Overclocking the Clevo P750ZM

We posted our full review of the Eurocom P5 Pro (Clevo P750ZM) last week and mentioned that we were investigating overclocking potential. There are several areas to investigate, specifically we can try to overclock the CPU, the GPU core, and/or the GPU RAM. At least one of those ends up being pretty much a no show: thermal protection kicks in on the CPU and limits clock speeds so that performance ends up being roughly the same as running stock clocks. But the GPU… let’s just say that GM204/GTX 980M certainly has a lot of headroom.

If you’ve wondered why anyone would even bother with a desktop replacement (DTR) like the P750ZM, this is where the potency of such a solution really becomes apparent. The chassis is larger than some other options, but more importantly it has two high performance cooling fans and plenty of thermal headroom. It also uses standard MXM 3.0 modules for the graphics card, which may or may not matter much but that at least leaves the door open for future upgrades. There’s also a healthy enthusiast community (e.g. check out Tech Inferno’s forums), which means getting an unlocked BIOS/VBIOS isn’t too difficult.

Before we get into the overclocking results, it’s also important to talk about the requirements and NVIDIA’s recent actions in regards to notebook overclocking. We mentioned in an article last month that NVIDIA locked out overclocking on mobile GPUs starting with their R346 (346.xx and 347.xx) drivers. This affects all mobile GPUs as far as we’re aware, so whether you have GTX 860M, GTX 680M, GTX 980M, etc. you’re currently out of luck when it comes to overclocking your graphics. At the same time, NVIDIA has promised that they will revert this policy and allow overclocking with a future driver update, though that hasn’t happened yet. So for this article, we’ll be testing with the last NVIDIA driver that allowed mobile GPU overclocking, 344.75.

It’s not just the drivers that are important when it comes to overclocking, however, as the VBIOS (Video BIOS) can also prevent overclocking. In fact, the Eurocom P5 Pro that we’re testing initially shipped with a locked VBIOS. It’s pretty easy to figure out whether your VBIOS is clocked or not: using an overclocking utility, just try to apply different clocks; if it doesn’t work, you have a locked VBIOS (or locked drivers, or both). We turned to Prema from the Tech Inferno forums for some help with overclocking the GPU in the P750ZM and he provided us with instructions as well as an unlocked VBIOS; you can also get an updated BIOS/VBIOS from Prema’s BIOS mods website.

As an interesting side note, Eurocom already works with Prema and the initial BIOS on the P5 Pro that we received was a Prema version, which opens up a bunch of extra options in the BIOS (note: we’re not talking about the VBIOS yet). After we completed some initial overclocking testing, Eurocom sent us an updated VBIOS that’s also from Prema, so at least on this particular notebook if you buy directly from Eurocom you should be able to unlock overclocking without going to a different source for an unlocked BIOS/VBIOS.

Clevo P750ZM OC Test Setup
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  • CrazyElf - Friday, March 20, 2015 - link

    To be honest, laptops probably don't have the margins for overclocking that a desktop would.

    For the desktop CPU, it is already pretty hot to begin with. You might be able to knock 15-20C down by delidding that 4790k, much like a desktop. The problem is, with a desktop you can use a giant cooler like the Noctua D15, or water cool. You cannot with a laptop.

    GPUs have similar problems. Large triple slot coolers and water blocks are available - indeed they are made specifically for desktop overclocking. There's no way to do that in a laptop. It just isn't possible.
  • Khenglish - Friday, March 20, 2015 - link

    Did you see the GPU temps? With a 20% overclock it only reached around 77C, which is cooler than many stock coolers on similar desktop cards.

    CPU temps are bad though. I think the problem is that clevo went with a combined GPU/CPU heatsink for this laptop, which is something they have not done before. While this sounds good at first, it makes having good die contact on both CPU and GPU nearly impossible without a large amount of flex in the heatsink, which the P750ZM heatsink does not have.
  • CrazyElf - Friday, March 20, 2015 - link

    Apples to oranges. Maxwell is a pretty cool running chip on desktops too. If you are comparing the 980M to the AMD 290X, then yes, the desktop chips are hot in comparison. But remember, we should be comparing the 980M to a desktop Maxwell, and this is a chip that has 1/4 of the units stripped (so 1536 out of 2048 active) compared to the desktop part, which is already pretty cool running.

