While it’s been great to have a powerful laptop that can handle gaming in 144 FPS while being mobile, the Acer software and initial configuration has led to heat issues that most Amazon reviews agree with are a big downside to the laptop. Through lots of forum posts I was able to fix most of the issues so it doesn’t overheat and start throttling the CPU during gaming – which was leading to slowdowns and really hot W,A,S,D keys.
Fix Predator Sense
Predator Sense is the most important program to run if you’re gaming on a Predator laptop. It monitors temperatures, sets fan speeds, overclocks the GPU, and allows “coolboost” which allows the fans to go faster for more cooling.
Unfortunately, mine started saying “discreet GPU is idle” after updating BIOS, which lots of people have posted about and there is no clear fix for. What worked for me was factory resetting the entire laptop:
How to Factory Reset:
- Backup your files
- Download Windows Installation Media to a USB drive
- Restart and hold ALT-F10 and Reset Your PC
- Boot from the USB media, follow the video below from 3:47 if you don’t know how to set a boot drive.
After doing Windows Updates and updating my graphics drivers, Predator Sense is working for me now as you can see in the screenshot below. I just keep it open all the time, and Windows 10 loads it automatically since it was open when I shut off the computer. These settings work best for me, auto fans, CoolBoost on, and overclocked to “Faster” – though you can turn on “Turbo” if you really want more frames at the cost of more heat.
Set Up ThrottleStop Undervolting
The next problem with these laptops is that the CPU creates a bunch of heat and forces the computer to throttle its speeds, really inhibiting gaming. We don’t want that. Most of the time it’s the GPU that’s the bottleneck in gaming, so the CPU is just there creating a bunch of heat. Undervolting lowers the power coming into the CPU, slowing it down at performance peaks so create much less heat. (Here’s a full guide to ThrottleStop)
- Install ThrottleStop – currently 8.70 stable version (6/11/2020)
- Unzip it outside of your downloads folder, I used C:/Program Files/Throttlestop
- Set up these options for the 4 profiles, etc. Default is always running and undervolting the CPU, Hot Mode is triggered if it gets too hot (10°C under max CPU, or 98°C GPU), and all the main settings on the right.
- Next click on TPL to limit Turbo Boost as follows:
- Finally open FIVR and set Turbo Rate Limits and Undervolting. In the bottom right, do “OK – save voltages immediately”, then for each profile in the upper left, set the bottom right Turbo Rate Limits and FIVR Control for CPU Core, CPU Cache, and Intel GPU as follow:
Always set your CPU Core and CPU Cache to the same undervolt (I’m using -148.4), and I’m also trying a -40 undervolt on the GPU.
- My “Hot Mode” settings, with Turbo Rate Limits lower to slow down the CPU. Set the CPU Cache and Intel GPU voltages the same as above (-148.4 for CPU Core and CPU Cache, -40 for Intel GPU)
- The third profile is on Battery, it is set the same as Default, copy those settings, 40 Turbo Rate Limits, -148.4 on CPUs, and -40 on GPU.
- Finally the 4th profile is for no undervolt, so set the Turbo Rate Limits to 40 but don’t check “Unlock Adjustable Voltage” on any of the CPU or GPUs.
To set ThrottleStop to always open with Windows (it doesn’t seem to open if you have it open at shutdown like Predator Sense), use the Task Scheduler to open it, as described here: http://forum.notebookreview.com/threads/the-throttlestop-guide.531329/#post-6865107
- In Start, type Task Scheduler and open it
- Create Basic Task
- Name: ThrottleStop
- Trigger: When I log on
- Action: Start a Program, and Browse for the ThrottleStop.exe (C:/Program Files for me)
- Check “Open the Properties dialog when I click Finish” and click Finish
- In the Task Properties, run with highest privileges, and in Conditions make sure everything is unchecked, not when the power is on AC only.
- Reboot and make sure it opens.
Conclusion / The Silicon Lottery
You can search around for other people’s settings, but hopefully this will keep your heat down, especially from the CPU while gaming so that it doesn’t throttle and cause slowdowns. There is a concept called the “silicon lottery” regarding your CPU, thermal paste, and even air flow inside the laptop case: Everyone’s heat signature will be different even with the same settings and load, and some chips can’t handle the same undervoltin without blue screening. Gaming laptop components are rating for high heat, around 90-95°C, but then they’ll need to throttle really quickly to keep from melting. So I’d recommend backing off some of these cooling settings after you play for a while and notice that your CPU or GPU can get a little more performance without hitting throttling temps. So test out different values to maximize performance, even if you crash / blue screen a couple times to find them.