The No-Compromises Ultra-Performance Ice-Cold Endless-battery Razer Blade 14 Optimization Guide

Discussion in 'Systems' started by figrin1, Jan 11, 2018.

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  1. figrin1

    figrin1 Active Member

    Introduction

    This guide will walk you through a series of no-compromises tweaks that will improve battery life, increase performance, and reduce temperatures (and consequently some of the loud fan noise). It will not involve exceeding any of the stock clock speeds. It will not require you to change mysterious experimental settings that nobody really understands. Finally, it won't require that you maintain a bunch of apps running in the background, or for you to constantly switch between power profiles for managing battery usage and CPU speeds. Simplicity will be the name of the game. And we can achieve a lot within those limitations...

    My results from these tweaks (on a 2017 Blade):
    • CPU temperatures went from 87 degrees to 73 degrees C under load.
    • Firestrike score went from 9,374 to 10,298.
    • The already good battery life while doing browsing and writing went from 7 hours, to 8 or 9 hours.
    This guide won’t deal with networking optimization or super granular settings. NoOne’s guide, which I've referenced a ton, has some great nitty gritty details to sift through if you want a comprehensive breakdown of some other power-saving options.

    Part 1: Updating Drivers.

    It’s likely that you’ve already done this, or that Windows Update covered this step. If this is a new system for you, first get drivers from Razer. Then run your regular Windows Update. Lastly, there’s a driver from Samsung that should optimize the speeds of your hard drive here.
    Part 2: Adjusting Windows Power settings

    We’ll adjust Windows’ power management settings to fully utilize your system when it’s plugged in, then barely sip on the battery when it’s unplugged. The hardware in these machines is overkill for most people need to accomplish on while running on battery, so it's hardly noticeable when we flip many of these settings to prioritize power savings.
    • Balanced Mode seems to be the only setting that Razer wants you to use, since by default there’s no ‘Power Saver’ or ‘High Performance’. That’s great, because switching between power profiles is annoying. Go into advanced power settings for your Balanced Profile and set these puppies:
    • Power Saving Mode
      • On battery: Medium Power Saving
      • Plugged in: Maximum Performance
    • Sleep
      • Sleep after
        • On battery: 5 minutes
        • Plugged in: Never
    • USB settings
      • USB selective suspend setting
        • On battery: Enabled
        • Plugged in: Disabled
    • Intel Graphics Settings
      • On battery: Maximum Battery Life
      • Plugged in: Maximum Performance
    • Processor power management
      • Minimum processor state
        • On battery: 5%
        • Plugged in: 5%
    • System cooling policy
      • On battery: Passive (the processor will slow down before fans spool up)
      • Plugged in: Active
    • Maximum processor state
      • Some folks recommend setting these to 99% in order to disable TurboBoost on the processor. Turboboost is a built-in overclocking function in Intel processors, it gives a boost in performance, but leads to a relatively inefficient increase in heat and power usage. There are worries out there that the extra heat leads to GPU throttling in some thin laptops. I’m not convinced that will be the case on a Blade, especially after we undervolt the CPU, but it's up to you to decide if you want to eliminate a little excess heat at the cost of some CPU performance.
    • Display
      • Turn off display after
        • On battery: 5 minutes
        • Plugged in: 20 minutes
      • Display brightness:
        • On battery: 50%
        • Plugged in: (whatever your eyes can handle, this screen is bright AF)
    • Multimedia settings
      • Video playback quality bias
        • On battery: Video playback power-saving bias.
        • Plugged in: Video playback performance bias.
      • When playing video
        • On battery: Balanced
        • Plugged in: Optimize video quality
    • Battery Settings > Check ‘Turn Battery Saver on automatically’ and flip the slider to 100% (this will limit the activity of certain windows apps when the laptop is unplugged)
    • In Intel Graphics Settings (right click on your desktop, then click it)
      • Go to Power > On Battery and set everything to Maximum Battery Life
      • In Power > Plugged In select Maximum Performance

    Part 3: Undervolting the CPU

    Undervolting your CPU is a win/win tweak. Every CPU has its own sweet spot in terms of how much voltage it needs, however to prevent any possibility of instability all processors are set to use a significant excess. This means increased heat, which for a small system like the Blade can cause noisy fans and throttling of the CPU or GPU. Undervolting my CPU, temperatures dropped by 8 degrees C while under load. The process of tweaking and testing different voltages will involve causing your computer to freeze, but this won’t harm anything and only requires a restart. The only reason not to undervolt is that it takes a little time to adjust and test.

