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Resolving a high temperature or overheating issue on Alienware Notebooks purchased after 2016

Summary: This article is about an issue with high CPU temperatures on the Alienware 13R3, 15R3, 15R4, 17R4, 17R5, M15 and M17 notebook systems.

This article may have been automatically translated. If you have any feedback regarding its quality, please let us know using the form at the bottom of this page.

Article Content


Symptoms


SLN309951_en_US__1iC_aw_alienhead_mr_v1 Description  

The following article provides information about an issue with high CPU temperatures. Under either a heavy load or running the Alienware Command Center that measures the thermal temperature on these Alienware notebook systems.

   

Affected Systems:

 
  Alienware 13 R3   Alienware 15 R3/R4   Alienware 17 R4/R5  
 
  Alienware m15   Alienware m15 R2   Alienware m15 R3  
 
  Alienware m17   Alienware m17 R2   Alienware m17 R3  
 
  Alienware Area-51m    Alienware Area-51m R2  
 

Table of Contents:

  1. High CPU temps reported on Alienware 13 R3, 15 R3/R4, 17 R4/R5, m15, m15 R2, m15 R3 m17, m17 R2, m17 R3, Area-51m and Area-51m R2 notebooks
  2. High CPU temperature troubleshooting steps
  3. Resolution Steps

 

High CPU temps reported on Alienware 13 R3, 15 R3/R4, 17 R4/R5, m15, m15 R2, m15 R3 m17, m17 R2, m17 R3, Area-51m and Area-51m R2 notebooks

 

There are reports that the CPU temperature on Alienware 13 R3, 15 R3/R4, 17 R4/R5, m15, m15 R2, m15 R3 m17, m17 R2, m17 R3, Area-51m and Area-51m R2 notebooks are getting to a high temperature. Especially when under a heavy loading environment. The alert or warning (text in red) of the high CPU temperature may be seen when the Alienware Command Center (AWCC) measures the temperature. You could also use a third-party tool (e.g. HWInfo64) to measure the thermal temperature.


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High CPU temperature troubleshooting steps

 

  1. Update the BIOS -> driver -> firmware to the most recent revision from the Dell Support site

 

Alienware 13 R3, 15 R3, and 17 R4

 

  1. Configure the G-SYNC settings

    1. Disable the NVidia G-SYNC (only applicable on G-SYNC supported models.)

      1. Right click on the desktop

      2. Select the Nvidia Control Panel

      3. Click Set up G-SYNC in the left-hand side menu

      4. Uncheck the box next to Enable G-SYNC

      5. Click Apply

    2. Restart the PC and enter the BIOS by tapping rapidly on the F2 key during POST

    3. Navigate to the Advanced tab and select Performance Options and press the Enter key

    4. Change the CPU Performance Mode to Enabled

    5. Set the Core Over-Clocking Level to OC LV 3 and press the Enter key

    6. Press the F10 key to save the changes and exit the BIOS

  2. When the system boots up, using the preinstalled software Dell SupportAssist run the stress test.

    Dell SupportAssist > Hardware Checkup > CPU > CPU stress test

    SLN309951_en_US__2Stress_Test_BK

  3. Launch the Alienware Command Center and go to Fusion and monitor the CPU frequency. Ensure that the CPU frequency is within the range during the first 5 minutes

Performance Mode + Highest Level OC (If Applicable) CPU Frequency
Intel Processor i9-8950HK in Overclocked level 3 mode 2900 MHz~5000 MHz
Intel Processor i7-8750H in performance mode 2200 MHz~4100 MHz
Intel Processor i5-8300H in performance mode 2300 MHz~4000 MHz
  1. Monitor the CPU temperature on the Fusion page

    • The CPU peak temperature should be less than or equal to (≤) 100 ℃

    • When under high stress, the system average temperature can be expected to be up to (≤) 95 ℃

    SLN309951_en_US__3Fusion_Page_BK

Alienware 15 R4, and 17 R5

 

  1. Configure the Alienware Command Center

    1. Open Alienware Command Center

    2. Set the Active System Theme - Thermal as Performance Mode

    3. Change the Active System Theme - Overclock to Overclock O2 (if applicable)

    SLN309951_en_US__4Active_Theme_BK

  2. When the system boots up, using the preinstalled software Dell SupportAssist run the stress test.

    Dell SupportAssist > Hardware Checkup > CPU > CPU stress test

    SLN309951_en_US__2Stress_Test_BK

  3. Launch the Alienware Command Center and go to Fusion and monitor the CPU frequency. Ensure that the CPU frequency is within the range during the first 5 minutes

