FAQ

Portfolio & Technical Specifications

XMG laptops are divided into different series. All series have in common that they have a dedicated graphics card and a powerful cooling system. Thus, all XMG series are generally suitable for both gaming and long-running professional applications. Nevertheless, there are considerable differences between the series in terms of peak computing power, display characteristics, weight, I/O port distribution and so on.

Technical overview of the range

For a complete overview of the technical features, we offer these comparison tables:

Please check out both tables as the portfolio between XMG and SCHENKER is quite different in many aspects.

Behind the links, you will find large overview tables for both brands and further details about the specific models of each individual series in additional tabs (found at the top of the screen). The tables focus only on the most important similarities and differences – they do not represent the complete spec sheet. For further information you can find links to the individual product pages at the bottom of each table.

In what way do SCHENKER laptops differ from XMG?

In a nutshell:

  • XMG is focused on high-performance, content creation and gaming.
  • SCHENKER also has high-performance and content creation models (some of them mirroring XMG models), but also many entry-level, business and ultra-portable models.

For those series, in which XMG and SCHENKER mirror each other (e.g XMG PRO is SCHENKER KEY; XMG FOCUS is SCHENKER MEDIA), the hardware, software and firmware is actually identical between both brands, but the configuration options might differ. For example, the SCHENKER model might offer different LCD and GPU options in the same chassis. You can select such options on the configuration page of each model. Another key difference: SCHENKER models come with 3 years of warranty by default. Aside from these factors, there are no technical differences between XMG and SCHENKER. For those series, in which XMG and SCHENKER mirror each other, the choice of brand may come down to personal preference.

Individual consultation

In addition to these resources, we of course also offer individual consulting via email, telephone hotline or in our community forums. For a written request, we ideally need information about the intended use, budget, screen size/portability preferences, and any other special requests (Thunderbolt, maximum SSD/RAM capacity, etc.).

The highest GPU performance is currently available in the form of the NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3080 Ti in XMG NEO series, closely followed by XMG PRO and XMG ULTRA.

These models in 2023 will be supplemented by new variants with RTX 40 graphics. The highest graphics performance will then be available with the RTX 4090 in the XMG NEO and XMG ULTRA. This roadmap article offers a preview:

Complete overview over compatible models

A complete overview of which XMG laptops are compatible with which VR headsets (both in terms of ports and GPU power) can be found here:

This table is always kept up to date and can be used directly to make purchasing decisions. The following sections explain additional background as to why some laptop models are compatible and some are not.

Flagship models (as of September 2022)

In summer 2022, the VR flagship standard among the XMG laptops has moved to the XMG PRO series (E22), which is equipped with Intel Core 12th Gen and RTX 3080 Ti and still includes a dedicated Mini DisplayPort, which is connected to the dedicated graphics card. In addition to the Mini DisplayPort, a second USB-C port with DisplayPort is available, which is also connected to the dedicated graphics. XMG PRO (E22) will thus offer three different DisplayPort connections simultaneously: 2x from the dGPU, once (via Thunderbolt 4) from the iGPU.

Another recommendation is the XMG NEO series from the M22 generation, which offers even higher GPU performance with RTX 3080 Ti and support for XMG OASIS. However, since XMG NEO (M22) only offers DisplayPort via USB-C, it is a bit a matter of taste whether you choose XMG NEO or XMG PRO.

Segmentation

VR headsets can be roughly divided into two categories:

  • Wireless headsets, which can be connected to the PC via radio
  • Wired headsets with HDMI or DisplayPort cables
Wireless headsets

A good example for a wireless headset is the Oculus Quest 2, which can be connected to a PC or laptop via Air Link using a WLAN router in the 5GHz spectrum. We can confirm that this connection works with all XMG laptops – regardless of whether they use a hybrid graphics solution or not.

The HTC Vive Wireless Adapter, on the other hand, does not work on laptops because it requires a full-sized PCI Express slot of a desktop PC. An external PCIe connection via Thunderbolt is not possible with this solution (presumably for latency reasons).

Wired headsets

Wired headsets require HDMI or DisplayPort outputs which are directly connected to the dedicated graphics card. This also includes adapter solutions like TPCAST, which take an HDMI or DisplayPort signal and forward it over the air.

Such headsets are compatible with all XMG laptops with four exceptions. First of all:

In these three models, the HDMI/DisplayPort outputs are connected to the Intel graphics unit, which in turn is connected to the dedicated graphics via NVIDIA Optimus (MSHybrid).

In this model, HDMI is connected to the dedicated graphics card, but the DisplayPort via USB-C (Thunderbolt 4) comes from the integrated graphics, following NVIDIA Optimus.

This hybrid graphics technology works smoothly for gaming on external monitors and all sorts of professional applications. But it does not work for VR headsets. Rather than simply identifying themselves as external monitors to the operating system, VR headsets require a tighter, direct connection to the dedicated graphics card.

Other XMG series – i.e. XMG CORE 15 and CORE 17, FUSION 15, APEX, PRO, and ULTRA – are not affected by this restriction – they have both HDMI and DisplayPort wires directly to the dedicated GPU.

For XMG NEO series please note:

  • Models up to and including 2021 (Ryzen 5000 and Intel Core 11th Gen): HDMI and DisplayPort on dedicated graphics.
  • XMG NEO 15 E22 (Early 2022, with Intel Core 12th Gen): DisplayPort on integrated graphics (exception).
  • XMG NEO 15 M22 and NEO 17 M22 (Mid 2022, with AMD Ryzen 6000): HDMI andDisplayPort on dedicated graphics (again).

Background information on why exactly the layout change regarding DisplayPort in XMG NEO 15 (E22) was neccessry can be found in this thread: [Launch] XMG NEO 15 (Early 2022) with Intel Core 12th Gen and up to RTX 3080 Ti

DisplayPort via USB-C vs. dedicated Mini DisplayPort

Nevertheless, there is also a significant difference between the aforementioned VR-capable series:

  • XMG CORE, NEO (up until 2021) and FUSION 15 output DisplayPort only via USB-C and Thunderbolt.
  • XMG APEX, PRO and ULTRA still have a classic Mini DisplayPort output in addition to the USB-C port.

This does not matter for first-generation VR headsets (such as the first HTC Vive), because these headsets still used HDMI to connect to the PC. Newer headsets (such as the HP Reverb G2), on the other hand, use the slightly more powerful DisplayPort standard. There are passive adapters that can losslessly pass the DisplayPort signal from USB-C to the DisplayPort connectors of the VR headset. The most powerful adapter of this kind according to our research is linked here. With this adapter, we and our customers have been able to get almost every single VR headset to work on XMG CORE, NEO (up until 2021) and FUSION thus far.

Almost every single VR headset?

One currently known exception is the HP Reverb G1 (predecessor of the G2). This 2019 VR headset does not seem to work with USB-C/DisplayPort adapters because it requires a 3.3V power source via DisplayPort. This rather outdated 3.3V signal (pin 20 on DisplayPort) is not implemented with USB-C. USB-C is designed for 5V, but the G1 wants 3.3V – no more, no less.

Virtually all other wired VR headsets we know of draw their power from their own power supply or from a 5V source via a secondary USB-C or USB-A cable. However, the Reverb G1 went a bit of a special route at the time (2019) and is thus not compatible with XMG CORE, NEO and FUSION according to current knowledge. It is relatively unlikely that future headsets will go this 3.3V special route again – after all, running VR headsets on gaming laptops is becoming more and more common and is therefore also taken into account during the design stage of new headsets. Still, this is a good example that there are still some good reasons to want a dedicated Mini-DisplayPort for a VR laptop – better safe than sorry.

Mini DisplayPort is alive!

Even if your desired VR headset can easily be adapted to USB-C/DP, it is worth taking a look at XMG APEX, PRO and ULTRA. Their Mini DisplayPort port is at least as powerful as the USB-C or Thunderbolt port in the other three series, but you will save yourself another adapter and thus a potential source of interference for future headsets or other borderline situations.

You still need an adapter from Full Size DisplayPort to Mini DisplayPort, but it is currently included in almost every VR headset, and this adaptation is also much less complex than USB-C. Mini-DP and Full Size DP are 100% pin-to-pin compatible, while USB-C has to jump through a whole series of hoops before it arrives in the headset.

In the first half of 2022, the VR flagship crown in XMG laptops will move to XMG PRO series (Early 2022) which is planned with Intel Core 12th Gen and RTX 3080 Ti (Max-P) and will continue to include a dedicated Mini DisplayPort, connected to the dedicated graphics card. In addition to the Mini DisplayPort, a second USB-C port with DisplayPort will be available, which is also connected to the dedicated graphics. XMG PRO (E22) will thus offer three different DisplayPort connections at the same time: 2x from the dGPU, once (via Thunderbolt 4) from the iGPU.

