How to Overclock an Intel CPU: Get the Most MHz from Your Processor
Overclocking Intel processors used to be a very complicated process. Nowadays, motherboard manufacturers have created automatic overclocking software and one-button predefined presets in the BIOS. While both alternatives produce satisfactory Intel overclocks, they are not perfect and there is always room to improve. More often than not, you could achieve better results by taking the time to manually overclock your Intel CPU instead of having a piece of software do it for you. Furthermore, you also get to learn more about your system, and, as they say, knowledge is power.
Whenever you run an Intel processor outside of the manufacturer's specifications, like you can see in our CPU Benchmark Hierarchy, you're voiding the warranty. In addition, there's always a possibility of premature failure if you overclock an Intel CPU incorrectly. Nevertheless, if you approach overclocking an Intel CPU responsibly, you can squeeze every single megahertz out of the processor.
MORE: Best CPUs
MORE: CPU Benchmarks Hierarchy
MORE: Intel vs AMD CPUs
Do I own an overclockable processor?
Intel designates the overclockable models with the "K" suffix. With the Coffee Lake family, you have theCore iK,Core iK,Core iK and Core iK. And, of course, there are the F-series (graphics-less) counterparts to the aforementioned SKUs and the special-editionCore iKS that also support overclocking.
Does my motherboard allow me to overclock?
Intel chipsets with the "Z" suffix are the only ones that enable overclocking. The second important aspect with the motherboard is the power delivery subsystem that’s commonly known as the voltage regulator module (VRM). If you're not sure of the quality of the VRM on your motherboard, reviews are a great place to start.
Can my CPU cooler keep my overclocked processor cool?
Never overclock on a stock cooler. It's a blessing that Intel stopped including stock coolers with the brand's K-series chips so users don't fall to the temptation to overclock their chips with these pieces of copper. Both aftermarket air and liquid coolers are good at what they do. It just comes down to budget, clearance space inside your case and personal preference. If you feel that your CPU cooler isn't up to the task, we've detailed what we consider the best air and liquid coolers in ourBest CPU Coolers Air and Liquid article.
Does my power supply have sufficient headroom?
It's important to evaluate your power supply's capacity to see whether it has the necessary headroom to accommodate the increased power draw. An underpowered power supply might lead to unwanted system shutdowns and restarts or, in a worst case scenario, the power supply dies and takes a few of your components with it.
For context, our tests show that the Core iK can pull up to W of power at stock settings. When overclocked to 5 GHz, the power consumption increased by 50W. Therefore, we recommend you have at least W to W of headroom in your power supply before you go on your Intel overclocking adventure. There are online power supply calculators that estimate the power draw for you or you can get a Kill-A-Watt meter to measure it yourself.
Peace Of Mind For $20
Intel introduced the Performance Tuning Protection Plan (PTPP) so enthusiasts can overclock with a certain level of tranquillity.The Performance Tuning Protection Plan basically covers processor failures due to overclocking.
Generally, you can purchase most protection plansdirectly from Intel for $ but some are more expensive based upon the price of the processor. We think it's a reasonable price to pay to protect your hard-earned investment. Aside from the Core iK, almost all the Coffee Lake K-series parts are eligible for the Performance Tuning Protection Plan.
Get To Know Your Motherboard
No two motherboards are the same. Brands tend to overcomplicate things for the end user by using different terminologies for the same thing. Most brands include a short description for each option inside the BIOS. You should have no problem finding the equivalent term for your motherboard. There are a plethora of settings and voltages that you can play with that directly and indirectly affect your processor. For the scope of this article, we'll only be focusing on basic settings to get your overclock up and running.
- Base Clock (BCLK) - The frequency at which the processor communicates with the memory and PCIe devices. The default BCLK for Intel Coffee Lake chips is MHz.
- CPU Multiplier - Dictates the ratio between the CPU and the front-side bus (FSB). The formula for determining the processor's frequency consists of multiplying the base clock by the CPU multiplier. For example, a processor with a MHz BCLK with a multiplier of 40 will operate at 4, MHz or 4 GHz.
