Alienware Area 51m Undervolt and Overclock Guide

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  1. Biker Gremling

    Biker Gremling Notebook Evangelist

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    Introduction
    The Alienware Area 51m is probably the most versatile desktop replacement laptop from 2019 thanks to it being able to run up to an RTX 2080 and a i9 9900K in a chassis the size of a 15-inch laptop of few years back. Unfortunately, due to some idiosyncrasies from Dell, this device is hampered in its performance and usability for gaming.

    Disclaimer
    The procedures described in this tutorial may cause instability on your device or it may damage it or void the warranty. This guide is provided as-is and the author exonerates responsibility from the effectiveness of the tutorial, consequences of this tutorial and the software featured in this tutorial.

    The frequencies and setting shown are for guidance only and don’t guarantee you will be able to reach or surpass what is described since each laptop is different.

    This tutorial is for the Alienware Area 51m, and the procedures described may not work with other devices.

    Pre-requisites
    The following software must be installed on the device:
    The laptop must be running BIOS 1.7.3 (at least). vBIOS 1.0.0.5 (180W power limit) is reccomended.

    It is highly recommended the laptop be re-pasted and re-padded. Check this thread for guidance:
    http://forum.notebookreview.com/thr...-for-alienware-area-51m-9900k-rtx2080.829543/

    The use of a cooling pad is recommended for gaming and rendering. Optionally, just raising the back of the laptop by an inch will increase cooling performance.

    A second monitor is very helpful so you can run the tests and observe what the device is doing.

    Initial configuration
    We first need to set up Alienware Command Center (AWCC for short) so it doesn’t interfere with MSI afterburner and Trhottlestop, and unlock the higher thermal limit.

    1. Launch ACC and navigate to the FUSION tab.
    2. Create a new OC profile. Name it something such as “Default” or “Undervolt”.
    3. Make sure that the CPU slider is deactivated. Activate the GPU slider.
    [​IMG]

    4. Click on the GPU Advanced view. Slide the Temperature slider to 78°C. Slide the GPU frequency and memory frequency to 0. Click Test & Save.
    [​IMG]

    5. Go to the home page and select this profile on the Overclock option.
    [​IMG]

    GPU Undervolting and Overclocking (i.e. removing the Thermal throttling)


    This is probably the reason of why you are here, you want your RTX 2080 to run at decent speeds but avoid the hard throttling that occurs at 79°C. But first some background.

    First manufactured A51m’s featured a poor thermalpad application and less than ideal MOSFETs for the GPU that could cause these burning out. In addition, some MOSFETs where burning out due to the laptop was used with the lid closed, preventing air be taken from the top vents. It also didn’t help Dell releasing a vBIOS that could allow the RTX 2080 to run at 200W. To prevent further laptops failing, power of the GPU was limited at 180W, and maximum temperature was reduced to 79°C. This has been a major issue for users, causing huge disgust in the community since when reaching 79°C the GPU would enter a power down state seriously affecting performance until cooldown.

    Undervolting the GPU and limiting temperature at AWCC will allow us to achieve higher GPU clocks while maintaining a power consumption that keeps the GPU under the required temperature envelope. All this will result in an uninterrupted gaming performance and a longer lasting device.

    Preparing MSI Afterburner and undervolting

    1. Launch MSI Afterburner. Go to settings. Check “Unlock voltage control” and “Unlock voltage monitoring”. Set the drop-down menu to “third party”
    [​IMG]

    2. Go to the monitoring tab and check the “GPU1 voltage”. Set it to show on the On-screen Display in conjunction to your other preferred settings.
    [​IMG]

    3. Go to C:\Program Files (x86)\MSI Afterburner\Profiles . Right click on the shown files and edit them using Notepad++
    [​IMG]

    4. Replace the content of both files with the following:

    [Startup]
    Format=2
    CoreVoltageBoost=
    PowerLimit=
    ThermalLimit=
    ThermalPrioritize=
    CoreClkBoost=
    MemClkBoost=
    [Settings]
    VDDC_Generic_Detection=1

    Save the files
    [​IMG]

    5. Launch HWinfo64. Check the “Sensor only” on the launch screen.
    [​IMG]
    6. On the list of information, right click on “GPU Power” and select “Show Graph”. Set the maximum value to 180 (if using the 200W vBIOS, set to 200).
    [​IMG]

