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Tutorial #27: TWEAKING THE ASUS TUF GAMING A15 – PART TROIS

 

Update (June 1): 
The curve I ended with in the original article ended up being unstable in scenarios where the frequency dropped down to the 1600s on account of the thermal limit being breached. Hence, I tweaked the curve further to increase the voltage for the lower frequencies. Turns out it is not straightforward as even minor voltage-frequency changes at the knife edge can result in crashes. Eventually, I settled on the curve below which happens to be taken at 41 degrees Celsius ambient temperature and is thus levelling off at 1800 MHz, though it comes down by 15 MHz at over 50 degrees, making the maximum frequency same as the original curve.

Despite the reduction in undervolting, it actually lead to an increase in overall performance at a lower maximum GPU temperature. Nice!

Finally, the comparison with stock performance. The efficiency is on par with stock as diminishing returns kick-in for the GPU at its limit. Considering that the GPU TGP is now 25W higher, the chassis is doing a good job of handling the additional heat. At the same time, the CPU performance is now up to stock, but at lower power and temperature values. Overall, this is a really nice setting as the performance has increased by nearly 15% from stock and is ever so closer to desktop performance, at a much lesser TGP.

Original Article:

Tinkering with the device can be a progressive exercise. Part 1 was about getting more performance out of the box whereas Part 2 was a more holistic change aimed at efficiency. However, there is always more to be found by pushing the limits and this article is all about it.

In my previous article, I had lamented the 90W TGP limit on the GPU, especially as I wasn’t close to hitting the thermal limit on the GPU after the tweak. As it turns out, extending the TGP limit to 115W that this GPU is capable of is quite a trivial task.

Even though I mention trivial, it carries a certain element of risk and hence anyone attempting the same is forewarned about the consequences. Having said so, it is a rather quick and easy process. Firstly, you will need NVFlash to take a backup of the current VGA BIOS and also to flash a new one. Secondly, you will have to find the correct replacement BIOS to flash. Any of the bios files with a Boost Clock of 1560 MHz are the 115W ones but in my case the one that worked was not an Asus one, which resulted in the USB-C DP output not working but the MSI one listed here. Note that you have to use nvflash with the “-6” option to override the PCI Subsystem ID error as follows in the case of the above BIOS file.

nvflash -6 232273.rom

Voila! You now have the full TGP unlocked. At first, I decided to give the official overclocking method a go which can be accessed from within Geforce Experience by enabling “experimental features” in the Settings and then selecting the “Performance” option from the overlay (Alt + Z). The automatic performance tuning option displayed a boost of +75 MHz though in GPU-Z, I could see that all the clocks had been increased by 100 MHz. At the end of the day, it produced a TimeSpy score of 6840 which you will recall is higher than the maximum score from last time. The GPU can be observed to now use the full 115W, though it also hits the thermal limit which was not possible with the TGP at 90W. All things considered, this overclock is on the conservative side.

The better solution then is to use the legacy scanner which is more at the edge of performance besides allowing a more generous memory overclock. One thing I failed to mention previously is that the OC Scanner on MSI Afterburner now uses the official NVAPI method of overclocking which does not detect cards lower than the 3xxx series. Hence, to get the Voltage-Frequency Curve, you will need to use the legacy OC Scanner instead which can be easily enabled in MSI Afterburner by editing the MSIAfterburner.cfg file in the root installation folder (“C:Program Files (x86)MSI Afterburner” by default) as follows:

LegacyOCScanner = 1

Doing so immediately produced a better result that breached the 7000-mark with the 500 MHz memory clock that I usually run the card at. It wouldn’t surprise you to know then that it hit the GPU thermal limit along with the power and utilisation limits. 

The next step then was to see if I could extract the same performance at a lower temperature and power consumption. As you can imagine, it was quite a time-consuming exercise to find the ideal voltage-frequency curve. I did manage to get the maximum Time Spy score of 7155 with a maximum clock of 1800 MHz at 825 mV but that too hit the thermal limit, besides being unstable. Eventually, I found the sweet spot at the max frequency of 1785 MHz at 818 mV, going any lower resulted in instability. I also experimented with a lower frequency of 1770 MHz at lower voltages but that brought down the overall score, besides surprisingly resulting in a higher peak temperature, albeit at a lower power consumption.

Drum rolls then as I reveal the final results for the above curve which happens to be my (final?) choice for the Turbo fan profile. A score of 7148 with an average CPU and GPU power consumption of around 16W and 61W respectively is quite good in my opinion. At the same time, it did not even hit the thermal limit during the test. All in all, the best profile I could hope for at present for this hardware combination.

However, an important thing to note is that an absolute performance profile does not work well for lower fan profiles. Case in point, when I switched to the Performance mode with this profile, the score dropped to 6581 points which is far too less. Turns out that the higher voltage-frequency combination is far too much for the lower fan RPM. 

Thus, for the performance profile, I ran the OC scanner again and applied the +500 Mhz memory overclock to come up with a score of 7045 which isn’t too far from my absolute profile with the Turbo mode. However, it comes with a huge spike in GPU power consumption compared to my Turbo mode settings besides still hitting the thermal limit.

I tried to tweak the curve further for the Performance mode but the lower fan RPM requires the clocks to be dropped significantly. From my tests, this would require dropping the max clock to 1600s at may be mid-700 mV but that also drops the score quite a lot, in the region of 6800-6900. That might be a feasible solution but for now I have left it at the default OC Scanner curve as I wouldn’t be using the Performance mode often.

Final words also on the clock speeds reported in GPU-Z. The official Geforce Experience performance tuning with NVAPI displayed higher GPU clocks in GPU-Z, so you may be mistaken in terms of it offering better performance. As you can see below, this is a screenshot of the clock speeds reported for my final profile which doesn’t seem that significant but offers significantly more performance. It is all about the frequency-voltage combination rather than the reported figures, so don’t simply go by the higher numbers as it doesn’t always offer the best performance.

With this, I hope I have finally closed the chapter on tweaking the hardware for the Asus Tuf A15. Before I go, here is the final comparison with the stock settings…

…and also the previous tweak at 90W. As I have mentioned previously, incremental GPU performance comes with a comparatively higher power consumption and hence the efficiency is still highest for the 90W tweak. However, at the same time, the 115W tweak still offers better efficiency than stock and hence it is a win-win in my opinion. Hope you have a great time tweaking your hardware and let me know if you have any queries.

 

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