Eliminating MateBook X Pro Throttling

Here are some steps you can take to unlock more performance from the Huawei MateBook X Pro by removing thermal and power limitations. This project is a work-in-progress, so take my advice with a grain of salt and check back often to see new developments. I encourage those with experience to try their own methods as well.

Effects:

  • No more power limit throttling
  • Less thermal throttling
  • Maintain higher CPU frequency under sustained load

Click the image to go to the Reddit comparison thread with other MateBook X Pros.

A typical MateBook X Pro score is around 3600. Click the image to go to the Reddit comparison thread with other MateBook X Pros.

A typical MateBook X Pro score is a little over 800. Click on the image to see this score on HWBot.

Disclaimer: You are about to void your warranty. You are liable for any damage you make to your device. While my laptop survived and benefited from these modifications, they may still break or shorten the lifespan of your laptop.

These steps are arranged not by difficulty or effectiveness but in the order that requires the least time, effort, and risk. Read through all the steps before you begin (you want all the materials in one cart). If you choose to omit some steps or parts of steps, make sure you set a safe power limit in XTU.

[SW] = software mod; [HW] = hardware mod.

[SW] Undervolt

Benefits: Increases overall efficiency by making the CPU and iGPU run at a voltage no higher than necessary. The processor will generate less heat and therefore throttle less.

  1. Install the Intel Extreme Tuning Utility. Open it.
  2. Lower the Core Voltage Offset and Processor Graphics Voltage Offset as much as possible without causing a BSOD.
    1. -0.080V core and -0.040V graphics are safe values to start at.
    2. Work your way down in 0.010V increments. Run the CPU Stress Test and Graphics Stress Test to verify stability with every change.
    3. I reached a stable setting of -0.100V core and -0.050V graphics. You should get something similar.
For following hardware modifications, refer to my MateBook X Pro teardown. You should also have some kind of anti-static protection.

[HW] Add Graphite Sheets to Case

Research & Findings

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Benefits: MXP already has a pyrolytic graphite sheet (PGS) underneath the keyboard, but it doesn't extend beyond the motherboard area. The keyboard could get over 60°C while the palmrest would be 35°C. I added full coverage of PGS over the inside of the case to spread the heat better.

See how my graphite sheets span the entire area from top to bottom.

  1. Remove the bottom lid and heatsink.
  2. Disconnect and remove the battery and fan.
  3. Remove the motherboard, USB-A module, LCD controller, etc. to reveal the bare inside of the case.
  4. Download and print my 1:1 scan of the laptop case to use as your cutting stencil.
  5. I used three sheets of Panasonic PGS series EYG-A121807M from Digi-Key. This is the thickness variant with the highest heat transfer (conductivity×thickness), and the model with the necessary adhesive and insulation layers.

[HW] Add Keyboard-Side Cooling

Research & Findings

The metal heatsink mounting brackets are a darker color not because they are cooler, but because they have very different emissivity.

Bare motherboard backside, heatsink not attached, plugged in, CPU idle, GPU inactive.

A good amount of heat conducts to the motherboard backside, which means we can try to transfer it out to cool the entire thing.

Benefits:

  • Cools the CPU VRM to prevent thermal shutdown when we raise the CPU power in later steps.
  • Cools the CPU itself to reduce thermal throttling.
  • Cools the charging circuit so it's willing to charge faster during high load.

Padding the entire motherboard is probably overkill, but it does allow for maximum heat spread.

In the following steps, I used 2 different types of thermal pads:

  • T-Global TGX: best thermal conductivity (12W/mK) (second only to Fujipoly XR-m, which is too hard and brittle for our application). TGX, however, is very soft (65 Shore 00) and compressible, which allows for good conformity and contact. They're available on Digi-Key.
  • Arctic thermal pads: extreme softness (25 Shore 00), which is very important for ensuring good contact with irregular-height surfaces. Yet, Arctic has by far the best thermal conductivity (6W/mK) for this softness level. They're available on Amazon.
  1. Add a layer of thermal pad to the motherboard backside. Use 0.5mm TGX on the heatsink mounting brackets and 1mm TGX everywhere else.
  2. Reinstall the motherboard. Apply some pressure to make sure the thermal pads have good contact. Remember to reinstall all the screws and reconnect all the connectors.

[HW] Add Heatsink-Side Cooling

Research & Findings

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To identify the overheating VRM components, I removed the heatsink the put a small heatsink on the CPU to expose the surrounding VRM for thermal imagery.