G-SYNC vs. Adaptive Sync

External displays that support G-SYNC or AMD FreeSync via DisplayPort can be roughly divided into two categories:

  • A) Those that use a proprietary G-SYNC module (introduced in 2013).
  • B) Those that adhere to the “Adaptive Sync” standard defined by VESA (introduced in 2014).

The latter group includes all monitors advertised as “FreeSync”, “G-SYNC Compatible” or “Adaptive Sync”. The G-SYNC mode in newer monitors advertised with “G-SYNC ULTIMATE” now also supports the VESA standard (see discussion here).

Another way to look at it, is thus: any monitor that is known to support Adaptive Sync (VRR) on AMD graphic solutions (both laptop and desktop) will have the VESA standard implemented.

Product overview

A well sorted overview can be found here:

Monitors marked with “G-SYNC” (not G-SYNC ULTIMATE, not G-SYNC “Compatible”) in NVIDIA’s list use the older, proprietary G-SYNC module and require a laptop that has the DisplayPort signal directly connected to an NVIDIA graphics card. This would include all XMG laptops except XMG CORE 14, XMG FOCUS 15 and XMG FOCUS 17.

For XMG NEO series please note:

  • Models up to and including 2021 (Ryzen 5000 and Intel Core 11th Gen): HDMI and DisplayPort on dedicated graphics.
  • New model from the beginning of 2022 (Intel Core 12th Gen): DisplayPort on integrated graphics

Background information on why exactly the layout change regarding DisplayPort in XMG NEO 15 (E22) was neccessry can be found in this article: Extended info on XMG NEO 15 (E22) with Intel Core i7-12700H and GeForce RTX 3080 Ti 

In other words, the following models are fully compatible with any G-SYNC and FreeSync monitors:

Adaptive Sync and FreeSync

Monitors that implement the VESA standard (i.e. that don’t use the proprietary, older G-SYNC module) might prefer a connection via the NVIDIA graphics card, but can also be used via NVIDIA Optimus (MSHybrid) with a DisplayPort signal from the Intel GPU with Adaptive Sync – but only with Intel GPUs from the 11th generation Intel Core. They also work with AMD’s iGPU in AMD Ryzen processors.

Thus, the following statement applies to the DisplayPort signal connected via iGPU in XMG CORE 14, FOCUS 15 and FOCUS 17: Adaptive Sync is supported on those monitors that have implemented the VESA standard (see category B). However, there seem to be a few restrictions regarding the supported game engines with the Intel GPU. We have highlighted more details about this in this article:

In the article, XMG NEO is mentioned because the article uses the internal display of the laptop (which is connected to the Intel GPU by default) as an example. The descriptions and conclusions in this article also fully apply to external monitors on XMG CORE 14 and XMG FOCUS series and any other laptop with their DisplayPort outputs wired to the Intel 11th Gen (or later) iGPU.

Disabling NVIDIA Optimus

Disabling NVIDIA Optimus will require the laptop to consume more energy in idle because the dedicated graphics card can no longer turn itself off. The advantage on the other hand is slightly increased FPS values in gaming, especially at low resolutions (1080p) and reduced quality settings. This review from early 2020 (Jarrod’s Tech on Youtube) gives some good examples of this.

Whether NVIDIA Optimus can be deactivated can be found in the data sheet of the respective laptop. There is then, for example, the following note in the graphics card area:

  • “Display connection: direct or via NVIDIA Optimus (MUX switch)”

A corresponding overview can also be found here: XMG & SCHENKER | Portfolio Overview and Feature Comparison

Bypassing NVIDIA Optimus by using an external monitor

NVIDIA Optimus can be bypassed with external monitors if the external connections (HDMI and DisplayPort, incl. USB-C and Thunderbolt) in the laptop are connected directly to the dedicated graphics card. This information can also be found in the data sheet of the respective laptop and the above product overview.

Overview table with recommended docking stations for various XMG and SCHENKER laptop models

The following table provides a comprehensive list of which docking stations are supported and recommended with which laptop:

The left part of the table first lists all current laptop models from XMG and SCHENKER. The middle part shows which USB-C features the laptops support in each case. For example, it is indicated whether a laptop offers only one or two DisplayPort streams via USB-C. The right-hand section then contains a long list of possible docking stations. These are grouped and sorted according to their platform properties. At the top of the table, there is a link to the shop for each dock, behind which you can study the complete spec sheet of the docks.

The decision as to which docking station we recommend for which laptop is derived from the capabilities of the laptop and the hardware requirements of the docking station. Combinations marked with a single tick are recommended purely on the basis of their combined spec sheets. Combinations with a double tick have actually been tested in this combination by us or a community member, which reinforces the recommendation.

The list is constantly being updated. The date of the last update is found at the bottom left, after the footnotes and FAQ references.

The table does not aim to be a general overview of the I/O port distribution and misc features of different docks. Instead, the table focuses on the “platform” of the respective docking station – i.e. what system capabilities does the dock require in the host laptop and how does it process the incoming screen signals. This is relevant for estimating which laptop is compatible and recommended with which docking station.

The table is therefore only intended as a rough filter function to narrow down the docking stations available on the market to a handful of recommended combinations. The viewer is encouraged to then look at the datasheets and prices of the remaining docking stations themselves before making a final decision.

For laptops with AMD Ryzen CPU and USB-C 3.2, which in contrast to Intel Core with Thunderbolt only provide a single DisplayPort signal, the viewer must also decide for themselves whether a dock with or without MST is desired. Both variants can be found in the table. The following paragraph explains this circumstance in more detail and offers a clear decision guideline.

Important key technology: MST | multi-stream transport

As mentioned at the beginning:

  • Some laptops offer two simultaneous, parallel DisplayPort signals via USB-C.
  • Some laptops, on the other hand, only offer a single DisplayPort signal via USB-C.

If a laptop only offers a single DisplayPort signal in the direction of the dock, only a single monitor can be connected to the dock natively. Unless the dock or the adapter has an MST chipset.

An MST chipset is capable of splitting a single DisplayPort signal to multiple, independently controlled monitor outputs. The outputs behind the MST splitter can be any type of output, including DisplayPort and HDMI.

1. Advantages of MST:
  • MST enables the use of multiple external monitors on a USB-C host, even if that host only sends a single DP signal via USB-C.
2. Disadvantages of MST:
  • However, MST also splits the bandwidth of this DP signal, thereby limiting the maximum resolution of these external monitors (typically to 4K/30Hz).
  • In addition, MST is usually not compatible with advanced technologies such as AMD FreeSync and NVIDIA G-SYNC.
  • MST could (depending on the chipset used) generally limit the refresh rate of monitors to 60Hz even at lower resolutions. Especially in the case of docking stations with an MST chipset, you should study the docking station’s spec sheet carefully to find out what maximum refresh rates and resolutions the dock can guarantee.

Whether or not a docking station has an MST splitter is not always clear from its data sheet. Rule of thumb: if MST (Multi-Stream Transport) is not explicitly advertised in the docking station’s extended data sheet, you can assume that the docking station does not have an MST splitter.

3. Decision guideline on MST:

Based on these explanations, we recommend buying MST only when you really need it. Otherwise, we recommend avoiding MST. So this means:

  • If your laptop supports Thunderbolt with 2 DisplayPort signals, choose a dock without MST.
  • If your laptop only has 1 DP signal, but you also only want to use a single external monitor on the dock, then, again, choose a dock without MST.
  • If your laptop has only 1 DP signal but you want to use multiple monitors behind the dock, choose a dock with MST.
Additional terms and acronyms

The following terms and acronyms are used in the overview table where the system requirements and platform specifications of the respective docking stations are listed. It is worthwhile to internalise these terms and include them in your decision making.

