Guide De-Lidding the Wii chips

Ekterm

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I wanted to document and discuss the delidding of the Wii's chips, since it doesn't seem like a very common thing to do right now and there isn't much info on it.

The benefit is slightly better cooling, and this would be important for passively cooled systems. By delidding the cpu and gpu, you remove a layer of old thermal compound and a layer of copper and so there will be a little less resistance for the heat to travel from the dies to the heatsink.

This isn't a Wii chip but it shows all the parts:
intel-cpu-substrate.png

(imagesource:www.hardwarebbq.com)

The IHS (integrated heat spreader) also protects the die however, so you would want to do this after trimming and everything, right before you put the final heatsink on. Furthermore, the IHS keeps pressure from the heatsink evened out over the chip so as to not bend it, so without it you would want to keep the heatsink minimally tightened or even make a custom backplate.


WARNING: EXPERIMENTAL
Since we haven't yet measured how much this actually improves cooling and the process poses risk to your board, it is recommended to not attempt to delid a working build.


The De-lidding Process:

I've only done this a couple times, but here is what I do:
You've got to be careful to not damage the substrate, to not break off any of the tiny capacitors on top of the substrate, and to not scratch the die. And always remember to do it slowly and carefully! It is helpful to have a couple boards to practice on because the capacitors break off quite easily.

I start with a thin sharp metal object like a box cutter blade or small chisel, not a screwdriver. Force it in the tiny gap between the heat spreader and substrate and work it around for a while until you can squeeze a plastic tool under the edge, like a spudger or credit card. Then you can carefully force the plastic tool around the very edge to break all the adhesive and pop the heat spreader off.

After this you'll want to rub all the old thermal compound off the dies with a tissue or something until they're mirror shiny again. Then just put your new thermal compound and heatsink on and you're good to go!



Hollywood - 1
Broadway - 1

GWWfTCo.jpg ntDyd6M.jpg GWHEmue.jpg
Thanks to Predue89 for these pics!


Hollywood AA
Broadway B

(from an 01 board)
IMG_20190118_182756.jpg IMG_20190118_182702.jpg IMG_20190118_182727.jpg IMG_20190118_183800.jpg
 
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Never even thought about doing this, but it would be cool to see this used in a custom milled aluminum enclosure portable that's passively cooled. Now to get a cnc router...
 

Doom

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So far there's been 2 Aluminum N64 Portables but I do not know if they were passively or not. Something more advanced like the Wii would probably always need more cooling, though.
 
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Was just thinking that if an Altoids tin can keep a Wii alive for 10 minutes, maybe a thick alluminum shell could keep a delidded Wii alive for a good while. Would be an interesting experiment.
 

Ekterm

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Never even thought about doing this, but it would be cool to see this used in a custom milled aluminum enclosure portable that's passively cooled. Now to get a cnc router...
So far there's been 2 Aluminum N64 Portables but I do not know if they were passively or not. Something more advanced like the Wii would probably always need more cooling, though.
This is exactly what I'm planning to try in my next build! I have tried to logically outline the theory using little speculation, please refer to my worklog: https://bitbuilt.net/forums/index.php?threads/passively-cooled-wii-portable-for-reals.2515/
 
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Shank

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I feel like given the low amount of heat that needs to actually be transferred, the heat spreader wouldn't be a bottleneck in terms of heat dissipation. Have you run any tests with thermal probes/cameras to confirm that this actually has an effect on cooling performance? At first glance, this seems like an added safety risk for the chips with little to no gain in terms of performance.

That aside, the guide is well written, and I like the diagram. I'm familiar with removing the IHS on PCs, but not sure how this transfers to portables.
 

Ekterm

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I feel like given the low amount of heat that needs to actually be transferred, the heat spreader wouldn't be a bottleneck in terms of heat dissipation. Have you run any tests with thermal probes/cameras to confirm that this actually has an effect on cooling performance? At first glance, this seems like an added safety risk for the chips with little to no gain in terms of performance.

That aside, the guide is well written, and I like the diagram. I'm familiar with removing the IHS on PCs, but not sure how this transfers to portables.
Yes that is true, it is a safety risk and could for sure have little noticeable performance gain.
I just feel like its a concrete step that could contribute to the feasability of a good passive cooling system, plus it's just interesting to me. :D
Measurements and/or calculations would definitely be necessary to quantify the gain though.
 
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Cool info ;)
I've done this in my last portable. After watching a video about thermal flow and removing the heatspreader to apply better/new thermal paste and using copper instead of the aluminum.
As far as I can tell it is working great, although I don't really know if it does a significant difference.
(I also made it because of the hight xD)
 

Ekterm

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Cool info ;)
I've done this in my last portable. After watching a video about thermal flow and removing the heatspreader to apply better/new thermal paste and using copper instead of the aluminum.
As far as I can tell it is working great, although I don't really know if it does a significant difference.
(I also made it because of the hight xD)
Cool I didn't know anyone had actually done this before!
The heat spreaders actually are copper, they're just plated with something to resist corrosion, probably nickel.

Do you do anything differently to delid them than my process in the guide?
 