    7. On AWCC, set the “Thermal” to “Full Speed”
    [​IMG]

    8. We need to determine the maximum offset your GPU can handle. Open your preferred 3D loop application and run it on windowed mode at a low resolution (such as 1280x720). While the loop is running increase frequency until the game is not stable.
    9. Close the 3D application and go to MSI Afterburner. Do Ctrl+F to open the Curves setting. You will see something like this:
    [​IMG]

    Now we need to start flattening the curve to stop the GPU from running too high voltages. Start with a voltage such as 968mV and drag all the points to the right down up to the same frequency. Do this until you reach 1100mV since the GPU can’t go higher voltages. Click Apply.
    [​IMG]

    10. Launch the 3D application and let it run for a while. Close it and get to HWinfo64. Check the graph and proceed as follows.
    a. Power is pegged all the time/GPU reaches 79°C: Choose a lower voltage point (do not exceed your maximum frequency offset).
    [​IMG]

    b. Power does not reach the maximum limit/GPU runs cooler than 75°C: Choose a higher voltage point (do not exceed your maximum frequency offset).
    [​IMG]

    Re-iterate the process until you find a balance where the laptop runs stable at 76~78°C after a prolonged period of time
    11. Proceed to overclock the memory. Stop when you see artefacts and reduce by 100MHz.

    Test your settings with games! Some games are more taxing on the GPU and you will need to create different profiles to avoid the GPU from reaching 79°C.

    Use G-Sync or V-Sync. Limiting the refresh rate can provide the GPU relief and cool down periods.

    Want to run quieter? Use more aggressive undervolts to prevent the GPU from reaching 79°C on other Thermal profiles.

    Bonus, extra battery

    On MSI Afterburner slide the “Core Clock” and “Memory Clock” to minimum. Save to a profile and activate it when running in battery.

    CPU Undervolting and Overclocking
    Either if you are running an 8700(K), 9700(K) or an 9900(K), you will find that on some applications the CPU will reach 100°C and it will reduce its frequency to maintain that temperature and keep the CPU from getting damaged. This is not ideal and we can configure how fast the CPU can run and how much voltage it uses to prevent this happening on different scenarios.

    To control the CPU, we are going to use Throttlestop. This program allows us to use 4 different profiles, and we are going to use them as follows:

    1. Balanced: A profile with good performance for general use. Target ~140W sustained load.
    2. Gaming: A profile for applications where single thread performance is important such as games.
    3. Render: A profile where all cores are at maximum usage for prolonged periods of time. Target ~110W sustained load.
    4. Battery: A profile that limits CPU speed severely to reduce power consumption. Target ~45W sustained load.

    Setting up Trhottlestop and finding the CPU maximum frequency.

    1. Launch Throttlestop a go to options. Set everything like shown. Click OK.
    [​IMG]

    2. Click on “Turn On”.
    [​IMG]

    3. Click on “TLP” Check that everything is like the picture shown. There is no need to change the Speedshift values, leave them as-is.
    [​IMG]

    4. Click on “FIVR”. Under “Save voltages to Throttlestop.INI”, select “OK – Save voltages immediately”
    5. Select profile 2 (Gaming) and make sure that the “Overclock” check box is active.
    6. Now change the multiplier of the highest core to something like 50. Apply and Ok.
    [​IMG]

    7. On ACC, set the “Thermal” to “Full Speed”
    8. Click on “TS Bench”. Select 1 thread on the drop-down menu, “Size 64M” is ok. Click on start.
    [​IMG]


    a. Test is completed successfully: Proceed to increase the multiplier by 1.
    b. Test gives errors: Decrease the multiplier by 1.
    Repeat the test until you find the highest multiplier that doesn’t give errors. This is your highest frequency the CPU can work with, and this value will be used as a reference.

    Creating the different profiles

    Gaming Profile
    1. Click on “FIVR”. Choose profile 2.
    2. Set the multiplier to the maximum CPU frequency you determined earlier.
    3. Under FIVR control select “CPU Core” and check “Unlock Adjustable Voltage”.
    4. Move the slider to ~ -10mV.
    [​IMG]

    5. Under FIVR control select “CPU Cache” and check “Unlock Adjustable Voltage”.
    6. Move the slider to ~ -10mV (The GPU core and cache must have the same offset).
    7. Click Apply and Ok.
    8. Launch “TS Bench”. Set threads to 4 and size 256M. Click “Start”.
    [​IMG]

    a. Test is completed successfully: Proceed to decrease voltage by ~10mV.
    b. Test gives errors: Proceed to increase voltage by ~5mV.​
    9. Once you found a voltage offset that doesn’t give errors or crash the computer, set the size to 1024M and continue fine tuning the voltage offset.
    10. Optionally, you can run a test with all threads, but overheating will cause throttling down, so is best to revert back to 64M or 256M length tests.