- CPU Core Ratio - Lets you choose whether you want to set the multiplier for all the cores in a group or individually.
- Vcore - The voltage the motherboard provides to the processor.
- Voltage Mode - Auto lets the motherboard decide. Manual sets a fixed Vcore. Offset mode adds a specific amount of voltage to the processor regardless of the frequency. Adaptive voltage only increases the voltage when the processor is operating in turbo mode.
- AVX Offset - A separate multiplier to downlock the processor when it's executing AVX workloads
- Load-Line Calibration (LLC) - Sometimes, typically when the processor is under load, it doesn't receive the amount of voltage set by the user. The problem is called Vdroop, which stands for voltage droop. Load-line calibration basically compensates Vdroop by providing extra voltage.
- Intel Speedstep - Feature that increases or decreases processor speed and voltage according to the load.
- Uncore - Regulates the frequency of the different controllers on the processor like the L3 cache, memory controller, etc.
- FCLK - Controls the speed in which data is passed from the processor to the graphics card. By default, Coffee Lake has an MHz FCLK.
- VCCSA - Voltage for the System Agent.
- VCCIO - Voltage for the memory controller and shared cache.
- Extreme Memory Profile (XMP) - Enables the XMP profile on compatible memory kits.
How to Overclock
1. Enter the BIOS. Our tutorial on accessing the BIOS explains how, but for most desktop PCs, hitting the Del key on your keyboard as soon as you see the motherboard logo pop up on your monitor works.
2. Enable XMP to automatically setup your memory modules to run at their advertised speed. The official support memory on Coffee Lake is DDR If you're running faster memory, make sure your system is stable before overclocking the processor. You want to avoid guessing if future system instability is caused by the memory overclock or the processor overclock.
3. Set the CPU multiplier to your desired overclock. There are two different approaches to this step. You can gradually increase your processor's frequency using MHz increments until you've hit the wall, or you can set a desired frequency and work your way up or down from there.
Intel markets the single-core boost clock speed for its processors. We've listed the all-core boost clock speeds for the various Coffee Lake K-series chips for your convenience.
4. For the CPU core ratio, choose the option to synchronize all cores so that you overclock all the processor's core to the same frequency.
5. We suggest using a V for the Vcore as the starting point. Intel details the maximum voltages for Coffee Lake processors in thisdocument and recommends a maximum operating voltage of V. The value is just insane for daily usage, and there's zero possibility of cooling a processor at that voltage without resorting to exotic cooling. For safe measure, keep it below V.
There is no magic formula when it comes to overclocking. If you want to pinpoint the exact voltage for stability, use small increments of V. If you're not the patient type, you can work with higher increments, like V.
We suggest not using the borderline voltage for stability. Overclocking isn't a precise science, and hardware is unpredictable. It doesn't hurt to add a couple of volts to your borderline voltage for some headroom.
6. Configure the voltage mode to the selection of your choice. We suggest adaptive mode because the Vcore decreases with the multiplier, which will make the processor generate less heat and consume less power. It also increases processor longevity.
7. Set the AVX offset to -1 or -2 to reduce the multiplier when your processor engages in AVX workloads. AVX workloads hit the processor hard and, as a result, require more voltage to achieve stability.
8. Set the LLC. Some motherboard brands prefer to use numeric values to determine the LLC level while others use non-numeric values. For the average user, a medium value should be more than enough. You can experiment with the different values to see which works best for you, though
9. Set Intel Speedstep to enabled or disabled.. It's your call if you want your processor to always run at the overclocked frequency or downlock when it’s idle.
Boot your system to see if it starts. If the system is unstable, continue tweaking the Vcore until you find stability.
|Model||Base Clock||Single-Core Boost Clock||All-Core Boost Clock|
Software For Testing Stability And Monitoring
There are a lot of free programs that help you test your overclocked processor's stability. It's probably best to use a tandem of programs since each stresses the processor differently. At the end of the day, these programs are designed to hit the processor very hard so it's important to always keep your eye on the processor's temperature during the tests. Ideally, you would want to keep temperatures below the 85 degrees Celsius (C) for everyday operation. Coffee Lake K-series processors start throttling at C.
