PSA: If you’re interested in changing the MXP’s fan profile (making it ramp up faster, stop at lower temperatures, etc), please take a look here. If you could figure out how to control the fan, that would be absolutely fantastic.
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.
- No more power limit throttling
- Less thermal throttling
- Maintain higher CPU frequency under sustained load
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. 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.
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.
- Install ThrottleStop. You can choose to use XTU instead, but ThrottleStop will be able to do stuff XTU can't in some later steps.
- Use Offset Voltage in the FIVR menu to lower the frequency of the CPU Core, CPU Cache, Intel GPU, and iGPU Unslice.
- Keep the first two CPU-related voltages the same, and keep the last two GPU-related voltages the same. -80mV core and -40mV graphics are safe values to start at.
- Work your way down in 10mV increments. Use AIDA64, XTU, or some other program to stress test your CPU and GPU with every increment to make sure it's stable.
- I reached a stable setting of -0.100V core and -0.050V graphics. You should get something similar.
Before doing the following hardware mods, read my MateBook X Pro teardown. Get some kind of anti-static protection.
[HW] Add Graphite Sheets to Case
Benefits: MXP already has a pyrolytic graphite sheet (PGS) underneath the keyboard, but it doesn't extend beyond the motherboard area. The keyboard could be 66°C even when the palmrest is 35°C. I added full coverage of PGS over the inside of the case to use the laptop's body as a big heatsink.
- Remove the bottom lid and heatsink.
- Disconnect and remove the battery and fan.
- Remove the motherboard, USB-A module, LCD controller, etc. to reveal the bare inside of the case.
- Download and print my 1:1 scan of the laptop case to use as your cutting stencil. Make sure to print In Actual Size.
- 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
A good amount of heat conducts to the motherboard backside, which means we can try to transfer it out to cool the entire thing.
- 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.
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.
- Add a layer of thermal pad to the motherboard backside. Use 0.5mm TGX on the heatsink mounting brackets and 1mm TGX everywhere else.
- 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
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.
- Add thermal pads according to the heights in the picture. Here's my technique:
- Cut out and put on the biggest pads first.
- Press the heatsink against the components to see where the cutouts need to be.
- Use a paper knife to cut out the squares for the components.
- Cut the small pads for the components and put them in.
- 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.
- Put 1.5mm Artic on the SSD's backside. (I used PGS but that's not necessary.)
- Peel away the plastic insulator on the heatsink. We don't need it anymore because the thermal pad's thickness will electrically separate the SSD and heatsink.
- 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.
- Remove the GPU's thermal pad and clean the GPU and heatsink base plate.
- Put a pea-sized amount of thermal paste on the heatsink base plate.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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 steps.
- Clean the thermal paste off the CPU and heatsink.
- Reapply better thermal paste.
- Reconnect and reinstall the battery and make sure everything else is back in place.
- Reinstall the heatsink.
[HW] Run Heatpipes to the Fan
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 without extra help from a cooling stand.
- 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.
- 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.
- Lay down thermal paste along the heatpipe's path.
- Press the heatpipe over the thermal paste.
- Put thermal glue around the edges. You can use a hairdryer to accelerate its curing.
- 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.
- Open Device Manager, under "System Devices", find all devices whose names start with "Intel(R) Dynamic Platform and Thermal Framework".
- For each of those devices, follow this guide to prevent Windows Update from automatically reinstalling DPTF.
- Before clicking OK at the last step, make sure you check "Also apply to matching devices that are already installed."
- Those devices in Device Manager should now appear as unknown devices.
[SW] Disable Power Limits
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.
- Go to ThrottleStop's FIVR menu and click Install under the Memory section. Follow the popup's instructions.
- Check "Disable and Lock Turbo Power Limits".
- Set all the IccMax limits to maximum.
- Go to the TPL menu and type a huge number like 9999 into the "Turbo Boost Long/Short Power Max" and "PP0 Current/Power Limit" boxes.
- Drag the time limits to the max.
- Follow this guide to have ThrottleStop run at startup.
We've now eliminated all excuses for the MXP to throttle. You can tweak the Speed Shift number in ThrottleStop's main menu to change the CPU's willingness to run at high frequencies. The lower the SST number, the more it will favor high frequencies. OR follow the next step to always use the highest boost.
[SW] Force Highest Frequency (Optional)
Benefits: Usually, the U-series i7 likes to lower its frequency under high load to reduce power usage. But that's the opposite of what you want it to do if you want the computer to be fast! This method forces the CPU 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. This is immensely powerful (quite literally) — it makes your laptop absolutely boost-happy and eliminates so much stutter!
- In ThrottleStop, Set Multiplier to 40.
- (3×) sheets of Panasonic PGS (0.07mm×180mm×115mm)
- t-Global TGX thermal pads (150mm×150mm)
- (2×) 1mm-thick heat pipes
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
This method of disabling Intel DPTF no longer works for me, but I found a new method and have updated the guide accordingly.
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.
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.
Eliminated the need for XTU, since ThrottleStop 8.70 can disable power limits now.
It cost me quite a bit of money to figure this out (thermal camera, materials etc.), so please consider donating to support this project!