MSI Z77A GD80 review

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Overclocking with Ivy Bridge processors


Overclocking with Ivy Bridge processors

We've mentioned at the start of this article already, if you are planning to do some overclocking with an Ivy Bridge based processor, you are so much better off with a K model processor.

Why K versions you ask? Well, the default non-K processors will be much harder to overclock. With Nehalem/Clarkdale (last generation Core i3/i5/i7) you pretty much take your base clock of 133 MHz and apply say a default multiplier of 25, that would be your 3.33 GHz processor. That base clock was capable of going so much higher, 150, 186 and when tweaked right, even over 200 MHz. So if you were able to apply a fictive 175 MHz on your base clock, you could multiply it with the limited 25 multiplier. That would get you 4375 MHz.

The new technology however has an embedded GPU / video processor merged into the very same processor die running over the same bus sharing the same L3 cache memory, things get increasingly complicated in matters of tweaking.

The new 100 MHz baseclock of Sandy/Ivy Bridge processors are harder to tweak, if you are lucky you can get 115 MHz out of it with regular cooling, multiply that with your maximum multiplier and you'll notice that the default processor can only overclock a few hundred MHz at best. And that is why Intel introduced the K series, since it offers you an unlocked multiplier which will allow you to go much, much higher.

So please do get a 20 USD more expensive K version and in the BIOS you'll have much better tweaking options. With a proper motherboard you can now set a multiplier per core.

The procedure is as follows:

  1. If optional in the BIOS, increase/release the TDP limit of your processor to 200~250 Watts
  2. And now set the TURBO or baseclock multiplier at a maximum of your liking, we applied an MP of 48 on all four cores
  3. Increase CPU voltage, though setting AUTO might work fine, we applied 1.400 V
  4. Make sure your processor is properly cooled (we used a heavy duty Noctua D12 heatpipe cooler with two fans (!).
  5. Save and Exit BIOS / UEFI

So with these settings the processor can turbo any or all cores towards that multiplier of 4800 times that 100 MHz baseclock frequency, that's a 4800 MHz configuration setup.

We could have gone higher but settled at 4800 MHz. Our temps are already really too high though - liquid cooling is the way to go at such clock frequencies.


Ivy Bridge runs hot though, you'll easily pass 80`90 degrees at 4800MHZ / 1.400V, liquid cooling is recommended -- in fact becomes a necessity. Here we used a Noctua D12 heatpipe cooler with two fans both at 100% RPM (!).

This entire overclock will be integrated into the test sessions. So all benchmarks will have these overclocked results embedded into our article. The K editions are going to kick ass and will absolutely offer the most bang for buck, to the enthusiast crowd of course.

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