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Nvidia now limits overclocking of GeForce GTX 900M with vBIOS

Although Nvidia Corp. recently said that its future drivers for GeForce GTX 900M-series graphics adapters for mobile computers will re-enable overclocking support for the notebook GPUs, there are reports that the company continues to block overclocking, but this time using a vBIOS setting.

A BIOS mod enthusiast from TechInferno.com forum recently revealed that Nvidia had begun shipping new GeForce GTX 900M-series graphics adapters with a vBIOS that blocks GPU overclocking. This means that from now on MXM cards featuring Nvidia GeForce graphics processors for laptops shipped inside notebooks or sold separately will not support overclocking out-of-the-box. Previously Nvidia blocked overclocking functionality in its drivers, but promised to return the capability in March.

FOLLOW UP: MSI: We will not block overclocking capabilities of our notebooks

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Manufacturers of gaming laptops featuring Nvidia GeForce GTX 900M GPUs in many cases have rights to modify vBIOS and re-activate overclocking support. However, it is unclear how that affects warranty and support from Nvidia. In a lot of cases OEMs would likely prefer to ship laptops without overclocking capability to limit their own risks.

End-users can re-flash their new GeForce GTX 970M or 980M graphics adapters with older vBIOS versions to enable overclocking. However, it will likely be impossible to flash modified versions of vBIOS to current and upcoming MXM modules since NvFlash, a program developed by Nvidia for re-flashing GeForce graphics solutions, blocks unsigned (hacked) versions of vBIOS.

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Nvidia’s decision to block overclocking capabilities of mobile GPUs has made many of its customers very upset. While it is relatively easy to damage a notebook graphics adapter by overheating as a result of overclocking, it should be noted that many gaming laptops have sophisticated cooling systems that can dissipate more heat than even an overclocked GPU can generate. Moreover, Nvidia works closely with OEMs to find the best combination of clock-rates, cooling systems and fan speeds. The company has no need to limit overclocking on all GeForce GTX 900M MXM modules it sells.

It is unknown how many notebooks and notebook suppliers are currently affected by the limitation. At least some laptop vendors will likely re-enable GeForce GTX 900M overclocking, but, it is possible that many of PC makers will not do this.

Nvidia did not comment on the news-story.

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KitGuru Says: Looks like Nvidia wants to prohibit overclocking of mobile graphics processors using any means necessary. While the company probably wants to minimize its own risks, the move will naturally anger many of its customers. Still, taking into account the fact that Nvidia dominates notebook gaming GPU market and AMD has nothing that offers performance similar to that of the GTX 970M/980M, it does not look like the Santa Clara, California-based GPU vendor has any stimulus to re-enable overclocking now. Still, once AMD releases a mobile GPU that beats Nvidia’s high-end “Maxwell” chips and offers overclocking, Nvidia will have to react somehow.

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