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Updated | Dell admits to disabling CUDA cores on the NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3070 in the Alienware m15 R5; fix incoming

The Alienware m15 R5 will regain its full CUDA core complement later this month. (Image source: Dell)
The Alienware m15 R5 will regain its full CUDA core complement later this month. (Image source: Dell)
Dell has confirmed that it intentionally disabled CUDA cores on the NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3070 in the Alienware m15 R5. The company has pledged to return all missing CUDA cores to the gaming laptop by the middle of this month, which should give it a noticeable performance boost compared to what it currently offers.
Update: Dell has enabled all the RTX 3070's CUDA cores with a vBIOS update.
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Update - 06/14/2021

Dell has now fixed the CUDA core issue with a vBIOS update. You can read more about it in our corresponding article.

Last week, it emerged that Dell has been selling Alienware m15 R5 laptops with hamstrung GPUs. In short, Dell has been equipping machines with GeForce RTX 3070 GPUs that have fewer CUDA cores than NVIDIA advertises. These GPUs have lower clock speeds and pixel fillrates than what an RTX 3070 should have, too.

According to a statement provided by Jarrod's Tech, Dell intentionally disabled CUDA cores on the RTX 3070 following 'careful testing and design choices'. Contradicting itself somewhat, Dell added that it might 'unlock' more CUDA cores 'at a later date' with an update.

Dell's statement to Jarrod's Tech about the Alienware m15 R5. (Image source: Jarrod's Tech)
Dell's statement to Jarrod's Tech about the Alienware m15 R5. (Image source: Jarrod's Tech)

Surprisingly, at a later date means within the next two weeks. A Dell spokesperson informed Tom's Hardware the following:

We have been made aware that an incorrect setting in Alienware’s vBIOS is limiting CUDA Cores on RTX 3070 configurations. This is an error that we are working diligently to correct as soon as possible. We’re expediting a resolution through validation and expect to have this resolved as early as mid-June. In the interim, we do not recommend using a vBios from another Alienware platform to correct this issue. We apologize for any frustration this has caused.

The question remains why Dell disabled 10% of the RTX 3070's CUDA cores on the m15 R5, and not the R4 or the R6. We doubt that Dell will ever explain what caused this 'incorrect setting' to apply to the only AMD powered machine of those three, unfortunately. The change should give the Alienware m15 R5 a 10% GPU performance uplift, bringing it in line with other RTX 3070-equipped machines.

Purchase the Alienware m15 R4 on Amazon

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Alex Alderson
Alex Alderson - Senior Tech Writer - 4621 articles published on Notebookcheck since 2018
Prior to writing and translating for Notebookcheck, I worked for various companies including Apple and Neowin. I have a BA in International History and Politics from the University of Leeds, which I have since converted to a Law Degree. Happy to chat on Twitter or Notebookchat.
contact me via: @aldersonaj
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> Notebook / Laptop Reviews and News > News > News Archive > Newsarchive 2021 06 > Dell admits to disabling CUDA cores on the NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3070 in the Alienware m15 R5; fix incoming
Alex Alderson, 2021-06- 8 (Update: 2021-06-15)