Performance Mode + Highest Level OC (If Applicable) CPU Frequency
Intel Processor i9-8950HK in Overclocked level 3 mode 2900 MHz~5000 MHz
Intel Processor i7-8750H in performance mode 2200 MHz~4100 MHz
Intel Processor i5-8300H in performance mode 2300 MHz~4000 MHz
  1. Monitor the CPU temperature on the Fusion page

    • The CPU peak temperature should be less than or equal to (≤) 100 ℃

    • When under high stress, the system average temperature can be expected to be up to (≤) 95 ℃

    SLN309951_en_US__3Fusion_Page_BK

Alienware m15, m15 R2, m17, and m17 R2

 

  1. Configure Alienware Command Center

    1. Open Alienware Command Center

    2. Set the Active System Theme - Thermal as Performance Mode

    SLN309951_en_US__4Active_Theme_BK

  2. When the system boots up, using the preinstalled software Dell SupportAssist run the stress test.

    Dell SupportAssist > Hardware Checkup > CPU > CPU stress test

    SLN309951_en_US__2Stress_Test_BK

  3. Launch the Alienware Command Center and go to Fusion and monitor the CPU frequency. Ensure that the CPU frequency is within the range during the first 5 minutes under performance mode

Alienware m15, and m17

 
CPU Type Base Frequency Cool Mode Performance Mode
Intel Processor i9-8950HK 2900 MHz 2900 MHz ~ 4800 MHz 3100 MHz ~ 4800 MHz
Intel Processor i7-8750H 2200 MHz 2200 MHz ~ 4100 MHz 2600 MHz ~ 4100 MHz
Intel Processor i5-8300H 2300 MHz 2300 MHz ~ 4000 MHz 2700 MHz ~ 4100 MHz
 

Alienware m15 R2, and m17 R2

 
CPU Model Name Base Frequency Performance mode Cool mode
Intel Processor i9-9980HK 2400 MHz 3300 MHz~4800 MHz 2600 MHz~4400 MHz
Intel Processor i9-9880H 2300 MHz 3300 MHz~4400 MHz 2600 MHz~4400 MHz
Intel Processor i7-9750H 2600 MHz 3000 MHz~4000 MHz 2600 MHz~4000 MHz
Intel Processor i5-9300H 2400 MHz 3000 MHz~4000 MHz 2600 MHz~4000 MHz
 
  1. Monitor the CPU temperature on the Fusion page

    • The CPU peak temperature should be less than or equal to (≤) 100 ℃

    • When under high stress, the system average temperature can be expected to be less than (≤) 100 ℃

    • SLN309951_en_US__9icon Note: The CPU average temperature can be expected to reach 95 ℃ under cool mode for the Alienware m15, m15R2, m17, and m17R2 systems

    SLN309951_en_US__10Performance_Mode_BK

    SLN309951_en_US__11Cool_Mode_BK

Alienware m15 R3 and m17 R3

 
SLN309951_en_US__9icon Note: Refer to this article only after the system has been diagnosed with the onboard diagnostics (ePSA).


CPU Performance Behavior on the Alienware m15 R3 and m17 R3

In general, the CPU frequency goes higher than Intel CPU’s high frequency under Performance mode and Balance mode.

CPU Model Name i5-10300H i7-10750H i9-10980HK
# of Cores 4 6 8
# of Threads 8 12 16
Processor Base Frequency 2.5 GHz 2.6 GHz 2.4 GHz


There are five fan control modes in the Alienware m15 R3 and m17 R3

  1. Full speed mode: the fan runs full speed to support the CPU operating at turbo frequency for a longer period of time. Noticeable fan sound can be heard.

  2. Performance mode: the fan runs aggressively to support the CPU operating at turbo frequency for a longer period of time. Noticeable fan sound can be heard.

  3. Balance mode: The fan runs in a moderate manner. Fan sound is less noticeable, but the period for the CPU to operate at turbo frequency would be shorter.

  4. Cool mode: The fan runs in a moderate manner. Fan sound is less noticeable, but the GPU and GPU performance will be limit for better skin comfort and battery life.

  5. Quiet mode: The fan runs in a more quiet level than Balance Mode. Fan sound is less noticeable, but the period for the CPU to operate at turbo frequency would be lower and shorter.

