Is throttling acceptable?

Discussion of all forms of processors, from AMD to Intel to VIA.

Moderators: Flying Fox, morphine

Does your laptop/desktop throttle? Is it OK?

Poll ended at Thu Mar 13, 2014 11:25 pm

Yes it does, yes I'm OK with that.
8
12%
Yes it does, I'm not OK with it.
6
9%
No it doesn't, but I wouldn't get upset.
9
13%
No it doesn't, and I'd kill and maim to keep it that way.
35
52%
I like turtles
9
13%
 
Total votes : 67

Is throttling acceptable?

Postposted on Thu Feb 20, 2014 11:25 pm

Ok, a few people have more info, and I'd like them to keep the details out, since I'm looking for a more general opinion. Thanks.

I recently purchased a laptop. It has a nice Core i7 and a nice mid range GPU. After receiving it, I've determined that the cooling solution causes the CPU and then later the GPU to throttle when they are both used. For abstract purposes, we'll say it's a single 90W heatsink fan assembly, but the CPU puts out 47W max, and the GPU does something like 60W.

Temps rise to the mid-90s Celsius, and the CPU throttles. The CPU eventually hits the low end peg at 800MHz and stays there. The heat is still too much for the HSF, so the GPU eventually starts resetting and recovering. The whole machine just slows *wayyy* down.

But now I'm hearing from the laptop OEM's technicians that this is OK, and that's how the design is meant to run, and I am just being an oversensitive whiner.

Does anyone know anyone at Intel or AMD who wouldn't mind commenting? Is this REALLY how throttling is supposed to work?

Maybe I'm spoiled by above-average cooling, but my desktop CPU has never gotten seriously hot, much less throttled. My older model laptop never throttled, certainly not like this current one is.

So my laptop is off to the depot shortly, and they'll confirm/deny that I'm a whiner, but I thought I'd ask around, see if anyone's had similar experiences.
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Re: Is throttling acceptable?

Postposted on Thu Feb 20, 2014 11:35 pm

Wow, no way I'd put up with that, and no way should it work like that. If it's got a GPU then I'm assuming it's meant to be a gaming notebook, and if it can't game because of thermal constraints, I'd say it's malfunctioning.
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Re: Is throttling acceptable?

Postposted on Thu Feb 20, 2014 11:41 pm

I have a DTR 17.3" Sager (Clevo P170EM) with a i7-3820QM 45W TDP CPU and a GeForce 680M with a TDP of 100W.

My laptop never throttles and I've had long merciless marathons of abuse. I even get a consistent GPU Boost clock with no issues.

I have read from UncleWebb of ThorttleStop that some vendors cut corners and will add an inadequate cooling system to their laptop and do expect throttling to help manage the heat.

So I suppose the line you're being fed might be true, but it's still not acceptable. They could have manufactured a better cooling system for their product.
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Re: Is throttling acceptable?

Postposted on Thu Feb 20, 2014 11:44 pm

I voted for the first option. My main desktop has an FX-8350 @ 5 ghz on air, so I totally expect it to throttle when all cores are loaded. It does not throttle when fewer than 8 cores are loaded, so I'm perfectly satisfied with that.

But as to your situation... totally unacceptable. Unless you are using that laptop set on a pillow, in a sauna, no way should it be overheating and throttling.

If I were you, I'd wanna throttle that technician, see how he likes it.

Just my .02.

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Re: Is throttling acceptable?

Postposted on Thu Feb 20, 2014 11:50 pm

I bought one of the HP Pavilions, based off the Trinity chip, when I first launched. Considering I was going from CO to CO to work on Aggregators, being able to turn off as many services as possible, while letting the APU aggressively throttle back, really gave me an awesome gain on battery life, which is handy, when you aren't sure there's going to be an available outlet anywhere near when you'll be working.

I was really only using putty, a USB to rollover cable, Adobe acrobat to read schematics, and maybe a GigE port every once in a while. I could work almost an entire workday without needing to juice up.

In other scenarios, like heavy surfing, playing a game, or watching HD movies off the HDD, it's nice that it can spool back up, and let you use the APU to its max. It'll totally devastate battery life, though.
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Re: Is throttling acceptable?

