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

By Douglas Black , last updated on September 12, 2019

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.

320 Comments

  1. Tom

    November 27, 2019 at 7:14 pm

    Hi,

    this article is a good head start, but not sufficient. After applying it, I got from like 100°C on VRM to ~ 90°C which wasn't enough to stop throttling. I made some changes and now I got to maximums 76°C VRM, 75°C GPU which clocks at 1600 MHz and around 78°C CPU. What I did extra? Cutted a hole for airflow, padded space between lid and alu cooling pad, custom repadded memory on GPU, downvolted and little underclocked GPU and a little underclocked CPU. Yes and in 3 layers of VRM padding written here, I used 1x 3mm mini coller + 1 pad = same 4.5 mm total height, that helped a couple of deg. Now I don't have any throttling (CPU or GPU) while I play anything for serveral hours (well, with Chrome and my usual apps opened, CPU can throttle a little bit – could downclock GPU even more…)

    Would anyone be interested to read such article? I have had it in my head for months. Thanks.

    • Tom

      November 27, 2019 at 7:20 pm

      Oh and here's one super easy hack for older games to stop throttling:

      1. Open Dell Command Power Manager
      2. Click Thermal Management tab
      3. Set profile to Cool
      4. Play a game

      I will downclock GPU and CPU and spin the hell out of fans. Games will have lower FPS at first, but less generated heat will cause lower VRM temps so no more downlocking CPU to 780 MHz. Good for less demanding games.

    • Paul

      November 30, 2019 at 6:28 pm

      I'd definitely be interested in reading such an article, if you wrote it.

    • Chris

      December 3, 2019 at 2:26 am

      Yes, I would very much like to read the article.
      Thanks

    • Hyti

      April 11, 2020 at 12:12 pm

      Would love to know more about what you did as my xps is still throttling after following this articles steps..

  2. Pablo

    January 14, 2020 at 9:42 am

    I would not want to red such an article. Rather I would be unable to do so, because I am illiterate, and I don't have time. I donut have a kump yooter anyway, and it runs very slow. The only way I can undervolt is to hold a battery over my head. I've been overclocked since I was born, I'm always late, there is NEVER enough time.

    • Douglas Black

      January 14, 2020 at 10:02 am

      Dear Pablo,

      I am slightly concerned for your well-being, but I wish you all the best.

      Regards,
      Douglas

      • rofl

        February 19, 2020 at 11:34 pm

        :D

        • OmegaLoL

          June 22, 2020 at 8:32 am

          :D:D

  3. Burt Leicester

    January 28, 2020 at 7:06 pm

    What about the 7590 with i9-9980HK?
    It only costs a tiny bit more than the hexacore i7. So rather than waste all that time doing everything described in this article, why not recommend the i9 instead?

    • Douglas Black

      January 28, 2020 at 7:12 pm

      Hi Burt,

      I am not sure I follow your logic. This article's objective is to reduce throttling and help owners of XPS machines get a higher percentage of the performance their machines ought to be capable of. The i9-9980HK will throttle even more, and so these procedures would likely be more critical to do. Of course the 7590 is better at handling thermals than the 9570, so that's a reason to get the 7590 rather than the older models for sure.

  4. Malith

    February 1, 2020 at 8:21 pm

    Hi,
    I did follow your instructions last year. I monitored the performance of my Dell XPS 9560 through out the year.
    Before the tweaks I was getting thermal throttling. Repasting & Thermal pads got rid of that trouble.

    When I export a batch of images from RAW to TIFF or JPEG, my laptop goes to Power Limit throttling.
    I didnt even open the laptop after doing the fix you suggested.
    Any idea why this is happening?
    I was using throttlestop to undervolt my CPU. Even without under volting it shows PL throttling.

    Thanks in advance
    I used

    • Douglas Black

      February 1, 2020 at 8:26 pm

      That's a good question.

      Any changes in BIOS version since then? Is your laptop plugged in to the original OEM charger (130W)? Are you running it off battery or USB-C? Have you tried opening it up and cleaning it from any dust? If you're using the original charger, it sounds like there's some debris inside causing it to trap too much heat.