  • TBT = Thunderbolt 3 (TBT3) and Thunderbolt 4 (TBT4): These two technologies are generally compatible with each other.
  • USB-C = USB Type-C: USB-C is the lowest common denominator for most modern docking stations. A dock with USB-C platform support indicates that the dock does not necessarily need Thunderbolt. Instead, it can also work with a host that simply supports USB-C. Some docking stations only support TBT. Other docks prefer TBT but also have a USB-C fallback mode.
  • DP = DisplayPort: This indicates that the docking station requires a DisplayPort signal from the laptop. This automatically applies to all TBT3/TBT4 docks. For USB-C docking stations, the requirement of DP is very common, but there are a few exceptions. At the right edge of the table you will find docking stations without DP requirement. These are only recommended for the few laptops that do not themselves output a DP signal via USB-C.
  • DL = DisplayLink: This technology is a low-fidelity alternative to DisplayPort. It uses the simple USB data protocol to emulate an external monitor. Docks with DisplayLink are only recommended as a “last resort” for those hosts that do not support DP over USB-C.
  • USB-A: USB-A cannot host a native DisplayPort signal. At the very end of our list you will find some docks that offer DisplayLink via USB-A. These are technically identical to DisplayLink over USB-C, but may have an even lower USB data rate. We would only recommend such docks as a very last resort, e.g. if the USB-C port on the laptop is already occupied elsewhere.
Notice on docking stations from Dell, HP and Lenovo

Some docking stations from manufacturers who also sell their own laptops sometimes implement proprietary functions that only work with specific laptops from these brands. These functions include:

  • MAC address pass-through
  • Wake on LAN from S4/S5
  • The ability to turn on the laptop with a power button on the docking station from S4/S5.

These functions are not provided for in the USB-C or Thunderbolt standards, so the manufacturers’ implementations are neither compatible with each other nor with third-party laptops.

Furthermore, the Power Delivery functions of those manufacturers, i.e. the possibility to supply the laptop with power via the docking station, are often based on proprietary deviations from the standard. Example: a docking station from a major manufacturer is advertised with 100 watts of power delivery, but only supports 75 watts in operation with third-party laptops. In such a case, it is neccessary to also connect the laptop’s original charger to the laptop to achieve reasonable performance when docked. We provide more details on this topic in this forum thread:

For these reasons, we recommend buying docking stations from independent manufacturers that exclusively implement the public standards USB-C or Thunderbolt – see the link to the recommendation table at the top of this FAQ article.

When in doubt, just ask

We hope that our recommendation matrix and the explanations in this article help to shed some light on the sometimes complicated world of laptop docking stations. If you are still unsure which dock is right for you, or if you want to report a problem with one of our recommended laptop-dock combinations, please contact us or post in this community thread:

Thank you for your support!

Hybrid graphics

Battery runtime is a function of battery capacity and energy consumption. Laptops with hybrid graphics (NVIDIA Optimus or MSHybrid) generally have a lower energy consumption because the dedicated graphics card can turn itself off when not in use. We offer hybrid graphics solutions in all XMG laptops except those that use a desktop CPU, those being XMG APEX 15 MAX (until 2022) and XMG ULTRA 17 (until 2021).

Battery capacity

We currently offer the largest battery capacity in XMG FUSION 15 and XMG NEO 15 with 93Wh and XMG NEO 17 with 99Wh. To extend the battery life, we recommend keeping the dedicated graphics card inactive. A detailed guide on this topic is available in this FAQ article.

Battery mode reduces peak performance

Please note: high-performance laptops are generally not able provide their maximum performance in battery mode during intensive computing use (gaming, rendering). The dedicated GPU in particular is throttled considerably in battery mode to conserve battery health. Gaming in battery mode is theoretically possible, but will play much better when running on the integrated graphics. This is especially true for laptops with AMD Ryzen and Intel Core from 11th Gen, as these generations have comparatively powerful and highly efficient integrated graphics units. To set whether a program is run on the integrated or dedicated graphics card, Windows 10 has provided its own Options menu since around 2019: Windows Graphics Settings. The similar settings in the NVIDIA Control Panel are since obsolete and without effect. More information on this is available in this FAQ article: How can I set a program or game to run on either the iGPU or the dGPU?

Introduction

Dual channel memory is a configuration in which two or more memory modules (DIMM or SO-DIMM) are installed in a computer system and operate together as a single memory subsystem. This configuration can provide a number of benefits, including increased performance, especially when it comes to gaming and other latency-sensitive applications.

Gaming performance

Performance gains are especially noticeable on laptops using NVIDIA Optimus (MSHybrid), because with NVIDIA Optimus the iGPU (integrated graphics unit in the CPU) is responsible for screen output and receives the images from the dGPU through system memory in what’s called the “Optimus Copy Engine”. Dual channel memory boosts the performance of such a setup by providing more speed, bandwidth, and lower latency, thus avoiding the system memory becoming a bottleneck for gaming performance.

iGPU performance

Aside from NVIDIA Optimus, dual channel memory can also boost the iGPU’s own performance, because the iGPU uses system memory as video memory, and video memory is especially sensitive to speed, bandwidth, and latency. This is relevant for any scenario in which the iGPU is used for light gaming or content creation workloads.

DDR4 vs. DDR5

These advantages are true for both DDR4 and DDR5 system memory. Although a single DDR5 SO-DIMM module now has two memory channels whereas DDR4 only had one, those channels only have a bus width of 32-bit each, whereas DDR4’s single channel bus width was 64-bit. Thus, adding the second DDR5 module still boosts performance of memory-sensitive applications by increasing memory channel bandwidth and turning the system essentially into a “quad channel” configuration.

How to order dual channel memory on bestware

On bestware, XMG’s partnered shop platform, you can spot the dual channel configurations by looking out for the “2 x” in front of the memory capacity. This indicates that two memory modules are being used. The total combined capacity of those two modules is written in brackets. See this screenshot for reference:

Screenshot from a laptop configurator on bestware, showing the difference between single and dual channel configurations.

Price differences between dual and single channel configuration may vary with system memory prices. Usually they are at least around the same ballpark when comparing single and dual channel configurations with the same total capacity. In this example screenshot (dated January 2023), the dual channel configuration is even less expensive than the single channel configuration of the same total capacity.

How to check if my system already has dual channel memory

The fastest way to check if your system is using dual channel is to open the Task Manager (Ctrl+Shift+Esc) and check the Memory performance tab. In the bottom right corner, you see how many of your RAM slots are being used.

  • 1 of 2 = Single channel
  • 2 of 2 = Dual channel

Screenshots of Task Manager, showing 2 of 2 memory slots being occupied.

How to upgrade a system from single to dual channel memory

If you have initially configured your system with single channel memory, you can upgrade it to dual channel by adding a second RAM module of the same model number. This is done in two ways:

  • Read your current RAM module’s model number with software such as CPU-Z or HWiNFO64. Alternatively, you can also use the following command in Windows Command Prompt (cmd.exe): “wmic memorychip get devicelocator, partnumber”. Then find exactly the same module in any retail shop of your choice.
  • Contact our support team. We will be able to check our system to see which memory module was originally installed in your PC or laptop and we will make you an offer for a second module if we still have this particular model number in stock.

When upgrading from single to dual channel memory, it is important to really use two modules of the same model number. Different modules may have identical clock speed and latencies, but may have different sub-timings and a different “Rank x Org” configuration, leading to performance bottlenecks that will prevent you from gaining the full potential of your dual channel configuration. That’s why we strongly recommend to use two identical modules which have exactly the same model number.

For more information on how to upgrade RAM modules in your laptop, please see this FAQ article:

Cross compatibility

PCI Express versions have always been backward compatible by design. PCI Express 3.0 is also referred to as “Gen3”, 4.0 as “Gen4”. A Gen4 SSD can be used in a Gen3 slot and vice versa.

Performance comparison

When using a Gen4 SSD in a Gen3 slot, the maximum read/write rate of the Gen4 SSD will drop to the conditions of the Gen3 slot. Test runs with a 2 TB FireCuda 520 (a Gen4 SSD) inside 2019’s XMG FUSION 15 (laptop with Gen3 slot) resulted in the following, very good values:

CrystalDiskMark 6.0.0Read (MB/s)Write (MB/s)
Seq Q32T13127.52981.3
4KiB Q8T81661.31758.3
4KIB Q32T1397.8324.8
4KiB Q1T143.79114.7

Aside from the difference in bandwidth, there is no reason not to run a Gen4 SSD in a Gen3 slot – especially since you can move the SSD to a newer laptop at some point in the future to make full use of its bandwidth potential.

Where can I find Gen4 slots?

SSD ports with Gen4 are currently found in almost all XMG laptops with Intel Core 11th Gen. The connection of the respective ports can be found in the respective laptop data sheet and in our product overview table.

System Memory (SO-DIMM RAM)

For SO-DIMM memory (i.e. the kind that fits in laptops), there is generally no room for additional heatsinks. Since laptop memory also tends to run at lower voltages than their desktop counterparts, heatsinks aren’t necessary either.

SSD drives

Things look different for SSDs in the M.2 format. Since this format is now used for both laptops and desktops, there are many SSD products in the market that are already equipped with custom heat sinks. In laptops, the space for such SSD heat sinks is limited. Many XMG laptops already have their own SSD heatsinks integrated or they have a thermal pad, which thermally connects the typical SSD height either to the motherboard or to the bottom shell of the laptop.