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Ah, ic. I actually didn't know that :blush:

One could say I followed you guide precisely. :XD:
I did it exactly the way you recommended it. Very nice and detailed tutorial. ;)
 
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I wanted to document and discuss the delidding of the Wii's chips, since it doesn't seem like a very common thing to do right now and there isn't much info on it.

The benefit is slightly better cooling, and this would be important for passively cooled systems. By delidding the cpu and gpu, you remove a layer of old thermal compound and a layer of copper and so there will be a little less resistance for the heat to travel from the dies to the heatsink.

This isn't a Wii chip but it shows all the parts:
View attachment 7974
(imagesource:www.hardwarebbq.com)

The IHS (integrated heat spreader) also protects the die however, so you would want to do this after trimming and everything, right before you put the final heatsink on. Furthermore, the IHS keeps pressure from the heatsink evened out over the chip so as to not bend it, so without it you would want to keep the heatsink minimally tightened or even make a custom backplate.


WARNING: EXPERIMENTAL
Since we haven't yet measured how much this actually improves cooling and the process poses risk to your board, it is recommended to not attempt to delid a working build.


The De-lidding Process:

I've only done this a couple times, but here is what I do:
You've got to be careful to not damage the substrate, to not break off any of the tiny capacitors that may be on top of the substrate, and to NEVER SCRATCH THE DIE. And always remember to do it slowly and carefully! It is helpful to have a couple boards to practice on because the capacitors break off quite easily.

I start with a thin sharp metal object like a box cutter blade or small chisel, not a screwdriver. Force it in the tiny gap between the heat spreader and substrate and work it around for a while until you can squeeze a plastic tool under the edge, like a spudger or credit card. Then you can carefully force the plastic tool around the very edge to break all the adhesive and pop the heat spreader off.

After this you'll want to rub all the old thermal compound off the dies with a tissue or something until they're mirror shiny again. Then just put your new thermal compound and heatsink on and you're good to go!



Hollywood - 1
Broadway - 1

View attachment 8011 View attachment 8010 View attachment 8013
Thanks to Predue89 for these pics!


Hollywood AA
Broadway B

(from an 01 board)
View attachment 7968 View attachment 7970 View attachment 7971 View attachment 7972
I wanted to document and discuss the delidding of the Wii's chips, since it doesn't seem like a very common thing to do right now and there isn't much info on it.

The benefit is slightly better cooling, and this would be important for passively cooled systems. By delidding the cpu and gpu, you remove a layer of old thermal compound and a layer of copper and so there will be a little less resistance for the heat to travel from the dies to the heatsink.

This isn't a Wii chip but it shows all the parts:
View attachment 7974
(imagesource:www.hardwarebbq.com)

The IHS (integrated heat spreader) also protects the die however, so you would want to do this after trimming and everything, right before you put the final heatsink on. Furthermore, the IHS keeps pressure from the heatsink evened out over the chip so as to not bend it, so without it you would want to keep the heatsink minimally tightened or even make a custom backplate.


WARNING: EXPERIMENTAL
Since we haven't yet measured how much this actually improves cooling and the process poses risk to your board, it is recommended to not attempt to delid a working build.


The De-lidding Process:

I've only done this a couple times, but here is what I do:
You've got to be careful to not damage the substrate, to not break off any of the tiny capacitors that may be on top of the substrate, and to NEVER SCRATCH THE DIE. And always remember to do it slowly and carefully! It is helpful to have a couple boards to practice on because the capacitors break off quite easily.

I start with a thin sharp metal object like a box cutter blade or small chisel, not a screwdriver. Force it in the tiny gap between the heat spreader and substrate and work it around for a while until you can squeeze a plastic tool under the edge, like a spudger or credit card. Then you can carefully force the plastic tool around the very edge to break all the adhesive and pop the heat spreader off.

After this you'll want to rub all the old thermal compound off the dies with a tissue or something until they're mirror shiny again. Then just put your new thermal compound and heatsink on and you're good to go!



Hollywood - 1
Broadway - 1

View attachment 8011 View attachment 8010 View attachment 8013
Thanks to Predue89 for these pics!


Hollywood AA
Broadway B

(from an 01 board)
View attachment 7968 View attachment 7970 View attachment 7971 View attachment 7972
I broke off some caps off the gpu. Where can i get replacements? Don’t know the capacitance and the size of the caps.
 
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Pics of my work using a filed down paint knife. Slashed my finger and spilled all of my ispropyl alcohol in the process. I ended up scratching the chip and broke off a capacitor. But i don’t see any traces on these chips? Where can i get replacement capacitors?
 

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If you nicked a cap and can't find the trace it came from, that's prolly a dead Wii
 
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Since it is kinda useless to do so, one could say that you asked for it.
Anyway, you could desolder another one and try to measure it with a multimeter.

Then you could most likely buy one of digikey or mouser I guess.
 
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Since it is kinda useless to do so, one could say that you asked for it.
Anyway, you could desolder another one and try to measure it with a multimeter.

Then you could most likely buy one of digikey or mouser I guess.
Yes i will be picking up an LCR meter to measure the caps. I cannot find the schematics for the Wii so it will be my only option.
 
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