How to Fix Throttling on the Dell XPS 15 7590/9570/9560

By Douglas Black , last updated on May 3, 2021

Note: title has been changed to reflect that the XPS 9570 has the same problems and the same solutions as the XPS 9560. I’ll update the contents if needed when I get a 9570 to test (already did, here’s the review), but for now these tweaks will work on both builds.

So, you’ve already maxed out your Dell XPS 15 with 32GB of DDR4 RAM and the best 1TB NVMe SSD for the money—now your XPS 15 is as good as it gets, right? Nope, not yet!

Without some hardware and software tweaks, your brand-new XPS 15 won’t be able to perform anywhere near its potential due to throttling.

In this article we’ll tell you how address this issue, but be aware that while this procedure works and is safe when done correctly, it may void your warranty or damage your computer if you don’t know what you’re doing. We’re just providing a guide and cannot be hold accountable for your actions, so proceed at your own risk.

Before you begin the journey of optimizing your XPS 15, you’ll want the following: 1.5mm 6.0W/mK thermal pads, Thermal Grizzly Kryonaut (best thermal paste at the moment without resorting to the liquid metal variants), some highly pure rubbing alcohol and some microfiber cloths.

As mentioned in our detailed review, the XPS 15 9560 with the Core i7-7700HQ processor (as well as the 9570 with the i7-8750H update) is prone to two types of throttling:

  1. Thermal throttling of the CPU or GPU (generally the CPU) when temperatures get too high
  2. Voltage Regulator Module (VRM) throttling caused by it getting too hot and being unable to deliver enough power

The first type of throttling is quite straightforward to all but the most uninitiated: the CPU and GPU have temperature limits to prevent damage. Exceeding the temperature max (100C for CPU, 97C for GPU) will cause an instantaneous shutdown—but you should never see temperatures anywhere near that as the components will throttle their performance long before they get to that point.

There are softer limits than 100C and 97C for the CPU and GPU respectively, however. The GPU will reduce its clocks to keep its temperature below 78C, and the CPU will dynamically reduce its turbo-clocks based on temperatures and power consumption.

The second type of throttling is also the result of heat, but because people generally look at CPU and GPU temperatures alone when benchmarking, it went undetected for a long time.

The VRM’s job is to convert 5 or 12V power from the adapter or battery into much smaller voltages to feed the CPU and GPU (generally 1.5v or less). A VRM has several components, but we are primarily interested in only two: MOSFETS (short for metal-oxide semiconductor field-effect transistor, but you don’t need to know that for any reason except trivia) and chokes. The MOSFET is responsible for switching the voltage down to a manageable level to feed the CPU and GPU; the chokes stabilize the current.

In this image (courtesy of iunlock of Notebookreview), the MOSFETs and chokes have been identified with their temperatures under load. Throttling occurs around 78C.

To get your XPS 15 to run at its maximum potential, we will need to solve both these problems. First, let’s take care of the CPU and GPU heat directly. For this, you’ll need your Grizzly Kryonaut, 99% rubbing alcohol, and those microfiber cloths.

  1. Use a T5 screwdriver to remove the 10 Torx screws around the edges of the bottom panel.
  2. Open the service hatch and use a Phillips screwdriver to remove the two Phillips-head screws.
  3. If this is your first time opening your XPS 15, it will take a bit of effort to take the bottom plate off, as there are many small clips that keep it attached. Get your fingernails or a plastic card under the sides of the base near the hinge where the casing is most robust, and apply even, steady pressure to pull the bottom off.
  4. Remove the battery connector by pulling gently.
  5. Use your Phillips screwdriver to remove the five screws of the heat sink assembly (a thank you to Jens Andersson for the picture with proper screws highlighted as I no longer have this machine). 
  6. DO NOT PULL ON THE PIPES TO REMOVE IT. The heat sink assembly bends very easily. Carefully remove the heat sink assembly by getting your fingers under the upper edges of the left square (this is the GPU’s heat spreader) and gentle pulling upward on the top edge. The assembly should come up fairly easily once you overcome the glue-like suction of Dell’s abominable paste-job.
  7. Use the microfiber with the rubbing alcohol to remove the existing thermal paste. You’ll want to clean both the CPU and GPU dies as well as the heat spreader. Keep cleaning with the alcohol until you don’t see any grey marks on the cloth after rubbing.
  8. Put a little (half the size of a grain of rice) dollop of the thermal paste onto each die. Don’t worry, it will be pressed flat by the pressure of the heat spreader.
  9. Carefully replace the heat sink assembly flat onto the dies. Keep applying firm downward pressure over the heat spreader areas with one hand while you reinsert the screws with the other.
  10. Tighten each screw only a little at a time, taking turns tightening the screw diagonal to it so the pressure on the heatsink is uniform.
  11. Reconnect the battery.
  12. Place the bottom case cover back on the unit. No need to screw it back on yet, though.
  13. Turn on your laptop and run some tests! If you’ve done it right, you’ll see a pretty good reduction in CPU and GPU operating temperatures.