SLN309951_en_US__9icon Note: Regardless of what mode, the CPU temperature can go above 99 degree C and trigger a Thermal Event (TCC) under heavy load. TCC is activated and adjusts CPU Power Limit 1 (PL1) frequency down by a couple hundred MHz. This decrease to the temperature rise allows the system’s thermal control mechanism to catch up the system best thermal performance balance. This may be what users sometimes see and are concerned about, but it is a general design of all gaming notebook.


Verify Process

  1. First verify using the ePSA diagnostics that the system has an overheating issue.

  2. Set the test environment and plug the AC adapter to the test unit.

  3. Open Alienware Command Center (AWCC).

  4. Select the HOME Page on the AWCC main page.
    Set the thermal mode to Performance.

  5. Stress test the CPU (Dell support Assist: CPU stress).

  6. Select the FUSION Page and Monitor the CPU Frequency and CPU temperature of Performance Mode CPU will perform as the performance table.

Processor Running Alienware SupportAssist CPU Stress Test
(CPU Portion, not including the Memory Portion),
CPU speed should keep around the following speed in the first 5 minutes stress period.
CML i9-10980HK in Performance mode 3900 MHz~4800 MHz
CML i7-10750H in Performance mode 3700 MHz~4600 MHz
CML i5-10300H in Performance mode 3700 MHz~4300 MHz
  1. Select the HOME page.
    Change the Thermal Mode to Cool.

  2. Stress the CPU (Dell support Assist: CPU stress).

  3. Select the FUSION page.
    Monitor CPU Frequency and CPU temperature of Cool Mode.
    CPU will perform as the performance table.

Processor Running Alienware SupportAssist CPU Stress Test
(CPU Portion, not including the Memory Portion),
CPU speed should keep around the following speed in the first 5 minutes stress period.
CML i9-10980HK in Performance mode 3000 MHz~4800 MHz
CML i7-10750H in Performance mode 3000 MHz~4600 MHz
CML i5-10300H in Performance mode 3300 MHz~4300 MHz
 

Reference Setting:

Open the Alienware Command Center to set performance mode on the Home Page.

 
  • Setting Alienware Command Center to setting performance mode in the Home Page to Performance Mode.
    SLN309951_en_US__14Alienware_Command_Center_SLN309951_01

 

Stress the CPU using Dell SupportAssist.

 
  • Dell SupportAssist → checkup → choose CPU → run stress test.
    SLN309951_en_US__15Alienware_Command_Center_SLN309951_02
     
  • Monitor CPU frequency and temperature on the "FUSION page".
    SLN309951_en_US__16Alienware_Command_Center_SLN309951_03
    Example: Performance Mode

    SLN309951_en_US__17Alienware_Command_Center_SLN309951_04
    Example: Cool Mode
     
 
SLN309951_en_US__9icon Note: Third-party tools (for example HW monitor info) show the temperature in red when the CPU T is greater than 90 degrees. However, being red does not indicate that there is an issue. When the Thermal Control Circuit (TCC 100 degrees C) is activated, it adjusts the CPU Power Limit 1 (PL1) frequency down by a couple hundred MHz. This decrease to the temperature rise increases the system stability and allows the system’s thermal control mechanism to catch up (frequency will never be below Base Frequency Mode) as designed. This may be what you sometimes see and are concerned about, but it is a general design feature of all Gaming Notebooks.
 

Common Questions

  • Why does the system Diagnostic Tool post High CPU temperatures in system idle mode?
    In system "is idle", the system is not truly idle. There are still background tasks operating in high frequency and they will induce very short period high CPU temperatures ( <1 second). Then down to lower average temperatures.

  • Does the CPU get damaged when CPU temperatures reach 100 degree C?
    No. The CPU operates well under the Intel CPU specification: Tjmax=100.

    (Intel) Processors supply a method (Digital Thermal Sensor (DTS)) to report real time die temperatures below, equal to, or above the Tj(max). While the die should not normally run above the Tj (max), a temperature value above the Tj(max) may occur occasionally under normal operation. ( Tj(max)=100)

  • Why does the system Diagnostic Tool post High CPU temperatures in a Gaming Application or a Graphic stress Application?
    Some Gaming or Graphic stress applications that are combined with "heavy CPU activity" will cause high CPU temperatures.

  • Is the CPU peak temperature under balance mode lower than under performance mode?
    No. Under Balance Mode, the CPU can still boost to its highest frequency in short periods and induce high peak temperatures.

    The CPU high peak temperature is expected when you set it to grab the best performance. No matter whether "performance mode", "balanced mode", "quiet mode", or "cool mode" is chosen.