    We’re going to adjust and test our undervolt using the ThrottleStop utility, and then once we have something stable we’ll set it in the laptop’s BIOS so that you don’t need to have ThrottleStop constantly running in the background.
    • First, Testing Undervolting with Throttlestop.
    This is a procedure that’s worth taking your time on. I like this guide from ultrabookreview. For those who want a more detailed look at Throttlestop, there’s a guide at notebookcheck. Just remember that we’re only using this program to your undervolt, so don’t worry about toggling settings like SpeedShift or defining different power profiles, which some of these guides recommend for those who plan on keeping Throttlestop running at all times.
    • Second, Setting the undervolt in your BIOS.
    Now that you’ve used Throttlestop to test for a comfortable, stable undervolt, you’re ready to set it in the BIOS.
    • Watch this video, which walks you through the process of setting an undervolt in the BIOS. Note that he recommends disabling ASPM, but you may or may not want to do this (more on that below). The only other shortcoming of the video is that he doesn’t explicitly state all of the settings that need adjusting before flashing your modded BIOS. Make sure that you set all of the below to ‘USER’, otherwise the option to set your undervolt won't show up when you reboot into the BIOS:
    • In Setup > Advanced > Overclocking Performance Menu
      • Overclocking Performance Menu
      • Processor
    • Setup > Advanced > Overclocking Performance Menu > Processor
      • Processor
      • Core Voltage Offset
      • Offset Prefix
    • Setup > Chipset
      • System Agent Configuration
    • Setup > Chipset > System Agent Configuration > Graphics Configuration
      • PEG Port Configuration
      • PEG 0 1 0
      • ASPM
      • ASPM L0s
    For your reference:
    • A conservative undervolt on most Blade processors is -100, though yours may be lower.
    • My stable undervolt is -135 (on an i7-7700HQ)
    • Some people claim to achieve around -170, though I’m skeptical that this is actually stable in all situations.
    (Optional) Disabling ASPM (Active State Power Management)

    Disabling ASPM regulates the power that the GPU receives. Generally laptop manufacturers enable this to increase battery life. In Razer's case, they may have it enabled to regulate the GPU's temperature. In any case, disabling this setting won't cause a significant difference in temperatures or battery life, but it will give you a small performance boost (it added about 400 to my Firestrike score).

    Part 4: Undervolting the GPU

    Undervolting the GTX 1060 GPU in these laptops brings similar benefits to undervolting the CPU, including reduced heat, power usage, and a slight performance boost. In my case, an undervolt dropped my GPU temperature by 4 degrees C while under load. I also found that undervolting actually provided a much greater performance boost than doing a slight overclock. It was a pleasant surprise and I’m looking forward to seeing what results others get.

    Undervolting the GPU is a slightly different process than undervolting the CPU. It will still involve some trial and error, but there’s no way to adjust your voltage with an offset; it's a bit more artistic than that. Instead you'll be adjusting your GPU's voltage curve in MSI Afterburner, a popular utility used to tune graphics cards. Testing how your system reacts under load, and tweaking accordingly, will work the same as when you were setting your CPU.
    • This video will walk you through you the process of undervolting a laptop GTX 1060 GPU. Please note that the way in which he adjusts his curve isn’t optimal, since he has a huge step in it. To keep the same shape of the original curve while also obtaining an undervolt, go about it this way:
    • Press Ctrl + F in Afterburner to open the curve chart.
    • Hold shift, then click on the little square that sits above the 925 mV, and drag it up to the 1900 mHz mark. This will move up the entire voltage curve at once. Next, drag all of the gray squares to the right of 925 mV down to the same horizontal value (1900mHz). You should have a curve that goes up gradually, then becomes perfectly straight and flat at the 900 mV mark.
      • As with undervolting the CPU, system freezes during benchmarks mean you'll need to try setting your curve flat at a later point in the curve. If it freezes at 925mV, then try 950 or 960. Every individual GPU will be different.
      • Hot tip: Check your voltage curve after applying the settings. Occasionally it will change a little bit once it's applied. If there are any zig-zags in what what's supposed to be the flat line, correct it.
    • Note that it's required for Afterburner to be running in the background if you want your new GPU undervolt to stick. Once you've gotten a stable undervolt, make sure you set Afterburner to run when Windows starts. If you ever find you've made a mistake, and your undervolt is causing Windows to freeze on startup, then holding Ctrl as you log in will disable it.
    • A final important note about MSI Afterburner: Something I haven't seen noted in many other places is that Afterburner will use up quite a lot of CPU if you have it monitoring lots of components like CPU usage and temperature, even while it's minimized to the system tray (my 'System' process was mysteriously taking up 10% of my CPU while Afterburner was going). Uncheck the boxes In the Settings > Monitoring tab of Afterburner to avoid this unnecessary use of resources.
    Finished!

