Sunday, 6 November 2011

ASUS WL-520G Heatsink upgrade and DD-WRT

A couple of years back I finally had enough of my rubbish ASUS WL-520G wifi router which spent half it's time overheating (even in the winter) or the unstable firmware would just lock up for no sensible reason despite just sitting there doing nothing much a lot of the time.

It became a case of fix it or bin it so I thought 'what the hell' and set to work, I decided to tackle the heat issue first and removing the lid left me confronted by this. What you see here is a tiny heat sink held on with double sided tape that was stupidly hot and the pair of chips to the right were baking away nicely as well. Cost cutting at it's finest.

The dented fins were from a failed attempt to remove it.

Removing the heat sink was tricky as the tape is remarkable strong so I broke out the plumbers wrench, firmly gripped the heat sink and gave it a good twist.

Who said IT work needs delicate tools?
After removing the tape and finding a suitable sized heat sink from an old motherboard I needed to find a way to secure it on, not having any mount points I resorted to an old trick that rescued 486 and Pentiums 1's fitted with cheap heat sinks that were meant to grip the chip firmly but just fell off, enter stage left . . . Superglue!

Superglue and Thermal Compound sandwich anyone?

While it might sound odd, Superglue actually has quite a high melting point so a decent dab in the corners and a good helping of Thermal Compound in the middle and your sorted. I wouldn't recommend this for your old vintage Socket A chip though they got far too warm, watch this video to see what I mean.
(Fun Fact:  The BBC 'borrowed' this idea for their recent Shock and Awe series, they wanted to demonstrate the amount of heat a 'modern' CPU generates, so they dug out some crusty old Socket A system and promptly set the chip smoking by running it sans heat sink)

The end result was what you see below, I added a couple of old graphics card ram brick sinks to the smaller chips that were overheating and ended up with this.

Afterwards it did run better than before but still would lock up randomly including when it was idle. I took the next step and installed DD-WRT and all was good. If you have a router that is loaded with second rate, feature restricted and normally unstable firmware I highly recommend DD-WRT, the risk is small but the reward far outweighs the risk.

It's still going strong now with a larger antenna fitted to support the few legacy devices we have at home that lack Wifi N capability. It's not the most impressive hack you'll ever see but it did the trick and saved me having to fork out for a replacement.

1 comment:

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