Stress tests are a good way to evaluate your overclock's stability. There are hardcore enthusiasts that love frying their chips for days at a time to ensure stability, and others that do just a few hours of stress testing and call it a day. It's up to you to decide how long you want to run the tests. Just don't fixate on them, and throw some daily usage into the mix as well. Passing Prime95 doesn't necessarily mean your processor is stable for other workloads, either.
CPU-Z is the de facto program for monitoring your processor's frequency. AIDA64 and HWiNFO64 are also popular choices. Take into consideration that you should only run one monitoring program at a time. Running two or more simultaneously is counterproductive and causes polling issues. You could end up with inaccurate readings.
If your overclocked system is unstable when you activate XMP, it might be necessary to tweak the VCCIO and VCCSA voltages. These two voltages are helpful when you want to stabilize a memory overclock. Be warned, though, VCCIO and VCCSA are sensitive voltages, meaning too much can be equally detrimental as not enough. It would be best to tweak the voltages with small increments of V until your memory overclock is stable.
For reference, thedefault voltages for VCCIO and VCCSA on Coffee Lake processors are V and V. Intel doesn't list a maximum safe voltage for the first, but the latter is V. For the well-being of your processor, don't exceed V on either voltage.
There is some value to overclocking the uncore, but you'll see the biggest performance gains from overclocking the core. In most situations, the uplift for a higher uncore is negligible. Therefore, you should always prioritize higher core speeds over the uncore. We recommend you only play with the uncore once you've dialed in your maximum core overclock.
Start with an uncore multiplier that's three to four times lower than your processor's all-core boost multiplier and work your way up. The real good samples can run the uncore at the same frequency as the core. Take note that the uncore voltage is tied to the Vcore so the only way to achieve a high uncore is upping the voltage, but it's not worth increasing the Vcore just to get a higher uncore.
Increasing the FCLK can net you a small improvement if you're using a discrete graphics card. The default FCLK for Coffee Lake is MHz. You can set the multiplier to x10 for 1, MHz.
|Voltages||Intel Default||Intel Maximum||Recommended Maximum|
Your computer is fast. Unbelievably fast, at least compared to the PC you had ten or twenty years ago. But it could always be a little bit faster. If that statement stirs a bit of tech-flavored longing in your soul, you might want to look into overclocking your processor.
Overclocking, the act of boosting your CPU’s core clock beyond its factory setting, has been around for almost as long as personal computers have. And as a hobbyist activity, the process and its tools are almost constantly in flux. That being said, it’s easier now than it’s ever been.
Since our test rig uses an Intel processor and motherboard, and Intel is still far and away the leader in consumer-grade desktop systems (being installed in over 80% of systems), this guide will cover the overclock process for late-model Core unlocked (K-series) CPUs. But the general steps should apply to most of the desktops sold or assembled in the last few years. That said, make sure and read up on the process for your specific hardware before starting your overclock attempt.
Step One: Pick the Right Hardware
Before you start overclocking, you’ll want to make sure you have the right hardware. If you’ve already bought or built your PC, you may not be in a position to do this, of course, but it doesn’t hurt to know your hardware’s limitations all the same.
Intel sells a staggering variety of processors, but for overclocking, the K- and X-series is where it’s at. The “K” in this sense is more of a variable than an actual product line, signifying that the processor is “unlocked” and ready to be overclocked by the end user. There are options in i7, i5, and i3 models, and all of the newer and ridiculously powerful X-series are also unlocked. So if you’re shopping for an Intel processor and you know you’re going to try to overclock it, you want either a “K” or an “X” chipthe latest ones are all handily listed on this page. We’ll be using a Core iK for this guide.
Is it possible to overclock a non-K Intel processor? Sometimes. It’s just harder, and it’ll probably need some support from your motherboard manufacturer. Also, Intel really doesn’t want you to do itto the point that they’ve actually issued software updates that closed previously-found loopholes enabling it. This policy is controversial among PC hardware enthusiasts.