Postposted on Fri Feb 21, 2014 12:01 am

Is this running Windows or Linux?

From our conversation on a separate thread, I have a very similar work issued laptop, so if you'll post some instructions, I'll see if I can replicate the issue.
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Re: Is throttling acceptable?

Postposted on Fri Feb 21, 2014 12:21 am

Flatland_Spider wrote:Is this running Windows or Linux?

From our conversation on a separate thread, I have a very similar work issued laptop, so if you'll post some instructions, I'll see if I can replicate the issue.


I forgot you have this same model! Fire off Prime95 and see if you immediately drop to 1.8GHz and then slowly sink lower.

I can reproduce this even in the bios. When running the firmware-integrated diagnostics, the CPU throttles. You can use a can of air to the heatsink to drop the CPU temps and almost instantly see the benchmarks speed back up for a second or so. I can set my older Ivy Bridge i5 machine next to it and fire off the diagnostics on both, and the i7 takes the lead for a few seconds, then starts falling further and further behind. IR thermometer to the HSF at that time shows a HSF temp of about 85C.

All I need to do is fire off a CPU load, watch the temps skyrocket, and then fire off anything GPU-heavy. Heck, I can kill all the birds with one stone in Windows by firing off Furmark and it's internal CPU beater. Instant throttle-ville.

Hz so good wrote:being able to turn off as many services as possible, while letting the APU aggressively throttle back, really gave me an awesome gain on battery life,

See, I wouldn't have called that throttling. Speedstep/PowerNow! and friends, in my mind, aren't throttling, because they're voluntary. Every laptop I've owned for many years now performed some sort of clock modulation to increase battery life. My OP special takes itself down to 800MHz no matter how much battery is available, even while plugged into a 180W AC adapter. It's also impossible to bring back up off 800MHz until the temps have had time to drop. That's my personal definition of throttling. Clock modulation which you do not and can not control, counter to a workload, to ameliorate or eliminate a negative condition (heat in this case).
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Re: Is throttling acceptable?

Postposted on Fri Feb 21, 2014 12:41 am

I picked option 5 but I'd actually buy a laptop cooler assuming bashing the OEM over the head with it isn't an option. When I had a laptop I used it every time I pulled it out.

Now my brothers laptop is overheating so I bought this one for him.

I'd recommend giving one a shot (and trying to talk some sense into your ridiculous support guy.)
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Re: Is throttling acceptable?

Postposted on Fri Feb 21, 2014 1:58 am

I also like turtles.

A cooling pad might be an option for some, but I use a docking station, so that makes it impractical. It's held off the desk, though.
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Re: Is throttling acceptable?

Postposted on Fri Feb 21, 2014 3:34 am

I've seen similar with a lot of these "single fan" laptops with a mid-range GPU - seems the intended usage scenario is either CPU or GPU, but never both at reasonable % of capacity. I reckon it's just the OEM being either lazy (not bothering/wanting to finagle things so dual HSFs can be used), cheap (only one fan = cheaper, by like $5? :P ) or jamming too much hardware into too small a chassis (see the 13.3" Clevo W230ST).

Not sure there's much solution to it other than "make sure you get a dual-fan laptop", which is what I've been doing and recommending. Unfortunately that tends to limit you to 15.6" laptops or larger, and even then you have to be careful that they actually do have improved cooling.
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Re: Is throttling acceptable?

Postposted on Fri Feb 21, 2014 4:16 am

Forge wrote:I also like turtles.

A cooling pad might be an option for some, but I use a docking station, so that makes it impractical. It's held off the desk, though.

Ahh, awkward. I've never used a dock.

Will probably with Dockport, but that's another day.
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Re: Is throttling acceptable?

Postposted on Fri Feb 21, 2014 5:34 am

I'd return it. How on earth is that acceptable?

I mean, in my opinion, this cinches it:

Forge wrote:I can reproduce this even in the bios. When running the firmware-integrated diagnostics, the CPU throttles. You can use a can of air to the heatsink to drop the CPU temps and almost instantly see the benchmarks speed back up for a second or so.


and

Forge wrote:Heck, I can kill all the birds with one stone in Windows by firing off Furmark and it's internal CPU beater. Instant throttle-ville.