For a rough overview of which laptop still has room for SSD heatsinks, please check out this thread on our Reddit support forum:

If your laptop doesn’t have room for the heatsink of your preferred, you might still be able to use it. With some of those SSDs, the heat sink can be removed or it is only included as an optional accessory anyway.

Yes.

The laptop power supply plugs we use are standardized. All current XMG laptops (except XMG ULTRA 17) use a barrel plug with 5.5mm outer diameter and 2.5mm inner diameter. This plug complies with the IEC 60130-10 industry standard, but the length of the plug differs depending on the model:

  • XMG CORE 14, FOCUS, APEX and PRO use a connector with 10mm length.
  • XMG CORE 15, CORE 17, FUSION and NEO use a plug with 12.5mm length.

A power adapter with a 12.5mm plug can be used on a laptop with a 10mm port without any problems. The reverse is not the case: a short 10mm plug can connect with a deep 12.5mm port, but it slips out again very quickly on its own. Therefore, caution is advised when buying replacement power adapters.

Overview

A complete overview of the power adapter formats (incl. links to replacement power adapters on bestware) can be found here:

The table contains two tabs with the two different plug lengths.

Power supply capacity and compatibility

XMG laptops require various power supply capacities – depending on how much computing power the laptop offers. XMG FOCUS for example only needs 150 watts, XMG NEO on the other hand doesn’t even start below 230 watts. The more power the power supply has, the bigger/heavier it is going to be.

However, due to the largely identical plug dimensions and output voltages, smaller power supplies are also generally compatible with the “big” laptops.

What happens if I overload an undersized power supply?

The laptop can detect if a power supply is connected, but it cannot detect how much power the power supply can provide. If you run a laptop with an undersized laptop at full load, the following happens:

  • Best Case: The power supply is overloaded and shuts itself down using OCP (over-current protection). The laptop switches to battery mode.
  • Worst case: The power supply overload leads to overheating at the power supply connection, which can damage it permanently (e.g. partially melt the plastic housing).

This worst case has already occurred occasionally in the past. To a lesser extent, overheating at the DC plug can also occur if a power supply connector is not seated correctly, e.g., if a 10mm DC connector is used in a 12.5mm socket.

Recommended action

If you want to use “smaller” power supplies, you will have to be careful: if possible, run the laptop in “power saving” or “balanced” mode and don’t put any load on the dedicated graphics card. A small idle load on the graphics card (e.g. when running an external monitor) is OK, but as soon as you start a 3D application on the dedicated graphics card, things will get dicey. Even supposedly frugal 3D applications (such as older games) can cause an overload depending on the power supply capacity if the 3D engine doesn’t have an upper limit regarding the maximum frame rate (FPS: frames per second). More information about FPS limits can be found in the FAQ category “Tips & Tricks”.

Calculation example

Let’s combine a 230W laptop with an undersized 90W power supply:

  • Assume a little over 50W for charging the battery
  • At least 10W idle consumption of the system
  • → You have less than 30W left for CPU computing load

This example is already a little bit simplified.

You have to divide the TDP of Intel CPUs by 0.8 due to losses of the voltage converters to calculate the actual energy consumption. Thus, with a CPU package power of e.g., 45W, you already have a CPU consumption of almost 57 watts at the DC jack.

If you accidentally keep the dGPU active (e.g., through a monitoring program or an external monitor), the system’s idle consumption is already over 30W. This doesn’t leave much left for battery charging and consumption peaks.

Conclusion

Operation with a small/light power supply is possible, but overloading must be prevented by the user. Extreme undersizing as in the above example should be avoided. Hardware damage (damaged power socket on the laptop) caused by overloading an undersized power supply is not covered by the warranty.

This is usually not neccessary.

XMG laptops are always delivered with a sufficiently powered AC adapter. The adapter is matched to the laptop’s performance potential – in other words, it supplies enough energy to fully, simultaneously and permanently realize the performance potential of all components (especially CPU and GPU) within the capacity of the laptop’s cooling system.

The limiting factor here is actually the respective cooling system. All the energy that is fed into the laptop via the power adapter must be dissipated again by the cooling system. The choice of the power adapter that is bundled with each laptop is therefore also linked to the potential of the cooling system installed.

High consumption at the power outlet? Input power is not the same as output power!

If you measure the energy consumption of your laptop with an energy meter (see examples), you may notice that the energy consumption under full load is already close to or even above the adapter’s rated power. However, it is important to remember:

  • The adapter’s power rating refers to the permanently guaranteed (24 hours, non-stop) power output, i.e. the energy that arrives at the laptop.
  • The measuring device, however, measures the power input, i.e. the energy that goes from the wall socket into the power adapter.

During voltage conversion in the power adapter, power loss occurs, which manifests itself in the form of heat emissions on the power adapter itself. This conversion loss must be subtracted from the measured input power before the actual output power can be estimated.

With a regulated efficiency of at least 88%, the power loss is approx. 12%. A power adapter with an official 230 watts power rating can therefore consume 257 watts permanently (24 hours, non-stop) at the socket without operating outside its specifications.

For shorter periods of time, even more is possible.

So-called “peak” and “surge” loads are time periods in which the adapter’s power output is allowed to be above the official rating while still being within its own specifications. For example, many common high-performance AC adapters for gaming laptops are able to permanently exceed their nominal power by 10% for up to 9 minutes (surge) without being outside their operational parameters.

Thus, even a temporary measurement of 283 watts at the wall socket is still within the specifications of a 230-watt power supply. In the seconds and milliseconds range, the power peaks are allowed to be even higher. All this is defined in the manufacturer’s extended datasheet of the adapter. These documents are usually not publicly accessible.

When operating with XMG OASIS water cooling, an upgrade can still make sense.

(Users who do not own and do not plan to own XMG OASIS do not need to read any further from here on.)

As already described above, the cooling system of a laptop is the limiting factor. This factor was raised with the introduction of the XMG OASIS water cooling solution for XMG CORE and XMG NEO (from 2022). The following criteria were taken into account when selecting the bundles power adapters for these laptops:

  • The adapter should provide sufficient power to cover the performance potential of the laptop’s air cooling. This applies to all XMG laptops.
  • The power adapter should also have enough leeway to take into account the increased performance potential due to the connection of the XMG OASIS.
  • However, the power adapter should not be so large and heavy that the mobile use of the laptop is restricted too much.

Under these circumstances, the power adapter bundled with XMG OASIS-supporting laptops represent the middle ground between performance potential, price and weight. In addition, the maximum performance potential of a laptop is only used relatively rarely or by a small group of customers, namely only when the CPU and GPU are used to 100% capacity at the same time. This is practically never the case in gaming, but at most in very specialised content creation applications, the simultaneous combination of software and hardware rendering or in special machine learning processes. As a rule, however, even these professional applications are either CPU- or GPU-limited instead of maxing out both.

In addition to the laptop’s performance potential, there are of course peripheral demands such as fast battery charging and powering connected peripherals. For example, a battery can be charged from 0 to 50% with up to 60 watts. A USB-C port can deliver up to 15 watts of power.

These considerations combined with full simultaneous CPU and GPU load using XMG OASIS can make upgrading the power supply for stationary use worthwhile, even if the actual performance increase (e.g. increase in benchmark score) is relatively small.

Power supply upgrade requires an update of the system configuration in firmware.

As described in the previous section, a power supply upgrade can be useful for users of the XMG OASIS water cooling system. In order to enable the performance increase, the system must be “informed” that a larger power adapter is now connected.

The laptop is not able to recognise by itself which power adapter is connected. In other words, the power adapter is “dumb” – it has no data connection, but only supplies power. In order to “tell” the system which power supply is connected, we have to manually set certain flags in the firmware. This is done by means of a special program which is available in the respective laptop’s download portal. The program is called “ECSVTool”. The name is made up of these components:

  • “EC” for “Embedded Controller
  • SV” for “Service” (here in the sense of “maintenance”)
  • “Tool” for “tool

The upgrade goes something like this:

  • The user decides to buy a larger AC adapter, e.g. an upgrade from 280 to 330 watts.
  • The user connects the new power adapter to the laptop.
  • The user selects their laptop in the download portal and downloads the package with the ECSVTool.
  • The user selects their combination of CPU, graphics card and power adapter within the package and runs the corresponding tool.
  • The tool writes the corresponding values (performance profiles, power limits, etc.) into the firmware and then shuts down the system.
  • The user starts up the system again manually. The process is now complete.

These configuration flags are NOT overwritten by EC/BIOS updates. Instead, the tool must be run each time the power supply is upgraded or downgraded.