I should also mention a concept known among enthusiasts as the silicon lottery. The microarchitecture of modern CPUs is incredibly complex, as is the fabrication process. Even if two CPUs have the same model number and should theoretically be identical, its entirely possible that theyll overclock differently. Dont be upset if your specific CPU and setup as a whole cant hit the same overclocking performance as someone reporting their results online. This is why its incredibly important to go through the long, arduous process yourself instead of just plugging in someone elses settingsno two processors will overclock the exact same.
Next, you’ll want to make sure your motherboard is up to snuff. Technically, any motherboard should be able to overclock its processor, but some are designed specifically for the process and some aren’t. If you’re in a position to choose, look for an enthusiast or “gaming” motherboard. They’re a little pricier than more pedestrian models, but they have access to UEFI/BIOS updates and manufacturer software specifically designed to make overclocking easy. You can also often find Newegg reviews that discuss a motherboards overclocking settings, and the quality thereof. Enthusiast and gaming motherboards from ASUS, Gigabyte, EVGA, and MSI are good choices in this regard.
Oh, and this goes without saying, but I’ll say it anyway: you need a motherboard with a socket that’s compatible with your CPU choice. For Intel’s latest unlocked processors, that’s either socket LGA (K series) or LGA (X series).
RELATED:How Much Better Are Aftermarket CPU Coolers Than Intel's Stock Coolers?
Even if you’re starting from an existing system that wasn’t built with overclocking in mind, you’ll want to use an aftermarket CPU cooler. These parts are much more powerful and efficient than Intels in-box coolers, featuring bigger fans and vastly expanded heatsinks. In fact, the Intel processor we bought for the test system didn’t even come with a stock cooler, because Intel assumes anyone interested in that premium unlocked model will want to use their own aftermarket cooler.
The options for CPU coolers are staggering, even if you don’t want to go for the more premium water cooling option. You can spend anywhere from $ for an air cooled version, and much more for elaborate liquid cooling options. But if you’re on a restrictive budget, there are more than a few economical options. The cooler we’ll be using is the Cooler Master Hyper V.2, which has a street price of just $35 and will fit inside most full-sized ATX cases. We could probably get better results with a more expensive and elaborate model, but this one will let us boost our clock rates dramatically without getting into unsafe temperature ranges.
If you’re picking out a new cooler, aside from price you’ll need to consider two variables: compatibility and size. Both air coolers and liquid coolers need to support the socket type of your motherboard. Air coolers also need the physical space available inside your PC case, especially vertical space (measuring from the top of the motherboard to the side of the case). Liquid coolers don’t need much space around the CPU socket, but they do need available space near the case fan mounting areas to fit their fans and radiators. Double-check the specs of your prospective purchase and your PC case itself before making a decision.
If you’ve made your selections, make sure everything is installed and working correctly without any overclock applied, then continue.
Step Two: Stress Test Your Setup
We’re going to assume youre starting with everything relating to your CPU set to the default. If you don’t, boot up into your computer’s UEFI now (better known as the BIOS) and change it back. You can do this by rebooting the computer and pressing the relevant button on the POST screen (the one with the motherboard manufacturer logo). This is usually Delete, Escape, F1, F12, or a similar button.
Somewhere in your UEFI/BIOS settings, there should be an option to set everything back to the default value. On our test machine running a Gigabyte motherboard, this was under the “Save & Exit” menu, labeled as “Load Optimized Defaults.” Select this option, wherever it is, save your settings, then exit the UEFI.
There are a few other changes you should make too. On our iK, in order to get more stable and predictable benchmark results, we had to disable the Intel Turbo Boost option for each of the four cores in the chip. This is Intels built-in, stable semi-overclock, which boosts the clock speed of the processor when intense processes are going on. Thats a handy feature if you never dive into overclock settings, but were hoping to exceed the speeds that Turbo Boost gently applies, so its best to turn it off. If I may use a car metaphor, were going to be driving this one with a stick-shift.
Depending on your processor, you may want to disable the C State option or other power-saving tools which work in the opposite way, underclocking the processor when its full power isnt needed. You can turn these on after overclocking, however, to see if they still worksome people have reported that power-saving features dont work as well after overclocking, while on other systems theyll work just fine.