      • Malith

        February 1, 2020 at 9:56 pm

        Hi.
        Thanks for the quick reply.
        BIOS got updated through SupportAssist few times.
        All original charger. Nothing replaced.
        Never used USB C charging on my laptop.
        I tried while using battery / battery, but no change.
        Will have a look inside.

        Any other suggestions?

        Thanks

        • Douglas Black

          February 1, 2020 at 9:58 pm

          My #1 guess is that you've got a lot of dirt inside that needs to be cleaned out from the vans and other parts of the heatsink assembly

        • Malith

          February 1, 2020 at 10:02 pm

          Thanks. Will check & update you soon

  5. bob

    February 12, 2020 at 2:32 pm

    Always fun to buy a super fast laptop and pick the best processor and having to underclock it becasue they fucked up the cooling :(

    • Adrian Dixon

      February 12, 2020 at 7:43 pm

      IKR, I love my 9560 but haven’t done anyone of these yet and I definitely don’t have the funds to buy the new one now. I’ll be doing this sometime soon

  6. Maximilian

    February 28, 2020 at 6:11 pm

    I can confirm this works also with the Dell XPS 15 9550.
    I have the 512 SSD, gtx 960m, i7-6700, 4K Screen version of this Laptop, and also got thermal throttling.

    I got thermal throttling while playing games like rainbow 6 or overwatch.
    After adding the thermal pads, the temperature went down by 2 C. But not enough to keep the GPU cool for the games.
    So I cleaned the fans (don’t know why I tried that first) and this gave me 10C less. now I could play Overwatch at around 80-85C, but Rainbow 6 I was still peaking at 91 C and thermal throttling kicked in.
    After repasting the GPU CPU and cleaning the heat spreader, I was was down to 60C at Overwatch and 70-75 at Rainbow 6.

    All the temperatures are GPU temps. My CPU temps dropped from 85C to 61C while playing.
    I tried also undervolting with Throttlestop but after doing all the Hardware-Stuff I am fine with my temps, so i didn’t undervolt my CPU and Intel GPU anymore.
    My Temperature Settings in the Dell Power Manager are set to cooling at the moment, but I guess I can set them to optimized with these low temps.

    Hope I could help some people who also own a 9550, and thanks for the guide.

  7. Rigo Cisneros

    March 23, 2020 at 10:59 pm

    I'm having the reverse problem. The laptop can't detect the power supply so it drops the cpu speed down to 900mhz to keep it from burning the power supply. It's a brand new 250w supply. Any suggestions?

    • Douglas Black

      March 23, 2020 at 11:01 pm

      Are you able to test it with another power supply? You could try disabling "power supply warning" in BIOS, but I think that only gets rid of the warning.

  8. Viktor

    March 25, 2020 at 2:34 pm

    Hello Douglas, I had thermal issues with my Precision 5530 at work and your guide inspired me to do a repasting on this one. It has a similar case design.

    der8auer told me to use Hydronaut instead of Kryonaut for repasting, this one has lower performance but is better in respect of the pump out effect for long term use and might be better for notebook usage.

    So this actually made a huge difference. CPU throtteling is now only occuring when doing some high performance thingys. The maximum power usage peak of the CPU is now about 80 Watts, it is possible to work constantly with with about 65 Watts without throtteling happening. Before repasting, thermal throtteling happened at an average of 45 Watts while working.

    Do you know if there a way to check if thermal throtteling still occurs by high mosfet temperatures? The mainboard design of the 5530 is different to the xps 15 here and I have not yet done your stack-trick with the thermal pads.

    • Douglas Black

      March 25, 2020 at 4:41 pm

      Hmm that's a good question. It's been a long time since I did testing for MOSFET-induced throttling. I believe there was a sensor called DIMM2 (or perhaps another?) on the EC that correlated with drops in the PL1 limit to below 45W. Run a combined stress test and see if you get any PL1 changes before 45W, and check what other temp sensors correlate with that change (if you observe it).