Benefits: Prevents the CPU power-related components from overheating and causing the laptop to shut down when we lift power limits in the subsequent steps.

TGX is grey; Arctic is blue.

  1. Add thermal pads according to the heights above.
    1. Apply the biggest pads first.
    2. Press the heatsink against the components to where the cutouts need to be.
  2. Reinstall the fan, battery, and heatsink.

[HW] Add Thermal Pads to the SSD

Benefits: Eliminates SSD throttling. This increased my PassMark Disk Mark score from 18,159 to 26,826.

  1. Put 1.5mm Artic on the SSD's backside. (I used PGS but that's not necessary.)
  2. Peel away the plastic insulator on the heatsink. We don't need it anymore because the thermal pad's thickness will electrically separate the two.
  3. Put 0.5mm Arctic over the SSD controller.

[HW] Replace the dGPU Thermal Pad with a Copper Shim

Benefits: This helped me shave 15°C off the GPU temperature and GPU Boost 3.0 automatically awarded me around 200 more MHz. The GPU's bottleneck is no longer temperature but only the 10W power limitation of the MX150 1D12 variant.

I probably put too much thermal glue around the edges, but that doesn’t matter.

  1. Remove the GPU's thermal pad and clean the GPU and heatsink base plate.
  2. Put a pea-sized amount of thermal paste on the heatsink base plate.
    • I used Thermal Grizzly Kyronaut for its high thermal conductivity (12.5W/mK) and low viscosity (130-170Pas). It's available on Amazon.
    • Don't use liquid metal thermal paste as it may corrode the heatsink and cause performance degradation over time. Gallium still reacts with copper, only slower.
  3. Firmly press a 0.5mm copper shim onto the base plate.
    • You can find many of those on Amazon or eBay. This is the one I used.
  4. Put a bit of thermal glue around the corners of the shim to keep it from sliding. You can use a hairdryer to accelerate its curing.
  5. Apply a rice-sized amount of thermal paste to the GPU.

[HW] Replace the CPU Thermal Paste

Benefits: The CPU's heat will dissipate to the heatsink at a higher rate, so it will run cooler. The temperature drop will be crucial for reducing thermal throttling in the later stages.

  1. Clean the thermal paste off the CPU and heatsink.
  2. Reapply better thermal paste.
  3. Reconnect and reinstall the battery and make sure everything else is back in place.
  4. Reinstall the heatsink.

[HW] Run Heatpipes to the Fan

Research & Findings

The Honor Magicbook has an arguably better cooler design, and part of that is because the fan casing is copper and thermally coupled to the heatpipes. In other words, the fan casing IS a heatsink.

Benefits: Turns the fan casing into a small but efficient heatsink, as the fan blades are right there to scoop away the heat. This lowered my CPU temperature by another 8°C or so and finally enabled me to indefinitely boost at 3.7GHz under full CPU load.

Disregard the marker lines; they are for my emissivity tests.

  1. Peel away the felt strip on the fan casing to make room for the heatpipe.
    • The heatpipes cannot be more than 1mm thick to fit inside the laptop. I used these.
  2. Put the heatpipes in place to see how they fit. Bend them slightly to accommodate the height difference between the fan casing and the heatsink.
  3. Lay down thermal paste along the heatpipe's path.
  4. Press the heatpipe over the thermal paste.
  5. Put thermal glue around the edges. You can use a hairdryer to accelerate its curing.
  6. Use electrical tape to seal the area where the felt strip used to be, to streamline the exhaust airflow.

[SW] Remove Intel DPTF

Benefits: The Intel Dynamic Platform and Thermal Framework limits the maximum power of the CPU to 10W under sustained load. This mechanism is known as power throttling. Removing Intel DPTF eliminates this limitation and allows you to raise the power limits in XTU so that the CPU can sustain much higher frequencies (boost) for much longer.

Warning: Removing DPTF is dangerous unless you've ensured that no component will overheat. The previous steps should fulfill that, but there is always a risk.
  1. Open Device Manager, under "System Devices", find all devices whose names start with "Intel(R) Dynamic Platform and Thermal Framework".
  2. For each of those devices, follow this guide to prevent Windows Update from automatically reinstalling DPTF.
    1. Before clicking OK, make sure you check "Also apply to matching devices that are already installed."

[SW] XTU Settings

Benefits: Allows the CPU to boost with more power and for longer (indefinitely!).

Prerequisites: You MUST have sufficient cooling for the CPU and VRM before raising the power limit here.