What if I run the wrong tool?

Running the wrong tool will not brick your system. However it may have adverse effects on performance profiles, RGB lights and other functions in the Control Center.

Can I increase my graphics performance if I choose the tool for a higher GPU?

No, the graphics performance will NOT increase if you run the tool for the next higher graphics card. On the contrary, running the tool with the wrong firmware flags may have negative effects on system performance and stability due to the mismatched power profiles. Such operation is not recommended and is NOT covered by the warranty.

What if I upgrade the power limits in firmware, but keep using the original adapter?

Upgrading the AC adapter limits in firmware without actually upgrading the AC adapter can be problematic. If you overload your actually connected AC adapter, the adapter may overheat or shutdown. This can be somewhat mitigated by lowering the CPU power limits in Control Center, by disabling NVIDIA Dynamic Boost or by simply avoiding high-load situations. However, the best course of action is to make sure that the power limits in firmware (set with this tool) match the AC adapter that is connected to the system.

To learn more about this topic, please follow the link to this FAQ article::

There is currently no model in the XMG portfolio whose battery can be charged via USB-C. However, there are a number of Thin & Light models with this feature in the portfolio of SCHENKER and TUXEDO:

SCHENKER VISION 14, 16 and 16 Pro are particularly noteworthy in this list. These can be equipped with a dedicated graphics card and still support charging via USB-C. Since USB-C power supplies are limited to 100 watts output power, the performance of the graphics card is severely limited under USB-C, while the CPU performance is at an acceptable level. For full performance, we recommend using the original power supply.

Recommended USB-C chargers for XMG and SCHENKER laptops

The following table provides a comprehensive list of which USB-C power supplies are supported and recommended with which laptop:

The left part of the table first lists those laptop models from XMG and SCHENKER that support USB-C Power Delivery. The middle part shows how high the line requirement of the respective laptops is in relation to USB-C power supplies. The right part then contains a list of possible USB-C power adapters with a note on whether this power supply is recommended for the respective laptop or not.

The list is constantly being updated. The date of the last update is at the bottom left, after the footnotes and FAQ references.

The table is based on internal tests and community feedback. In the following forum threads you can write us whether you have had positive or negative experiences with certain laptop/power supply combinations:

We appreciate your feedback in these threads.

Limited performance with NVIDIA graphics card

For laptops with NVIDIA graphics card, even when using a recommended USB-C power supply, the performance of the NVIDIA graphics card will be severely limited because the power requirements of an overall system with NVIDIA graphics card exceed the 100 Watt limit defined in Power Delivery 2.0. The technical background to this is explained in the following FAQ article: What are the restrictions on the performance of laptops in conjunction with USB-C power supplies? (English translation coming soon.)

Introduction

Some XMG and SCHENKER laptops can be powered via USB-C or Thunderbolt. This has the advantage that, especially when travelling, it is sufficient to carry a single USB-C charger to charge all electronics (e.g. mobile phone, camera, notebook). However, since the components in high-performance laptops in particular have naturally high energy requirements, charging such devices via USB-C is accompanied with certain performance limitations. In this article, we explain these limitations and their underlying causes in detail.

Basic requirements

Charging a laptop via USB-C requires chargers with an output voltage of 20 volts. Chargers from smaller devices such as older mobile phones can not be used as those usually only supply an output voltage of 5 volts.

However, the reverse is true: high-end USB-C chargers with implementation of the Power Delivery (PD) protocol not only support 20 V (volts), but also lower output voltages such as 5 V. Thus, those universal chargers that support 20 V, are also able to charge all kinds of other devices, from laptops, to tablets to smaller devices.

In addition to the required voltage, charging the battery also requires a certain amount of amperage and power. The minimum requirements for our laptop models can be found in the spec sheet of each laptop. As a rule of thumb at least 65 watts (20 volts at 3.25 amps) are required. This is because the charging speed of the battery charging electronics is optimised for a certain power potential. Slow charging using a smaller power supply unit with, for example, 40 watts (20 volts at 2 amps) is then sometimes only possible with a switched-off laptop.

Recommended USB-C power supplies for XMG and SCHENKER laptops

The following table provides a comprehensive list of which USB-C power supplies are supported and recommended with which laptop:

The left part of the table first lists those laptop models from XMG and SCHENKER that support USB-C Power Delivery. The middle part shows how high the power requirement of the respective laptops is in relation to USB-C chargers. The right part then contains a list of possible USB-C chargers with a note as to which charger is recommended with which laptop.

Laptops with dedicated NVIDIA graphics cards have a special caveat: even when using a one of the recommended USB-C chargers, the performance of the NVIDIA graphics card will severely limited, as the power requirement of an overall system with NVIDIA graphics card exceeds the limit of 100 watts defined in Power Delivery 2.0. This FAQ article will explain this in more detail.

The list is constantly being updated. The date of the last update is at the bottom left, after the footnotes and FAQ references.

The table is based on internal tests and community feedback. In the following forum threads you can write us whether you have had positive or negative experiences with certain laptop/power supply combinations:

We look forward to receiving your feedback in these threads.

Are traditional chargers proprietary?

Before we continue with the article on USB-C, we would like to clear up this occasionally brought up misconception. It is sometimes brought up that conventional power supply plugs are “proprietary”. However: the chargers of almost all current XMG and SCHENKER use a barrel plug with 5.5mm outer diameter and 2.5mm inner diameter. This plug complies with the IEC 60130-10 industry standard. These chargers are compatible with each other and with the laptops of many other brands. A complete overview of the power adapter formats (incl. links to replacement power adapters on bestware) can be found here:

Thanks to this standard, it is indeed possible to buy a “smaller” charger for mobile usage without having to rely on USB-C. However, with these traditional chargers, the laptop does not “know” which charger is connected or what amount of power the charger can offer. Therefor, the user has to ensure that they do not overload the “smaller” charger. Details on this can be found in this FAQ article:

Technical differences between USB-C and traditional chargers with nominally identical power output

Let’s take a laptop that comes with a conventional 90-watt barrel plug charger and let’s presume that this charger enables operating the laptop at maximum performance (within the limits of the cooling system). Unfortunately the reverse is not true: the same system performance may not be available with a USB-C charger spec’ed with the same 90 watts. There are two main reasons for this discrepancy.

1. The chargers ability (or lack thereof) to provide amounts of power above the nominal wattage

There are different tolerance values between various chargers for the so-called “surge” and “peak” states of charge or the maximum value at which the overcurrent protection (OCP) takes effect – i.e. the maximum current that the power supply can deliver before it switches off for safety reasons. These values indicate the so-called “headroom” of a power supply, which corresponds to the extended margin above the advertised wattage. This differing “headroom” is part of the design specification of each charger and dictates the charger’s electrical capabilities.

In this respect, traditional laptop chargers with a plug that specifically matches the respective laptop model are generally much more flexible and generous compared to Power Delivery (PD) USB-C chargers. One of the reasons for this is that the Power Delivery standard does not explicitly prescribe such headroom limits. Consequently, since the USB-C manufacturers are not obliged to grant additional leeway, they usually refrain from volunteering it. Such leeway would also increase production costs, size and weight of those USB-C chargers.

2. Efficiency of power conversion on the laptop side

The electrical processing on the laptop side for USB-C is significantly more complex than the processing of a traditional plug. The USB-C port must be able to offer USB data, video signals (DisplayPort) and usually also Thunderbolt data (PCI Express) and should be able to both supply peripherals with power and, conversely, supply the laptop. The electronics required for this concert of features are complex, which is associated with certain conversion losses. In addition, for laptops that have a traditional charging port in addition to USB-C Power Delivery, the various power sources must be combined within the laptop, requiring the internal charging circuits to bridge certain distances (e.g. from the USB-C port on the left side of the laptop to the power port on the right side), which also leads to efficiency losses. In addition, the various manufacturers of microelectronics (micro-controllers, voltage regulators) implement the USB-PD standard differently, which can lead to incompatibilities between hosts (laptop) and clients (chargers). Fluctuations in the output voltage of the USB-C charger (e.g. if the charger does not quite reach the 20 V target voltage or overshoots it) can also cause this complex fabric to falter.

A traditional power supply connection does not have these problems and therefore operates with a higher efficiency, larger tolerances and is overall practically completely free of crosstalk, stability and reliability problems.

Why do USB-C chargers not offer the same headroom capability as traditional adapters?

