Intel has released a new automatic overclocking tool that might actually be worth using, provided you meet the rather stringent requirements for doing so.
Historically, automatic overclocking options offered by manufacturers have never been worth using in my own opinion. These types of solutions tend to offer little to no practical clock validation, often running a handful of arithmetic stress tests after slamming every tunable voltage on the processor to its maximum safe value.
If you overclock for bragging rights and only care about holding a machine stable for long enough to run a test or two, extensive stability validation isn’t necessary. If you care about actually using the system and getting useful work out of the effort, you’ll need to stress test it to make certain nothing crashes. The Intel Performance Maximizer is designed to perform some of this tuning.
The IPM is compatible with the following CPUs:
- Core i5-9600K
- Core i5-9600KF
- Core i7-9700K
- Core i7-9700KF
- Core i9-9900K
- Core i9-9900KF
You’ll also need a Z390 motherboard, at least 8GB of RAM, at least 16GB of free space on your drive, and Windows 1809 or newer. Also, Processor core overclocking must be enabled in UEFI, as must all CPU cores, Hyper-Threading (if supported), Turbo Boost 2.0, Enhanced Intel SpeedStep, and the Intel WatchDog Timer. The boot mode must be set to UEFI.
Once installed, the IPM creates a separate partition for itself and runs from that. You are invited to purchase an Intel Performance Tuning Protection Plan (Intel will extend a warranty to cover CPU replacement in the event of a single catastrophic overclock for $ 19.99).
According to PC Perspective, the IPM performed remarkably well, nudging their CPU up to an all-core boost of 4.9GHz @ 1.296v. Previous testing has shown the CPU core can technically hit 5GHz all-core @1.35v, but that kind of aggressive volting and the sharp increase required to hit it relative to the all-core 4.9GHz demonstrates that the CPU has already passed the ideal voltage set point.
The only additional performance they eked out of the core was by turning on XMP and setting DDR4-3200 performance specs. Intel’s IPM doesn’t try to change RAM clock at all, so if you want to take advantage of these improvements, you’ll need to do that separately. Once IPM is installed, it will overwrite any settings you change in UEFI, in favor of its own overclock settings. If you want to remove the overclock or try it manually, you need to uninstall IPM.
This kind of simple, one-click tool isn’t going to be for everyone and Intel has restricted its use to a limited number of enthusiast parts partly to prevent people from blowing their rigs in the first place. But we like the fact that it reportedly takes some time for the IPM to finish stress testing the CPU because all too often, these settings are dialed in aggressively and with very little testing. Whether it produces entirely stable results is a question that’ll take time to answer — good automatic overclockers are conservative precisely because they don’t usually stress the system thoroughly enough to be confident they’ve eliminated every last potential crash point, so they leave additional headroom in the core instead.
If you’ve got a Core i9 and you want to see if there’s a little more headroom left in the core — and you don’t mind accepting the risk of overclocking that comes with it — the IPM may be the simplest, easiest method of overclocking to let you do so yet. As for whether you need to buy a CPU protection plan… that entirely depends on how aggressive you intend to be. I’ve never seen a CPU die from mild overclocking, but if you want to start slamming high voltage through the core or pushing the envelope in terms of cooling, then a $ 19 warranty replacement option on a $ 400 – $ 500 chip may not be a bad call.
Intel’s IPM can be downloaded here.