Got everything set to default, with the extra bells and whistles turned off? Good. Now boot into your main operating system (were using Windows for this guide, but many of these tools should work on Linux as well). Before you do any overclocking, you’ll want to stress test your system and get a benchmark of where youre starting. Youll want something that runs your CPU and other components at their maximum level of performanceessentially, simulating the most intense computer usage possible, to see if it causes a crash. This is what well be using to test system stability throughout the entire overclocking process.
I recommend Prime95 as your stress-testing tool, because it’s simple, free, and available on all three major desktop operating systems. Other popular alternatives include AIDA64, LinX, and IntelBurnTest. Any should work, and you can even use a combination of two if you really want to do your due diligence (my editor is a fan of using both LinX as his primary stress testing tool, with Prime95 serving as a secondary test at the very end to make extra sure everything is stable.)
Whichever one you’ve chosen, download it, install it, and run it. Let it run through its initial test, then re-test a few times to make sure your CPU can handle extended runs of % usage and maximum heat. You might even be able to hear the fan on your CPU cooler jump up to its maximum speed to deal with the increased load.
Speaking of which, while the stress tests are running, it’s a good time to download some other tools that we’ll be using later: a CPU information tool to keep an easy eye on your changing values, and a CPU temperature monitor to watch the heat. For Windows, we recommend CPU-Z and RealTemp, respectively. Download and run them nowyou can use the latter to watch your CPU’s core temperatures rise under your stress test.
RELATED:How to Monitor Your Computer's CPU Temperature
Temperatures are going to be crucial to the overclocking process. While running the stress test under the default conditions with our Intel iK CPU and aftermarket CPU cooler, we saw temperatures on the internal sensors range from about degrees Celsius. That sounds hot (50 degrees Celsius is about Fahrenheit), but it’s nothing to worry about. CPUs are designed to run at these high temperatures with the aid of PC cooling systems. Our processor’s maximum allowable temperature before it automatically reduces the clock or shuts down (known as the Tmax or Tjunction) is degrees Celsiusover degrees Fahrenheit. When we overclock, our goal will be to boost the processor to the point where its temperatures are still in a reasonably safe margin below Celsius with the system running stable.
If you’ve run your processor through a few tests with its use at % and its temperatures are in a safe range, and your PC hasn’t crashed, you’re ready to proceed.
Step Three: Raise Your CPU Multiplier
Now its time to start overclocking. Reboot your PC and get back into your UEFI (BIOS). Look for a category named something like Overclock Settings. Depending on the creativity of your motherboard manufacturer’s technical writer, it might be labelled “CPU Booster” or something similar.
In that section, look for the “CPU Clock Ratio” setting, or something to that effect. In our Gigabyte motherboard’s UEFI, it was under the default tab > Advanced Frequency Settings > Advanced CPU Core Settings. Google around with your manufacturer’s name and the UEFI version number if you’re not sure where to find it.
Your clock speed is determined by two things: the bus speed (MHz in our case) and the clock ratio, or multiplier (in our case, 42). Multiply those two values together, and you get your CPUs clock speed (in our case, GHz).
In order to overclock the system, were going to increase the multiplier, which in turn increases the clock speed. (Were going to leave the bus speed at the default).
I’m going to adjust the multiplier setting to 43, just one step up, to raise the maximum frequency to GHz. You may need to enable changes to your system to actually allow the UEFI to change the multiplier.
Once that’s done, save your UEFI settings and exit, then boot back into your operating system. You can use CPU-Z to check and make sure your clock is showing the new, higher frequency. In my case, you can see in the Core Speed and Multiplier fields on the left are set to GHz (give or take a few hertz as the computer operates), and 43, respectively. Youll also see the stock speed on the right under Specificationthis wont change no matter how much you overclock, and thats okay. Its just listing that as part of the processors name. The settings on the bottom left are the ones you want to check.
(Note: if you’re seeing something lower for Core Speed and Multiplier, you might need to start a more stressful operation like your stress test to make the CPU go into its maximum.)