So it's designed to not give you the processing power you paid good money for? I mean, it's one thing if this situation slowly builds up, because the cooling is borderline, but if it instantly throttles the moment you actually use the thing, what the heck? Why sell you powerful internals that you essentially cannot use, ever?

I mean, it sounds like it's borderline with just the CPU going, and that's ridiculous. And yet the maker of the thing thinks that's "ok" and you're "whining." :o

Strike a blow for computer enthusiasts everywhere and return that shiz. :evil:
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Re: Is throttling acceptable?

Postposted on Fri Feb 21, 2014 6:07 am

Forge wrote:So my laptop is off to the depot shortly, and they'll confirm/deny that I'm a whiner, but I thought I'd ask around, see if anyone's had similar experiences.


You are no whiner, your laptop is supposed to work, being at 800Mhz because of the throttle is unacceptable. You pay for a PC that has a CPU which runs for example at 3GHz, not 800Mhz.

If you are not satisfied with your product, you should return it.
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Re: Is throttling acceptable?

Postposted on Fri Feb 21, 2014 6:43 am

well, my desktop is watercooled so i don't have to worry about this. i think throttling is fine though, but in certain situations. for instance, if your cpu / gpu reaches a "max" temp threshold, throttling down to prevent damage would be better than not throttling and causing hard locks / reboots / bsods or even permanent damage. this should not happen under normal circumstances though (maybe a fan or other related mechanical failure). i also think throttling down when the extra power isn't required is also fine (modern gpus do this already of course).

however, i *do* think your laptop should be able to run at max power without running into heat issues. it should be up to the manufacturers to spec proper cooling solutions to ensure that your machine doesn't throttle down when you need that power the most.
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Re: Is throttling acceptable?

Postposted on Fri Feb 21, 2014 7:26 am

For a desktop, I would say throttling is completely unacceptable unless the CPU is overclocked or the ambient temperature is 95+ degrees F. The installed cooling solution should be capable of keeping a stock clocked CPU at acceptable temperature, in any reasonable operating environment. (For these purposes, "reasonable" is defined as "the user would not be so uncomfortable that they would be inclined to leave the room rather than use the PC".)

For a laptop I would be inclined to relax that somewhat, though not by much. I would say that for workloads where the CPU is continuously using ~50% or less of its total capability, my expectation would be the same as for a desktop -- no throttling unless the room is really hot. Brief (lasting less than 10 seconds or so) spikes to 100% should not result in throttling either. For continuous operation at 100% load, I suppose I'd be willing to accept a lower ceiling on ambient temperature, say 85 degrees F. But there still should not be any throttling at "room temperature" (ambient in low '70s).

Edit: Bottom line: Mobile devices are (understandably) a compromise between performance and power/cooling requirements. I would be willing to accept some throttling on a laptop when the system is pushed hard in an elevated temperature environment.

Edit 2: @Cyco-Dude - It is pretty clear that the OP is referring to temperature-related throttling, not power management. As long as it does not cause the system to misbehave (e.g. I've seen CPU power management cause video to stutter on some systems), it is an expected feature of all modern hardware.
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Re: Is throttling acceptable?

Postposted on Fri Feb 21, 2014 8:40 am

My experience with what I would consider the minimum an OEM could do and still be in the clear:

My 18.1" Acer monster laptop has an i7 740QM, 1.73 GHz base clock, 2.93 GHz maximum turbo clock, and a mobile Radeon 5850 (625 MHz core, 800 MHz mem)

During normal use, I can see the CPU jump up to 2.8-2.9 briefly, but if I load up an extended single-thread work load it will settle around 2.4 GHz after 30 seconds or so.

If I fire up something on all 8 threads, it will spike to around 2.0 GHz, before settling down to between 1.73 GHz and 1.8 GHz, and the GPU clocks will stay at their maximum.

After a few minutes of heavy use the fan will reach it's maximum speed, and the laptop will physically get quite hot, but I've never seen the system throttle under it's base clocks even under extended heavy use.

IMO if it throttles past it's base clock under heavy load it's kind of a lie to call it a xx GHz computer.
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Re: Is throttling acceptable?

