After literally 7 weeks of banging my head against various walls, more BSODs (blue screen of death) than I'd like to admit, and going cross-eyed reading various forums/youtube comments, I wanted to compile a place where I can dump all the info I know/have for you to read.
TLDR; Tweaking is hard.
PUBLIC SERVICE ANNOUNCEMENT: I IN NO WAY CLAIM TO KNOW WHAT I AM TALKING ABOUT IN A PROFESSIONAL SENSE. I AM A SIMPLE WOMAN- I CLICK BUTTONS, I SEE NO BSOD, I HAPPY. WHAT YOU CHOOSE TO IMPLEMENT/TWEAK IS ON YOU, AND ANY DAMAGE YOU MAY CAUSE TO THE UNIT IS NOT MY FAULT. IMPLEMENT THINGS TO YOUR LIKING.
Now that that's out the way, let's start from the beginning.
I have no idea what I am doing, simple as that. I bought a gaming laptop with super high end specs when it was on sale for 1700. My old one crapped out after 5 years and it was time for an upgrade.
Straight out of the box, I downloaded my games and started playing. Should be as simple as that, right?WRONG.
So thinking I have 16gb ram (single channel), an RTX 2070, and a fairly beastly i-8750H, I should be able to run everything on epic settings without a hitch.
Well, this is true...until the temps became hotter than SoCal (and that is hot).
When I launched Overwatch with stock settings- I EASILY, and I mean EASILY, hit mid 80s-low 90s.
Oh boy, going into Battlefield 5? 90s.
Indie games? 70s.
So me, scratching my head, googled what average gaming laptop temps were supposed to be. Now 90s isn't going to kill your computer, but you really do want to avoid it all costs. 80s are so-so, and 70s-below are where you ideally (and note IDEALLY) want to be with intensive games.
Another thing- why are my FPS rates lower than I'd like? I have a 144 HZ screen and am only seeing 70-100 fps (could be enough for most, but I didn't pay near 2k for this). So back to google I went.
You may be experiencing this too. You may be angry, but please, let me arm you with the knowledge I wish I had.FIRST AND FOREMOST: UPDATING BIOS
DOWNLOAD BIOS 303: https://www.asus.com/us/Laptops/ROG-Strix-SCAR-II/HelpDesk_Download/
If you do not know how to go into BIOS (like I did), please watch this video or find others on youtube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=37Ubqic8XiU
PSA: I did NOT backup my contents (had so little on my computer anyways couldn't care if it was erased. It wasn't.)
Great, you've made it this far. Are you set? Absolutely not. IDK if the BIOS did anything, but whatever.SECOND: ADDING A SECOND RAM STICK
Add a second RAM stick if you can. I HIGHLY recommend it and you are LIKELY not going to see the FPS's I can hit without it or sacrificing quality. If you are like me, ASUS only included 1x16 GB RAM Stick in the back. This keeps the laptop in single channel mode.
Most games/laptops work best off dual channel mode, so you want to do one of two things: Either replace the sole 16gb ram stick with 2x8 GB ram sticks, or do what I did and buy another 16 GB Ram and pop it in.
I bought the Crucial 16GB ram- worked perfectly the second I plugged it in, did not need to do any BIOS tweaking: https://www.microcenter.com/product/503200/16gb-ddr4-2666-mhz-sodimm-memory-module
I know this bad boy is expensive, but if you have the budget, do it. Just do it.
If you are curious, here is a good video about single vs. dual channel: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AEH6jEwg0VY
If you have never opened the back of the laptop (like me in the beginning), here is a video showing how to remove the back panel and what you can expect to see: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aRdldG8cSMw
MAKE SURE YOU TURN OFF THE COMPUTER BEFORE DOING THIS (OR ADDING SSD) AND DO NOT DO THIS ON CARPET. GROUND YOURSELF BY TOUCHING A METAL SURFACE BEFORE WORKING WITH THE LAPTOP.