The next step is using software called ThrottleStop to reduce the power consumption of your CPU. This can reduce the load wattage needed for the CPU by 10W easily.

Generally, all the i7-7700HQs on XPS 15 9560’s I’ve seen can undervolt to -125mv for core and cache. I run -125mv on core/care and -75mv on the iGPU. i7-8750H CPUs on the XPS 15 9570 do well at around -120 mV, but I’ve seen some that were onyl stable at around -11- mV to -110 mV. The link above explains how to use ThrottleStop and how to test for stability.

The final tweak to take care of your CPU and GPU temperatures is to go to the Nvidia Control Panel and change the “Maximum pre-rendered frames” value to “2”. This will prevent the CPU from needlessly being overtaxed to send data to the GPU.

The next step is dealing with the temperatures of the VRM head-on. Take another look at this picture:

Our goal is to cool those MOSFETs with the highest temperature (above the heat spreader) so they don’t hit their throttling temperature. How? We will be using stacked thermal pads to connect the MOSFET to the aluminum bottom cover. Why? When the right type of pads are used, the bottom cover will wick heat away from the MOSFETs.

There is trick to this, and it explains why we use lower performing 6W/mK thermal pads instead of some very high quality ones: if too much heat is transferred to the case it will actually end up heating up the VRM instead of cooling it. This is what will happen if you use an extremely conductive (16W/mK) thermal pad, and it’s why we want the 6W/mK pads for this purpose instead.

The mod is fairly straightforward: cut out small vertical strips from the thermal pad and place them on top of the MOSFETs above the heat spreaders. If you are using 1.5mm thick thermal pads, you will need to stack 3 of them on top of each other in order to reach the case. You want to leave as much open space around the pads so what little airflow there is doesn’t get impeded.

That’s it! Once you have stacked your little padded pillars over the MOSFETs and put the case bottom back on, you should be able to run any game or benchmark without VRM-induced throttling.

After following this guide, your Dell XPS 15 9560/9750 should now be a finely tuned beast of a machine, able to leap mountains in a single bound. If this guide helped you, please let me know in the comments and share this guide.

Disclaimer: Our content is reader-supported. If you buy through some of the links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission. Learn more.
Based in Washington, D.C., Douglas Black is a veteran technology journalist, university lecturer, DJ, and consultant.

358 Comments

  1. Elmoearnie

    November 25, 2020 at 4:06 am

    I have a 7590 xps. It's really a shame that Dell charges 1800 for this, even with a i7 , i5, along with this, ppl who have the OLED version experience mouse lags as they simply drag accross the screen. I'm not sure if outsourcing has anything to do with it. Some of the stuff are simple assembly at the factory, but most people would not know how to open their laptops (not tech savvy)
    Even the newest one with the vapor chamber has issues. If I was Dell, just sell the freaking parts to tech people, we can put it together better ourselves. It's always good to review these thing before purchasing.

  2. Geo Pavlov

    December 4, 2020 at 12:47 pm

    Great guide!

    On my XPS 9560 I managed to get my CPU temps down to 67C max from 86-7C (a few minutes stress test on CPU-Z) which I admit was mostly because of dust, but I'm sure thermal paste and pads helped a lot too.
    It didn't get rid off the throttle (it still trottles even when 34C on Idle/browsing) so I had to use ThrottleStop as well – disabling BD PROCHOT – it sill blocks the CPU…

    With these two steps my laptop is working as brand new again, but its unfortunate that XPSs have these issues (all over the internet). I was thinking of getting a new motherboard as I have another issue with charging, but for 600£ on ebay I don't think its worth it.

    Thanks again Douglas!

  3. Vicente

    December 6, 2020 at 5:49 pm

    Hi!!!

    I've followed the guide few months ago and it's fantastic, thank you Douglas!!!
    Unfourtunatly since BIOS upgrade 1.19, undervolt it's blocked… BIOS update from 1.19 has disabled the undervolt option… I've tried to downgrade the bios to 1.18 but the process failed. I've read it's due to some Intel's lock for BIOS downgrade, so I can't undervolt… I've read that it's to prevent somthing called plundervolt…
    Any ideas to do the BIOS downgrade to allow undervolt again? or other way to enable undervolt again?

    Thank you!!!