Go back to Step Two and run your stress test again. If your system is stable at the new higher CPU frequency, repeat Step Three and boost your multiplier a bit more. It’s possible to just set it as high as you think it can go (a Google search for users with similar setups can help set your expectations), but slow and steady bumps are a safer and more precise way to achieve your desired results.
At some point, you will reach a stopping point. Either your computer will crash during stress testing (or the stress test will fail), or youll reach the maximum CPU temperature youre comfortable with (for me, thats usually about 10 degrees less than the Tjmax value).
If you experienced a crash or stress test failure, move onto Step Four. In the (rarer) case you experienced your max temperature, skip Step Four and move on to Step Five.
Step Four: Repeat Until Failure, Then Boost Voltage
If your stress test failed or caused the computer to crash, but your temperatures still have room to go up, you can continue to overclock by increasing your CPUs voltage. Boosting the voltage that the motherboard delivers to the CPU via the power supply should allow it to stabilize at faster speeds, though it will also increase your temperatures significantly.
Once again, we’re going to dive into the UEFI to adjust this setting. In Gigabyte’s UEFI, it’s under M.I.T > Advanced Voltage Settings > CPU Core Voltage Control.
Here you’re going to do pretty much the same thing: boost the voltage a little bit, repeat steps two and three until your computer crashes, then increase your voltage again. The recommended step up is voltsagain, baby steps take longer, but youll get much more reliable results.
Keep an eye on your temperatures as you go through this processagain, the more you boost the voltage, the more your temperatures will increase. If your tests fail at +.2 volts or more, it’s possible that you just can’t increase the voltage while remaining stable. Again, remember the silicon lotteryits possible that your specific CPU wont behave exactly the same as others with the same model number.
Repeat steps Three and Four in a round robin. Increase multiplier, stress test, repeat until something crashes, then increase voltage and stress test again. Eventually, youll reach a point where your temperatures reach the maximum level youre comfortable with, or your stress tests consistently fail and/or cause the computer to crash. When that happens, step it back to your last stable overclock.
For me personally, I wasnt even able to raise the voltage at allmy highest stable overclock was GHz, using the stock voltage setting. If I pushed it any farther, I reached my CPUs Tjmax value and it would start throttling back. The K is a notoriously hot chip, so this makes sense. You may find that your chip allows for more overclocking overhead, or you may find that youre like me and you can only boost it a little bit. It all depends.
Step Five: The Big Test
Now that you’ve reached a point where you think your overclock is stable, it’s time to put it to one last, super-rigorous test. What you’re doing here is seeing whether your PC can run at this higher clock speed and voltage for hours on end. Because if you’re going to all this trouble to boost your speeds, odds are pretty good that you want to use it consistently.
Turn back on those power-saving features (if desired), and set up your stress testing program to run continuously. Prime95 will do this automatically, other programs may need to be set to a clock value. Several hours at leastlong enough that the hotter temperature inside your PC stabilizes. (Also, if you live somewhere with particularly hot temperatures and you dont have adequate cooling for whatever room youre in, be aware that ambient temperatures could create a more strict upper limit to your overclock during the summer.) If it can handle that without either the processor getting too hot, the test failing, or the whole thing crashing, you’ve got yourself a rock-stable overclock. If it can’t handle it, scale your CPU multiplier and voltage values back, and try again.
Image credit: Newegg, Amazon
Intel Unlock Overclock Intel Core i7 Overclocking Guide
Intel Unlock Overclock Phase 3 Overclocking the Intel Core i7 PC
Who did not already read the beginning of the guide, find here the first page of the Intel Unlock Overclock article.
Well, then we power on the PC and look if everything is working. This Gigabyte full screen boot logo looks very nice, but we should deactivate it in the BIOS.
Before we change any settings in the BIOS, we make a BIOS update to the most current version. Because we do not like to work with old bugs, which were already solved. On the Gigabyte P55A-UD6 motherboard the version F6 was installed, which we replace now with the version F9. Download the BIOS, unpack it to an USB stick, start Q-Flash with End key during boot-up and update the BIOS:
Check the original values and setup the basic BIOS settings
Then the first boot screen of the new system, whereby the CPU and the memory are somewhat underclocked. Everything else already looks not bad at all.