Postposted on Fri Feb 21, 2014 9:00 am

Throttling is a failsafe for when the laptop is exposed to hostile conditions - such as clogged cooling intakes or an ambient temperature that is very high.

If you experience regular throttling under normal conditions (a cool room with the base of the laptop on a hard surface) then you have a faulty product - either phyiscally faulty (RMA it), or faulty by design (buy one that isn't poorly cooled).
A throttling laptop will suffer from reduced component lifespan, higher battery wear (2-5x faster than a cool battery), user discomfort as the base/palmrest will be hot and (most importantly) abysmal performance.

Send it back. If they give you trouble take your money elsewhere.
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Re: Is throttling acceptable?

Postposted on Fri Feb 21, 2014 12:48 pm

Forge wrote:
Hz so good wrote:being able to turn off as many services as possible, while letting the APU aggressively throttle back, really gave me an awesome gain on battery life,

See, I wouldn't have called that throttling. Speedstep/PowerNow! and friends, in my mind, aren't throttling, because they're voluntary. Every laptop I've owned for many years now performed some sort of clock modulation to increase battery life. My OP special takes itself down to 800MHz no matter how much battery is available, even while plugged into a 180W AC adapter. It's also impossible to bring back up off 800MHz until the temps have had time to drop. That's my personal definition of throttling. Clock modulation which you do not and can not control, counter to a workload, to ameliorate or eliminate a negative condition (heat in this case).



That's where i'd disagree. Trinity was designed to throttle parts of the APU, based upon the given workload. Since I didn't need the full power of the GPU-side for I was doing, it was nice to have that portion of the chip to throttle itself back to lower powerdrain. If the APU is *designed* to throttle itself based upon load, that still counts as throttling in my book.
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Re: Is throttling acceptable?

Postposted on Fri Feb 21, 2014 1:15 pm

I think when most people see the word "throttling" they think of thermally induced throttling, where the CPU is not delivering the amount of horsepower being asked for due to thermal limits. Power management that kicks in and reduces the clock because the system doesn't *need* the extra horsepower is a different thing because it does not materially degrade the user experience (assuming it is implemented properly).

Bottom line: Is the processing power you paid for available when you ask for it?
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Re: Is throttling acceptable?

Postposted on Fri Feb 21, 2014 1:52 pm

just brew it! wrote:I think when most people see the word "throttling" they think of thermally induced throttling, where the CPU is not delivering the amount of horsepower being asked for due to thermal limits. Power management that kicks in and reduces the clock because the system doesn't *need* the extra horsepower is a different thing because it does not materially degrade the user experience (assuming it is implemented properly).

Bottom line: Is the processing power you paid for available when you ask for it?



I believe you're correct about it being a semantic issue. I see throttling, and I think more along the lines of something scaling back due to diminished load, but is poised to ramp back up when load changes. I was unaware some people used it ONLY in the sense of hitting a thermal max.

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Re: Is throttling acceptable?

Postposted on Fri Feb 21, 2014 3:14 pm

Forge wrote:Heck, I can kill all the birds with one stone in Windows by firing off Furmark and it's internal CPU beater.

I agree with JBI. Throttling under "power virus" conditions like Furmark and/or Prime95 on a laptop isn't a fair test of it's cooling capability. TR doesn't use those stress test programs in their GPU reviews or CPU reviews for the very reason that they don't represent a "typical usage scenario."

That said, if your laptop throttles under typical usage like encoding/gaming for more than a handful of seconds every so often (given proper ventilation and room temp), that's unacceptable and the OEM failed at their job. You don't pay all that money for a faster mobile CPU just to have it throttled down all the time. If so, everyone would just buy the slow(er) processors...as long as they have the same # of cores or IGP performance (if important).

[Edit:]
just brew it! wrote: [For a desktop]... "reasonable" is defined as "the user would not be so uncomfortable that they would be inclined to leave the room rather than use the PC".

Careful with statements like these if you're talking about temperature. A high-end gaming PC under load can noticeably warm up a room even if the CPU/GPU aren't running "hot" (personal experience obviously, although I hesitate to call my rig "high-end"). In that case, the cooling system is doing it's job, removing heat from the components & enclosure....If you're referring to noise, then yes, I completely agree.
Last edited by DPete27 on Fri Feb 21, 2014 4:21 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Is throttling acceptable?

