[Guide] Upgrading P150HM with 2960XM....and overclocking it!

Discussion in 'Sager and Clevo' started by jaybee83, Jan 18, 2013.

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  1. jaybee83

    jaybee83 Biotech-Doc

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    Alright folks, as ive already promised to some of you, heres my step-by-step guide describing in detail how I´m playing around with my newest toy atm: a Core i7 2960XM CPU for my Clevo P150HM machine :)

    Please bear with me for a while, since I´m not gonna be able to write everything down all at once, so I´m gonna update this thread bit by bit ;)

    First of all, the standard disclaimer:
    I am not responsible for any bricked machines, smoked CPUs or blown-up PSUs! Everything and anything in this guide that u choose to copy or follow happens at your own risk!

    Alright, now that we got this out of the way: Lets do this! ;)


    1. Some background info / Intention

    As many of you probably know, the P150HM is well equipped to handle both a 100W highend GPU and a Core i7 Quad Extreme Edition. Its got the proper heatsinks / cooling and also enough juice is provided by its 180W PSU to run all components at stock clocks. But therein also lies the problem: Even tho there is enough power headroom in order to provide for a nice GPU overclock, an OC on both GPU and an XM CPU would just be too much for the PSU to handle (more details on that will be provided later). That is also most likely the reason, why Clevo chose to not implement any overclocking functionality into the P150HM BIOS, whereas its bigger brother P170HM (equipped with a 220W PSU) can easily be overclocked CPU-wise by using the Intel Xtreme Tuning Utility (XTU).

    Now, thanks to several NBR users with balls of steel (sources: Clevo P157EM
    / Clevo P157HM), we have known for a while that it is indeed possible to crossflash the latest P170HM Bios onto a P150HM without bricking it and thus enabling XTU functionality. Since I am extremely happy with my machine, I decided to stick to it and skip Haswell (and maybe even Broadwell) altogether, before I get myself a completely new system. Lucky enough, I stumbled across a pretty awesome deal for a new and unopened 2960XM cpu on ebay and got myself that great piece of hardware ;)

    2. Hardware Installation

    First, disconnect your P150HM from the PSU and any other devices, turn it around on its lid, take out the battery and loosen the four screws that hold the backplate.

    [​IMG]

    You´ll find the CPU in the upper right corner with its respective heatsink and fan. Loosen the four screws and gently take off the cpu heatsink.

    [​IMG]

    Once the heatsink is off, you´ll see the exposed CPU core with old thermal paste sticking to it. Clean both the heatsink and the CPU with a clean cloth or tissue (optionally using isopropyl alcohol). In order to dislodge the CPU from its socket, use a flat-head screwdriver to turn the indicated plastic switch counterclockwise.

    [​IMG]

    After cleaning, the respective parts should look as shiny as this (2860QM on the left, 2960XM on the right):

    [​IMG]

    After installing the new CPU, apply fresh thermal paste (like IC Diamond or OCZ Freeze) like in the indicated "line" fashion, for example:

    [​IMG]

    Last but not least, after re-installing the CPU heatsink, one can optionally apply a piece of aluminum adhesive tape on top of the fan casing and the heatsink fins in order to significantly improve the airflow and thus overall temps (especially critical when OCing!):

    [​IMG]

    After putting the backplate on, installing the battery and reconnecting the PSU, you can check for ur new hardware using CPU-Z, for example:

    [​IMG]

    3. (Cross)Flashing P170HM BIOS

    Prepare a USB Stick of your choice by properly formatting it with this tool by HP. Make sure to check both the Quick Format and the Create DOS Disk options and point the program to these DOS system files.

    In order to enable XTU functionality on a P150HM, only the P170HM Bios is needed, whereas the respective EC is only optional. I myself chose to keep my P150HM EC, since it sports pretty nice fan profiles that keep my machine quiet and cool :) The latest Bios & EC files for both machines can be found here.

    After unzipping, copy all the contents on to the prepared USB stick and reboot ur laptop.

    Enter the system Bios by repreatedly pressing F2 when booting and make sure that the USB stick is in first boot priority.

    An additional reboot with the USB Stick connected will get u into the DOS environment (C:\), where u can check the contents of the stick by inputting the command "dir".
    Enter the respective Bios or EC folders by typing "cd Foldername" and start the flashing process by typing the name of the .bat files (usually update.bat but better check urself to make sure).

    Wait till the process is finished, then reboot ur system. Dont panic if it doesnt boot on the first try, it sometimes takes two tries on the power button in order to start up ur machine again after the flash :)

    Check ur system with a tool like HWInfo and ull find that ur motherboard ID has been changed to P170HM. Note that ur chipset still stays the same tho (HM65 instead of HM67 on the P170HM):

    [​IMG]

    Also be aware that after crossflashing ull need to reactivate Windows!