The MB Intelligent Tweaker (M.I.T.) menu of the Gigabyte P55A-UD6 motherboard contains all important frequency settings.
The status menu (under M.I.T. Current status) shows the current settings of the four CPU cores, whereby the screen hangs unfortunately very often with the Gigabyte P55A-UD6 motherboard BIOS version F9 and can only left by Reset.
Operating system installation
Before we start overclocking and unlocking Intel CPU, we start the PC first times without any overclocking and install a fresh Microsoft Windows 7 Ultimate 64bit operating system. A 32bit installation would be no good choice here, since Windows7 in the Bit version unfortunately doesnt support the full 8GB completely. In approximately 9 minutes and 30 seconds the installation from an USB stick is finished, thats really nice.
Then a first view into the task manager and we see 8 CPU cores. 8 CPU cores? Sure , because as explained in Intel Unlock Phase 1 of 3, this Intel Core iK processor has four cores, whereby each core can process two tasks at the same time thanks to the Hyper-Threading technology.
Check the CPU benchmark results without overclocking
Well, now we want to see the first time, what the CPU offers with Turbo Boost, but without overclocking. The system reached in Windows7 a performance index of and the processor offers points. Who would have thought that the fast OCZ GB SSD with good points would be the slowest device in the PC
Let us look at the CPU values again in detail. The CPU-Z software shows an Intel Core iK LGA Lynnfield CPU with 32KB L1 cache, KB L2 cache per core and a total of 8MB L3 cache. The processor frequency is indicated in the field core speed as MHz ( MHz x 9x multiplier) and the core voltage is only V. In the BIOS basic adjustment, the CPU frequency and Vcore is very low, because the CPU lowers the multiplier and voltage automatically depending upon load. Intel e.g. offers EIST (Enhanced Intel SpeedStep Technology) and the C1/C3/C6/C7 State in the Sytem Halt State for an automatic Vcore and CPU clock adjustment.
And to know how fast this Gigabyte P55A-UD6 platform is with an Intel Core iK CPU, Sapphire HD video card and Patriot Viper II DDR 8GB memory without overclocking, we start the first benchmark programs without overclocking. With 3DMark Vantage the system reached in the entry test a Score of E with GPU points and CPU points.
In 3DMark06, the Intel Core i7 system reached 3DMarks.
With SiSoftware Sandra c the CPU reached with Arithmetic GOPS and MPixel/s in the Multimedia benchmark.
Power consumption without overclocking
In idle, the Intel Core i7 system has a low power consumption of Watts without overclocking. The maximum power consumption peak of the system after various benchmarks was Watts without overclocking.
Intel Core i7 Unlocked CPU multiplier overclocking
For the first overclocking attempts we should deactivate the automatic settings in the Advanced CPU Core Feature BIOS, because one could otherwise have the risk to produce unfavorable voltage and frequency combinations which could not work stable. Then we come finally to that, which were waiting for such a long time the overclocking of the Intel Core i7 K CPU with unlocked multi. The multiplier can be increased in the Advanced Frequency Settings menu from 9x to 62x. We begin in small steps and look, up to which frequency this CPU runs stable.
Wow, even with 29x MHz = GHz starts the PC without problems, so lets try more.
In dozens steps we came now up to incredible 32x MHz = MHz. Right, 32x MHz should actually result in MHz, but the Gigabyte board increases the Base Clock frequency (BCLK) about more than 3 MHz and with the high multiplier we get a frequency difference of approx. MHz. Here one should better switch on BCLK control and adjust it to fix MHz. Anyway, we would like to test MHz now, but the benchmark program unfortunately doesnt like to run stable after some sequences. Thus we must reduce the frequency (or with the Vcore to help) so far, until all is running % stable.
Maximum stable overclocking result over the CPU multiplier without Prime errors was MHz (29x ,7MHz). In the BIOS of the motherboard it was necessary to enter a multiplier of 27x instead of 29x, because the F9 BIOS is unfortunately incorrect concerning the multiplier changes and supplies thus wrong results.