  9. Dave

    April 2, 2020 at 6:59 am

    I have an XPS 15 9570 and it is overheating just browsing the web. The thing will just turn off sometimes and the fan will still be running. The only way to get it back it to hold the power button till it shuts down and then restart. I am using a WD19TB Thunderbolt dock to my Dell U3417W monitor. Technically I am not using the power supply that the laptop came with, but it is a Dell Dock and delivers 130W just like the original, but through the USB-C port. I am going to repaste the processors and try the pads. I have never done any undervolting but I I’m ready to give it a try. My question is, could the USB-C/Thunderbolt dell dock connection that is also charging my laptop be adding to the overheating problem. I didn't even think about it till I read one of the comments below asking it someone was using the OEM charger.

    • Douglas Black

      April 2, 2020 at 7:05 am

      I don't believe so — it sounds like a thermal paste/heatspreader issue. What do you mean by "overheat", btw? How did you measure temps, and what are they? Check your task manager for programs using CPU. At idle, your computer should be between 0-2% CPU usage with browers open.

    • NB

      April 22, 2020 at 1:20 pm

      I've got the 9570 as well. The most likely issue with your case is the PCH Chip. Unlike the xps 13,
      the tb3 port is NOT connected directly to the cpu. Data and power is routed through the PCH chip, which, of course, has no effective cooling solution. I've read that the most effective fix for this is to apply a 4.5 mm thermal pad to the PCH which is located in the middle-left of the board. I know this because I wanted to get an egpu but saw issues with the PCH overheating. Here's a link addressing the issue :
      https://egpu.io/forums/builds/2018-15-dell-xps-9570-gtx-1050ti-gtx-1080ti32gbps-tb3-asus-xg-station-pro-win10-1809-itsage/

      • Douglas Black

        April 22, 2020 at 3:10 pm

        This is really interesting… I had no idea that the PCH could lead to FPS drops. I wonder if this is what's behind the 1% lows?

  10. Ignotas

    April 6, 2020 at 7:17 pm

    Just applied grizly compound, mosfet covers. There was not exact exact products on UK amazon, but I think I found 99% good matches, same grizzly brand. Spend around 12£ in total.
    To my BIG surprise game stopped throttling completely! I am a big fan of Diablo 3, it's not heavy on graphics, but I have to play on super low settings, which would still throttle so much that game was unplayable. Now it runs no problems on everything Max settings :)
    By the way I didn't touch any programs, just changed thermal paste and added those stickers.
    Pro tip:
    those stickers have protective plastic on both sides :)

  11. Jack

    May 10, 2020 at 8:24 am

    Thanks for the guide, really helpful. I've replace the thermal pastes and undervolt. My 9560 no longer heat throttle :D

  12. AG

    May 16, 2020 at 5:00 pm

    Did all this step exactly. Unfortunately made no difference in my xps 9560 temps.

  13. Kai

    May 20, 2020 at 9:22 pm

    Actually I have the Dell Xps 15 9570 and I just cleaned my interior including the fans and then replaced as described the old heat paste with the recommended one. Now my Laptop runs so smoothly, perfect. Even without the additionallthermal pads and throttle Software.

    Runs better than when I bought it.
    Thanks for that nice manual, helped me out a lot.

    Three things I`d like to mention:
    There are 12 screws to remove the Bottom Panel, underneath the XPS Logo, there are two additional screws as well, make sure to get them out as well, bevore you attempt to lift the cover.

    Also in my Version of the XPS, there are not 5 screws to remove the heat sink assembly rather 4.

    Make sure to not touch the processor while cleaning it while being electrostatic loaded –> touch some grounded metal beforehand. And do not use a Microfiber Cloth, which can load yourself electrical up. Otherwise you may need a new Laptop ;).

  14. Victor Vu

    May 24, 2020 at 7:27 pm

    Hello everyone. This method is spot on. but it is missing just one thing that make it go beyond. instead of padding everything on the bottom cover, i slab on a 0,2mm sheet of copper with a 2$ cnc from my design for extra air flow and thermal efficiency.

