Alienware m15 Thermal Testing, Overclocking and Undervolting
Im going to perform thermal testing with the M15 and find out what sort of performance and temperatures were looking at as well as What we can do to cool it down and improve it. In my configuration here, Ive got the Intel i7 8750H CPU with Nvidia GTX 1070 Max Q. Graphics, so expect different results with different hardware.. Thermal testing was completed with an ambient room temperature of 25 degrees Celsius.. Its worth, noting that there are heatpipes shared between processor and graphics, so a change in one component may affect the other. Starting at the bottom of the graph at idle. The temperatures are a little warm, although the fan was completely silent as youll soon hear.. The gaming test was done with Watch Dogs 2, as I find that to use a good amount of combined CPU and GPU resources, and we didnt quite hit sustained CPU throttling while playing this one, as we did with the stress tests shown by the CPU sitting at 99 degrees, Celsius., The stress tests were done by running Aida64 and the Heaven benchmark at the same time, in order to attempt to fully utilize both the processor and graphics., There was no change in CPU temperature, even with the CPU undervolted by 0.12v, but well see in The next graph how this helped with performance., With my cooling pad in use, I was able to drop the GPU temperature by around 10 degrees Celsius and with the cooling pad plus CPU undervolt right at the top.
We went from constant thermal throttling to intermittent thermal throttling and for the first time, hit power limit throttling instead. I havent tested with the fans manually maxed out through the Alienware Command Center software, as there was no need during these tests. It was hot enough that it was always running with 100 fan speed.. These are the average clock speeds for the same tests, just shown. Down the bottom. In the gaming tests, we can see a slight GPU clock, speed bump with a 200MHz overclock applied, but a larger 300MHz boost to CPU clock speed with the 0.12v CPU undervolt applied., With the stress tests running the CPU clock, speed rises steadily as we make improvements. With The cooling pad in use were getting better results on the CPU compared to undervolting. Only as thermal throttling is the enemy here then. Finally, at the top with the combination of cooling pad and CPU, undervolt were not too far behind the full 3.9GHz all core turbo speed of the 8750H in this worst case scenario, but still running quite hot though.. These are the clock speeds I got while just running CPU only stress tests without any GPU load., Even with a CPU only stress test, there was thermal throttling taking place which prevented the full 3.9GHz all core turbo speed of the i7 8750H, though we were able to Achieve full performance with the 0.12v undervolt applied to the CPU.. These are the temperatures for the same test, so thermal throttling at stock at 99, and then this lowered by 7 degrees Celsius, while undervolted, while giving us more performance.
To demonstrate how this translates into performance. Ive got some Cinebench CPU benchmarks here with the older 7th gen i7 7700HQ, just down the bottom for comparison check the card in the top right. If you want to see a detailed comparison between these two CPUs. Theres, no change with or without the CPU undervolt in single core speeds, as thats not enough to cause any throttling. But we can see a 110 point boost in multicore due to the thermal throttling being removed, while undervolted. Here are the GPU. Only clock speeds, while under a graphical only stress test and with a 200MHz core overclock applied, were seeing a 127MHz improvement and well see how this affects game performance later. With the overclock applied the temperatures rise by a couple of degrees and Ill note that this is A fair bit higher than most other graphics, only testing Ive done with other laptops, though no thermal throttling in this test.. So how does this performance boost actually translate into games? Ive tested with the exact same Windows, Nvidia and game updates installed? The only changes were the ones listed, here. Far Cry 5 was tested using the built in benchmark. The average frame rates at ultra settings were 7.3 better compared to stock speeds, and there was a 7 improvement to 1 low, so we are able to get a decent performance boost from overclocking, the graphics and undervolting. The CPU, though, results will of course, vary between game.. As for the external temperatures, where youll actually be putting your hands at idle, it was in the high 30s in the center of the keyboard.
Most others are closer to the 30 mark., While gaming, the center of the keyboard, is in the mid 50s fairly hot. For this area, though, closer to 40 degrees for the WASD area, then similar results with the stress tests running again up to the mid 50s towards the back.. As for the fan noise produced by the laptop Ill, let you have a listen to some of these tests. At idle. It was completely silent. I used the silent profile, which is why the temperatures were in the 50s, but this does show we can run it quieter., While gaming and under stress test it was actually a little quieter than most other gaming laptops Ive tested, despite the fans running at 100, at Least, according to Alienwares Control Center software., While the gaming performance seems pretty good, it was a bit sad that there was CPU throttling present, even in CPU only workloads without adding on GPU load at stock configuration.. The product page for the M15 makes it sound like theyve, got a good cooling solution, but unless Ive just got a bad unit, that does not really appear to be the case. In Dave2Ds review. He talks about being impressed by the cooling showing 80 degrees Celsius on the CPU and GPU and noting that there is no throttling, even under stress test, which does appear to be the case in the time spy stress test, hes using. From what I can tell he, Usually only tests with a single pass of Firestrike, whereas I test each measured point on my graph for 30 minutes, meaning my thermal testing takes at least 4 hours just to complete my first graph.
. In my opinion, a single pass of Firestrike isnt enough to show temperatures youd get from sustained gameplay over time and my test with the Time Spy stress test also didnt represent this either and is, in my opinion, misleading of how the M15 performs. Sure most of my Tests are worst case, most people wont be maxing out both the CPU and graphics for long periods of time. But the fact is, the results are worse when compared to most other gaming laptops, Ive tested that have the same specs in a similar form factor with the same tests., I dont seem to have a unit with poor contact between the dies and heatsinks either. I get extremely similar results to Dave when using the Time Spy stress test. I just dont personally think thats a realistic demonstration of temperatures that we see while playing real games, or at least not with the games I use. It will, of course, depend on the game. In any case, Im, not the only one to report high temperatures with the M15, but as shown, we were able to make some improvements.. These differences in performance shown arent hard and fast rules. There are different factors which will vary results, primarily the temperature of the room, youre running in application of thermal paste, and even the specific hardware which comes down to the silicon lottery.. You may not be able to undervolt or overclock your hardware the same as me. It depends on the chip and its specific power requirements, so dont just blindly copy my settings and do some testing to find out where your stable point is for best results.
. It may be possible to further improve temperatures by swapping the thermal paste. However, as this is a review unit that I have to send back Im not able to change the paste, otherwise, the next reviewer will unknowingly report different results due to what Ive, done. Undervolting and using a cooling pad to improve air flow is much easier for most People to do anyway and as we've seen it did improve performance in the M15. Ill, be interested to compare these results with the new RTX versions of the M15 in future, so get subscribed for those comparisons.. Let me know how much of a performance boost youve found by undervolting your hardware and what you thought of the improvements here, and course dont forget to subscribe for the full review of the Alienware M15 gaming laptop as well as future tech.