    Which is kinda logical if you think about it: In a sense, ure on a completely different machine now (at least as far as M$ is concerned ;) )

    4. Intel XTU Installation & functionality

    In order for XTU to function properly, ull first need to install this SQL Server package. If ure on a x64 Windows (which I highly presume your are), then make sure to install both the 32bit and 64bit packages in that order.

    All XTU versions from 3.0 onwards only provide the ability to modify the CPU multiplier (at least on our crossflashed P157HM system), whereas version 2.1 also gives u the possibility to modify RAM clocks and timings. So this is the version ull want to use!

    Once loaded, it´ll look something like this. Be aware that the given values for amperage and Turbo Boost wattage are completely bogus (thanks again to Prema for providing this info!) and cannot be changed via XTU. Its rather recommended to use a tool like Throttlestop (version 5.0 available at TechInferno) to check on the currently set TDP values via its TPL button.

    Now that were all set, lets head over to the Overclocking section, shall we? ;)
     

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  2. jaybee83

    jaybee83 Biotech-Doc

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    5. Overclocking

    Lets check the less interesting option first: Overclocking the Ram. Given are the options to set the RAM clocks in the official JEDEC steppings (thus 1066, 1333, 1600, 1866, 2133 Mhz) and to tune the individual timings of the sticks. Unfortunately I wasnt able to OC my Corsair "Value RAM" (what a surprise! :D) to 1600 Mhz, but the functionality is indeed given, since I was able to change the clock speed to 1066 Mhz :p Thats ok tho, I was planning to upgrade to 1866 sticks sometime in the near future anyways :D Maybe ill be more lucky going to 2133 with those then ;)

    Moving on!

    Now, when overclocking an XM CPU in a laptop, there are several important factors to consider, that could possibly limit the level of OC ability:

    - Power headroom provided by ur PSU: as mentioned in the beginning, the stock 180W PSU is probably not strong enough in order to juice both an OCed XM CPU and an OCed highend GPU such as the 7970M or 680M in every scenario. I encountered such a case when running the Catzilla benchmark at 1080P and all settings maxxed. Even at the stock multiplier of 37x I was not able to finish the Physics test without my PSU giving out and thus my system suddenly shutting down! Thus, my plan is to upgrade my PSU to the Dell PA-9E 240W slim later on, which of course will require some modding on my part. But lets cross that bridge when we get to it :)

    - OC ability of ur XM CPU: no need to go into this in depth, everyone knows that each and every single computer component has its own max. stress level, after which it just gets unstable

    - Temperature: Generally, Intel CPUs are rated at a Tjmax of 100C to 105C, above which the core starts to degrade and get unstable. Especially when overclocking, it is CRITICAL to keep an eye on the temperature of the respective hardware ure trying to squeeze more performance out of. I for one am gonna play it safe and will thus put my max. level of comfort at around 90C when OCing this baby ;)

    - Max. TDP values set by your system BIOS: Now this is a more delicate matter altogether. The system BIOS defines the maximum wattage ur CPU is allowed to draw from the system before it engages a command that limits the CPU´s clocks. In total, there are three different values you should be concerned about: The short term TDP value, which defines a maximum wattage peak that the CPU is allowed to reach when in Turbo Boost mode. The Turbo Boost duration, defining how long the CPU is allowed to stay at the defined short term TDP value. And last but not least, the long term TDP value, which sets the "regular" TDP limit at which the CPU is allowed to run indefinitely. Depending on these three values, ur CPU will be able to reach a specific clock, at which the specified wattage is reached.

    The CPU multiplier which u can modify in XTU allows u to set the maximum clock for the XM CPU in three different states: when using either 1 core, 2 cores or 3/4 cores at the same time. The standard multiplier value for the 2960Xm is 37x, which translates into: 3.7 Ghz @1 Core, 3.6 Ghz@2 Cores and 3.4 Ghz at 3 & 4 Cores under load. Even tho these are the max. clocks allowed, that doesnt necessarily mean that the CPU will actually be able to reach those! The predefined TDP values for regular Core i7 quadcores are 45W long term, 55W short term and 16s Turbo Boost duration, whereas the XM CPUs are given 55W long term, around 68-69W short term and also 16s Turbo Boost duration IIRC (if anyone knows better, please correct me!).

    Once these levels are reached, the CPU stops going up in clocks. Thus, its easy to reach the predefined maximum clock of 3.7 Ghz with one core, since that doesnt really reach the maximum TDP wattage allowed. But once u put load onto all four CPU cores, they may already stop clocking at a max. of 3.0 Ghz or even less, since the predefined TDP limits of 55W/68-69W (in the 2960XM´s case) are already reached!

