FurMark GPU and Performance Degradation on AW Systems

Discussion in 'Alienware' started by DELLChrisM, Sep 2, 2010.

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  1. DELLChrisM

    DELLChrisM Company Representative

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    FurMark GPU and Performance Degradation

    Problem: Owners of Alienware systems may experience performance degradation issues while running the FurMark GPU benchmarking application.

    Discussion: The Furmark application is a very intensive GPU benchmark that uses fur rendering algorithms to stress test the graphics card in your computer. The program is purposely designed to overheat the GPU by creating power draw above and beyond the design specifications. Using this program is likely to result in noticeable GPU performance degradation on your computer. If the GPU is pushed to the extreme, using this program could even result in thermal shutdown of your computer.

    Solution: Alienware and our GPU partners do not recommend using the Furmark application as a GPU burn in tool. Although Alienware systems have thermal protection mechanisms built in, running programs such as Furmark could lead to potential system damage. Alienware owners should use extreme caution when using benchmarking tools such as Furmark.

    Official statement from NVIDIA:
    “FurMark is an application designed to maximize power utilization from the graphics card. Running FurMark on your GeForce-based PC can create power draw well above the design specifications of the graphics card and thermal solution. In some cases, this could lead to slowdown of the graphics card or even shutdown of the PC. While the slowdown and shutdown features are designed on the GeForce graphics cards as protection mechanisms for the hardware, running Stress Tests such as FurMark may still have the potential to damage the graphics card and should thus be used with great caution.”.
     
  2. Wattos

    Wattos Notebook Deity

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    Thank you for the post. I really appreciate you coming over and posting this.

    However, what about performance degradation when playing games or running 3dMark06. In both these situations my set up has "Performance Degradation". The issue gets even worse when I start plugging things into usb ports (e.g. wireless mouse). Then I plug in and external dvd drive and it gets horrible.

    I am sorry to sound kind of harsh, but is the next solution going to be to unplug every usb device from the alienware when gaming? Am I supposed to play with the touchpad ? Does Dell design systems which have no head room for power spikes? I would have assumed that you should at least give the system sme 30-40W headroom for power spikes (e.g. harddrive starts revving up along with the optical drive). Additinally, one can at least plug in 3 usb devices, each taking up to 500mA, which results in 1.5A current draw if all of them draw the maximum of current.
     
  3. Predator4rmMars

    Predator4rmMars Notebook Evangelist

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    This is a very important and informative post that I'm sure many are unaware of. I have been informed of this potential danger from a tech agent at Alienware and have since halted it's use in fear of damaging my system. Also, is it a possibility that after using third party apps such as Furmark and damage does in-fact occur, that Alienware may or may-not fix hardware issues as a result? Thanks for the info DELLChrisM!!!
     
  4. hackcremo

    hackcremo Notebook Guru

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    I ask you how about you bought new computer just one month old then running game and face throttling..you still don't use furmark or do any intensive stress on it..just by playing games and benchmrking...because of furmark is the main evidence here..thats why the denied it..they try to sneak out from be responsible for throttling problem.. thumbs up for wattos on giving other solid evidence about power issuse when do benchmarking and games..
     
  5. Predator4rmMars

    Predator4rmMars Notebook Evangelist

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    @ hackcremo

    I am aware of the throttling issue witht he 920XM and 5870's but as DELL ChrisM mentioned that Furmark stresses the gpu's well above the design specifications. This is not saying that Dell/Alienware may be using Furmark as a scapegoat, however the fact remains that Furmark can be potentially dangerous for those that are new to stress testing hardware on a new system. I mainly game on my system, aside from doing school work (CS4, sketchbook pro, 3ds Max, and Maya) and the occasional benchmark here and there. I have not truly run into any real problems as of yet.
     
  6. xeroxide

    xeroxide Notebook Deity

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    agree 110%
    ey wattos, havn't you ever played SC2 with a trackpad? how about one that works at 20hz? i can unfortunately say yes to both questions >.>

    hehe, imagine playing LoL, HoN or Dota with the trackpad.

    truth be told Chris, the system itself is so close to the 150watt limit when coupled with the i7 and 260m, it should not have been in the design spec to begin with. undervolting the vbios was a bandaid fix at best. When everyday apps/games throttle due to being "well above design specifications" there is a problem
     
  7. BatBoy

    BatBoy Notebook Nobel Laureate

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    Folks, just a note -

    I have mentioned this before in each of the benchmarking threads.

    "While benchmarking / number chasing can be quite a bit of fun, please be aware that benchmarking your system is pushing your system to its limits. It can and will stress your components. Do so at your own risk - nobody is responsible for this but you."

    This includes Furmark and all of the other stress apps.

    What I see in ChrisM's post is a warning from NVIDIA. This is the reason why I chose to sticky this for the time being. I do not see anything in post#1 which states that Furmark is responsible for Throttling on the M15x.

    With that, any comments on M15x throttling need to be posted here:
    http://forum.notebookreview.com/ali...e-investigation-stock-clocks-overclocked.html

    M15x throttling posts belong in that thread - this thread's topic is on Furmark and Dell/NV's warning that using it can lead to damage. Please do not post off topic.

    Thanks.
     
  8. Wattos

    Wattos Notebook Deity

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    Hi Batboy,

    I actually have to disagree,

    The topic clearly says
    and the first line is

    Unless performance degradation means permanent damage to a piece of hardware, then I cannot agree with you. In my humble opinion "performance degradation" actually means throttling. As far as I know the M17x does not have any throttling issue when running furmark, so I dont see why discussion about the M15x would be off topic.

    If indeed the message was a warning, then I would assume that this does not only apply to alienware systems but to all Dell systems. Furthermore, it would most likely have the warning at the very beginning of the post, not at the end.
     
  9. BatBoy

    BatBoy Notebook Nobel Laureate

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    Good point Wattos and i see where you are coming from.

    I would imagine this would apply to all systems - not just Dell, AW or a specific make. Furmark is a stress tool. It will stress and can damage (IMO of course) a GPU if used improperly.

    As for the 15x specific throttling, ultimately I do not see the need for another thread to discuss this. The 15x throttling thread has a very high post count which helps put visibility on the issue. We'll play it by ear for now.

    Thanks for adding in your thoughts...
     
  10. Aikimox

    Aikimox Weihenstephaner!

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    ^^ I'd totally agree with this statement if we were talking about overclocking. But weren't these systems designed with gaming in mind? ;) As far as gaming goes, you could say the same about quite a few games. Some, like Crysis would stress the GPU close to the level of Furmark' and we play those for many hours! I have/had 12+ hour long sessions and can tell you that the GPU can get quite hot, maybe not as hot as Furmark pushes it but comparable, IMHO. In fact, every respectable reviewer does run Prime and Furmark for many hours to see how well do systems cope with high load. That's normal, since many gamers can and will load their machines in similar way.

    Now, to the point. I see a serious problem with the current cooling approach on AW machines. While it works perfectly for GDDR3 GPU's, it fails with GDDR5. Just by replacing the stock pads on memory chips with a high quality thick thermal paste, Dell could solve the issue. The memory chips wouldn't get as hot anymore. That's how it's done in business grade Lenovo and HP systems.

    Throttling is a different story of course and belongs in its own thread.
     
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