CPU benchmark results with unlocked multiplier overclocking
Well then let us look which benchmark results we can reach now. With 3DMark Vantage the system reached in the Entry test a Score of E (instead of E without OC) with GPU points (instead of ) and CPU points (instead of ). Very good result and we reached that result just by increasing the multiplier of the unlocked Intel CPU!
In 3DMark06 the overclocked Intel Core i7 system reached now 3DMarks (instead of OC).
With SiSoftware Sandra c the CPU now reached in Arithmetic GOPS (instead of 56,3 GOPS without OC) and in the Multimedia benchmark MPixel/s (instead of ,11 MPixel/s without OC).
Power consumption with CPU multiplier overclocking
In idle, the overclocked Intel Core i7 system has now a power consumption of Watts (instead of Watts). The maximum power consumption peak of the system after various benchmarks was W (instead of W).
Intel Core i7 CPU Base Clock overclocking
Now we try the same again by increasing the Base Clock (BCLK). So multi down and Base Clock up. The maximum system bus frequency was a little bit over MHz. If we like to achieve our maximum CPU OC result with MHz BCLK, we need a 20x multiplier. OK, 20x MHz = approx. 4 GHz!
Now we check the values again with CPU-Z:
CPU benchmark results with Base Clock overclocking
Well then let us look which benchmark results we can reach with high BCLK. With 3DMark Vantage the system reached in the Entry test a Score of E (instead of E with multi) with GPU points (instead of ) and CPU points (instead of ). So the result is only a little bit higher than the result with the high multiplier!
In 3DMark06 reached the BCLK overclocked Intel Core i7 system now 3DMarks (instead of with multi).
Power consumption with Base Clock overclocking
In idle, the Intel Core i7 system has a power consumption of Watts (instead of W with multi). The maximum power consumption peak of the system after various benchmarks was W (instead of W). Here we can see a significant difference, because the power consumption increased enormously!
Adjust the memory frequency and memory timings
Nevertheless we set the memory to a higher value, because it runs also with MHz by SPD not yet as DDR memory, but only with MHz as DDR memory. It was not possible to run the memory stable on DDR with V and slower timings on this board, but DDR ( MHz) works perfectly with timings.
Well then let us look which benchmark results we can reach with faster memory. With 3DMark Vantage the system reached in the Entry test a Score of E (instead of E without RAM OC) with GPU points (instead of ) and CPU points (instead of ). So its just a small increase of these benchmark values.
In 3DMark06 the overclocked Intel Core i7 system reached now 3DMarks (instead of without RAM OC).
With SiSoftware Sandra c the CPU reached in Arithmetic 97 GOPS and in the Multimedia benchmark MPixel/s.
Result and general impression
The Intel Unlock Overclock mission impressively shows that by increasing the multiplier, most overclockers can get nearly the maximum out of the Intel Core i processor. Furthermore, the power consumption of the system with an exclusive multiplier overclocking is very low in spite of the enormously high performance gain. In our case the increasement of the Base Clock frequency would have been sufficient, in order to reach the highest CPU frequency, however things would look different with a watercooling, a compressor cooling or with LN2 cooling. An energy-conscious Overclocker get with this Intel Core i7 K processor finally the possibility to build an inexpensive, fast and energy-saving Intel Core i7 OC system. High-End Overclocker will also benefit from the unlocked multiplier, because theyre able to overclock this CPU to the limit, independently from the rest of the system. Only for reaching the high memory frequencies and an error free support of the multiplicator settings by the motherboard manufacturers should be optimized.
Alles in allem war diese Intel Unlock Overclock Mission sehr spannend und auf jeden Fall erfolgreich!
All in all this Intel Unlock Overclock mission was very interesting and in any case successfull!
Like already mentioned at the end of the second phase, theres another big surprise for the visitors, because Intel draws the suitcase at ocinside.de with contents to one happy winner. Who would like to participate in the contest, will find here all further details in German.
Win this Intel Unlock Overclock Case (German)
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