Push Sky­lake-X CPUs to the limit; se­cure your net­work de­vices; make cut-out text in Pho­to­shop.


ASUS X299 MOBO And don’t for­get cool­ing .

SUIT­ABLE PSU Check https://pc­part­picker. com/list/ for a us­age es­ti­mate.

IF YOU’VE READ OUR RE­VIEW of the Core i9-7980XE on page 76 [ Im­age A], you’ll know it’s one mon­ster of a pro­ces­sor. This thing is a beast: 18 cores and 36 threads of pure 14nm fury made man­i­fest. As­sum­ing you’re will­ing to in­vest the $2,000 needed to home this heady chip, or ea­ger to splash the cash on any of the pres­ti­gious Sky­lake-X pro­ces­sors, if you want to get the most out of your new CPU, the only op­tion is to over­clock it.

It’s fair to say that In­tel hasn’t had the best of times when it comes to over­clock­ing its last two gen­er­a­tions of chips. Both the main­stream Z270 and HEDT X299 chipsets have been fraught with ev­ery­thing from tem­per­a­ture is­sues to VRM throt­tling, and more. There’s plenty of af­ter­mar­ket so­lu­tions to these co­nun­drums, though, from delid­ding and re­plac­ing the stock ther­mal paste on your sexy slither of sil­i­con, to us­ing a more sub­stan­tial cool­ing so­lu­tion to chill the VRMs.

How­ever, that’s not to say these chips can’t clock, be­cause, boy, they re­ally can. And with the Core i9-7980XE clock­ing a phe­nom­e­nal 30 per­cent im­prove­ment in both sin­gle and mul­ti­core per­for­mance in ren­der-heavy work­loads, the temp­ta­tion to amp up the volt­ages is ar­guably greater than ever. So, how do you get the most out of your chip? We’re here to show you.

1 POWER AND HEAT When you over­clock, ap­ply­ing more volt­age and ramp­ing up the mul­ti­plier in­evitably does two things to your rig: it in­tro­duces more heat to your sys­tem, and draws more power from the wall. You need to make sure you have a power sup­ply that has around 20 to 30 per­cent more head­room than you’re cur­rently us­ing, and en­sure that your cool­ing so­lu­tion is suit­able for the task. We rec­om­mend that your chas­sis has, as the ab­so­lute min­i­mum, two well-ven­ti­lated in­take fans, one ex­haust fan, and a suit­ably pow­er­ful CPU heatsink. You can achieve this with some of the chunkier air coolers, but you’ll get bet­ter re­sults by in­vest­ing in an AIO (all-in-one) liq­uid cooler. Any pro­ces­sor with fewer than six threads needs a 120mm AIO, while we rec­om­mend a 240mm AIO for 6 to 16 threads, and for any­thing higher than that, you need a 280mm AIO, or a full custom loop.

2 PRIME FOR PRE­LIM­I­NARY BENCH­MARKS We need to run some pre­lim­i­nary bench­marks to find out how well our sys­tem han­dles at stock. To do this, we head to the BIOS and ac­ti­vate the Ex­treme Me­mory Pro­file (or XMP). Restart your sys­tem, mash the Delete key, and en­ter Asus’s UEFI BIOS. Then, hit F7 to go into Ad­vanced Mode, and se­lect the “Ai Tweaker” menu at the top [ Im­age B]. Go down to “Ai Over­clock Tuner,” and se­lect “XMP.” Hit F10, save, and go back to the desk­top.

3 GRAB THE SOFT­WARE Down­load HWMon­i­tor, CPU-Z (both avail­able from, Prime95 (, and Cinebench R15 ( In Prime 95, hit “Just Stress Test­ing,” then when the “Run a Tor­ture Test” win­dow opens, hit “OK” [ Im­age C]. This runs a stress test on your pro­ces­sor by forc­ing it to search for Mersenne prime num­bers. Run this for around five min­utes, then click the “Test” menu, and hit “Stop.” Bring up the HWMon­i­tor

win­dow, and look for the sub­head­ing with your pro­ces­sor’s model name in it. Take note of the max­i­mum tem­per­a­ture of the overall pack­age, and the high­est core clock achieved across all cores. 4 CHANGE THE MUL­TI­PLIER Now, open CPU-Z and Cinebench R15. In the lat­ter, run the CPU test, and note down the score when it’s fin­ished. While it’s run­ning, take a quick look at the Core Volt­age, dis­played by CPU-Z. Head back into the BIOS, and straight back to the “Ai Tweaker” sec­tion. Find the drop-down menu that reads “CPU Core Ra­tio.” By de­fault, this should be set to “Auto,” so change it to “Sync All Cores.” Now to cal­cu­late your mul­ti­plier – it’s the max turbo fre­quency across all cores in GHz mul­ti­plied by 1,000 (con­ver­sion to MHz), and di­vided by 100 (fre­quency of the base clock). Once you know this, you can then change the “All-Core Ra­tio Limit” from “Auto” to a suit­able mul­ti­plier of your choice. We rec­om­mend go­ing up by one or two at a time. 5 RETEST Once you’ve changed the mul­ti­plier, scroll down to “CPU Core Volt­age,” change it to “Man­ual,” then set the over­ride volt­age to the one you noted down ear­lier from CPU-Z dur­ing your test. We’re go­ing to start out us­ing 1.0V, with a mul­ti­plier of 36 [ Im­age D]. Then hit F10, save, and exit, log in to the desk­top, and run the same tests we per­formed ear­lier to see whether your over­clock, with the new mul­ti­plier, is sta­ble. 6 KEEP GO­ING Keep in­creas­ing the mul­ti­plier, un­til you reach in­sta­bil­ity and blue screen. At this point, you need to head back to the BIOS and in­crease the core volt­age. It’s ex­tremely im­por­tant not to over­load the chip with too much volt­age—we sug­gest in­creas­ing the VCore by 0.05V at a time, es­pe­cially on the higher end Sky­lake X chips. Then head back to the desk­top to see whether your chip is sta­ble in the bench­marks. You should start to see an in­crease in both power draw and tem­per­a­ture at this point. Then it’s sim­ply a case of in­creas­ing the volt­age and mul­ti­plier un­til you can no longer achieve a sta­ble over­clock, then dial back the mul­ti­plier by one or two, and you’re all set. 7 AD­DI­TIONAL TWEAKS There are a few ex­tra things we can do to im­prove sta­bil­ity and push our over­clock fur­ther, the first of which is al­ter­ing the VRM pro­file. Back in the “Ai Tweaker” menu, go into the “Ex­ter­nal Digi+ Power Con­trol” sec­tion. Once there, find the set­ting la­beled “VRM Spread Spec­trum,” and dis­able it. Then, find the “CPU Power Phase Con­trol” set­ting, and change that from “Auto” to “Ex­treme”—this should help bal­ance the cur­rent across the VRMs, en­sur­ing a higher over­clock. Fi­nally, if you want to go all-out, go back to “Ai Tweaker,” then to “In­tel CPU Power Man­age­ment,” and dis­able “In­tel’s Speed­step tech­nol­ogy” [ Im­age E]. 8 MEA­SURE YOUR GAINS That en­sures you get the ab­so­lute most out of your over­clock at­tempts with Sky­lake-X. Then you can go back to desk­top, and run Cinebench R15 again, to see just how much per­for­mance you’ve gained.

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