Clevo P750ZM: GTX 980M Overclocking Investigated

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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.