If you add the ram and want to check if you've done it right or if it is recognize, download CPU-Z: https://www.cpuid.com/softwares/cpu-z.html
And go to the Memory tab, you should see the size say 32 GB and the DRAM Freq around 1330ish (makes sense, 2666 MHZ)
NOTE: ADDING RAM/SSD (Will talk about later) WILL NOT VOID WARRANTYTHIRD: BALANCED MODE
Make sure your laptop is on Balanced mode, NOT high performance. Do this by right clicking on the battery icon in your system tray and going to power options. For whatever reason mine defaults to High Performance. That's a nono.FOURTH: UNDERVOLTING CPU
Download ThrottleStop: https://www.techpowerup.com/download/techpowerup-throttlestop/
This will be your Holy Grail for undervolting your CPU. What exactly undervolting is I am not sure but I know it has something to do with limiting the amount of power that is fed to the CPU without trying to compromise performance...that way, it won't heat up as much.
Now, there are plenty of videos on youtube about undervolting and I recommend you watch several before doing anything, but here is a good starting point:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yNt9L3BWOFo&t=183s
A Few notes: I did NOT
enable Speedshift, I left it at 128. Messing with it either killed performance, increased temps, or BSOD'd me.
I did NOT
mess with the Turbo ratio limits.
For WHATEVER reason, these cards in the ROGs can not be undervolted (or so far as I have seen) as deeply as other brands. The deepest undervolt I can do on my CPU Core/Cache is -107 mV, but that's unstable. Right now I'm at -100.6 mV and it's stable for my needs.
Some people can not go even past -70 mV. I suggest starting at around -80 and increasing by -10. Follow the guidelines in videos until you find your stable spot. Every person will be different, just make sure that CPU Cache/Core are undervolted the same.
I also did not do any of the AIDA stress testing or whatever. I don't need to stress my computer to that degree-if it can play something as intense as BF5 without crashing, that's all I need. If the time comes for me to do something more intensive, I'll figure it out then.
ALSO NOTE: If you install Intel XTU, it can NOT run in parallel with Throttlestop. It's one or the other. I recommend Throttlestop. If you have Intel XTU installed, do a powerful uninstall to make sure you get rid of ALL registries and files. I used iObitUninstaller or whatever.
Great, you've somehow made it this far. Keep going, partner. At this point, your CPU should be running ever so slightly cooler without sacrificing game quality.FIFTH: UNDERVOLTING/OVERCLOCKING GPU
Download MSI Afterburner: https://www.msi.com/page/afterburner
Download GPU-Z: https://www.techpowerup.com/gpuz/
Note: There are many, many videos on how to overclock with afterburner. For some reason, it just did not work for me. I would always get the BSOD when trying to overclock. I now use this for my OSD (on screen display) to show temps, usage stats, FPS, etc.
If you are interested, here are some videos regarding afterburner:
NOW, WHAT I USED TO UNDERVOLT/OVERCLOCK MY GPU:
The laptop SHOULD come with a program called GPU Tweak II. If not, you can find it: https://www.asus.com/us/site/graphics-cards/gpu-tweak-ii/
When you launch the program, you will see the main screen. In the bottom right, click Advanced Mode.
Now, an easy temperature control fix is literally sliding down the GPU Temp Target (C) to whatever you want it. For the longest time I had it set to 77-79 and could still run about 140 FPS on Overwatch and 100 FPS on BF5, without having the GPU go over 79 (Since that's where the program will start to throttle).
However, two days ago, I learned more about overclocking. Now what the heck it does, again, not exactly sure, but it has something to do with forcing the GPU to run on higher frequencies (=more performance) on less voltage (just like the CPU), so it's not as hot.
NOTE: Before doing the following, make sure you reset the Temp Target to default (mine is 87) or else it'll throttle at your selected value no matter what.
Now, in the advanced tab of GPU tweak, under GPU Clock, you will see two options, manual and user define.
Click on user define and a curve will appear. If you notice, you are able to move the individual nodes up and down....this basically is telling the computer to adjust the frequency to that value once the GPU hits that voltage.
If you watch, and you must watch, at the very least the video I posted above with the overclocking with MSI Afterburner, you will see the process in which you use GPU-Z to find the max voltage draw of your card. My VDDC was about 1 V. I took the node right around 900mV and pushed it up to 1903. All the nodes following it (to the right) were then also put at 1903, forming a straight line. I did not mess with the nodes to the left of the 900mv node. Every GPU is different, some can be boosted to 2100, some can be boosted to 1700. So far, mine is working at 1903. I may push higher later, but I have found the performance I am looking for.