    That's it! I'm eager to hear what sorts of temperature drops and performance boosts others are able to achieve, and of course I'm open to recommendations about how to improve this guide.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Feb 1, 2018
  2. Are you sure that you have to keep MSI Afterburner open? There is an option that says 'Apply OC at Startup' so I figured you didn't need to have the actual application open
     
  3. figrin1

    figrin1 Active Member

    You figured correctly. "Afterburner has to be running in the background... set Afterburner to run when Windows starts". :big_grin_:
     
    Last edited: Jan 12, 2018
  4. kinder_surprise

    kinder_surprise New Member

    setting max processor usage to 99% does not disable turbo boost for me. Throttlestop tho does it no problem. any way to disable turbo boost in bios?
     
  5. figrin1

    figrin1 Active Member

    I think i recall a setting in the BIOS. It sounds like a lot of manufacturers don't make disabling Turboboost an option though, hence the need to stop the processor from entering 100% usage through the power settings.

    I'll take a peek tonight.

    Update: There's a setting called 'Turbo Mode' in the BIOS, but this is different from Turboboost. After poking around I see lots of settings that are hidden in the BIOS that refer to Turbo voltages and clocks, but I don't see anything like a "Turbo Boost Enable/Disable" option.
     
    Last edited: Feb 4, 2018
  6. VanSmuk

    VanSmuk New Member

    Great post @figrin1 !
    I do hope people appreciate and use the tweaks, as there are virtually no downsides/risks to them and the upside potential is massive.

    I've been playing with my Blade Pro FHD (essentially same HW as the Blade) for the past month and it took me a while to figure most of these on my own.

    Here are a few more tips that made a big difference for me:

    1. There is a well documented problem where Generic windows storage driver prevents Intel's late processors form entering higher C-states. Those states are basically Intel's way of switching off unused cores and provide considerable power savings. Ideally you would want most of your cores to be in the C8 state during idle/low load scenarios, while the old Windows driver does not allow them to go above C2.
    Here is how to check if you have this issue in ThrottleStop:
    In the lower right side, there is a button "C10" which will open a window, showing your C-states in real time. Close all active windows, but ThrottleStop and see if your C-states go higher than C2 (this is shown in percentage under each C state). If you see activity under the "C8" label - you are unaffected or have already installed the newer Intel RST driver.
    If there is no activity, in the C8 state box, follow THIS link and install the driver. That should fix it and improve battery life and idle temps noticeably.

    2. While your recommendation for the GPU Voltage curve is solid, after some vigorous real-life testing (actual gaming stress, rather than synthetic benchmarks) I have seen that the GPU frequency almost never reaches 1900Mhz (aside from very brief spikes, before it gets shot down by the vBIOS/Nvidia drivers). It is a built in precaution against hot-heat enthusiasts that want to push the card too far.
    The highest stable frequency I have reached, on any voltage is 1784Mhz, which is still a solid "overclock" from the GPU's stated Turbo Boost speeds.
    Here is a snapshot of my curve. With these settings, GPU is constantly and stably clocked at 1784Mhz while gaming, and does not use more than 825mV, which drops the temps (and noise) considerably.
    Also, in my experience, the FPS is much more stable, in comparison with a constantly fluctuating clock speed.
    Curve.png
    I've also clocked the memory at +246 for good measure. It is stable, but gains are not much.

    There are probably some other minor tweaks I am forgetting. I'll update the post if I remember.

    Hope this helps. Have fun :)
     
    freakydoctor and figrin1 like this.
  7. MortisVelox

    MortisVelox New Member

    Thanks for the guide, I just got my Blade Pro. It says your stable undervolt is -135 is this on CPU Core/Cache and the Intel GPU or did you go lower on the GPU?

    Whats the recommended time to keep Prime running to know if it's stable?
     
    Last edited: Feb 3, 2018
  8. vistar

    vistar Active Member

    The frequency curve in Afterburner can give mixed results. The best method I found for consistent clocks with lower voltage is to overclock using afterburner, let's say 100MHz. Then open the voltage curve with ctrl+F, select the point that you find adequade, suppose 850mV....press Ctrl+L. Now the clocks are locked at the voltage and will try to keep those clocks stable.

