Hacked Nvidia RTX 3080 laptops are getting big performance boosts for free

Asus ROG Zephyrus Duo 15
(Image credit: Asus)

Some clever (and brave) owners of new gaming laptops with Nvidia RTX 3080 mobile GPUs have found that they can get a pretty impressive performance boost with a few choice tweaks – essentially upgrading their laptop for free.

At CES 2021, Nvidia announced its RTX 3080 laptop graphics card, along with laptop versions of the RTX 3070 and RTX 3060 as well. While these shared the same names as Nvidia’s desktop Ampere graphics cards, they are actually quite different, due to the power and thermal constraints of laptops.

To make sure that their gaming laptops don’t overheat – or drain their batteries in a flash – many laptop manufacturers are going for lower powered versions of the RTX 3080 laptop graphics card, but users on the Baidu forum have found, it’s possible to ‘trick’ a laptop – in this case the Asus ROG Zephyrus Duo 15  – into thinking its 115W RTX 3080 is a 155W version.

Handle with care

To do this, the users took the vBIOS file from an MSI GE76 laptop, which has a higher spec RTX 3080 laptop GPU, and installed it in the Asus ROG Zephyrus Duo 15.

This then allowed the laptop to run the RTX 3080 at a higher wattage, which in turn gave the GPU a performance boost.

As the 3DMark Time Spy benchmarks show, the Asus ROG Zephyrus Duo 15 with this tweak scores over 20% higher than the same model without the tweak. In fact, as PC Gamer points out, the tweaked Asus ROG Zephyrus Duo 15 currently sits at the top of the 3DMark TIme Spy leaderboards.

The results also show that the Asus ROG Zephyrus Duo 15 had an average temperature of 72c, which is pretty great considering the tweak means the GPU is running hotter – and is testament to the cooling system Asus has used in its dual-screen gaming laptop.

So, a massive performance boost for free – and doesn’t appear to melt your laptop. Sounds too good to be true, doesn’t it?

Well, it could be. We really wouldn’t recommend people try this out themselves. There’s a good reason why laptop makers limit the GPUs, and forcing a GPU to use more power than its designed for could have serious consequences – as will using the wrong vBIOS.

It could easily leave you with an expensive laptop that does not run well – or is completely bricked. And, this tweak almost certainly voids your warranty, so you’ll be left with a very expensive paperweight.

However, the tweak, and the thermal performance of the Asus ROG Zephyrus Duo 15, at least shows that laptop makers could be a little braver with their GPUs. As the manufacturers get more used to Nvidia’s new laptop GPUs, we could see more powerful RTX 3080 laptops coming soon.

Via VideoCardz

Matt Hanson
Managing Editor, Core Tech

Matt is TechRadar's Managing Editor for Core Tech, looking after computing and mobile technology. Having written for a number of publications such as PC Plus, PC Format, T3 and Linux Format, there's no aspect of technology that Matt isn't passionate about, especially computing and PC gaming. He’s personally reviewed and used most of the laptops in our best laptops guide - and since joining TechRadar in 2014, he's reviewed over 250 laptops and computing accessories personally.