  1. You can import my XTU profile, but make sure you set your own voltages afterwards!
  2. Feel free to quit XTU after applying the settings, but check back after a reboot.

[SW] ThrottleStop Settings (Optional)

Benefits: Makes the CPU always try to maintain the highest frequency (4GHz!), even if it means raising the power when needed. When combined with the previous step, it's basically laptop CPU overclocking.

  1. Launch XTU once and make sure its settings from the previous step are applied before launching ThrottleStop.
  2. In ThrottleStop, set the Multiplier to 40.
  3. You may also need to set all the Turbo Ratio Limits in the FIVR menu to 40.
  4. You may also need to set both Turbo Time Limits in the TPL menu to the maximum.

Digi-Key

Amazon

May 10

I replaced the CPU thermal paste with Thermal Grizzly Kryonaut and the GPU thermal pad with 0.5mm Fujipoly XR-m. These should give me more thermal headroom, but I didn't check the temperatures in stock form beforehand, so I have no comparison.

May 15

The MateBook X Pro's CPU throttles to ~10W under sustained load. Intel XTU and HWiNFO report that this is Power Limit throttling, specifically PL1, which is set to 10W by default.

May 20

I followed this guide to disable DPTF in Windows, and now the package TDP can stay at 30W as long as Turbo Boost Power Max in XTU is set to 30 or above.

With the Power Limit unlocked, XTU's CPU stress test caused the laptop to shut off. The CPU at that time was 92°C, which leads me to believe that something else, such as a MOSFET, is overheating.

I was on a -100mV undervolt, so I reverted to normal voltage but it shut off even quicker. Therefore, CPU instability is probably not the cause either.

I gave the MX150 a Base Clock Offset of +200MHz and a Memory Clock Offset of +400MHz. They have been stable for me.

June 2

I removed the heatsink, put a little heatsink on the CPU, ran a stress test and measured the temperatures of the components surrounding the CPU. The inductors, MOSFETs, and resistors right above the CPU are the hottest, exceeding 60°C.

July 7

I peeled off the plastic insulator film on the keyboard side of the motherboard and put thermal pads on the CPU area to cool the aforementioned components. I used 0.5mm on the metal bracket and 1mm everywhere else. I want their heat to go to the keyboard-area unibody. It won't burn my hands because the heat doesn't transfer to the keys much.

I am no longer using Fujipoly XR-m thermal pads because their tendency to dry makes me worry that their conductivity might degrade over time. Instead, I switched to Thermal Grizzly Minus Pad 8 across the board. Its theoretical thermal conductivity is lower, but its softness allows it to possibly work better in practice.

I also taped up the gaps along the hot air exhaust passage to make sure hot air doesn't escape back into the laptop.

July 8

I took off the MX150 core overclock to let GPU Boost 3.0 do its own thing.

I suspect that recent BIOS updates have reduced CPU power behavior. The package power hasn't been boosting beyond 20W.

July 9

Breakthrough! I am now able to sustain well over 20W indefinitely by combining XTU and ThrottleStop. XTU has the ability to set PL1 and PL2 to unlimited, which I haven't been able to replicate in ThrottleStop. Meanwhile, ThrottleStop can disable Speed Shift and enforce a high Multiplier. I think both programs have a apply-once behavior rather than regularly checking, so they don't seem with fight with each other. This has completely counteracted any possible behavior changes done by the BIOS update.

July 28

This method of disabling Intel DPTF no longer works for me, but I found a new method and have updated the guide accordingly.

July 31

Plugged in, CPU idle.

I found why the MXPro charges slowly, doesn't charge, or even discharges under high load. The charging rate is thermal throttling. The inductor and its surrounding transistors are thermal-padded to the heatsink, but that doesn't seem to be enough.

August 5

Added heatpipe hack and SSD cooling. Updated copper shim, keyboard-side and heatsink-side instructions, and added PassMark result. I'm now able to hit 42W and sustain over 30W.

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Aaps
Guest
Aaps

Had current throttling, now after reinstalling intel thermal framework i get power limit, no matter the watts in xtu. I suspect it’s some mosfets or something though, just got that feeling running benches and monitoring clocks, throttling ect. I bought… Read more »

Aaps
Guest
Aaps

Btw, any updates? 🙂

Mike
Guest
Mike

Does the i7 CPU hit 4 Ghz? I work a lot with data, but I’m considering getting the i5 versions if the difference in speeds isn’t that great, though the lack of RAM upgradeability gives me pause…

VJ
Guest
VJ

Are there any cooling solutions for the MOSFET? Thermal pads or something that can be applied?

