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 with what you see below. What you see here is a tiny heat sink held on to the Broadcom BCM5350KPB5 200Mhz CPU with double sided tape that was stupidly hot to the touch, along with a the pair of chips to the right (A Samsung K4S641632H-UC60 64mb SDRAM and a Samsung K8D1716UBC 16Mbit Flash) that were baking away nicely as well. Cost cutting at it's finest.

ASUS WL-520g Internals with stock heatsink
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.

A suitable tool for precision work
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!

ASUS WL-520g Internals awaiting a new heatsink
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 you're 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 video's idea for their recent Shock and Awe: The Story of Electricity 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.

ASUS WL-520g Internals with uprated heatsinks

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 (or for an 802.11g signal you could pick up while walking home). 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:

  1. Hey
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