    Balanced and Render profiles

    On these profiles we are going to do things differently. Instead of searching for the maximum speed the CPU can run stable, we are going to look for the power the CPU consumes when working full bore. The indicated power targets are approximate what the Area 51m can sustain for short periods (Balanced profile) and indefinitely (Render profile). These values can be changed to suit particular machines.

    1. Click on “FIVR”. Choose profile 1 (Balanced) or 3 (Render).
    2. Set the multiplier to a CPU frequency you consider it could meet the power target.
    3. Move the sliders (CPU Core and Cache) left ~ -10mV.
    4. Click Apply and Ok.
    5. Launch “TS Bench”. Set threads to the maximum capable of your device and size 256M. Click “Start”.
    [​IMG]
    a. Test is completed successfully: Proceed to decrease voltage by ~10mV.
    b. Test gives errors: Proceed to increase voltage by ~5mV.
    6. Once the Undevolt is stable, Launch Cinebench R20. Go to File -> Preferences. Change “Test duration” a at least 600 seconds.
    [​IMG]

    7. Start the test and check the power consumed by the CPU. Make changes to the multiplier and undervolt to meet the power target.
    [​IMG] [​IMG]

    8. Once everything is dialled in, run Cinebench R20 for 10 minutes to validate the stability.


    Battery profile

    With the battery profile, things a re very similar, but we want to avoid the CPU turboing up. Proceed as follows:
    1. Select the Battery Profile.
    2. Check the “Disable Turbo”
    3. Uncheck “Speed Step”
    [​IMG]
    4. Click on “FIVR”. Uncheck “Overclock”.
    [​IMG]

    5. Move the sliders (CPU Core and Cache) left ~ -10mV.
    6. Click Apply and Ok.
    7. Launch “TS Bench”. Set threads to the maximum capable of your device and size 256M. Click “Start”.
    a. Test is completed successfully: Proceed to decrease voltage by ~10mV.
    b. Test gives errors: Proceed to increase voltage by ~5mV.
    8. Once you found a voltage offset that doesn’t give errors or crash the computer, launch Cinebench to validate the undervolt.
    [​IMG]

    Some notes:
    * Activating Speed Shift – EPP will cause shuttering on games.
    * For best results, set multipliers of all cores the same speed.
    * If the laptop soft crashes in desktop, increase voltage by 2 to 3 clicks.

    References

    http://forum.notebookreview.com/threads/the-throttlestop-guide.531329/
    https://www.reddit.com/r/Alienware/comments/b2r1rn/my_area51m_started_smoking_i_took_it_apart_and/
    http://forum.notebookreview.com/threads/official-alienware-area-51m-owners-lounge.826831/
     
    Last edited: Dec 24, 2019
  2. Biker Gremling

    Biker Gremling Notebook Evangelist

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    Tutorial updated due to changes on the temperature management system introduced on BIOS 1.8.1.
     
    Last edited: Apr 25, 2020
    pathfindercod likes this.
  3. pathfindercod

    pathfindercod Notebook Virtuoso

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    Dude this is great, thank you. Ill rep you son as I can.
     
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  4. RMLJD

    RMLJD Notebook Consultant

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    This has to be a massive amount of tine and effort.

    Thank You!
     
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  5. Biker Gremling

    Biker Gremling Notebook Evangelist

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    Thanks, indeed this took a lot of time to make, but I really thought people needed it.
     
  6. larkdrawde

    larkdrawde Notebook Enthusiast

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    What a legend! Thanks for this mate!
     
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  7. Biker Gremling

    Biker Gremling Notebook Evangelist

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    Thank you sir!

    Enviado desde mi GM1913 mediante Tapatalk
     
  8. VoodooBane

    VoodooBane Notebook Consultant

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    1 last thing Can you Screenshot all the settings you have from HWinfo?
     
  9. Biker Gremling

    Biker Gremling Notebook Evangelist

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    Settings from HWinfo64 are the defaults
     
  10. Fire Tiger

    Fire Tiger Notebook Deity

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    Instead of using AWCC to raise the GPU limit, would you recommend or have you tested Asus GPU Tweak in comparison? The reason I ask is that I use ThrottleStop (TS) to OC and UV my CPU, however, in order for AWCC to not mess with the TS settings I need to set the OC profile in AWCC to off. If I follow your guide above, it would require me turning on the OC profile, affecting TS.

    I hope this makes sense and I can elaborate if needed.
     
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