I think I "understand" why my 8700M-SLI is stuck in 170Mhz mode. I was checking nvidia-settings after upgrading from 177.76 to 177.78 (nothing changed, see my 177.76 report) and I noticed that the PowerMiser Monitor screen of GPU-0 (and GPU-1) indicated that it thought we were on battery. This seems to disable (greyed out) they 275Mhz and 625Mhz options.
This might be progress. How does the driver know it's on battery? We're most certainly not on battery. The APM/ACPI dock tools seem to know that AC is connected.
Is this possibly an easy fix --- make the driver correctly detect power?