Alienware Area-51m and Area-51m R2

 
SLN309951_en_US__9icon Note: Refer to this article only after the system has been diagnosed with the onboard diagnostics (ePSA).
 

CPU Performance Behavior on the Alienware Area-51m and Area-51m R2

In general, the CPU frequency keeps higher than Intel CPU’s base frequency.

  Alienware Area 51m Alienware Area 51m R2
CPU Model Name i7-8700 i9-9700k i9-9900k i7-10700 i7-10700K i7-10900 i9-10900K
# of Cores 6 8 8 8 8 10 10
# of Threads 12 8 16 16 16 20 20
Processor Base Frequency 3.2 GHz 3.6 GHz 3.6 GHz 2.9 GHz 3.8 GHz 2.8 GHz 3.7 GHz
 

There are five fan control modes in the Alienware Area-51m and Area-51m R2

  1. Performance mode: the fan runs aggressively to support the CPU operating at turbo frequency for a longer period of time. Noticeable fan sound can be heard.

  2. Balance mode: The fan runs in a moderate manner. Fan sound is less noticeable, but the period for the CPU to operate at turbo frequency would be shorter.

  3. Cool mode: The fan runs in a moderate manner. Fan sound is less noticeable, but the GPU and GPU performance will be limit for better skin comfort and battery life.

  4. Quiet mode: The fan runs in a more quiet level than Balance Mode. Fan sound is less noticeable, but the period for the CPU to operate at turbo frequency would be lower and shorter.

  5. Full speed mode: the fan runs full speed to support the CPU operating at turbo frequency for a longer period of time. Noticeable fan sound can be heard.

 
SLN309951_en_US__9icon Note: Regardless of what mode, the CPU temperature can go above 90 degree C under heavy load. Intel Processors supply a method (Digital Thermal Sensor (DTS)) to report real-time die temperature that is below, equal to, or above Tj(max). While the die should not run above Tj (max), a temperature value above Tj(max) may occur occasionally under normal operation. ( Tj(max)=100)
 

Verify Process

  1. First verify with ePSA that the system has an overheating issue

  2. Set the test environment and plug an AC adapter to the test unit

  3. Open the Alienware Command Center (AWCC)

  4. Select the HOME Page on the AWCC Main Page

    Set the Thermal Mode to Performance

  5. Stress test the CPU (Dell supportAssist: CPU stress)

SLN309951_en_US__21Area-51m_Test_01_BK

SLN309951_en_US__22Area-51m_Test_02_BK

SLN309951_en_US__23Area-51m_Test_03_BK

Stress Test SupportAssist Procedure

  1. Select the FUSION Page

    Monitor the CPU Frequency and CPU temperature of Performance Mode

    The CPU average temperature will stay high and keep the Operating Frequency higher than the CPU Base Frequency + 400 MHz

  2. Select the HOME Page

    Change the Thermal Mode to Cool

  3. Stress test the CPU (Dell SupportAssist: CPU stress) again

  4. Select the FUSION Page

    Monitor the CPU Frequency and CPU temperature of Cool Mode

Reference Setting:

Open the Alienware Command Center to set performance mode on the HOME Page.

  • Set the Active System thermal mode to Performance Mode

    SLN309951_en_US__24Area-51m_home_01_BK

    Stress the CPU using Dell support assist

  • Navigate through the Dell SupportAssist application to troubleshooting -> checkup -> CPU -> run the stress test:

    SLN309951_en_US__25Area-51m_CPU_Test_01_BK

  • Read the temperature on the FUSION Window

    CPU temperature will be no greater than 100 degree C (Performance Mode)

    SLN309951_en_US__26Area-51m_Performance_01_BK

    CPU average temperature will be no greater than 99 degree C (Cool Mode)

    SLN309951_en_US__27Area-51m_Cool_01_BK

 
SLN309951_en_US__9icon Note: Third-party tools (for example HW monitor info) show the temperature in red when the CPU T is greater than 90 degrees. However, being red does not indicate that there is an issue. When the Thermal Control Circuit (TCC 100 degrees C) is activated, it adjusts the CPU Power Limit 1 (PL1) frequency down by a couple hundred MHz. This decrease to the temperature rise increases the system stability and allows the system’s thermal control mechanism to catch up (frequency will never be below Base Frequency Mode) as designed. This may be what you sometimes see and are concerned about, but it is a general design feature of all Gaming Notebooks.
 

