Intel’s new Sandy Bridge-E based Core i7-3960X one monster of a CPU featuring six cores clocked at 3.3GHz. Need more speed and Turbo Boost kicks in taking all six up to 3.6GHz, or just two cores up to 3.9GHz. Running 3.9GHz is an impressive showing for the new king of the hill but we aren’t satisfied with a paltry 600MHz increase boost from the baseline. It’s quite easy to overclock the CPU and have all six cores running a full gigahertz above its stock speed on the Intel X79 platform.
We’re using an ASUS P9X79 Deluxe motherboard running 8GB of DDR3-1600 memory and cooling the Core i7-3960X with the Asetek 510LC water cooler.
Here’s the default BIOS settings running the CPU at 3.3GHz, 3.9GHz max Turbo, and memory clocked at 1333MHz.
Since our memory supports XMP we can enable that function in the motherboard so it does all the work for us in configuring latency timings and voltage for it. This also reveals the “Turbo Ratio” option that we’ll be using to set our overclock.
Choosing “By All Cores” lets the system boost all cores at once up the maximum multiplier. Enter in 43 as the multiplier to be applied to the 100MHz base clock. Our target Turbo speed is now 4.3GHz which can be hit even if all six cores are in use.
Our memory needs 1.65V to hit its rated 1600MHz but that was already set through XMP. The CPU is going to require more power with that extra gigahertz of speed. Let’s set the “CPU VCORE Voltage” offset to +0.100 so the CPU gets the extra bit of voltage it needs.
To be sure a constant flow of power to the socket is being maintained we’ll set the “CPU Load-line Calibration” and “CPU Current Capability” settings in the BIOS. Without these settings the power going to the CPU can fluctuate and choke off a Turbo boosted core when it needs power the most.
That’s all the tweaking that needs to be done in the BIOS. Let’s boot into Windows and see the results. We’ll fire up Prime95 to max out the CPU and use CPU-z to confirm our clockspeeds.
There we have it. Prime95 has all six cores running at 4.3GHz under Turbo Boost. With temperatures under control thanks to our liquid cooling system this system is running stable.
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