Postposted on Fri Feb 21, 2014 3:41 pm

A good friend of mine recently had the same exact problem with an almost carbon copy of Forge's laptop, except by Asus. How did he notice the throttling? Firing up Guild Wars 2 and watching it being slower than his old desktop PC, even though the laptop, by my Mark I Eyeball estimate, was roughly twice as powerful (!!!!)

Apparently on that Asus model, it's a reasonably well-known problem and there's no solution other than upping the fan speed. Which is absurd, of course.
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Re: Is throttling acceptable?

Postposted on Fri Feb 21, 2014 5:38 pm

My Samsung NP300U1A's SB i3 (1.3 Ghz base clock) is locked at 800 mhz as soon as it enters battery mode, even when I set Window's processor power usage for the max/min to 100%. Plugging it into outlet causes it to reset back to 1.3 GHz immediately.

Firefox frequently locks up for a few seconds (single-threaded software on a 800 mhz CPU...), and Youtube constantly fluctuates between 30 and 20 FPS.

Not sure if Samsung set the laptop to be locked at 800 mhz under battery mode, but I'm replacing this laptop during the summer.
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Re: Is throttling acceptable?

Postposted on Fri Feb 21, 2014 5:51 pm

The problem isn't throttling. The problem is that OEM manufacturers are putting in more power than what the form factor can manage. It is akin trying to put a V12 into a typical compact 2-door sedan. The chassis simply cannot handle the engine. The average customer-grade laptop isn't design to handle desktop tier CPUs under heavy, long-term loads.

Why do OEM manufacturers do it? To make laptops look better on paper than what they are in practice. It is typical used car salesmen style tactics. ;)
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Re: Is throttling acceptable?

Postposted on Fri Feb 21, 2014 8:46 pm

UnfriendlyFire wrote:My Samsung NP300U1A's SB i3 (1.3 Ghz base clock) is locked at 800 mhz as soon as it enters battery mode, even when I set Window's processor power usage for the max/min to 100%. Plugging it into outlet causes it to reset back to 1.3 GHz immediately... Not sure if Samsung set the laptop to be locked at 800 mhz under battery mode, but I'm replacing this laptop during the summer.

I came across a similar problem with a friend's Asus laptop. The thing wouldn't go over 50% clock-speed no matter what I did in Windows power management. Figured out it was an Asus "energy saver" bloatware that was overriding Windows power management. As soon as I removed the bloatware, everything returned to normal. I would imagine there's something similar going on with your laptop.
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Re: Is throttling acceptable?

Postposted on Fri Feb 21, 2014 8:58 pm

DPete27 wrote:
UnfriendlyFire wrote:My Samsung NP300U1A's SB i3 (1.3 Ghz base clock) is locked at 800 mhz as soon as it enters battery mode, even when I set Window's processor power usage for the max/min to 100%. Plugging it into outlet causes it to reset back to 1.3 GHz immediately... Not sure if Samsung set the laptop to be locked at 800 mhz under battery mode, but I'm replacing this laptop during the summer.

I came across a similar problem with a friend's Asus laptop. The thing wouldn't go over 50% clock-speed no matter what I did in Windows power management. Figured out it was an Asus "energy saver" bloatware that was overriding Windows power management. As soon as I removed the bloatware, everything returned to normal. I would imagine there's something similar going on with your laptop.


I have a clean install Windows 7 on my laptop. In fact, I swapped out the HDD with a SSD during the winter break, and did a fresh install.

There are times where the CPU actually bottlenecks the SSD. I boot up the laptop, open Resource Manager, and then open Firefox and Word, and then watch the CPU usage max out with the CPU clock rate locked at 60% of its base clock. Seriously.


Krogoth wrote:The problem isn't throttling. The problem is that OEM manufacturers are putting in more power than what the form factor can manage. It is akin trying to put a V12 into a typical compact 2-door sedan. The chassis simply cannot handle the engine. The average customer-grade laptop isn't design to handle desktop tier CPUs under heavy, long-term loads.