The design of USB-C chargers is in some ways more complex than a traditional laptop power adapter, so they are already relatively more expensive. USB-C protocol compliance requires additional communication circuitry and the power supply electronics must be able to provide multiple output voltages (5, 9, 12, 15, 18 and 20 volts) in one single adapter, whereas a traditional charger only needs to provide a single output voltage (set between 19 and 20 volts). In addition, the USB-C Power Delivery standard was originally developed primarily for charging batteries – which have a fairly stable demand curve. Requirements for supplying high-performance laptops, whose CPUs and GPUs sometimes demand quite extraordinary load peaks, have not been put into consideration when the standard was developed.

For these reasons, there is no desire by manufacturers to plan for the additional “headroom” that goes beyond the advertised standard nominal power. As a result, each manufacturer of USB-C power supplies can define the surge and OCP limits that exceed the nominal power differently. In the case of particularly small and lightweight power supply units, it can be assumed that this ability to over-supply is quite tight or even non-existent. A worst case example of what can happen due to these tight design limitations is shown in this older article:

To summarize:

  • USB-C chargers have universal adaptability but were primarily developed for charging batteries. They only adhere to the minimum requirements of the hardware they are designed to charge.
  • Conventional adapters do not follow a universal approach, but are instead highly specialised, tailored to the device they are shipped with and capable of delivering unconditionally far beyond the minimum requirements, without having to take software protocols or other communication electronics into account.
Case study: Comparison of a 100-Watt USB-C power supply with a conventional 90-Watt power supply

The following table compares the capabilities of a conventional 90-Watt laptop power adapter with a popular 100-Watt USB-C charger with fixed cable. In addition to the basic specs such as nominal output power, this overview also compares more in-depth specifications, including the aforementioned peak and surge output power as well as the threshold value at which the overcurrent protection (OCP) kicks in.

Such detailed specifications for laptop and USB-C power adapters are usually not publicly available, but they play an important role for system stability under high, fluctuating loads.

Because we received the detailed specifications of this example USB-C charger confidentially, we refrain from naming the model here. Nevertheless, we can assure you that it is a top product from a well-known manufacturer that is neither particularly small nor cheap. Thus, it is reasonable to assume that 100 Watt chargers from other brands have either similar specs or in the case of only 90 Watt chargers (or particularly small chager), the “headroom” thresholds must be quite a bit lower.

Comparison table with detailed specs of 90W traditional adapter vs. 100W USB-C charger

According to the spec sheet, the conventional 90-watt power adapter from Chicony can deliver 99 watts of power permanently, i.e. even in 24-hour operation. More important in this context, however, is that the power supply is guaranteed to cope with load peaks of up to 117 watts for a period of up to 96 milliseconds.

In comparison, while the 100-watt USB-C charger is also able to provide 100 watts in 24-hour continuous operation, the surge and OCP values are significantly lower than those of the conventional 90-watts Chicony charger.

  • Surge: the 100-watts USB-C charger has 15 percent lower surge capacity than the conventional 90-watts adapter.
  • OCP: the USB-C charger’s capacity is 20% below that of the conventional adapter

As mentioned earlier, it can be reasonably assumed that those tolerance values are even lower for particularly small and light USB-C chargers.

What do the surge and OCP values mean in concrete terms?

Surge power is usually defined for up to 96 milliseconds, i.e. a mere tenth of a second. But this is quite a long period of time in the context of semiconductors: for example, a GPU with a core clock of 1.5 gigahertz is able to run through 144 million clock cycles in such a short time. Depending on the manufacturer’s specifications, there may also be even smaller time frames in which even higher power levels can be delivered, above the 96ms surge power limit.

Finally, the overcurrent protection describes the maximum amount of current that can flow through the power supply before it immediately switches off for safety reasons due to overload. In the case of the conventional Chicony power adapter, the protection circuit kicks in when a current of 7.86 amps is exceeded – multiplied by the output voltage of the power supply (19 volts), this results in a total output limit of just a little over 149 watts. Thus, according to the official specifications, the adapter is able to provide over 65 percent more power than the nominal 90-watts value.

In contrast, the overcurrent protection of the USB-C charger already kicks in at 120 watts and switches the power supply off. Its specified maximum is only 20 per cent above the nominal 100-watts value.

Validation and safety of the overall system: laptop and power supply in harmony

The fact that 3rd party manufacturers of laptop adapters usually do not disclose such detailed data presents laptop manufacturers with the challenge of designing the performance profiles in relation to USB-C power delivery in such a way that it is not simply based on wishful thinking. To avoid any accidents or instabilities, the laptop’s nominal power must be throttled so that the unavoidable power peaks are again within the expected USB-C power supply specifications.

Smooth operation of the laptop and USB-C power supply combination under all circumstances is only possible if both manufacturers validate the function together – not just on a single sample, but on a large quantity of devices in different configurations and taking into account a wide range of load conditions and situations.

1. High load peaks caused by high-performance components are unavoidable

The surge and peak load peaks described in the previous paragraph are quite commonplace when running high-performance components. They occur, for example, during the initialisation of system states and during rapid changes between different load patterns. This applies both individually to processors and graphics cards from AMD, Intel and NVIDIA, for example, as well as to the interaction between them.

A graphics card such as the NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3050 Ti may be specified with a TGP of 35 watts (depending on the laptop model) and equipped with a Dynamic Boost 2.0 of an additional 15 watts, which add up to a maximum GPU power of 50 watts.

However, the load peaks in the millisecond range are far above this nominal value. A laptop manufacturer has no direct influence on this kind of power behaviour. We can choose which TGP levels we want to support with the mainboard or cooling system. But the load peaks of a component or a board layout that exceed the TGP result from the fixed specifications of the chip manufacturers and are controlled by the proprietary VBIOS and graphics driver.

Such peaks in power consumption cannot be read out with conventional software and are not documented in publicly accessible data sheets. However, special measuring hardware can reveal them reliably. For desktop PCs, for example, you would measure directly at the PCI Express slot and on the 12-Volt rail of the GPU’s power conection. Laptop manufacturers then take the specific behaviour of the components into account when designing board layouts and when consigning a power adapter to the laptop.

This article on Igor’s Lab offers a detailed insight into the actual power consumption of modern graphics cards:

As an example from the article, we can look at the NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3070: The graphics card consumes 320 watts on average, but draws up to 577 watts for about 20 milliseconds during a load peak – a value that exceeds the nominal power by about 80 percent for a short time. Similar behaviour can also be observed in laptop GPUs, albeit to a slightly lesser extent.

2. Load balancing and interaction of CPU and GPU

If the possible load peaks exceed the maximum that a power supply unit can deliver, the corresponding component must be throttled to avoid overloading the power supply. However, computer systems basically consist of a large number of components that also consume power. In addition to the CPU and the GPU with their expected load peaks, a display, the recharging of the battery and the power requirements of SSDs, RAM and connected peripheral devices must also be taken into account. Thus, the following applies: The overall system must be configured in such a way that even with simultaneous load of all components, the safe function of the power supply unit is guaranteed.

Now it would be desirable to throttle the power of certain components, such as the GPU, only when other consumers join in: If, for example, the CPU is only utilised to a small extent, this would leave room to supply the graphics card with correspondingly more energy from the total available budget and only take the extra power away from it again when the processor, for its part, requires more performance and energy.

To some extent, such load balancing already takes place in the context of maintaining thermal limits with a given cooling system. However, due to the mass of heat-soaking material (copper, heat pipes, heat sinks), the temperatures of the components react with a great deal of inertia, so that load peaks or a sudden, heavy load will not catch the system by too much surprise. This is also ensured by safety mechanisms implemented in the chips themselves, which can granularly reduce their own power draw before reaching certain temperatures targets.

However, when it comes to protecting the power supply from overload, the situation is different. The load peaks of dedicated graphics cards occur so abruptly and without warning, that the system has no time to react quickly enough if it wanted to reduce the system’s total power load to avoid tripping the power source’s OCP limits. A typical example:

  • The laptop charges the battery while at the same time the CPU is heavily loaded, for example when starting a 3D game.
  • Due to CPU load (including turbo boost) and simultaneous recharging of the battery, the power supply unit is already close to the limit of the power supply unit’s output power.
  • For a fraction of a second – for example, when starting the 3D engine of the game – there is an additional load peak on the graphics card.
  • If the power supply unit is not sufficiently dimensioned in this scenario, it will at best switch off.
  • If, on the other hand, it does not have well-functioning overcurrent protection, there is a risk of overheating and the resulting damage to the power supply.
  • As an alternative to switching off the power supply, the system stability or the charging process of the battery could also be impaired or the laptop could switch itself off as a result of an interrupted power supply.

To avoid such situations, given the limited peak power of USB-C chargers, laptops will generally have to throttle at least one component in the system.

