Tips & Tricks

XMG laptops can generally be purchased both with and without Windows pre-installation. Therefore, we first differentiate between two categories here:

With Windows pre-installation

When building our laptops, we always make sure to already install the latest firmware and drivers. If you buy your XMG with Windows, you already have all drivers installed and can pretty much start working immediately. However, NVIDIA releases new drivers almost every week, so an update might already be available at the time of unboxing. Such updates can be installed automatically via GeForce Experience or downloaded manually from geforce.com.

Without Windows pre-installation

If you order your laptop without Windows, you get an empty SSD, but all firmware (BIOS, EC, etc.) is already up to date. So you can start right away and install Windows + drivers.

Even if you already have an older Windows installation medium (DVD, USB thumb drive, ISO file, e.g. from the university or your employer): it is better to createa fresh install medium from the latest image. This way all Windows updates will already be present from the beginning.

An up-to-date Windows install thumb drive can be created directly with a tool from the vendor:

The drivers for your XMG laptop are delivered on a USB thumb drive in the shipping box. These USB sticks are mass produced and therefore might not always be fully up to date. Driver updates and corresponding changelogs can be found in our download portal:

The guiding principle is thus: unpack the ZIP files and install each driver one by one. If the ZIP files are numbered, you can follow this order. If they are not numbered, you should tend to install the drivers of the CPU manufacturer (Intel or AMD) first – starting with the chipset driver. Otherwise, the order of driver installation won’t matter.

Exception: audio drivers sometimes come with two to three numbered subfolders with equalizers and effects: in those cases, please follow the given order sequence.

After installation: Internet connection and Control Center

After you are done with your installation, you should connect the laptop to the internet. This may download various further updates. Some applications that belong to the drivers (e.g. Thunderbolt Control Center, Soundblaster Cinema, THX Spatial Audio) are only downloaded from the Microsoft Store once connected to the internet.

Meanwhile, it is recommended to familiarize yourself with the Control Center. Every XMG laptop has such a Control Center, which can be used to adjust features like the performance profiles and keyboard illumination. The offered performance profiles cover the entire range from whisper-quiet to ultimate performance. The profiles can also be further adjusted manually in some XMG series. We generally recommend the profiles “Entertainment” or “Balanced” for everyday use. These profiles are set up for an optimal balance between system performance, temperatures and fan noise.

Keep it simple!

We would not recommend overloading the system with third-party tuning and system software from the start. For example, Windows already comes with very effective anti-virus protection – installing additional security software is usually unnecessary and can sometimes be detrimental to system stability.

The best virus protection is in the head... ;-)

Nevertheless, there are a number of additional programs that you can definitely try.

The all-rounder: Windows Task Manager

The task manager integrated in Windows has learned a lot since its early days. Here are a few practical tips:

  • Ctrl+Shift+Esc opens the Task Manager via hotkey with one hand.
  • In the “Performance” tab, both iGPU and dGPU are displayed. Thus you easily check if a performance-hungry program or game is running on the correct GPU.
  • Right-click on CPU usage graph: show by logical cores (see screenshot) to see if a task is saturating only a single core.
  • In the “Detail” tab sort by “CPU” to see which program is using the CPU the most at the moment.
  • With a right-click on the header of the Detail list you can add further columns. The most useful one is “GPU engine” as it allows you to check in detail which app utilizes which GPU (see screenshot).
  • In the “Startup” tab sort by “Status” and deactivate programs that don’t have to start automatically.

You see, you can already do quite a lot of analysis without even having a single third-party program installed.

Advanced Monitoring with HWiNFO64

In our opinion, the best program for monitoring energy consumption and system temperatures is HWiNFO64. Our XMG Control Center can also display CPU and GPU temperatures, but for a true system analysis you can’t get around HWiNFO64.

By double-clicking on any sensor value, graphs can be displayed that very nicely show how the respective value develops over. This way you can see immediately with HWiNFO64:

  • How many watts is my CPU currently consuming? (CPU Package Power)
  • Is my NVIDIA graphics card sleeping properly? (GPU Power)
  • How much battery power is currently being consumed? (Charge Rate; shows minus values when consuming battery power).

