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Dell put a new BIOS for the Alienware 18 on their website.

The change log is rather short:

[bIOS] Modify:

1. Modify BIOS version number.

[EC]

Modify:

1. Modify Fan table algorithm.

A quick look tells me there's more than this... For those who are interested: The Intel GOP driver has been updated, the built-in hardware tests as well and some changes have been made to the dynamic platform thermal framework, among some other minor adjustments.

I guess the most noticeable difference will be the changes to the EC.

>> Download link (direct) <<

So... rather disappointing all in all it seems, but let us know your findings...

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So no CPU throttling fix that people have been crying over. Just reminds me of why I built a desktop and don't bother with Alienware any longer.

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Yup, no CPU throttle fix, pretty disappointing if you ask me. I left a nasty comment on ideastorm aswell, venting my frustration.

on NBR, some one posted that minimum fan speed has been changed, but nothing much.

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I still offer Bios chips with unlocked firmware.

And if anyone is willing to do some testing we might be able to permanently remove that flash lock. (But soldering at least once will be necessary anyway).

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A03 has certainly made my machine quietier. I have also updated the thermal interface material which helped too!

As for the CPU throttling issue, it seems that the CPU is limited to 55 Amps by the BIOS, which seems to limit the TDP to about 38W. Using intel XTU (not the BIOS because this seems to brick the machine everytime I change the OC settings). I can increase the CPU current to whatever I like. 120A seems to be a good number and the heatsink is good for 70watts or so continuously. The peak TDP is set to 83W.

I have also set all the multipliers to 40, meaning 4 GHz is the max turbo speed.

This means the CPU turbos to about 3.6Ghz running a blended 8 thread stress test under latest build of prime 95. CPU temps stable about 85 Celsius. At the start of the test, the system peaks to 4GHz under 100% load at 83W until settling to its long term TDP of 67W.

The XTU settings seem to auto load with Windows, until the system crashes and on next boot you go back to BIOS defaults.

Agree, its not ideal, but it is a good work around for now.

As a result of the bricking issue, I have discovered the best way to take the AW 18 apart, the results (sorry it's a wall of text) are posted here: http://forum.techinferno.com/alienware-m18x-aw-18/4922-alienware-18-teardown.html

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A03 has certainly made my machine quietier. I have also updated the thermal interface material which helped too!

As for the CPU throttling issue, it seems that the CPU is limited to 55 Amps by the BIOS, which seems to limit the TDP to about 38W. Using intel XTU (not the BIOS because this seems to brick the machine everytime I change the OC settings). I can increase the CPU current to whatever I like. 120A seems to be a good number and the heatsink is good for 70watts or so continuously. The peak TDP is set to 83W.

I have also set all the multipliers to 40, meaning 4 GHz is the max turbo speed.

This means the CPU turbos to about 3.6Ghz running a blended 8 thread stress test under latest build of prime 95. CPU temps stable about 85 Celsius. At the start of the test, the system peaks to 4GHz under 100% load at 83W until settling to its long term TDP of 67W.

The XTU settings seem to auto load with Windows, until the system crashes and on next boot you go back to BIOS defaults.

Agree, its not ideal, but it is a good work around for now.

As a result of the bricking issue, I have discovered the best way to take the AW 18 apart, the results (sorry it's a wall of text) are posted here: http://forum.techinferno.com/alienware-m18x-aw-18/4922-alienware-18-teardown.html

That would be very exciting news to many if it works for everyone! However I have read that the CPU core current is locked down by the BIOS and any settings in the XTU will not take effect.. Will you be kind enough to show us some graphs of that 3.6 GHz in Prime95? That sounds like a beefy improvement to the "throttling to 3.2 under load" I've heard so much about..

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That would be very exciting news to many if it works for everyone! However I have read that the CPU core current is locked down by the BIOS and any settings in the XTU will not take effect.. Will you be kind enough to show us some graphs of that 3.6 GHz in Prime95? That sounds like a beefy improvement to the "throttling to 3.2 under load" I've heard so much about..

Another odd thing I have noticed, the CPU seems to be set for 95A if you use integrated GFX mode, it is set for 55A when you use the NVIDIA GFX. I think 95A is the correct current for the CPU as defined by Intel.

Using XTU you can set the max overall current in both modes and the CPU behaves consistently in both cases.

Here are a couple of screenshots of my system running Prime 95. (8 thread, blended)

First is running at 4GHz, this is with the short turbo set to 83W, as you can see the CPU is still using less than this. The max CPU current is set to 135A. (After some experimentation, it took 135A for the CPU to run Prime 95 @ 4GHz, most other tasks would take far less current, hence my inital post of 120A) The per core limit is set to 0A, which seems to be unlimited.

[ATTACH=CONFIG]9433[/ATTACH]

Once the long term turbo kicks in (67W) it reduces the clock speed to 3.7GHz on average. There is some variation between 3.6GHz and 3.8GHz.

[ATTACH=CONFIG]9434[/ATTACH]

Both these screenshots have been taken in Intel GFX mode, I keep the system in this mode most of the time as it is a lot quieter and uses less power!

Only when gaming do I go into NVIDIA GFX mode.

67W and 83W are the limits set in the BIOS in the way I set this up. There is a way to make these unlimited, however I dont think the thermal solution would cope with a prolonged CPU power usage much above 67W, so I kept to these limits.

I did have to closely look at the thermal interface though, I noticed that the CPU would be relatively cool for 24hrs or so after refitting the heatsink (about 85c MAX) and then it would heat up rapidly and power off (due to thermal shutdown at 100+C) the following day.

When taking the system apart, I noticed that the top of the screen hinge and keyboard assembly touched the top of the CPU radiator, this caused some mechnical problems between the top of the CPU and the heatspreader base of the heatsink. By bending the heatpipe very gradually, the radiator no longer touches the hinges or top assembly of the case. I also used coolaboratory Liquid Metal Pro, both these factors mean the CPU is running as cool today as it was when I first re-applied the thermal paste 2 weeks ago. (Both the attached screenshots were taken today, the thermal paste was reapplied 2 weeks ago and I have been travelling with the machine in the mean time using it every day.)

I changed the CPU as soon as I got the machine, so don't know if the factory applied thermal interface works OK or if others are seeing the same issues.

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