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More CUDA cores do not necessarily mean better performance for the Alienware m15 R5

The Alienware m15 R5 can expect approximately 4% better GPU performance with its new vBIOS. (Image source: Dell)
The Alienware m15 R5 can expect approximately 4% better GPU performance with its new vBIOS. (Image source: Dell)
Dell may have enabled all possible CUDA cores on the Alienware m15 R5, but that has not necessarily improved GPU performance across the board. Instead, activating 10% more CUDA cores can reduce FPS in some games, albeit with reduced GPU temperatures.

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The Alienware m15 R5 has had a torrid start to life, despite its impressive hardware. Earlier this month, people noticed that machines sold with the NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3070 underreported the latter's CUDA cores. Dell then admitted it had disabled approximately 10% of the CUDA cores that the Alienware m15 R5 should have, before issuing a GPU vBIOS iupdate to reverse this decision.

Jarrod's Tech has an affected Alienware m15 R5 to hand, so it decided to put the new vBIOS through its paces. Theoretically, activating 512 CUDA cores should yield an 11.1% performance increase, but that is not the case with the Alienware m15 R5. As the graph below shows, Jarrod's Tech's machine actually posted lower results in some games after having its GPU vBIOS updated.

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(Image source: Jarrod's Tech)
(Image source: Jarrod's Tech)

Even the positive percentage differences fall short of expectations. At best, the new vBIOS improved framerates by 4.8%, but there were slightly greater percentage changes in synthetic GPU benchmarks. According to Jarrod's Tech, the GeForce RTX 3070 runs cooler in GPU-only synthetic benchmarks too, but there was no difference in CPU and GPU-heavy ones.

Overall, the vBIOS does improve GPU performance on the Alienware m15 R5 in benchmarks and games. However, the machine still underperforms compared to other GeForce RTX 3070-powered devices. Ultimately, enabling the Alienware m15 R5's full complement of CUDA cores does not yield a linear performance improvement for some reason, even if it now runs cooler.

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Alex Alderson
Alex Alderson - Senior Tech Writer - 4103 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 > More CUDA cores do not necessarily mean better performance for the Alienware m15 R5
Alex Alderson, 2021-06-17 (Update: 2021-06-17)