Make sure after you create the profile you press save, then create a new profile (press the little + arrow at the left, name it, and press save). GPU Tweak is iffy with profiles, so if you restart your computer you may lose it. I'd memorize that high 1903 (for me) value, and what node you set it at (900 for me), so you can re-create it.
I recommend starting at about 1800, and pushing up by 50 until you hit 1900. If you want to go beyond that it is up to you.
If you get a BSOD, you will have pushed too far. Start over and keep lowering the values until you are stable.
Once you don't crash, play intensive games and see if you get more BSOD's or if your game crashes. I had several moments last night where Overwatch would crash or the screen would freeze because the GPU wasn't getting enough power for the frequency I wanted it at.SIXTH: SET FAN PROFILE TO BOOST
Either access the Armoury Crate with the ROG button the keyboard and enable Turbo mode for fans, or press FN+F5 and enable turbo mode from there. This gives the highest crack at performance without messing with your thermals.
Balanced gives the fans more of a break, so if you're OK with losing a few FPS (5-15), I recommend keeping it on balanced.
If you're not dead by now, there is good news.
By now, you have
1. Updated BIOS to 303
2. Possibly added RAM (I added one more 16GB stick)
3. Kept battery mode on balanced
4. Undervolted your CPU (mine is a -100.2mV to CPU Core/Cache)
5. Undervolted/Overclocked your GPU (mine is starting from the 900mV node, freq value set to 1903 MHZ).
6. Set your fan profile to Boost via Armoury Crate
Hopefully your values are SOMEWHERE along there.
With MSI Afterburner's OSD display on, you should be able to now see GPU/CPU temperatures, clocks, and usage percentages.
After all this crying and head slamming, here are my stats as follows:
Overwatch (1080p, 144 Hz, on High settings):
FPS Average: 154 (I know screen shows 144 FPS only, but I let it go above in case the FPS drops...even my lowest drops are around 140FPS)
CPU Temp: 73 average with about 30-40% usage. Average clock is around 2.8 GHZ.
GPU Temp: 72-75 average with about 80-90% usage. Average clock is around 1850 MHz.
Battlefield 5 (on highest settings possible):
FPS Average: 120-130
CPU Temp: 73 average with about 40% usage. Average clock is around 2.8 GHZ. Spikes up to high 80s possible, but it's just a spike and means nothing, really. No throttling experienced in terms of FPS drops.
GPU Temp: 77 average with about 90-98% usage. Average clock is around 1850 MHz.
All other games (Tales of Borderlands, Alien: Isolation, Subnautica, etc.) run 144 FPS on their highest settings EASILY without ever cracking the 70s on GPU/CPU.
Using youtube/browsing I sit in the low 50s/high 40s.
Idling is low 40s/high 30s.
So friends, arm yourselves with knowledge and have at it. It's a painful process but it is doable. I wish I had this all in one place when I started 7 weeks ago. Again, I could be wrong in many areas, and if you have any corrections/suggestions PLEASE share.
Please note that these values are what worked for me. I think I may have been blessed with a rig that had a better thermal paste application than others, or being able to undervolt, so your results may not be the same. But I imagine in doing all of this, you should see something way better than stock.
This may be applicable to other models of ROG laptops as well, just find your sweet happy spots.
You CAN add a 2.5" SATA SSD into the computer's HDD Drive.
Here is where you can find the upgrade guide/manual: https://www.asus.com/Laptops/ROG-Strix-SCAR-II/HelpDesk_Manual/
The connector and screws should be in the box you got your laptop in. They were in a tiny ziploc bag for me. Please don't lose the screws, they didn't pack any spares...
I have an under laptop fan cooler as well as side fans. Don't know if it makes a difference temp wise but it makes me feel better about myself.
I have been typing this for an hour now and am exhausted. I shall not proofread so please excuse any typos.
If you have any q's at all, lemme know and I can try and help.
Happy Tweaking Ya'll.