are perfectly flat, a thermal interface material is needed to fill in gaps to avoid comparatively insulative air taking up that space. Traditionally, most computers use a thermal grease that has thermally conductive particles suspended in silicone. This works reasonably well, but the silicone itself isn’t especially thermally conductive, and the paste can pump out or dry out over time, making it less effective.

Instead, on Framework Laptop 16, we used a liquid metal thermal interface on the CPU. Liquid metal is exactly what it sounds like: a 100% metal sheet made up of indium, tin, and bismuth that turns from solid into liquid at around 58°C as the CPU heats up, filling any air gaps completely. Being metal, it is extremely thermally conductive, rated at 72W/mK, substantially better than the 5-10W/mK that is typical for traditional paste. It also doesn’t dry out or pump out over time. We’re using Coollaboratory’s Liquid MetalPad through their Taiwan-based partner CCHUAN.

Framework Laptop Mainboard assembly animation

You might be thinking, is it safe to have highly electrically conductive liquid inside of a portable device? The answer in this case is yes, as we’ve designed the thermal system to contain it at multiple levels. First, because AMD’s processors have small capacitors directly next to the CPU dies, we dispense an insulative glue layer using a robotic fixture during Mainboard assembly to cover them. Next, an etched pattern in the surface of the vapor chamber holds the liquid metal through tension. Finally, a dual foam barrier around the CPU is squeezed between the processor package and the vapor chamber copper plate, preventing any liquid metal from escaping. All of this results in a very cool thermal solution and great CPU performance.

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Love this. I’ve always been a little apprehensive about liquid metal in mobile devices to it’s nice to hear how the risks have been mitigated. Also, the vapor chamber is an interesting choice!

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Nice to see that replacement liquid metal pads will be available.

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That just increases my temptation to throw lm on my 13, ptm is nice but it’s not lm.

Does that void warranty (obviously except for lm related damages)?

Will this liquid metal thermal pad also be used for the GPU module?

You’d have to trust whatever jury-rigged seal you put around the die an awful lot.

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I have done that on all my laptops for years, that’s not a problem. Couple of coats of nail polish have jet to let me down.

I am more worried that they’ll get complicated about unrelated warranty issues. I have not had a laptop with warranty in ages XD.

Please do not do this. Yes, it will void your warranty.

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That’s what I wanted to know, unfortunate but I appreciate an official statement.

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IIRC in the US the Magnuson Moss Warranty Act makes it illegal for a company to void a warranty due to any aftermarket modification unless the company can prove that the modification is the cause of the warranty claim.

So if you’re in the US then I think the answer is no it won’t void the warranty. Other places will depend on local warranty laws and Framework’s policy.

Incorrect. Please read the verbiage of the Act before posting a “IIRC”. It’s dangerous.

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Wile I am aware stuff like that isn’t exactly legal in a lot of places it doesn’t really help me if they refuse the warranty anyway.

I’ll definitely hold off on the lm for a bit for now.

I will read over the act later, however from a quick search on ecfr.gov I see that “No warrantor may condition the continued validity of a warranty on the use of only authorized repair service and/or authorized replacement parts for non-warranty service and maintenance”.

That part I guess would depend on if replacing the thermal paste is considered maintenance by replacing with an unauthorized replacement part, however in the event that the thermal paste experiences pump out or dry out over time I think replacing it definitely counts as maintenance.

I will look into it more later.

Edit: Immediately after posting I found this statement from the Federal Trade Commission which seems to apply even without it being maintenance:

I’ll look at the exact wording of the act later, but given that both ecfr.gov and ftc.gov have interpretations along these lines I would be surprised if the actual act is dramatically different.

Bottom line, Liquid Metal is NOT designed to be used in the Framework Laptop 13 series, and should damage be caused by the modification to attempt to utilize Liquid Metal instead of the expected thermal paste, or by the Liquid Metal damaging nearby components, this would be considered CID and would not be covered under our Limited Warranty (please use regional-specific link if outside the US).

We have explained exactly why we use Liquid Metal for the Framework Laptop 16 in this blog post, crafted by our CEO and Founder. Usage and implementation of Liquid Metal is very specific, and improper application can lead to leakage which can cause damage.