    Now even at 100% CPU and GPU on any task ( i only have MSI kombustor right now to show you all )
    STOCK IDLE: 2.8ghz ~ 34C
    BOOST IDLE: 3.2ghz ~ 40C
    100% CPU and GPU is locked at ~62C. ( Stock 2.8ghz ).
    VRM never go beyond rarely touch 73C. ( Stock 2.8ghz ).
    Premiere Pro rendering heavy 4K files is around 62 ~ 67C ( 3.2ghz boost ).
    And the laptop can sit on my lap ( yes like what a "laptop" should and not incinerate myself ) while running all of this testing and rendering due the copper sheet, this sheet does not touch the bottom so the bottom cover stay cool all the time ( like how a starbuck's cup work with the air barrier ).

    Enough yapping i attach picture of the sheet and the msi kombuster benchmark, should have share this earlier but i was happily resuming my work loads of editing and rendering contents that i forgot about it. Its been 9 months butterly smooth, "cold" and "happy" every time i use the 9560.

    Here it is

    The design:
    https://imgur.com/U3rYSvG

    The thing installed:
    https://imgur.com/pBlY1Ju
    https://imgur.com/uoRZCSN

    The result:
    https://imgur.com/BB8r110

    I will be happily answer any question or posting a few more benchmark when i have time.

    Thank you all for experiment things and sharing helpful informations on tackling this Thermal crappy machine. Cheers guys

    • Jason

      June 18, 2020 at 10:51 am

      I absolutely love this added approach. Reaching out to a few people in my area to see if I get the copper cnc’ed by your design as it looks magnificent.

      In the image you shared, what did you use to strap the copper sheet down. Is that white electrical tape holding the top of the copper sheet and black electrical tape running down the sides down to hold it in place?

      Anything I’m missing here that is not included in your description?

  15. Jameson Schultz

    June 4, 2020 at 9:59 pm

    I followed this to a T and now my laptop doesn't show the NVIDIA GPU in device manager or anywhere. Any thoughts?

    • Douglas Black

      June 4, 2020 at 10:22 pm

      Did you happen to not unplug the battery and perhaps touch any points with your screwdriver or some metal? You can kill your GPU that way.

      • Jameson

        June 5, 2020 at 6:43 am

        Wore rubber gloves, battery was unplugged, nothing out of the ordinary. Could the thermal pads cause any sort of shorting out you think? Anyway it's in a computer shop awaiting probably the call that it is dead.

        Same process applied to both the locations listed screw driver was set asside immediately upon removal of screws,everything else seemed to function normally.

        • Douglas Black

          June 5, 2020 at 7:04 am

          That's really, really unlucky, if so. I hope you can find it working again!

  16. NB

    June 5, 2020 at 6:22 am

    Did anyone face any difficulty unscrewing screw number 2 on the heatsink of the 9570? Mine is awfully tight and I've stripped it at this point. I don't know if a screw plier will work but I'll give it a shot

    • Douglas Black

      June 5, 2020 at 7:05 am

      Sometimes they can be very tight. It's good to have screw pliers and extra screws around (ebay!) for that kind of thing. I've definitely stripped a few screws in my time…

  17. Dom

    July 11, 2020 at 4:05 pm

    This guide was unbelievably helpful, I'm really grateful to you for putting it together!

    I've got a Dell XPS 15 9560 and pretty much bog standard experience alongside everyone else. Fine for the first two or so years, intermittent crappy performance during CPU-intensive tasks after that, and lately it's been bloody unusable. More of an animated flipbook than a gaming laptop.

    Followed every step here to the letter. Took about an hour and a half – and even that's only because I fiddled a lot with getting the bottom cover off as it was the first time, and wiped the CPU and GPU down several times until I was totally satisfied all the old paste was removed.

    It's like a new machine! None of the old performance problems. Chuffed to bits with the result :D thanks again.

    One more little tidbit which most of us would do anyway I guess – I updated (actually Windows 10 Update forced the update :/ ) to the latest BIOS shortly before taking the laptop apart. That did seem to help significantly with the throttling interestingly, so maybe the newer BIOS is more tolerant of the temperature ranges? Dunno. But worth doing that too, even though it certainly didn't solve the problem 100%

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