3. Using the battery as power peak buffer is not a solution

A battery as an additional buffer for the power supply during short-term power peaks is not a sustainable solution for several reasons:

  • Micro-cycles, i.e. the short-term change between charging and discharging states, should always be avoided with lithium-ion batteries because of the reduction in service life.
  • When using the battery as a buffer, such high power peaks would occur in extreme cases that they would exceed the maximum discharge rate of the battery and thus impair the system stability and (again) reduce its service life.
4. Granularity (or lack thereof) of power throttling mechanisms

Throttling the power and energy consumption of a component is based on mechanisms of the individual chip manufacturers. NVIDIA graphics cards use the so-called “P-states” for this purpose, which designate different power states of the graphics card. However, these are not particularly differentiated and are mostly grouped into a state of full power and various states of greatly reduced (emergency) power without finely tuned intermediate stages.

By programming the “embedded controller” (EC), system manufacturers also have a way of regulating the power supply at a level below the CPU and graphics card. But here, too, the influence is limited and allows only rudimentary control with fixed limits depending on the model – for example, by cutting power supply in half (reducing by 50%) as the first step and then cutting it again and again for each step of throttling. This option is used to varying degrees both for battery operation and for power supply via a USB-C power supply unit.

Since laptops already come with curated and appropriately dimensioned power adapters out of the box, programming the embedded controller for additional power supply scenarios with user-defined switching (for example, via the BIOS or the Control Centre) represents a disproportionately high development and validation effort – because this would require different power supply units and, depending on this, different prioritisations of CPU, GPU and battery charging to be taken into account. Moreover, due to the hardware-related programming language and possible interactions, each adaptation is accompanied by additional, undesired interactions that, without comprehensive verification of each change, at best only have a negative impact on system stability, but in the worst case affect the longevity of the system. In addition, the additional programming code requires memory space, which is quite limited in the firmware and related micro-controllers.

Ultimately, the principle of “keep it simple” applies to the programming of power circuits, in order to avoid, under all circumstances, any errors and initially hidden, but in the medium term possibly critical consequences.

5. Prioritising the CPU over the GPU

Since the CPU plays the more important role for the system’s usability, it is prioritised over the GPU in situations of limited power supply. This explains, for example, why a laptop powered by a 90-watt USB-C charger may be able to max out the CPU at up to 60 watts, but slows down the graphics card to just 10 watts. Since the dedicated GPU is deactivated in most non-gaming scenarios anyway (no power consumption), the limitation does not affect the system performance in everyday mobile work.

In situations in which the graphics card is required for gaming or GPU rendering (CUDA, OpenCL), the laptop should be powered by the original or an equivalent charger, instead of being powered over USB-C – this may be the only way to access the full system performance.

Integrated graphics unit (iGPU) as an alternative to the dedicated graphics card (dGPU)

When using a possibly limited USB-C charger or when running on battery, it usually yields a better experience to just run software on iGPU instead of dGPU. The iGPU is significantly more efficient than the dGPU and offers enough performance for moderately demanding games and applications. Due to the deep integration into the CPU package, integrated graphics units are also designed to avoid excessive power peaks – the CPU package is independently able to distribute the required power between the CPU and iGPU cores as needed.

Unfortunately, Windows 10 and 11 are not able to automatically detect if a limited power source is connected to the system, so it cannot automatically draw the right conclusions from this.

So far, Microsoft’s operating systems are not able to distinguish between a USB-C and a conventional charger. Windows does recognise when the system is running on battery power, but does not offer the option of automatically running all GPU-heavy applications on the iGPU (instead of on the dGPU) in this case.

This can be adjusted by manual settings – we have compiled further information on this in the following FAQ article:

Simultaneous use of docking station, monitor and laptop charger

Many USB-C and Thunderbolt docking stations and even some USB-C monitors are capable of supplying the laptop with power. Even if these peripherals are sufficiently dimensioned nominally, they may, however, be subject to those peak power limitations, which have been explained in detail with regards to separate USB-C chargers.

However, docking stations and monitors can be used in parallel with the laptop’s own traditional charger without any problems: As soon as the laptop’s mainboard detects that the conventional charger is connected, it automatically sets the power input to this primary source and will thus allow all components to run at their maximum performance. Consequently, delivering power via USB-C is always optional: a docking station connected via this port does not force the laptop to preferentially draw power from it. The laptop retains complete control over whether and how much power it allows to be drawn via USB-C.

What happens if a USB-C power supply can deliver more energy than a laptop needs?

In this case, too, the laptop controls how much energy it will draw from USB-C.

Thus, it is harmless to connect a power supply that exceeds the maximum requirements of the notebook – regardless of whether it is a separate USB-C charger, a docking station or a monitor with a USB-C cable. Incidentally, the same also applies to conventional chargers with laptop-specific plugs.

So, for example, if a small laptop only requires a 65-watt power source, a docking station with 100 watts nominal power can still be used without any problems, because the laptop will determine how much energy it wishes to consume from that source.

Exceptions: The previously linked extreme example from 2016 shows that in the past there were USB-C chargers and associated cables that did not correctly implement the power delivery standard and thus “sent” too much power to the laptop – a mishap that, at least theoretically, could still cause trouble today. In everyday practice, however, such problems are highly unlikely and have not occurred for a long time. This is because the manufacturers of charging peripherals have meanwhile also learned to properly implement the Power Delivery protocol in accordance with the electronic requirements of the standard. Nevertheless, before buying a 3rd party charger, we recommend taking a look at the manufacturer’s spec sheet and searching for independent tests of the model in question.

Underspec’ed USB-C cables will bottleneck power draw

USB-C chargers that do not come with their own cable have the risk of the end user purchasing an unsuitable cable from a third party or using an existing cable that is not able to forward the power offered by the charger.

The minimum specification of USB-C cables for Power Delivery is 3 amps (3 A). This specification is met by most UBS-C cables.

However, at a voltage of 20 volts, 3 amps only achieves 60 watts. This upper limit is not enough for most laptops – the devices will then either refuse to cooperate with the USB-C charger or they will switch to a particularly power-saving, throttled mode and only concentrate on charging the battery.

For operation of up to 100 watts, you need at least a USB-C cable that is rated at 5 amps. Such cables are usually advertised with the “5A” suffix. Example:

Cables with “USB-IF” certification and the so-called “E-Marker” or “E-Mark” will be even more suitable. A background article on this can be found here:

USB-C cables with „E-Marker“ can be found here:

USB-C chargers with fixed cable

A reliable option is to buy USB-C chargers that already come with a built-in USB-C cable. This ensures that the cable is really suitable for transmitting power to the laptop and works correctly with the charger.

Typical USB-C and Thunderbolt cables use different wire pairs for data and power. Cables that are built into a charger have it a little easier, as they only integrate lines for power transmission and are thus optimised specifically for this purpose. This is reflected, among other things, in higher transmission efficiency and cable length. The effect of validation should also not be neglected: in the case of a power supply unit with a permanently installed cable, both components are tested for smooth operation – this security does not exist when a power supply unit and cable are purchased separately from different manufacturers, even if they all claim to follow the same PD, 5A and E-Marker standards.

The following list gives some examples of USB-C power supplies with a fixed cable:

Note: This list does not express a guarantee that each charger on that list will work perfectly with any and all XMG and SCHENKER laptops.

Recommended USB-C power supplies for laptops from XMG and SCHENKER

At this point, we would like to once again refer to our recommendation table:

This table was already mentioned earlier in the article. The list is constantly being expanded and is also based on community feedback. In the following forum threads you can write us whether you have had positive or negative experiences with certain laptop/charger combinations:

We look forward to receiving your feedback in one of these threads.

Summary

This article paints a comprehensive picture of,

  • why USB-C chargers are not necessarily equivalent to conventional power adapters,
  • why system stability, safety and battery longevity are such highly-valued goods,
  • why CPU performance is given priority over GPU performance in situations of limited power,
  • and what alternative courses of action result from this.

We ask for your understanding that the marketing promise “one port to rule them all” transported in connection with USB-C may sometimes be restrainted by certain technical limitations. Regardless of these considerations, we always strive to provide the highest possible level of system performance under the given conditions, regardless of the power supply.

Your feedback

Finally, we thank you for your patience while reading this article. If you have any further questions regarding the content, please do not hesitate to contact us via our contact options, via the community and in the above-mentioned collective threads. We look forward to your feedback!

Basically, all XMG laptops are compatible with hardware virtualization.

  • XMG laptops with Intel CPU support VT-x and VT-d
  • XMG laptops with AMD CPU support AMD-V and AMD-Vi

The hardware virtualization functions are already enabled in the BIOS by default and are thus available to the operating system. If required (e.g. for debugging/troubleshooting), they can also be deactivated again in the BIOS.