The graphical diagrams have an upper and lower limit predefined by HWiNFO64. CPU Package Power for example has an upper limit of 300 watts by default – this is a bit too high for a laptop. You can modify this value to e.g. 80 or 120 watts. Just replace 300 with the desired number in the small text field in the upper right corner – the change will be applied immediately.

Screenshot of HWiNFO64 with 3 sensor diagrams

In this screenshot you see CPU+GPU power and GPU temperature. As you can see on the GPU Power chart, we ran a little GPU benchmark before the screenshot was taken. For CPU Package Power, 80 watts was set as the diagram’s upper limit, for GPU Power it’s 165 watts.

Alternatively, you can simply click on “Auto Fit” in each diagram – then the limits automatically adjust to the smallest and largest measured value. This function can also be deactivated by clicking on “Auto Fit” again.

Sensor logging and system report with HWiNFO64

For a deeper analysis you can create a complete sensor log with HWiNFO64:

  • To do so, click on the green [+] symbol in the bottom right corner of the sensor view.
  • Define the folder and filename of your new log file.
  • As soon as you click on “Save”, HWiNFO64 will start logging.
  • The green [+] symbol has now changed to a red “X” – you can stop logging with this symbol.

During logging all sensor values are written to a CSV file every 2 seconds. This CSV file can later be analysed with the free tool GenericLogViewer or further dissected with a spreadsheet program.

generic log viewer cpu power vs usage vs c states 500

In this example screenshot you can see how the CPU power consumption drops to well below 5 watts after the end of a benchmark while the package C8 residency increases to over 60% at the same time. You can display as many diagrams next to each other as you want. The X-axis is synchronized so that the diagram lines are always in direct relation to each other.

Two well written guides on this topic can be found here:

Both links lead to the wiki of r/TechSupport, a subreddit for general PC/Tech support.

Creating a System Report with HWiNFO64

A system report lists all installed hardware components and all driver and firmware versions. This can be helpful later on when troubleshooting.

  • Restart HWiNFO64, uncheck “Sensors-only” and click “Run”.
  • In the big window you will find a big disk icon in the upper left corner, labeled “Save Report”.
  • Now click on “Browse” and define folder and filename for your report file.
  • Click on Next and leave all other options as they are.
  • Afterwards a HTML file will be created, which we can comfortably read in our browser.

The system report does not contain any personal data – even the name of the user account is not included.

However, it does contain serial numbers of components from which we can derive the customer number and production date through our inventory management system. Such details can help our support team in troubleshooting as well.

Beware: Some other programs keep the NVIDIA GPU awake

Another reason which HWiNFO64 holds in its favour: it operates very light on system resources, and it does not proactively wake up the NVIDIA graphics card during monitoring. It will only monitor the NVIDIA GPU if another program actually uses it. Thus, HWiNFO64 does not interfere with the system behaviour during monitoring.

In contrast, there are other programs that constantly keep the graphics card awake and which should therefore not be run permanently on laptops with hybrid graphics (especially not in battery mode). These include:

  • AIDA64 (with open sensor window)
  • ASUS GPU Tweak II
  • CPUID HWMonitor
  • MSI Afterburner
  • NVIDIA GeForce Experience
  • NVIDIA Inspector
  • NZXT CAM
  • Open Hardware Monitor
  • TechPowerUp GPU-Z

Note: this list is based on a survey done in early 2020. If any of the programs have rectified their behaviour in the meantime, please let us know via one of our usual contact channels.

Any of these programs might be fine and well on their own, but – in our opinion – they might be rather unsuitable for permanent system monitoring on laptops with hybrid graphics. This also makes them unsuitable for a quick analysis of idle power consumption or and battery life, because by activating the NVIDIA GPU, they inadvertently intervene with the object of their observation.

Other tuning tips

There are many programs that claim to slim down the system. Popular examples are ShutUp10 and Win10Debloater. These are probably not bad, but there is always the risk of unexpected side effects, if e.g. system components are deactivated or uninstalled, which are needed later (possibly after a Windows update) for some function. When using such programs, you should at least be sure that you can undo changes if necessary or that you are willing and able to perform a clean Windows reinstallation in future instances of troubleshooting.

More articles with similar tips:

Disclaimer: These links are borrowed from this Reddit post. Some of the articles are a few years old. We welcome any additional suggestions or updates. Please feel free to contact us.