Common Questions

  • Why does the system Diagnostic Tool post High CPU temperatures in system idle mode?
    In system "is idle", the system is not truly idle. There are still background tasks operating in high frequency and they will induce very short period high CPU temperatures ( <1 second). Then down to lower average temperatures.

  • Does the CPU get damaged when CPU temperatures reach 100 degree C?
    No. The CPU operates well under the Intel CPU specification: Tjmax=100.

    (Intel) Processors supply a method (Digital Thermal Sensor (DTS)) to report real time die temperatures below, equal to, or above the Tj(max). While the die should not normally run above the Tj (max), a temperature value above the Tj(max) may occur occasionally under normal operation. ( Tj(max)=100)

  • Why does the system Diagnostic Tool post High CPU temperatures in a Gaming Application or a Graphic stress Application?
    Some Gaming or Graphic stress applications that are combined with "heavy CPU activity" will cause high CPU temperatures.

  • Is the CPU peak temperature under balance mode lower than under performance mode?
    No. Under Balance Mode, the CPU can still boost to its highest frequency in short periods and induce high peak temperatures.

    The CPU high peak temperature is expected when you set it to grab the best performance no matter whether "performance mode", "balanced mode", "quiet mode", or "cool mode" is chosen.


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Resolution

 

Resolution Steps

 

The coffeelake processor supports a higher clock rate than kabylake or older processors. That means these systems noticeably generate more heat compared to any previous generation of systems. Because of this Dell engineering has designed the system to tolerate higher temperatures, and the new specifications and dispatch guidance are:

  • Where failure is when the Alienware Command Center reports a CPU peak temperature that is greater than 100 ℃ or CPU frequency is out of spec.
  • As thermal design capabilities have a larger impact on system performance. Under all the following scenarios, the heatsink is most likely at fault. If the heatsink is ruled out, then the next point of failure would be the motherboard. I wouldn't look at the fan unless the ePSA diagnostics fail pointing to it.

    • CPU T > 100 ℃, CPU frequency OK
    • CPU T > 100 ℃, CPU frequency not OK
    • CPU T < 100 ℃, CPU frequency not OK

    If the Alienware Command Center still reports a CPU peak temperature above (>) 100 ℃, you should contact technical support for further help. You can get contact details on the link below:

    SLN309951_en_US__29icon Note: These systems are designed to maintain system stability when the CPU temperature reaches a set temperature (termed the Thermal Control Circuit (TCC) activation point,). The TCC is activated and adjusts the CPU frequency down by a couple of hundred MHz to reduce the temperature rise. This allows the system’s thermal control mechanism to catch up (The frequency will never be below the Base Frequency Mode, e.g. Intel i9 8950 HK). This slight drop in frequency can sometimes be mistaken for a performance drop. It is a design feature common to all Gaming Notebooks and it helps to optimize the system performance and prevent systems from exceeding 100 ℃. The TCC point for the following systems is:
    • Alienware 13 R3, 15 R3/R4, and 17 R4/R5 - TCC = 97 ℃
    • Alienware M15, and M17 - TCC = 100 ℃
    • Alienware Area-51m R2 - TCC = 100 ℃
     

    Be aware that if you find that none of the information above has affected or been responsible for your issue. The mode set in your Thermal User Profile can also affect the fan noise and the system thermal temperature. Check the mode types below and make sure you have the mode set that works for you enabled.

    All Models:

    • Performance Mode: The fan runs aggressively to support the CPU operating at Turbo frequency for longer periods. The fan is noticeably heard to run.
    • Balance Mode: The fan runs at a more moderate rate, which allows the CPU to operate at Turbo frequency for shorter periods. The fan is still heard but is quieter.
    • Cool Mode: The fan runs slower and the fan is quieter, but the GPU and its performance are also limited to increase battery life.
    • Quiet Mode: The fan runs slower than in balance mode and the fan noise is less noticeable than in cool mode, but the GPU performance is limited. The time that the CPU can operate at Turbo frequency would be lower and shorter.

    Alienware m15 R3, m17 R3, and Area-51m R2:

    • Full speed mode: The fan runs full speed to support the CPU operating at turbo frequency for a longer period of time. Noticeable fan sound can easily be heard.
     


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    Article Properties


    Affected Product

    Alienware 13 R3, Alienware 15 R3, Alienware 15 R4, Alienware 17 R4, Alienware 17 R5, Alienware m15, Alienware m15 R2, Alienware m17, Alienware m17 R2, Alienware Area-51m

    Last Published Date

    21 Feb 2021

    Version

    6

    Article Type

    Solution