    This Ctrl+L method works a lot better than the traditional flatenning the curve on the voltage curve editor. This makes good use of the pascal 3.0 boost, it will keep the clocks set at the chosen voltage, until the temp limits set in the vbios are reached, then it might downclock according to the vbios. All my tests in firestrike, heaven and game benchmarks show better performance this way. Flatenning the voltage curve to lock a certain frequency and voltage is misleading, because sometimes the card might be showing a certain frequency but the performance is lower than it should be.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Feb 4, 2018
  9. figrin1

    figrin1 Active Member

    So you leave your graphics card just locked in at a particular frequency at all times? Or do you open Afterburner and lock it every time you're about to jump into a game?

    I think that serious overclockers/undervolters will try to leave it running for a few hours, or even overnight, to really be sure that things are stable. When I was doing my tests I ran some 3DMark benchmarks on loop for an hour or so.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Feb 4, 2018
  10. vistar

    vistar Active Member

    I save the profile in AB, then load AB before launching a game. I like to use RTSS overlay in game to monitor clock, temps,etc....also the RTSS framelimiter to avoid v sync lag. Since RTSS adds one frame lag, I set it to 59FPS.

    I tested the ctrl+L method on my gtx1080 and it works great, great performance and limiting power draw, and thus reducing temps. On the Gtx1060 not so much, because the lowest point on the curve 800mV is still high, because the 1060 on average draws less. So it is still useful to have a constant clock, instead of the varying speeds of the pascal boost, when it reaches power limits, it downclocks....might help achieving a more constant FPS. Yet to test further on the 1060, though.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Feb 6, 2018
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  11. Kamachiz

    Kamachiz Member

    Just curious, flashing the bios as shown in the vid does not technically void your warranty does it? You are not adding anything external to bios but rather just playing around with the settings of the components that are already part of the blade.
     
    vistar likes this.
  12. MortisVelox

    MortisVelox New Member

    If I use the Razer Cortex Boost the 1060 goes over 1784Mhz at 825mV isn't enough quite often and results in crashes. Currently at 1900Mhz and 912mV 43C at Idle and 76C running Destiny 2 on highest settings. CPU is 38/40 idle and no higher than 68.

    Going to try 1784Mhz at 825mV without the boost function to see if the crashing stops.
     
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  13. vistar

    vistar Active Member

    Most likely yes it will. If needed, flash the original bios back before sending it in.
     
  14. Joikansai

    Joikansai Well-Known Member VANGUARD

    Isn’t undervolting the GPU similar to overclocking it? If you don’t mind, can you OC it (after undervolting) to get higher FS overall score like over 10500 points?
     
  15. figrin1

    figrin1 Active Member

    It's similar in the sense that you are raising the clock speeds for certain voltages, however you're not necessarily pushing the card's maximum clocks higher than it would normally reach (because you flatten out the curve at a certain voltage.)

    If you simply raise the entire curve you'd essentially be overclocking the card. I think I've seen people do this to achieve the results you describe, but I would be worried about the longevity of my GPU, throttling, heat, noise, etc.

    Sounds like some really solid results!
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Feb 6, 2018
  16. Joikansai

    Joikansai Well-Known Member VANGUARD

    Of course I’m also not using it on OC, I did that just for fun knowing the GPU max capabilities, and a challenge from one of moderator and users here at that time;) Anyway recently I didn’t use its dGPU, since I bought the Core with more powerful card, but definitely I’ll try GPU undervolting as your guidance above and OC ing it sometimes, see if 1060 will be melted or not;)
     
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  17. MortisVelox

    MortisVelox New Member

    I have this issue with entering the higher C-State, no activity under C8 even with the new driver installed?
     
  18. figrin1

    figrin1 Active Member

    The issue is present if your activity is lower than C2. If nothing is under C8, then your cores are in their maximum power-efficiency state.
     
  19. Kamachiz

    Kamachiz Member

    So far i had done everything except for changing bios settings and my firestrike score increased from stock:
    https://www.3dmark.com/3dm/25026718?

    to https://www.3dmark.com/3dm/25026837?

    I havent tested enough to where i can maximize the usage from the voltage curve but this is what i got so far https://imgur.com/a/MNmSs
    Temperatures on the gpu were at capping at 71 C and cpu at around 68 C. Not an expert at this but anything wrong with my curve? Anything i can do to improve? I am not bottlenecking or experiencing any thermal problems so i guess my curve is not totally wrong.
     
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  20. figrin1

    figrin1 Active Member

    If you're happy with your results, it's stable, and temperatures are reduced then this seems like a good curve. However it's important to know that this is essentially an overclock, since your clock is higher than the original curve at every voltage.

    To make this an "undervolt" you would flatten the curve at a lower point, so that it reaches the max of the original curve, only at a lower voltage.
     
    Last edited: Feb 7, 2018
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