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Tiger Lake Dell XPS 13 9310 vs. Asus ZenBook 14 UX425EA: the Dynamic Power Policy difference

Tiger Lake Dell XPS 13 9310 vs. Asus ZenBook 14 UX425EA: the Dynamic Power Policy difference (Image source: Dell)
Tiger Lake Dell XPS 13 9310 vs. Asus ZenBook 14 UX425EA: the Dynamic Power Policy difference (Image source: Dell)
Intel's brand new Core i7-1165G7 processor can behave very differently depending on how OEMs decide to implement it onto their laptops. Our Dell and Asus examples show the pros and cons of two different methods we see on almost all laptops.
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Intel allows a very wide range of clock rates and performance levels across many of its mobile U-series CPUs. As a result, two laptops with the same processor may perform or behave differently depending on the overlying cooling solution and how the OEM chooses to implement that particular processor onto their laptops.

The latest Dell XPS 13 9310 and Asus ZenBook 14 UX425EA are excellent examples of this. Though both are powered by the same 11th gen Tiger Lake Core i7-1165G7 CPU and iris Xe GPU, clock rates differ greatly between them. In the ZenBook, for example, Asus has taken a traditional approach where CPU clock rates would boost as high as it can when under load before eventually hitting a pre-defined temperature ceiling and then falling and stabilizing at a fixed clock rate and temperature. In case this, the CPU would boost to 3.7 GHz for about 5 to 10 seconds when running Prime95 before hitting 95 C and then flatlining at 2.3 to 2.4 GHz  and 68 C.

Dell's approach is much more dynamic. Called Dynamic Power Policy, CPU clock rates would cycle up and down depending on core temperature with the goal of squeezing more performance out of the processor. For example, running Prime95 causes the Core i7-1165G7 in the XPS 13 9310 to boost to 4.1 GHz for the first few seconds until hitting 81 C. Thereafter, the CPU would begin cycling between 2.5 GHz and 3.1 GHz and 71 C and 78 C. A fixed clock rate and temperature of 3.1 GHz and 78 C may have been too high to be sustainable while a fixed clock rate and temperature of 2.5 GHz and 71 C may have been too low, so Dell's dynamic approach is a sensible middle-ground solution without impacting skin temperature. Dell has been implementing this feature on almost all of its XPS 13 SKUs since at least 2017.

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Dell XPS 13 9310 Core i7 FHD Iris Xe G7 96EUs, i7-1165G7, Micron 2300 512GB MTFDHBA512TDV; CPU Multi 64Bit: Ø718 (617.03-918.32)
Asus ZenBook 14 UX425EA Iris Xe G7 96EUs, i7-1165G7, Intel SSD 660p 1TB SSDPEKNW010T8; CPU Multi 64Bit: Ø653 (629.83-862.05)
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Dell XPS 13 9310 Core i7 FHD Iris Xe G7 96EUs, i7-1165G7, Micron 2300 512GB MTFDHBA512TDV: Ø71.4 (51-88)
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Asus ZenBook 14 UX425EA Iris Xe G7 96EUs, i7-1165G7, Intel SSD 660p 1TB SSDPEKNW010T8: Ø43.9 (28-52)
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Idling on Witcher 3 for one hour on Medium settings with the Asus ZenBook 14. Frame rates remain stable throughout the duration of the test.

There are some advantages and disadvantages to each method. Though it's true that Dynamic Power Policy can offer faster CPU performance on average as shown by our CineBench R15 xT loop comparison graph above, the cycling clock rates can make performance unpredictable. This is most noticeable when gaming because the fluctuating CPU and GPU clock rates can cause frame rates to fluctuate as well. In these scenarios, users would much prefer stable clock rates for more stable frame rates.

In our opinion, an option to quickly toggle Dynamic Power Policy on or off would make both the XPS 13 and Asus ZenBook 14 better machines for a wider range of applications.

Prime95 stress (XPS 13 9310). Note the cycling CPU clock rates and core temperatures
Prime95 stress (XPS 13 9310). Note the cycling CPU clock rates and core temperatures
Prime95 stress (Asus ZenBook 14). Note the short-lived initial boost in Turbo Boost clock rates before clock rates and temperature fall flat
Prime95 stress (Asus ZenBook 14). Note the short-lived initial boost in Turbo Boost clock rates before clock rates and temperature fall flat
Witcher 3 stress (XPS 13 9310). Note the cycling CPU and GPU clock rates and core temperatures
Witcher 3 stress (XPS 13 9310). Note the cycling CPU and GPU clock rates and core temperatures
Witcher 3 stress (Asus ZenBook 14). Note the steady CPU and GPU clock rates and core temperatures
Witcher 3 stress (Asus ZenBook 14). Note the steady CPU and GPU clock rates and core temperatures
Prime95 initiated at 10s mark (XPS 13 9310). The cycling power consumption behavior mirrors clock rate behavior
Prime95 initiated at 10s mark (XPS 13 9310). The cycling power consumption behavior mirrors clock rate behavior
Prime95 initiated at 10s mark (Asus ZenBook 14). Power consumption would boost for the first few seconds before falling and flatlining
Prime95 initiated at 10s mark (Asus ZenBook 14). Power consumption would boost for the first few seconds before falling and flatlining
Witcher 3 power consumption would cycle up and down on the XPS 13 9310
Witcher 3 power consumption would cycle up and down on the XPS 13 9310
Witcher 3 power consumption would remain constant on the Asus ZenBook 14
Witcher 3 power consumption would remain constant on the Asus ZenBook 14

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Allen Ngo
Allen Ngo - Lead Editor U.S. - 4487 articles published on Notebookcheck since 2011
After graduating with a B.S. in environmental hydrodynamics from the University of California, I studied reactor physics to become licensed by the U.S. NRC to operate nuclear reactors. There's a striking level of appreciation you gain for everyday consumer electronics after working with modern nuclear reactivity systems astonishingly powered by computers from the 80s. When I'm not managing day-to-day activities and US review articles on Notebookcheck, you can catch me following the eSports scene and the latest gaming news.
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> Notebook / Laptop Reviews and News > News > News Archive > Newsarchive 2020 10 > Tiger Lake Dell XPS 13 9310 vs. Asus ZenBook 14 UX425EA: the Dynamic Power Policy difference
Allen Ngo, 2020-10-31 (Update: 2020-10-30)