Increasing liquid resistance

one thing I really appreciated from my previous 450€ Thinkpad E-Series, as low build quality as it was, was that it survived multiple dumps of water on the keyboard - It always is running again in a few hours, and I don’t even think that was necessary

With the FW16, in LTT’s original video, I saw a solid back behind the keyboard with just two openings for the Expansion Bay Interface and the input interface. However in more recent pictures, you added several grills right over the sensitive motherboard, presumably so a slight draft of air goes over some other components on the motherboard.
How bad is it if those were all taped over to increase the time-to-catastrophe after a liquid spill? Did you see VRMs/etc rise in temperature so much that it would be a problem?
Thanks for any insight

Note: I do like that the side air exhausts seem to be separated quite well by the magnesium alloy shell, so doubt any water spill is going to enter there.


In pictures from The Verge’s article it looks like the grill is over the fans and the gpu connection mechanism, so it might be for slightly better airflow. That being said, even if you tape over those holes the entire top black grill is ventilated for airflow so it is going to be a direct entry point if you spill something onto the top surface.

At least in either circumstance the motherboard itself appears to be below the ventilation points so a quick flip if something is spilled will hopefully spare the most sensitive part.

Partially, yes, but there are parts of the motherboard visible (cropped from official FW 16 page, “Make it yours” subsection):

But now that you say it, I could just tape over the two holes and then the lower grill that exposes the motherboard.
Though, also notice how there are indents in the back plane that actually lead the water into the FPC connector hole on the right - that one at the very least I’d tape over, not a big deal to remove when accessing the main body.

Most likely a spill will be on the bottom edge, and only after sinking through the keyboard and other crevices (which will be a lot less controlled than on normal laptops) it can spread on the bottom panel. Hence I want that panel to handle water no matter where. I doubt the initial spill will reach the top rim, if so, that’s fine, as long as I there’s no GPU module inside:)

But yeah even with all that open I do believe a careful quick flip will buy you enough time. And then, having modular input modules is a big boon, quickly allowing you to get them out and dry them individually, and being able to see how much the main laptop is affected immediately. BIG pro IMO
I’d probably flip it forwards so the slits go up, though the screen does not open 180° sadly so you’d have to be careful. Then get the input modules out and inspect

Is there a conformal coating on the motherboard module? At least on the parts outside of where the CPU cooler attaches? Seems like that would be the no-brainer for that kind of protection, though I know it can affect thermal performance sometimes…

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There doesn’t seem to be. While that can help with liquid spills, it would increase costs and by necessity some parts would still be exposed. It would also make rework very hard. Like the fix that Framework has created for 11th gen Laptops experiencing the RTC battery issue.

I’d prefer they design an input cover that directs liquid spills to drainage holes, the way some Thinkpads do.