In a bizarre event, it appears that Dell has suddenly disabled 512 cores from the GeForce RTX 3070 mobile GPU featured in its Alienware m15 R5 gaming notebook. A user with the said laptop reported that the core count of the GeForce RTX 3070 dGPU dropped from the standard 5,120 to just 4,608 FP32 shaders after a BIOS update. Furthermore, the base core clock of the GPU was increased from 1.1GHz to 1.2GHz, with the boost going from 1560MHz to 1620MHz.
Update from Dell: We’ve learned that a misconfiguration in Alienware’s vBIOS limits the number of CUDA cores in configurations with a GeForce RTX 3070 graphics card. This is a bug that we are trying to fix as soon as possible. We are accelerating decision making through validation and expect to resolve this issue in mid-June. In the meantime, we do not recommend using vBios from another Alienware platform to resolve this issue. We apologize for the disappointment this caused.
This resulted in the laptop losing around 10% performance in games and other GPU-intensive applications. It’s unclear why this step was taken, and whether it was deliberate or an accident. In the case of the former, it’s likely that Dell has changed the GPU configuration of the said laptop and is releasing BIOS updates to existing users. Although the operating clock has been increased by a fair amount, it still results in a deficit. The other case could be related to thermals or power, but that sounds unlikely as that would have been tested by the vendor beforehand.