Performance profiles

Generally, our laptops offer different performance profiles, which set different priorities between temperature, performance and fan volume. Find them by searching for “Control Center” in Start Menu.

Beyond that, however, there are two additional methods to reduce the fan speed.

FPS Limiter (Frame Limiter)

FPS stands for “Frames per Second”, also known as frame rate. This refers to how many new frames the graphics card renders per second. The higher the frame rate, the smoother the image in motion. However, as soon as the refresh rate of the graphics card is higher than the refresh rate of the LCD monitor, you actually start rendering frames for nothing. In other words, you put additional energy into the system without gaining any benefit from it.

By default (with VSync disabled), the NVIDIA graphics card tries to achieve the highest possible FPS rate at any given moment. Therefore, even older games or low graphics settings are able to generate a very high GPU load. If you reduce the graphic details, the graphics card simply increases the FPS – the bottom line of actual GPU load might not change much.

This dilemma can be avoided by using an FPS limiter. Since early 2020 an FPS limit can be set directly in the NVIDIA control panel – either globally for all applications or individually for each game.

A general recommendation is to set the maximum FPS to 1 to 3 FPS below the refresh rate of the monitor. So if you are using a 144Hz monitor, you can set the max FPS to 141.

For some games, you might want to set the value even lower. A strategy game, for example, will already look pretty good even with “only” 60 FPS.

For games where the FPS has an influence on the in-game physics (e.g. CS:GO), you might want to set the value a bit higher.

The following article describes exactly how to set this value and it shows an example of how much energy you can save with it.

Rule of thumb: the less energy your laptop consumes, the lower the fan noise will be.

NVIDIA Whisper Mode

NVIDIA Whisper Mode was introduced in 2017 and is now available in version 2.0.

NVIDIA Whisper Mode can be described as an intelligent, dynamic frame limiter. Instead of defining a maximum FPS value, the user specifies a “minimum FPS” value here, e.g. 30, 60 or 120 FPS. The NVIDIA driver then controls the graphics card in such a way that the minimum FPS value is not undercut, but also in such a way that certain temperature and volume values are not exceeded.

The actual frame rate in Whisper Mode thus depends on the situation. In games or scenes that are not very demanding, the graphics card easily achieves a high FPS value. In demanding scenes or very high ambient temperatures, on the other hand, NVIDIA will lower the target rate, but preferably without falling below the user-defined lower limit.

Apart from this dynamic frame limiter, NVIDIA’s Whisper Mode has a few more tricks up its sleeve. For example, the graphics settings of many games are automatically changed in such a way that computationally intensive but visually barely visible graphics effects are slightly reduced. NVIDIA Whisper Mode thus strives for an optimal balance between image impression, temperature, and fan noise.

NVIDIA Whisper Mode can be activated and configured in the “NVIDIA GeForce Experience” (GFE) program on all XMG laptops. In order to leverage this feature, it is necessary to log-in to GeForce Experience with a personal user account. Whisper Mode 2.0 is already integrated into the Control Center profile “Balanced” in some XMG models (XMG CORE and XMG NEO from 2021) – so it can be used without an NVIDIA account in these models.

Dual Channel, power supply and ventilation

Optimal performance is only possible with dual-channel RAM. So, if you decided to save money during BTO configuration by only going for a single stick of memory, you might want to upgrade at some point.

Otherwise, we recommend all of the following tests always with our original power adapter connected and with sufficient ventilation: the laptop should stand on a flat (not soft) surface so that the air intake from the bottom panel is not obstructed. The power supply and cables should be placed so that they don’t get in the way of the air outlets on the laptop’s back or sides.

Benchmarks for comparison

Generally, every XMG laptop is checked for performance and temperatures after assembly. However, if you suspect that the performance is below expectations (e.g. if certain games don’t run well or if a low usage already causes very high fan speeds), we recommend the following procedure:

  • Set the system to the highest performance profile.
  • Run standard benchmarks: Cinebench, Superposition or Time Spy.
  • Compare results with public reviews of the respective model.
  • If the results are unclear, repeat the benchmarks and log the sensor data with HWiNFO64 for later analysis.