    Lets give u a better understanding on these TDP values by taking my 2960XM as an example.

    I determined the max. OC ability of my CPU to be at a multiplier of 48x. Thus, at 1 core its maximum clock can be 4.8 Ghz, at 2 cores 4.7 Ghz and at 3 & 4 cores under load, it could potentially reach 4.5 Ghz.

    [​IMG]

    The stability at these (pretty insane, I might add! :D) clocks was given by repeated runs with Prime95, the internal XTU stress test and Cinebench R11.5 benchmarks.

    What i noticed during the Cinebench runs tho, was this: When stressing only 1 Core, OCing from 3.7 to 4.8 Ghz (+29.7%), it gave me an additional 24.8% in benchmark scores (1.49 vs. 1.86 Pts), which is a pretty neat scaleability. But when running the benchmark on all four cores, the final score would stay at 6.46 Pts and wouldnt budge, no matter what multiplier i would set in XTU.

    Checking with CPU-Z, the reason for that was quickly apparent: The maximum clock my CPU would reach at the given TDP values on all four cores was just around 2.9-3.0 Ghz instead of the set 4.5 Ghz!

    So what to do....?

    PREMA TO THE RESCUE! :D

    Once more, I´ll have to thank our resident Bios Wizard Prema for providing a modded P170HM system BIOS, which sported higher TDP values. Not only does this BIOS allow the CPU to reach higher clocks (especially when putting load on to more than 2 cores), but it also lets the Turbo Boost last longer than the predefined 16s.

    Currently, I am on 80W short term, 70W long term, 32s TB duration, and I´m staying in touch with Prema in order to find optimal values for my CPU.

    I cannot stress this enough: While testing such modified BIOS versions, it is very important to keep an eye on temperatures and system wattage! On one hand, you´ll have to watch out for ur CPU not to be fried by its newly unleashed super clocks, on the other hand ull have to keep and eye on ur poor PSU, that may very well give out under the pressure of both an OCed CPU and GPU ;)

    As already mentioned by our OC specialist Meaker in another thread: when the PSU gives out, it may likely take the whole system with it!

    For that exact reason, I am not going to publicly link the modded Bios versions by Prema (additionally to the fact, that I would have to ask his permission first, anyways), but instead just provided the stock BIOS & EC versions for both P150HM and P170HM. Nevertheless, if you´re interested in such a Bios, just send Prema or me a PM and we can handle it that way :)

    Update

    Alright folks, as it seems Ive hit my sweet spot TDP value and temperature-wise :)

    I tested another one of Prema´s brilliant Bios versions, this time with 80W long, 85W short and 32s duration.

    Prime95 was the tool of choice to determine max. temps and clocks. "In-place large FFTs" mode (for max. heat generation) was tested using 1 - 8 threads for 5 minutes, the temperature peaks of each core was jotted down and the average max. temp. calculated (HWInfo is a pretty handy tool for this kinda analysis). Clocks were determined during the last of those 5 minutes and both minimum and max. frequencies during that minute were noted. During the test runs I adjusted the multiplier from 48x to 47x due to stability issues.

    Here are the results:

    1 Threads = 3.6 - 4.7 Ghz at 69.0C
    2 Threads = 3.4 - 4.7 Ghz at 89.3C
    3 Threads = 2.7 - 4.7 Ghz at 91.3C
    4 Threads = 3.3 - 3.4 Ghz at 90.0C
    5 Threads = 3.3 - 3.4 Ghz at 91.3C
    6 Threads = 3.3 - 3.4 Ghz at 90.0C
    7 Threads = 3.2 - 3.4 Ghz at 89.0C
    8 Threads = 3.2 - 3.4 Ghz at 88.8C

    Temperature-wise I have reached my limit here, since I wouldnt like my CPU to go too far above 90C for prolonged time periods. Basically, instead of the XTU-set 47/46/44/44 multis for 1/2/3/4 cores we´re looking at something like 47/41/34/34 in real life when the respective number of cores are stressed. The only way to allow for even higher TDP limits (and thus higher clocks) would be to dramatically improve the cooling system by modding the heatsink, improving the airflow and in extreme cases maybe even using a liquid coolant like water or liquid nitrogen :p

    I for one am quite happy with the results and I guess I´m now ready and set for the benchmarks baby! :D Just the stronger PSU missing... Don´t wanna risk bricking my current one :p So be patient, guys! :)

    Oh, before I forget: All you HM owners out there, keep an eye on Prema´s website, there just might be something interesting coming out in the near future :rolleyes: :thumbsup:

    6. Benchmarks

    Since Im still waiting on purchasing a stronger PSU, Ive only done some preliminary benchmark tests.