  4. Tobias

    January 11, 2021 at 11:20 am

    Hey i have one question.
    I have seen some articles that say
    you should also add thermal pads on top of the heating pipes. Do you recommend that? Or dies that even make a difference? Or could that be bad for the thermal situation?
    Hope you can help me :)

    Great article btw. I will try that mod in the next days :)

    Tobias

    • Douglas Black

      January 11, 2021 at 6:09 pm

      Depends on which model you have. On the 9550/9560 I would recommend it. The 9570 has a bit better VRM cooling.

  5. Tobias Werrbach

    January 13, 2021 at 8:30 am

    Thanks for the quick answer. I already ordered all parts for the mod :)

    Another question: wich BIOS version do you have?
    Everyone says that undervolting is blocked since BIOS 1.19.0. Is that right for throttlestop?

    Thank you :)

  6. Vicente

    January 13, 2021 at 11:05 am

    @Tobias Werrbach
    Hi!! With BIOS 1.19 or later I can't undervolt. As I read, last BIOS that supports undervolting is 1.18, but I can't do a downgrade. I hope you can. If yes, please tell me how do you do.

    Bye!

  7. Tobias

    January 13, 2021 at 3:46 pm

    Ok thank you, i found a solution. It works with 1.5.0 :)
    Just install the update, after setup intantly go into Bios.
    1. There, go to Maintenance >Bios Recovery and click "restore settings", click "BIOS defaults" and click "ok".

    2. Go to Maintenance again > BIOS Downgrade, uncheck "allow bios downgrade", klick apply.

    3. Go to "Security" > UEFI Capsule Firmware Updates and uncheck "enable UEFI Capsule Firmware Updates", apply and exit.

    Now your Bios should be 1.5.0 and undervolting should be available :)
    Worked for me today. Super happy :D

  8. Tobias

    January 13, 2021 at 3:49 pm

    Sorry i made a writing mistake at step two!

    You need to CHECK "allow bios downgrade", not uncheck^^

    Hope it works for you :)

  9. Tobias

    January 13, 2021 at 3:57 pm

    So with version 1.18 it also didn't work for me. But 1.5.0 is fine!
    Even tho it tells you that the update failed after setup, that's a lie!
    When i press windows+shift and type in "msinfo32" it tells me that i have 1.5.0.

    Just follow the BIOS steps that i wrote above and you are ready to undervolt :)

  10. Vicente

    January 14, 2021 at 9:06 am

    @Tobias

    I hope I will try this weekend with 1.5 BIOS. I've only tried with 1.18. But… the version you say is 1.15 or 1.0.5??

    In any case I will try "soon".

    Thank you!!!

  11. Tobias

    January 14, 2021 at 5:04 pm

    No 1.5.0 from 15. September 2017
    You can find it on the Dell Update and Downloads page like usual

  12. Vicente

    January 14, 2021 at 6:03 pm

    Thank you Tobias!

  13. Tobias

    January 15, 2021 at 9:21 am

    One question again. I am currently in Bali. Because of that i couldn't get excacly the Pads i wanted.
    So now i have Thermal Pads from grizzly with 8.0 W/mk and another set of pads with 1,5-2 W/mk.

    I thought on putting the 8W on the small VRam and the 2W on the big chips under the heatpipe.
    Do you guys think this will be ok?
    Or should i buy another 8 W/mk pad?
    Thank you!

  14. Steve

    January 21, 2021 at 6:23 pm

    Hey guys, also experiencing these throttling issues, and will give this option a go!

    Couple of questions regarding thermal padding. Read that you recommend to also apply padding to the top of the heat sink pipes. Can you advise the type and thickness required for this?

    Also, regarding undervolting with Throttlestop. I already have this set-up based on the shared info and TS guide, but not sure whether it makes a difference with the temps. Read above that for BIOS v1.19 you cannot undervolt anymore… Is that also the case when using Throttlestop? Just checked system info, I have BIOS v1.21, does anyone have experience with that version vs Throttlestop?

    Thanks for the help guys, after years of struggling with this machine performance vs price tag, this might actually be a good step forward in getting what I paid for…

    Cheers!

  15. John

    January 26, 2021 at 1:22 pm

    So Far, I succeed to reduce the throttling really well after re-pasting the CPU and GPU with high quality arctic MX4 thermal paste. XPS 9550, Precision 5510 has no problem from the beginning as long as we set the power manager to BEST PERFORMANCE in high gaming like Farcry 5. It hovers at around 2.8 Ghz. XPS 9560 has a big problem with throttling in Farcry 5, It drops to 1Ghz CPU, and thermal throttling all the time with XTU banchmark. After repasting, it never thermal throttling and hover at around 1.7 Ghz, large gains. XPS 9570 is always really hot and reaching 100C in XTU benchmarks. AFter repasting, it does not show thermal throttling and max temperature in XTU benchmark is about 95C but hit 1700 scores.