Unfortunately, both the XMG DJ 15 and the XMG PRO 15 Audio are sold out. Normally, there would be no need for any placeholder text like this one, as we would have successors ready for release – however, this time it’s not entirely up to us.

The introduction of Modern Standby and related changes to power management architecture on laptops are making it impossible for us – and as a matter of fact, for every other manufacturer – to release a laptop and genuinely call it “audio-optimized” at this point. This is in no way related to Windows 11 itself, which the new machines will be running – it’s due to changes on hardware level that need to be adapted to step by step.

Currently, it is not foreseeable when we will be able to offer Modern Standby laptops optimised for the professional audio sector.

We use this designation when we can still offer a pre-installation of Windows 10 for a system, but no longer receive official support for this from the associated chip suppliers and technology partners. In such cases, official support from suppliers and partners is limited to Windows 11.

Current examples:

ModelLimitations under Windows 10

XMG NEO (M22)

XMG CORE (M22)

with AMD Ryzen 6000

According to our information, AMD no longer offers official Windows 10 support for AMD Ryzen 6000 mobile CPUs. Nevertheless, AMD’s current chipset drivers can be installed flawlessly so far. It cannot be guaranteed that this will still be the case for future driver updates.

The app “Sound Blaster Cinema 6 Plus” is also no longer supported under Windows 10. Nevertheless, the laptop’s audio drivers work flawlessly. The device’s speakers have a good sound and a high maximum volume even without this app.

In principle, it cannot be ruled out that other chip suppliers whose drivers are used in this model will also discontinue their support for Windows 10 in the near or distant future.

Regardless of these restrictions, there is still the possibility for a stable and secure operation of Windows 10 on XMG NEO (M22) at the moment.

Last Update: 1. September 2022

For such models, we provide the following information:

  • We consider the current support level to be sufficient to ensure safe and stable operation of Windows 10 at the time of delivery.
  • We leave it up to customers to decide whether they want to accept the minor limitations of Windows 10 at the time of delivery. (Customers who still prefer Windows 10 over Windows 11 for any reasons will be able to decide this on their own).
  • We cannot guarantee that future software, driver or Windows updates will still be compatible with the device.
  • In the event that Windows 10 operation with future software, driver, or Windows updates can no longer be recommended, customers will be able to upgrade to Windows 11 on their own or with our assistance. The existing Windows license key can be retained. Instructions can be found here: How to do a clean Windows reinstallation
  • There is no risk of hardware warranty loss due to the operation of Windows 10.
  • If, as part of a warranty complaint, it turns out that a complained problem only occurs under Windows 10, but not under Windows 11, an upgrade to or a new installation of Windows 11 will be offered as part of the warranty fulfillment.

We ask for your understanding that the support from chip suppliers and technology partners for Windows 10 is gradually being phased out. Instead of categorically rejecting the operation of Windows 10, we aim to strike a pragmatic middle ground between support and non-support with this fact-based and transparent communication.

Windows 10 will still receive security updates until October 14, 2025 (source). After that, Windows 10 operation can no longer be recommended. An upgrade to or a new installation of Windows 11 is recommended from October 2025 at the latest.

We ask for your understanding that the support of chip suppliers and technology partners for Windows 10 is gradually being phased out. For some current models, we only offer limited support. Information on this can be found in the previous FAQ article:

However, the following model generations no longer receive any Windows 10 support from us:

  • XMG FOCUS (M22)
  • XMG NEO (E22)
  • XMG PRO (E22)
  • SCHENKER VISION (E22)
  • SCHENKER WORK (E22)

This list includes all models with the 12th generation of Intel Core. In our current portfolio, this includes the following CPUs:

  • Intel Core i5-1240P
  • Intel Core i7-1260P
  • Intel Core i7-12700H
  • Intel Core i9-12900H
E- und P-Cores in Intel Core 12th Gen

The 12th generation of Intel Core differs from previous generations in that it now has two different types of CPU cores for the first time:

  • Performance cores (P-Cores): trimmed for high performance
  • Efficiency-Core (E-Cores): trimmed for high efficiency, i.e. low energy consumption

This combination of different CPU cores is also called the “Big.LITTLE” concept. This hybrid design was first introduced by ARM in 2012. In the meantime, this principle is also being used by Apple and since 2021 for the first time also by Intel.

Hybrid design must be supported by the operating system

The interaction of these CPU cores is ensured by the new “Intel Thread Director”: this technology distributes the computing tasks (i.e. the running programs and processes) between E- and P-cores in such a way that less urgent background tasks are executed on E-cores and computationally intensive tasks on P-cores. A background article can be found here:

The “Intel Thread Director” requires combined interaction of hardware and operating system.

  • Microsoft has introduced support from Windows 11 onwards. To our knowledge, backported support under Windows 10 is not planned.
  • On Linux, basic support has been provided since Linux kernel 5.18. See also: Which XMG laptops are Linux compatible?
What happens if I use Windows 10?

If you use these hybrid CPU models with Windows 10, then you sacrifice the intelligent load distribution between the different CPU cores. Tasks are then assigned to the cores relatively arbitrarily, as Windows 10 cannot distinguish between E- and P-cores. This inevitably has a negative impact on battery life and performance:

  • When single-threaded tasks are arbitrarily assigned to an e-core, performance will suffer. The E-cores offer less performance than the P-cores.
  • When less urgent background tasks run arbitrarily on P-cores, battery life will suffer. The P-cores have a slightly higher energy consumption compared to E-Cores.   

Single-thread-focused scenarios include gaming as well as many content creation workloads. Although a lot of software today is optimized for the simultaneous utilization of multiple cores, there is usually one thread (the “main” thread), which has a particularly high load. If this is then arbitrarily assigned to an E-core, the performance is bottlenecked. This may also have a negative effect on the performance of the other, related threads.

Workloads that are distributed evenly across all threads/cores include, for example, software video encoding (H.264, HEVC, etc.) and CPU-based rendering (Blender, Cinebench, etc.). In these special cases, the arbitrary distribution between E- and P-cores has no negative effect. But in all other operations, which are rather limited by single-thread performance, the performance loss due to Windows 10 is quite clear.

Can I bypass the E-cores?

On some models, it is possible to disable the E-cores via BIOS setup. This can prevent negative performance effects for single-threaded applications, but at the same time you would also sacrifice a large amount of multi-core performance, because, with the E-cores being disabled, there are fewer cores available overall. The negative effect on battery life is also still present, because then really all tasks are executed on P-Cores.

For the desktop segment of Intel Core 12th Gen, Intel offers some desktop CPUs that have only P-Cores included. In the mobile segment, however, this is not the case: all mobile processors of the Intel Core 12th Gen are hybrid designs with of E- and P-cores and therefore require the “Intel Thread Director” in Windows 11.

Recommended action

Due to the unalterable technical circumstances, we do not conduct internal tests of Windows 10 on those 12th Gen systems. We can therefore not say whether there are any other drivers (e.g. audio or other peripherals) that do not run properly under Windows 10.

In addition, Intel does not offer official Windows 10 chipset driver support for 12th Gen. Current chipset drivers can still be installed. But it cannot be ruled out that the support will be completely discontinued at some point in the future.

We therefore recommend running Windows 11 on laptops with Intel Core 12th Gen.

Can I still install Windows 10 myself?

For customers who want to manually install Windows 10 on these models, we provide the following information:

  • Customers can try the Windows 11 drivers from our download portal for the respective laptop model and install them under Windows 10. Most drivers will install without issues. However, we do not guarantee that all drivers can be installed.
  • We cannot guarantee that future software, driver or Windows updates will still be compatible with the device.
  • In the event that running Windows 10 with current or future software, driver, or Windows updates is not satisfactory, we recommend upgrading or doing a clean installation of Windows 11. A corresponding article can be found here: How to do a clean Windows reinstallation
  • There is no risk of hardware warranty loss due to the operation of Windows 10.
  • If, as part of a warranty complaint, it turns out that a complained problem only occurs under Windows 10, but not under Windows 11, an upgrade to or a new installation of Windows 11 will be offered as part of the warranty fulfillment.

We do not offer direct Linux support for XMG. We recommend Linux users take a look at our sister company TUXEDO Computers.

TUXEDO generally uses the same hardware base as XMG, but adds their own drivers, firmware modifications and tools for full Linux support. TUXEDO models therefore usually cost a little bit more – but the price gap is absolutely worth it for Linux users.

XMG laptops cannot be retrofitted with TUXEDO support.

If there is an extremely high difference between two equivalent XMG and TUXEDO models when comparing prices, we recommend contacting the TUXEDO Support Team.

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