Saturday, February 21, 2009

Gap Issue -1

As you might have already known, the latest HDX 1000 related news is about a gap existing between the CPU heatsink and the bottom case in some users’ machine. A user, Black6spdz, first reported this issue at NMT forum, and several people observed the same thing in their machines as well.

The Gap between CPU heatsink and the case

Just in case you haven’t heard about this, in the following is a recap from another HDX 1000 user, ydrol. Thanks for his permission of letting me use his summary article posted at the HDX official forum. He has spent quite some time on this issue and brought us some good pictures to better illustrate the gap. (He also writes some 3rd part software plug-in for the NMT application. Please see the link at for his works.)

“I recently bought 3 HDX boxes in January.

Prior to this 'gap' issue:
Two units appeared to be working OK. (though bad cooling can affect longevity of electronics)

One unit was exhibiting random Ethernet drops, and I raised a support ticket to this effect.
I was trying to troubleshoot the ethernet issue, and had just moved to doing some more intensive testing (*) but upon seeing the post in the NMT forums I opened the faulty unit and noticed the gap and thermal pad placement. I trimmed down the stand-offs(+), applied some thermal paste and made sure the heat-spreader was in direct contact with the cover when re-assembled.

I had not completed testing of my Ethernet issue before making this change, so I cannot say for certain whether cooling was the root cause. I know the issue has gone away though.

I opened my working HDX box and noticed the same thing, so I changed that also.

Some observations and acknowledgements:
- Thanks to Black6spdZ for spotting this issue.
- Thanks to Alex of HDX for timely response on this issue.
- Thanks to Doom for some balance & sanity check

- The HDX case is very nice as we all know, and overall appears well designed. I would still recommend them over other models in terms of looks and cooling potential. My only real concern regarding recommending HDX, was general responsiveness from HDX support in the new year, but in this particular matter - I've no complaints.

- My thermal pad placement, appears to be a fairly isolated incident, judging by other posts on other forums.
My HDX was ordered 7th Jan 2009 and received 15th Jan. Serial HDX1K00835*. I should really open the 3rd HDX, (which was ordered for a friend, esp has he has a proper HD setup, I'm a CRT man). But before I do, I will try my paper test (**) and report back.

- The gap issue appears to be more widespread. There is suggestion that the gap is closed when the unit is assembled and only appears when disassembled. If so, this would be solely due to pressure from the AV sockets and the 3 screws on the AV panel. I'm sceptical of this , but one user 'doom' has reported that the gap is closed (thermal paste was transferred from the pad to the heatspreader just by them re-assembling their unit)

- HDX have been quite responsive on this issue thus far, offering to send me thermal paste etc. My only experience of them has been since the new year, so I wasn't expecting this much response so soon.”

On the Network dropping issue, he also reported:

"I put the unit back together, and after a while the network dropped (this unit was working OK before this!). The LAN light on my router was flashing about 10 times a second , but the ethernet lights on the HDX appeared stable.

On further examination it looks like the component legs of the ethernet and av sockets, have scratched through the paintwork of the AV panel and shorting on the case!

I will have to revist the other boxes and make sure the component legs are not touching the AV panel."

Yesterday, I randomly picked three HDX 1000 units from my inventory and found the gap existed in one of them. In addition to ydrol’s summary, I want to add in one more observation.

During the dis-assembly process, I found the PCB is tight down to the bottom case using two mechanisms.

1. The two screws / standoffs, covered by the green glue in the below picture, help to secure the PCB’s non AV panel side to the bottom case.

2. After the AV panel is assembled onto the case wall, it then be tight down to the bottom case by the screws indicated by green color on the other side walls.

There are several screw holes reserved, but not used in the design. For examples, the screw between X4 and X7, and the two screws on the AV panel wall are not installed.

In order to observe the gap, we need to disassemble the side walls. However, when doing so, it removes the 2nd mechanism mentioned above. We all know it needs three or more screws to hold two plains together. With only two screws at work, it would exaggerate the gap.

I then push the AV panel and the bottom case together by hand. I can see the gap diminished, but still existed. However, it is not as large as I originally observed. With the gap in this size, I think applying thermal paste to the CPU heatsink to make sure the good contact between the silicon pad and the heatsink itself can be a good solution to close the gap.

Digitech (HDX) is willing to help on the issue. They are going to send me some silicon pad and the thermal paste. For our existing customers and the HDX 1000 users in US, if you want to apply the paste onto your machine, please send me an email. I’ll send a pack of silicon pad and paste to you for free. If you are not in US and didn’t bought the HDX 1000 from AmperorDirect, we will charge the shipping fee if you want us to ship the pack to you. (You can always contact Alex @ for this, too. I think he will ship you the pack for free.)

I’m trying to ask Digitech to publish an official paste applying procedure. I’ll post the procedure at here when it is available.

Again, thanks ydrol for the work. The pictures in this post are all from him. Please visit his site if you want to explore the potentials to use HDX 1000 with nzbget.

Please visit AmperorDirect for our HDX 1000 product page.

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