Rule of thumb: if the respective benchmark values are similar to the values determined in reviews, then the CPU, GPU and cooling system are most likely working normally. Reason: in the highest performance profiles, the system reaches its thermal limit relatively quickly. With synthetic CPU load on all cores, this usually happens already after a few seconds thanks to the Turbo Boost behaviour of modern CPUs. Graphics cards usually approach their thermal saturation within a few minutes of full load. Thus, it is clear: if the cooling system does not work correctly, it would quickly become noticeable in the benchmark scores, since the CPU and GPU would prematurely start reducing clock speeds once temperature limits are reached (so-called thermal throttling).

We would like to go into more detail about the respective benchmarks here.

Cinebench for CPU load

There are several versions of Cinebench: R15, R20 and R23.

  • R15 is pretty much obsolete at this point.
  • R20 is still the gold standard and can be compared against established results from countless sources.
  • R23 runs for 10 minutes by default and therefore reacts even more strongly to any temperature problems.

For a quick comparison with established scores, we would recommend Cinebench R20. In case R20 is within the norm but you still have doubts about the system’s CPU performance, you can try again with Cinebench R23.

Unigine Superposition or 3DMark Time Spy

Unigine Superposition and 3DMark Time Spy are both well suited for fully utilizing the graphics card. Normally, we would recommend Unigine Superposition as it finishes fairly quickly and it doesn’t require a Steam account. Recently, however, Superposition doesn’t seem to utilize newer laptop graphics cards with Dynamic Boost 2.0 to 100% – we see certain fluctuations in the graphics load (above 90%, but still…), which is why the benchmark might not be so suitable as a “worst case” stress test anymore.

Therefore, we would recommend the very established “Time Spy” test from 3DMark for a graphics test. In the free version, the benchmark is unfortunately preceded by a longer demo phase. This drags out the benchmark duration quite a bit, but on the other hand it is also a good warm-up for the system. This way, you can be sure that the benchmark result is not falsified by low temperatures at cold boot.

The overall result of Time Spy consists of two components:

  • Graphics Score
  • CPU Score

The Graphics Score is a mostly unbiased representation of the GPU performance. The performance of the CPU only plays a very small role. Thus, the Graphics Score is also suitable for your comparison with graphics cards that are attached to CPUs of different strengths.

The CPU score, on the other hand, is quite interesting as well. It tests single-core as well as all-core loads and is thus a good additional  for whether everything is okay with the CPU cooling besides running Cinebench.

Detailed analysis of log files

If the benchmark results are below expectations, we recommend repeating the benchmarks with active HWiNFO64 sensor logging and a subsequent analysis of the log files. Hints and instructions on this topic can be found above under the heading ” What tuning and monitoring software is recommended by XMG?”

General recommendations
  • Please avoid a so-called deep discharge. This occurs when you completely drain the battery and then don’t use or charge the laptop for days or weeks. Practical example: if you forget to bring your charger and then completely drain the battery while working outside, it is recommended to immediately start charging the laptop when you return home in the evening before going to bed.
  • Please try to avoid permanent, intensive load on the battery. Saturating the dGPU is not recommended in battery mode if it can be avoided. You can find more information about this in the FAQ category “Portfolio” under the question “Which XMG laptop has the longest battery life?”
  • If you almost always only use your laptop stationary, please still charge and discharge your battery at least once a month. Discharging doesn’t have to go all the way down to 0%, but an occasional below 20% (and subsequent recharge) would be good.
  • Avoid heat buildup on the battery. For example, don’t place the laptop on a soft surface (e.g. blanket) while the battery is charging (or if you have to put it on a blanket, rather place it upside down). If you charge the laptop with a power bank, do not put it in a laptop bag or backpack while charging.
  • Note the following instructions for setting the maximum battery capacity.
Battery charging profiles

Most XMG models are capable of putting a user-defined limit on the maximum battery charge. On XMG CORE and NEO (from 2021), this is possible in the Control Center in the form of three profiles: Eco Mode, Balanced and High Capacity. If you only use your battery very rarely, set it to “Eco Mode”. For moderate use, we recommend Balanced mode.

Note: these profiles work hidden in the background. Windows will indicate that the battery is charged to 100%, but in reality both charging speed and capacity will be reduced.