  16. FreeReveller

    January 31, 2021 at 4:24 pm

    Hi, I would like to add something that makes a big difference as well. I put thermal paste between the heat pipes and the heat plates. The heat plates are the plates between the pipes and the CPU/GPU. I cleaned this area thoroughly and put paste on it to increase the themal coupling to the pipes. I think this is an overlooked bottleneck in dissipating the heat.

  17. Vicente

    February 25, 2021 at 12:20 pm

    Hi again, Tobias and all of you!

    I did all steps that Tobias wrote to downgrade my BIOS. Now, finally I have BIOS 1.5.0, but when I open ThrottleStop all offset indicators are 0, they don't change… and I can't undervolt. I have the configuration in ThrottleStop that before was working… but now no…

    Any ideas?

    Thank you!

    • Douglas Black

      February 25, 2021 at 4:11 pm

      Did you go to BIOS and click "default settings" yet?

  18. Joe Shmoe

    February 25, 2021 at 5:06 pm

    There's the Intel Management Instrumentation, which may control your ability to undervolt, and its firmware cannot be downgraded, even if the system bios firmware downgrade is successful. I had the same issue where i managed to downgrade my firmware (all firmware but Intel Management Instrumentation succeeded), but was still unable to undervolt.

  19. Vicente

    February 25, 2021 at 5:10 pm

    Hi Douglas!

    Yes, I did it! I did this steps in BIOS:
    1. Go to Maintenance >Bios Recovery and click "restore settings", click "BIOS defaults" and click "ok".
    2. Go to Maintenance again > BIOS Downgrade, uncheck "allow bios downgrade", click apply.
    3. Go to "Security" > UEFI Capsule Firmware Updates and uncheck "enable UEFI Capsule Firmware Updates", apply and exit.

    But FIVR stills block.

  20. Vicente

    February 27, 2021 at 9:11 pm

    Hi everyone!

    Yesterday I did again the steps to reset bios, etc. and it works!!! Now I can undervolt again!

    Unluckily now I have a problem with my dock linked by thunderbolt :(

  21. Tobias

    February 28, 2021 at 2:15 am

    Nice, happy to hear that :)

  22. Tobias

    February 28, 2021 at 11:27 am

    So finally i made the mod on my laptop. I am in Bali right now, so getting the right parts was a bit hard. But better late than never^^

    First shock was when i opened up the Laptop to find out somebody tried this before me and did a really poor job. He used 3 different types of cheap thermal pads. So i ripped everything out, repasted and put on the Arctic Pads just like described here. Then i put a slice left and right on the heating pipes. Undervolting is also active with BIOS 1.5.0 :)

    So now my laptop stays at around 40°C and 50°C while browsing, office work, and normal multimedia stuff. He is reaaally quiet.
    Under heavy use he goes up to 60°C, nothing more, still quiet. Of course, when i use Adobe lightroom it goes up to 70°C and while gaming till 80°C, but the thermal throttling and the framedrops are just gone. :)
    To mention here: before undervolting and modding this thing has gone up to 70-80°C just by starting up and looking at it. While lightroom and gaming i had 90°C and framedrops to under 15 FPS.

    So i can say that i am really happy with the result. So thank you very much for making this tutorial my friend, it helped me a lot.
    And thanks to everybody helping in the comments :)

  23. Vicente

    March 4, 2021 at 9:10 pm

    Hi!

    Happy to read that, Tobias!

    I want to say my temperatures are the same like yours: about 40ºC, even less when browsing, and working with Office, or seeing videos.

    While I'm gaming it's about 80 ºC maximum… so it's good!

    Bye!

  24. Herman

    March 7, 2021 at 10:09 pm

    Hi, reporting after a month…

    To be clear, besides the new pads and thermal paste, I also added heatpaste between the heatpipes and the metal piece between the cpu/gpu and the pipes. AND I added thermal pads ON TOP of the pipes roughly where the cpu and gpu are. This creates a thermal coupling between the pipes and the bottom housing of the notebook. My results??? Mostly around 45 degrees, and max around 70. I can throw out my fan because I hardly ever hear it pop on :)

  25. Tobias

    March 9, 2021 at 5:29 am

    Just wanted to add one more comment about my results after modding.

    I made a gaming test with Battlefield 1 and GTA V.
    On Battlefield 1 with Medium Graphics i get 50-60 FPS, no drops at all, and my CPU stays under 70°C, GPU under 60°C.

    GTA V at Medium settings runs at constant 60 FPS, no drops and same temperatures. So this are really awesome results.
    Both games at 1080p.

  26. Junior

    March 22, 2021 at 4:08 am

    hello, I would like to know if I can use a 1.5mm 12w / mk thermal pad, unfortunately in my region I couldn't find the 6w / mk one.

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