Why do OEM manufacturers do it? To make laptops look better on paper than what they are in practice. It is typical used car salesmen style tactics. ;)


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Or, we can throw in an amazing i7 and GTX 765m, and pair it with a really crappy 1080p TN panel that has poor contrast.
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Re: Is throttling acceptable?

Postposted on Sat Feb 22, 2014 5:32 pm

I've reluctantly come to accept that average laptop isn't designed for serious loads or an extended moderate load on just the CPU or GPU. However, laptops advertised for gaming would be an exception as they must be capable of cooling both the CPU+GPU for say at least an hour without overheating problems. With that in mind I will tolerate throttling under heavy or sustained loads (unless the machine was designed for said load), however it should never be throttling or maxing out fans just for ~50% processor loads. If I bought a machine that did that I'd return it immediately.

I've taken apart HP laptops where the CPU mount had channels for two large copper heatpipes, each one cooling half the chip and directing the heat to both rear exhaust fans. But I've seen some dv6 models that only have a single heatpipe connected to that CPU block, meaning one half of the CPU+iGP surface was not directly cooled by anything. That explained why the processor would get hot and the fans always maxed out even if all it was doing was installing Windows Updates. :-?

Another issue I've seen (again on HP laptops, but not my Dell) was that the thermal compound used on the Intel processors in HP machines seems to completely dry out after just 1-2 years. Not only does this impede its effectiveness, but one good jolt can break the original set seal. Because it's dried out to a powder, once that seal is broken it's effectively useless and new compound has to be applied. I can't speak for Dells because I replaced the TIM on mine after just a year just to see if it would improve the temps.
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Re: Is throttling acceptable?

Postposted on Sat Feb 22, 2014 6:54 pm

The cooling on my Core 2 Duo / ATI X1600 laptop was so crappy that it would throttle in any kind of game. Seeing as how it was sold as a gaming laptop, I didn't like that. A bit of undervolting on the CPU took care of that though, so it worked out OK.
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Re: Is throttling acceptable?

Postposted on Sun Feb 23, 2014 1:00 pm

Krogoth wrote:The problem isn't throttling. The problem is that OEM manufacturers are putting in more power than what the form factor can manage. It is akin trying to put a V12 into a typical compact 2-door sedan. The chassis simply cannot handle the engine. The average customer-grade laptop isn't design to handle desktop tier CPUs under heavy, long-term loads.

Why do OEM manufacturers do it? To make laptops look better on paper than what they are in practice. It is typical used car salesmen style tactics. ;)


This. I can't speak for the GPU and how it is behaving, but the processor is doing exactly what it is designed to do: protect itself from damage due to temparatures outside its design specs. My guess is that the GPU throttles its clocks back too if it can. The resets may be a side effect of not being able to reduce the load enough to meet thermal limits. I'm going to assume that the GPU is working as designed as well. Under that assumption, the system is working properly and doing exactly what it should.

However, it sounds like the design of the laptop is fundamentally broken. Thermal based throttling should be a failsafe that triggers in unusual situations. Take a laptop outside in Phoenix during the summer, for example, I would expect it to start throttling. Drop a piece of bubble wrap and it blocks all the intake air on a server, I'd expect it to start throttling (we use this one for testing, BTW). If a system can't be used under normal circumstances (say ambient <30C) and with normal load (a 3d game on a gaming laptop) then the system is fundamentally broken from a design perspective and I would return it if possible.

--SS
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Re: Is throttling acceptable?

Postposted on Sun Feb 23, 2014 6:56 pm

On my work issued Latitude E6540, I haven't been able to get the speed to drop below 2796.5MHz with the Windows High Performance power option.

This is using Prime95 with the In-place large FFTs using 8 threads. The laptop is on a wooden table, and the ambient temperature is at an indicted 69 degrees Fahrenheit.

Latitude E6540:
Intel Core i7 4800MQ 2.7GHz
16GB DDR3
Samsung SSD
AMD Radeon HD 8790M/Intel Graphics 4600

The Prime95 tests were run with Intel Graphics. I'll work on figuring out how to get the discrete card to be the only one running.

Edit: I was able to get it down to 2696.5MHz. I'll run it longer later. I'll also try to lift the laptop up to get more air flowing through the intake that is in the middle of the laptop.
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