FlexiCharger

Other laptops (XMG CORE 14, FOCUS, APEX, PRO, ULTRA) offer the so-called FlexiCharger function in the BIOS setup. You can use it to manually set the lower and upper limit of the charging electronics:

  • Lower limit: how deep the battery has to be discharged before the laptop starts to charge the battery again.
  • Upper limit: up to where the laptop will charge the battery once it has started to do so.

FlexiCharger works transparently: when the upper limit is set, the user can see in Windows that charging will be interrupted once the desired percentage value is reached.

Note: when FlexiCharger is activated, it warns: “over time the meter’s reading accuracy will deteriorate”. This means that the battery percentage indicator may become less accurate over time. The deviation in accuracy can be up to 20% after 12 months. To recalibrate the accuracy of the battery level indicator, it is recommended to disable FlexiCharger and recharge the battery once to 100%.

Please use your battery on a regular basis

The use of the battery profiles described above does not relieve the user from the recommendation to use the battery once in a while. It is recommended to subject the battery to a charge cycle about 1x per month and to avoid both deep discharge and overstressing.

Customize their assignment!

Windows allows the user to freely assign the function behind the standby hotkey and the power button. Thus, these keys can also be disabled completely. It is also possible to set how Windows behaves when closing the display lid.

The quickest way to find all these functions is to search for “lid” in the Start menu.

Function remains

Disabling the power button in Windows does not affect its deeper firmware functions:

  • Power Button turns laptop on or wakes it up from sleep mode.
  • Pressing the power button for a longer time (about 5 seconds) turns the laptop hard off.

These two functions work even if the button is set to “do nothing” in Windows.

Is the lid closed or not?

The “close lid” function is based on a magnetic sensor (so-called Hall sensor), which is located on the front edge of the laptop in most models. If you touch this sensor with a magnet, it triggers the corresponding action. It can happen that you accidentally trigger this sensor with an object on your wrist, e.g. an electronic fitness tracker or a smartwatch. So, if it happens that the laptop sometimes goes into standby mode supposedly “by itself”, you should first set the action for “Close lid” to “Do nothing” and check if this makes any difference.

All XMG laptops have an Fn hotkey that can be used to manually disable the touchpad. Alternatively, it is possible to disable the touchpad automatically when an external mouse (USB or Bluetooth) is detected. This function can be found by searching for “Touchpad” in the Windows Start menu. There you can uncheck “Leave touchpad enabled when a mouse is connected”.

Some models (XMG CORE 15 and CORE 17, XMG FUSION and XMG NEO) have a function that deactivates the touchpad as soon as you double tap on the upper left corner. This feature can be disabled in Control Center. It is listed in the category “Preferences” under the name “Touchpad Toggle”.

Fn shortcuts

XMG laptops naturally have the usual Fn hotkeys. And on many models, these can also be permanently activated by setting FnLock with Fn+Esc.

Three-finger swipe

A much more convenient method to change the volume is a three-finger swipe on the touchpad. This can be activated manually in Windows. To do so, search for “Touchpad” in the Windows Start menu and scroll down to Three-Finger Gestures and set it to Volume and Media Playback (see screenshot). After that, you’ll feel like a DJ as you push up and pull down the volume on your trackpad!

In some models (XMG CORE 15, CORE 17, FUSION and NEO), the boot logo can be customized. The process is quite easy to follow for advanced users and can also be undone by equally advanced users. Basic knowledge in image editing (e.g. Adobe Photoshop or GIMP) is recommended.

Instructions for this can be found in the download portal:

Closed lid is not good for cooling

It stands to reason that you would want to close the laptop’s display lid once in a while when using external monitors and input devices. However: the cooling systems are expected to radiate some of the heat through the upper side of the base unit. This isn’t a problem for a frugal use (e.g. watching a movie or word processing). However, if you keep the lid of the laptop closed under high load (rendering, compiling, gaming), this creates a heat buildup, which might over time damage either the display and keyboard (or both). For the keyboard, for example, the reliability of the switching mechanics can be affected by too frequent and too strongly pronounced hot/cold cycles. In extreme cases, discoloration of the display might also occur.

Recommended action

In the interest of a long product life, we recommend operating your XMG laptop with an open lid and sufficient ventilation.

Do you want to know more?