To be clear, if you use Liquid Metal, and have it applied correctly/professionally, experience no issues or leakage, and have a non-related issue requiring warranty support, that warranty is still valid. If you attempt this, and cause issues due to the application of Liquid Metal, those issues and/or damage will be considered CID (Customer Induced Damage) and will not be covered under our Limited Warranty.

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Well yeah that wasn’t the question, I’m not gonna do a warranty claim for something I broke. I am more worried for cases like the still unexplained exploding mosfets or some other non lm related failures.Or something along the lines of the 11th gen rtc battery thing.

Now that is what I wanted to hear. Thanks, I really hope I’ll never need to deal with warranty but this is good to hear.

I have not actually owned a laptop with warranty for quite a while they were all either used or broken when I got them so if something broke it was on me anyway.

So far my survival rate for lm on laptops is 8/8 and 2/2 on gpus so I’m confident enough I won’t mess that up, and if I do it won’t be your problem.

So… There’s some liquid metal in our gear? Solid.

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What I am sure he meant to say, is that it voids your warranty if you screw it up. Which, unfortunately, 99% of the people installing it do.

You may not. You might do the best job in the world. :slight_smile: For every you that will do it perfectly, there’s 100 people who will spill that shit everywhere, short it under every BGA chip, put some on their dinner…

Magnuson moss is an important consumer law. It ensures manufacturers can’t void the warranty for no good reason, and I’m glad it exists. It places responsibility on the manufacturer to prove that you did something stupid to damage your device.

My point in all of this… magnuson moss was never designed to be some sort of catch all, "i can do whatever i want to what i own and keep the warranty. It just means the manufacturer has to demonstrate that you broke it in order to void your warranty.

I am sure FW has seen enough sad cases of liquid metal failing to default to the response they saw above, as have I!

Changing your hard drive with an SSD properly is not warranty voidable.

Changing your iphone screen and putting the wrong screws in the wrong hole, drilling a hole through 3 layers of the board, is warranty voidable.

It is tricky, because the onus being on the manufacturer to be a detective and figure out what you did makes warranty difficult. This requires the person making the determination have a brain - which is difficult to ask of someone making $7.50/hr handling returns at some bottom-of-the-barrel, lowest priced ebay store. Even if the person handling the return has a lovely brain… for that salary… who would want to waste calories turning it on? :slight_smile: I worked at modell’s sporting goods for $6/hr - I could give a crap less if the customer messed up the return. I made $6.

This is why warranty void if removed stickers are so convenient for manufacturers & vendors. It allows the return to be processed with the minimal amount of effort & engagement.

There is the concern that people will scam the manufacturer if they follow magnuson moss. In practice, most of the time when people break something, it comes from carelessness, ignorance, or lack of attention to detail. The same attention to detail necessary to properly cover their tracks & scam the manufacturer. :smiley: I’ll be able to tell that they voided their warranty through negligence very quickly!

Framework doesn’t strike me as a company that will void your warranty over liquid metal. They will when it leaks onto the board though, and I would too. and that’s completely legal.

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The stuff definitely has to be treated with respect, I have seen enough carnage on the internet.

If I screw it up that’s on me, I just don’t want to be boned if something unrelated fails or a bios update bricks the thing or something.

Also if you never done it, what it (or just straight gallium) does to aliminium is pretty neat/scary to experience first hand (with scrap of course).

Also if you never done it, what it (or just straight gallium) does to aliminium is pretty neat/scary to experience first hand (with scrap of course).

Don’t get me started on people who put that garbage on top of current sense resistors to be able to get better overclocks. It’s so triggering.

You could solder a current sense resistor on top in parallel. These things cost 20 cents on mouser. People pay more money for liquid metal, pour it on, let it corrode their entire card… all to avoid spending $30 on a used pinecil or something. Infuriating.

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That was indeed a common big brain move back in the 10 series days.

That was what I did on my 1080ti, still runs. The liquid metal on that one was reserved for the core. That puppy could pull like 400W and have barely 20C above ambient die temps.

My new 7900 xtx probably needs the opposite of a shunt mod out of the box XD