Vilius Jonas
Guest
Vilius Jonas

You can apply thermal pads

VJ
Guest
VJ

@Brad Is there a reason you went for a 0.5mm thick thermal pad? Can a thicker one be used? Also I was looking into Graphite Thermal Pads which have thermal conductivity of 35W/m-k, versus the 17 of the Fujipoly XR-m,… Read more »

JS
Guest
JS

On the July 7th update, did you use the same 0.5 thermal pads again? Or did you get something thicker? Also, after doing that and taping up the fan area, did you notice decent temp changes?

V
Guest
V

If you remove the plastic film, is that permanent? Or can it be put back if needed? Also, how do the thermal pads stay in place on the back side of the motherboard? I thought they generally don’t stick, or… Read more »

jotd
Guest
jotd

Why did you pad the backside and not the frontside? Wouldnt that make more sense to get contact to the heatpipes?

vJ
Guest
vJ

I see that you changed your thermal pad. Is the TGX series worth it over the grizzly one you were using earlier? It’s more expensive/a little more difficult to obtain. With the removal of the plastic film from the motherboard,… Read more »

Mike
Guest
Mike

Hi. In using the processor graphics voltage offset I have reached -1.00V and run stress tests with no issue. This number seems much higher than yours and I wanted to make sure that I wasn’t missing something or if I… Read more »

Slade
Guest
Slade

Hey Brad,

Can you let me know which graphite sheet you ordered and if you can provide some images of how you implemented them when you get them.

Just a reader
Guest
Just a reader

Have you measured the CPU and GPU speed? Did the modification make any difference? This is quite some change to the hardware, so I would not consider anything like this if it does not give you dramatically gain performance wise.

MJ
Guest
MJ

I just ran a CPU stress test (i7/16GB/512GB/MX150) with Intel Extreme Tuning Utility (the [SW] Undervolt mod applied) but the CPU still hit 85°C. Even when I’m just surfing the web I can’t place it on my lap unless I… Read more »

Vilius Jonas
Guest
Vilius Jonas

Hey Brad, you think i could use the fujipoly pads and add some kryonaut paste to make contact better, I already bought them, dont want my money to be wasted. Thank you for your work.

Willy Tran
Guest
Willy Tran

Hey Brad, do you run into the issue of your Matebook not charging when running intensive applications?

John Snow
Guest
John Snow

How much room is there between the heat-spreader and the lid?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RhT4uz6OwNQ

The video got me thinking whether bridging the heat-spreader with the fan would help further reduce temps? ebay has some 90x5x1mm heat-pipes that would be right up to the task.

Oliver
Guest

Hey do you happen to have any benchmark results for before after your mods in terms of performance

If possible the temperature delta those mods make?

Thanks heaps, appreciate your work!

Dustin
Guest
Dustin

Hey Brad! I would be curious to know what kind of changes you have seen in performance/temperature as well after doing all of these mods to your rig. Just bought an MBXP myself and would love to get a little… Read more »

pashapanther
Guest
pashapanther

Hi Brad, Could you please share the amount of performance gains you’ve achieved after your mods with a little bit more detail? I’m not sure what to choose between the MBXP with mx150 or the Thinkpad t480s with the same… Read more »

Chris Gorgolewski
Guest

Very interesting guide! I was wondering why did you go for dissipating extra heat via keyboard instead of the back of the computer. After all they keyboard mod is harder to implement and plastic air filled keys will provide natural… Read more »

VJ
Guest
VJ

I got a question regarding the thermal glue. Any reason not to just apply the kryonaut thermal paste on both sides with the copper shim, instead of using the glue?

Vilius Jonas
Guest
Vilius Jonas

hey Brad,I think you could replace the top heatpipe with a 45 degree bend so it would be more paralel with the bottom one on the cpu

Sean Michael Rowe
Guest

Love the guide, it gets better by the day. I see the shopping list now, do I need everything in that list or can I use just Arctic thermal pads in the various sizes. The stuff on Digikey is very… Read more »

Paul
Guest
Paul

Hi Brad, Impressive cooling mods, thanks for sharing the detailed guide with us. I’m quite interested in seeing the CPU + CPU temps behavior as well as GPU+CPU behaviors under combined load. Would you please share the XTU curves with… Read more »

Adrian Pflugshaupt
Guest

Hi Brad. Awesome guide! I did some of the mods now, the GPU shim and some thermal pads. I used arctic everywhere because the high-end stuff is just too expensive. I only padded the hot parts because I think some… Read more »