    A delid as I said might solve the problem partly like in desktops of the 4790k, but either way, there isn't much OC headroom in that chip even with the delid.

    To be honest, the GT72 is a better choice IMO:

    The CPU runs cooler and the battery life is better, should you ever need it. It is somewhat slower, but not by much. Plus newer versions with an IPS screen are available - I just wish Anandtech had reviewed it with the IPS screen.

    I just wish that instead of overclocking, that a full 2048 version of the 980 were available, running at a lower clockspeed. My wet dream would be the big 3072-Titan X die severely underclocked on a laptop, but that would never happen for various reasons.
  • Khenglish - Saturday, March 21, 2015 - link

    Yeah full 2048 would rock. I am 100% convinced that the only reason it just has 1536 running is so Nvidia can release a fully enabled chip in the future and say they have a new, faster card.
  • JlHADJOE - Saturday, March 21, 2015 - link

    Actually, looking at the combined CPU and GPU temps, it's pretty obvious that system is more or less maxed out thermally.

    The CPU is pegged at 95-99C, and the GPU is similarly pegged at 77C. When the GPU clock is raised is that the CPU clock goes down, so "overclocking" here merely trades CPU clocks for GPU.

    Not that it's a bad idea really, as shown by the game benchmarks, but it does show that there is close to no headroom at all in the Clevo's combined thermals.
  • Hrel - Friday, March 20, 2015 - link

    I think overclocking with today's hardware is stupid, I have no interest in it. I tend to agree with Nvidia on OC.

    However, that doesn't mean they should go so far as to BLOCK people from being able to do it. Ultimately once they've bought it, it's their choice. At least it should be.

    Have OC void the warranty and be done with it. There's no reason to do anything more than that. "You wanna overclock? Fine, do so at your own peril. We wash our hands of you".

    This attitude would bring their position from being the right one for 99.9% of the market to 100%.
  • will54 - Friday, March 20, 2015 - link

    I thought they already voided the warranty on OC's or is it just when you go with a modded vbios that they void the warranty ?
  • Buk Lau - Friday, March 20, 2015 - link

    Nice work Jarred, glad to see authoritative sites like AT starts to acknowledge OC on mobile GPU! Although you still didn't test with USB 3.1 ports on this machine (so you didn't have peripherals available?)... and in the future I would recommend when you are doing stress tests, just run Prime95 and and Furmark instead for maximum heat on the system. Running Prime95 and tombraider at the same time actually reduces CPU load, because floating point calculation requires much higher work load than game physics. That aside you did a fantastic job! Funny when you noted on potential reasons why Nvidia blocked OC, every generation some cards are just rebrands of old cards with a slightly higher clockspeed. So essentially you can get a free upgrade yourself when you do that, and OC damaging the gpu might not as much of a threat if Nvidia is doing it themselves every generation LOL
  • ajc9988 - Friday, March 20, 2015 - link

    I disagree with your choice of tests. Max heat isn't the goal with a laptop UNLESS YOU LITERALLY PUSH THE HEAT ON YOUR MACHINE DAILY FOR ITS INTENDED PURPOSE. I had to change the way I thought about overclocking when I came to a laptop. It isn't about max heat like desktop testing (which now reflecting on it is a little stupid if you never do real world activities that push it like that). You want to test max heat for real world type tests. Anything you may do (x264 for avx encoding, etc. There is a long list of stress tests that fully stress the machine without giving synthetic instruction sets to push the hardware to a heat max.). Also, Furmark and Kombuster are vbios blocked in the premamod bios.
  • JlHADJOE - Saturday, March 21, 2015 - link

    Yipes! Close to 100°C on the CPU. That is insane.

    They should run heatpipes to a round metal plate where you can set a mug somewhere on that thing. Cools the CPU, and keeps your drink warm!

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