    3DMark and Unigine Benchmarks did not really profit much from the extreme OC. That was expected, on account of two factors:

    - Today´s quadcores (Sandy Bridge / Ivy Bridge) not being a bottleneck yet, even for OCed high-end GPUs such as the 7970M and 680M

    - All graphical benchmarks were performed at extreme settings, at which the GPU is more likely to be bottlenecked than the CPU. I chose this strategy, since I naturally presumed that any game played on such a machine would be most likely wished to be maxxed out on all features :)

    Other more CPU-dependant Benchmarks such as PCMark7 and Cinebench naturally profited very significantly from these kinda OC clocks and scaled very well.

    More specific data to follow once I get my hands on a 240W PSU! :p

    For now, Im definitely happy with the results :)

    Update

    Ok so I was wondering which IB CPU I could compare my 2960XM with performance-wise in its OCed state (47x multi) and I decided to run the same benchmarks as Notebookcheck to have some kinda base for comparison.

    This is what i came up with so far:

    3DMark06 CPU - 7554

    Cinebench R10 Single - 7554
    Cinebench R10 Multi - 24237

    Cinebench R11.5 Single - 1.83
    Cinebench R11.5 Multi - 6.83

    SuperPi Version 1.8 WP (Download)

    SuperPi 1M - 8.219s
    SuperPi 2M - 18.860s
    SuperPi 32M - 8m 3.344s

    [​IMG]

    wPrime 32 - 7.124s
    wPrime 1024 - 247.97s

    TrueCrypt AES - 3.7 GB/s (mean)
    TrueCrypt Twofish - 0.6 GB/s (mean)
    TrueCrypt Serpent - 0.35 GB/s (mean)

    Comparing these results with the ones from notebookcheck and compiling an average ranking, my OCed 2960XM would be somewhere between a stock 3840QM and a stock 3920XM :)

    Update 2

    Ok, so I got myself a Dell Alienware 240W PSU (Model PA-9E) and successfully exchanged the cable leading from the brick to the laptop from my 180W Stock PSU. Now I was able to finally finish up the benchmark runs with both the CPU and GPU OCed to the max. ;)

    [​IMG]

    As you can see, I included a run on powersaver settings just for comparison´s sake. As mentioned before, the performance boost in graphic intensive apps is not THAT significant when switching from a 2860QM to a 2960XM, even if the latter one is heavily OCed. Aside from PCMark7 and Cinebench CPU, Cinebench GPU also profited surprisingly well from the extra CPU power. Also, 3DMark13 Ice Storm is another benchmark getting a nice boost from a CPU OC. Unfortunately, I wasn´t able to include the Catzilla benchmark at all maxxed, since the last Beta version (#16), which was able to run on 1080p, is now blocked and im not really in the mood to spend money on it and get the full version ;)

    Cheers!
     

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  3. Tonrac

    Tonrac Notebook Evangelist

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    Hey congratulation for that purchase
    impatient to read more ... i think that you will push the 180W psu to the limit.
     
  4. bigtonyman

    bigtonyman Desktop Powa!!!

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    Have fun with that beast!! :)
     
  5. jaybee83

    jaybee83 Biotech-Doc

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    alright, back on track now :)

    and yeah, i noticed the limitations of my meager 180W PSU pretty early on! :D
     
  6. kolias

    kolias Notebook Evangelist

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    So Jaybee you did it as you said....!!!
    Well done budy!!!!!!+rep
    Know im waiting the 680m to arrive,and last thing bigger psu.
    And then...lets the oc begin.....LOL:D
    Any fans (rpm) problems???
     
  7. kolias

    kolias Notebook Evangelist

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    I just saw your rig.....2.7-4.8????:eek:
    really???
     
  8. kolias

    kolias Notebook Evangelist

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    apla re file den pezese.....:D
     
  9. jaybee83

    jaybee83 Biotech-Doc

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    haha yep, i can reach 48x multi on my XM cpu :D but that is just for up to two threads. Ive already gotten 3-4 threads to work with 4.5 Ghz, but as for 4-8 threads, I´m still working on that using Prema´s modded BIOS versions ;)

    so far no fan problems that I noticed. of course at those clocks i always keep my Fn+1 function switched on :p and yeah, the 240W PSU is definitely on my shopping list now in order to accomodate both the CPU and GPU at their max. OC clocks :p

    btw, how come ure getting a 680M? Wouldnt it be wiser to wait and see if we could upgrade to next-gen GPUs first? :)
     
  10. kolias

    kolias Notebook Evangelist

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    You right budy but eurocom gave me good offer for the gtx680m.
    Almost free....(if i sell the 7970m of course)
    I was lucky.:)
    So this psu is safe(19,5v)?i know that it needs modded to fit it,
    Except for that,everything else is compatible?
     
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