Not enough coverage on CPU-limiting "Quiet" & "Balanced" modes.

Discussion in 'What Notebook Should I Buy?' started by vegetaeater, Jun 13, 2019.

  1. vegetaeater

    vegetaeater Notebook Evangelist

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    How many times have you been eagerly reading (of watching) a review on a new laptop only to be disappointed by the reviewers remarks on how the machine has "great thermals" but is "extremely noisy" under load?
    You make a quick mental note to scratch that unit off your list.

    Of course, the reviewer may or may not mention that, for the purpose of their review, they chose to set everything to high performance + max fans. Or gaming + turbo. Or MeGaBoOsT(tm) + ULTRAcool(tm).

    Now, I get that not everyone cares about fan noise. Many will say "wear a headset" ... or "you can't ever hear them over the laptop speakers". But what I think a lot of people miss is that many buyers use these machines in the presence of others. Sure, I can just wear a headset. But what about our partners of family members on the couch reading books or watching TV?

    The problem seems to be, this new generation of CPU's run H-O-T. Like - boiling hot. Of course, many performance enthusiasts don't care... they wan't to eek out as much performance as possible. Full 8-core desktop CPU's in a laptop? Sign them up.

    But for the masses looking for a relatively quiet, cool-to-the-touch, versatile machine for gaming - we've seen multiple examples of how an i7-8750H running at 35W is honestly not much different to a unit at 55W when it comes to game FPS. But you're often talking about 10-15 degrees difference and a dB level dropping from the 55 range to the 45 range.

    I just wanted to vent a little on this and get feedback from others. I've been doing an awful amount of research lately to figure out just how loud many current gaming laptops really are. For instance, notebookcheck lists the GE75 as "LOUD". But from what I can tell, running it in 'Sport Mode' with auto fans and an undervolt would leave you with dB in the mid 40 range while playing the latest games.

    I just wish there was a reviewer out there who thoroughly covered this information, instead of always going balls-to-the-wall for performance.
     
    hmscott likes this.
  2. Porter

    Porter Notebook Virtuoso

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    I'm one of the ones who normally doesn't care about noise and preffered to run at max fans with headphones on. I've bought plenty of laptops over the years that are super loud and it never bothered me. Until last year when my girlfriend moved in and I ended up sitting next to her while we're watching TV or just playing games next to each other in the living room. I hadn't realized how annoying that constant humming of fan noise could be to both of us with the laptop I had. When gaming at work over lunch at my desk, it was a little embarrassing making so much noise there too.

    I chose to buy a GE75 based upon it being the most portable laptop with a full 2080, with a 17" screen crammed in barely any larger than some 15" chassis.

    I wanted something that could keep up with the bigger laptops for gaming (or nearly anyways) with a max fan option. But could also run a little quieter with maybe reduced performance, or maybe even running a little hotter. Also one that could run with fans off or very low when simply surfing. The GE75 checked all these key areas for me.

    I think it is hard for any reviewer to hit every possible option anybody could want, but I totally agree with what you're saying, and maybe there should be a middle of the road performance and a surfing only test for fan noise with certain tweaks applied. The problem is I always apply some sort of undervolt to every model computer I have, and even mess with limiting CPU clocks if I don't need it for whatever I am doing. Most reviewers won't or maybe even can't do that and are supposed to review as-is, and not after messing with a bunch of stuff tweaking. People want to know how they run out of the box since most users proabbly will just use it like that.

    I hadn't used geforce experience in years, but decided to give it a go again and was amazed with the whisper mode. That is amazing, no messing with nvidia inspector or other frame limiter, just a single click and still have just enough fps to game when I want to be quiet. The MSI silent fan control is awesome and allows to fans to be off when I just need to surf and don't want any noise.
     
  3. vegetaeater

    vegetaeater Notebook Evangelist

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    Lol, yeah it was about the time I started living with my (now wife) that I started caring about how these things sound.
    It is of course no big deal for people who use these machines alone (either teens in their bedrooms or adults in their study).

    Which mode do you use? If you've been using Turbo, I'd recommend trying Sport + Auto fans. It made a massive difference on my old MSI... with a minuscule loss in frames.

    That's true. But there are lot of reviewers who talk about how to get the max performance out of their machines. ie Undervolting, setting fans to turbo, laptop cooler etc.
    Manufacturers added these other modes for a reason (silent mode / balanced mode, etc). However the typical enthusiast who has their own YouTube channel isn't as interested in running a machine quieter. But I bet that would appeal to the typical consumer more than MAX FANS + 5% fps increase.

    The problem with whisper mode is that it really cuts your performance to pieces. If your laptop has a silent mode, it probably limits the CPU to like 30w and leaves the GPU to do its thing. That will often be quiet enough, while providing much, much more performance in-game than whisper mode.
     
  4. Porter

    Porter Notebook Virtuoso

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    I don't use Dragon Center Since it can mess with my clocks. I wish I could use it, ironically, just so my USB ports would be lit up making them easier to find in the dark.

    I don't want to have to "fiddle" with a ton of settings to change depending on what I'm doing so I've tied to make it as simple as I can for myself with TS and an nvidia setting. In Throttlestop I have a full turbo with undervolt, turbo limited (35x) with undervolt, and extremely limited clock with larger undervolt modes. I use the full turbo mode just for benchmarking, turbo limited for gaming, and low clock mode for battery or if I want silent surfing. I use nvidia whisper mode when I want nearly silent game playing.

    I may try Dragon Center again along with TS and see how I like it. I've heard you can't use Afterburner then for GPU overclocking so I'll have to mess around and see how I like it. Also heard it can cause issues with CPU settings so I'm on the fence about it.
     
  5. hmscott

    hmscott Notebook Nobel Laureate

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    Very true, very much a demand out there for "sane" operational tuning for adequate performance + quiet operation.

    Realistically the reviewers are loath to do anything other than out of the box testing.

    It's taken ages to get them to start undervolting at stock settings so as to prove that the laptop can be easily tamed out of the box to stop thermal throttling.

    Now, we do get them adding some overclocking - which as you noticed has them running the tests at the maximum settings with maximum cooling - only to now complain about how noisy it is!

    Duh. ;)

    So far I haven't seen any jump to the next totally obvious stage of tuning for every day use. As we call it here the "daily driver" settings.

    I have a number of tunings I save for 3 basic situations + custom settings for specialty work. Like, work related tests, rendering, computation batch jobs, and distributed computing 24/7.

    Highest performance benchmarking, daily driver settings - OC'd a bit with undervolting and fan tuning for CPU / GPU that is "sane" but takes advantage of the best performance at a comfortable noise level with and without headphones.

    Then detuning for battery for longest use, gaming use, and believe it or not OC'd maximum performance on battery.

    Then the individual tuning sets for the custom work I mentioned.

    This takes weeks of work, and actually never ends - I get better and better at best tuning for each computer the longer I have it, as new drivers and OS configurations arrive.

    Then of course, I do this for Linux too. VM's with other Linux's, etc.

    It is truely a massive amount of time and effort that most people won't take the time to do, but I do it to help others that want to do it at work and in my personal life, and here on NBR. To expect reviewers to do that much is a bit much if not impossible.

    But, I agree that the most important tuning set - the "daily driver" tuning settings are rarely if ever done. The one tuning that everyone needs once the playing around with maximum overclocking fades from memory. The every day settings that are a joy to use and in the end are far more important to have when making a purchasing decision. :)
     
    Last edited: Jun 17, 2019
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