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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  • The_Assimilator - Friday, March 20, 2015 - link

    "... but then that part [i7-4790] has a lower maximum clock of 4.0GHz, so on the whole the i7-4790K is still going to be faster."

    Apparently not, considering your stress tests. Since the CPU is so thermally limited, it can't be overclocked past or boost higher than 4GHz, which means that you might as well save the cash and get the non-K.

    Despite what Clevo claims about the thermal interface used, I'd like to see you guys open up the laptop and inspect what kind of job they did. If not a good one, repasting the CPU and retesting would surely be a welcome follow-up.
    Reply
  • Stuka87 - Friday, March 20, 2015 - link

    I agree, and mentioned the same in the original review. The 4790K is not worth the cost because they already run warm. A slightly slower i5 would perform nearly the same due to not throttling as often. Reply
  • Refuge - Friday, March 20, 2015 - link

    I would like to see the headroom on overclocking one of these with an i5k skew now that you mention it. I mean if this is a gaming laptop, and it is using desktop sku processors (No dual core i5 issues) then the i7 was a waste of money to begin with.

    The worst part about all of this? Is that I never even thought about it until I read your comment.

    Hey Jarred, is it possible to get one of these with a Devils Canyon i5k for testing? I imagine probably not, but it doesn't hurt to ask! :D
    Reply
  • JarredWalton - Friday, March 20, 2015 - link

    @Assimilator: Remember the max turbo is 4.0 GHz on i7-4790, and you're not going to hit max turbo with all cores active. Hence, my assumption is with 4790 you will actually clock closer to 3.6GHz vs. ~3.9GHz on 4790K. And if you max out the fan speed, of course you're going to hit 4.1GHz on the 4790K even under stress conditions.

    Regarding the i5-4690K, it's a reasonable alternative that will save $100 or so. How much slower would it be? Well, unless it overclocks to 4.0-4.4GHz, the 4790K will certainly be faster. Stock clocks are 3.5-3.9GHz. If you're buying a Eurocom P5 Pro, the the i7-4790 and i5-4690K are the same price while the i7-4790K is $91 more. On a top performance $2500+ notebook (assuming 16GB RAM, 512GB SSD, 980M) is it worth saving $91 on the CPU? I don't think so.
    Reply
  • Refuge - Friday, March 20, 2015 - link

    Apologies for not being clear, the money savings was just icing on the cake. Just wasn't sure if you could use an i5 in place of the i7 while still being able to feed the GPU. Maybe allow for a bit more thermal headroom or at least less long term stress from some possibly lower sustained temps.

    are i5's having a hard time feeding 980's in desktops? If not then it should have no problem feeding a 980m right?
    Reply
  • extide - Saturday, March 21, 2015 - link

    Top end i5's are actually suggested for desktop who primarily game, as there is generally no frame rate increase going from the i5 to the i7. All you are getting is essentially hyperthreading, as all of the haswell chips overclock to similar levels (if they are unlocked). Reply
  • Goodstorybra - Tuesday, March 24, 2015 - link

    We have people on NBR already running @ 4.5ghz on stress testing @ 77C so that fear of heat is moot at this point. Reply
  • Goodstorybra - Tuesday, March 24, 2015 - link

    Don't forget that Anandtech has 0 clue what proper thermal pasting is, as well as what tweaking even is, so they will tear anything down that exceeds their standard knowledge of "power on and push" Reply
  • nunomoreira10 - Friday, March 20, 2015 - link

    Undervolting the processor with an ofsett if possible could really help lower the temperature, and more extreme, a deliding would also help a lot. Reply
  • JarredWalton - Friday, March 20, 2015 - link

    Assuming the system can stably undervolt of course, which isn't guaranteed. I'll give it a shot and see. Any suggestion on a suitable undervolt offset? Reply

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