Top 5 Overclocking Highlights of 2023
To wrap up this amazing year full of overclocking adventures, we’re looking back at the SkatterBencher’s top five highlights of 2023.
While I’m proud of almost every piece of content I put on the YouTube channel and this website, a couple of projects are always extra special to me. That’s not necessarily because these got the most views or attention but because they mean something special.
I picked my top five favorite projects in 2023. Let’s have a look!
Table of Contents
OC #5: Ryzen Integrated Graphics Overclocked!
Number five already proves that my favorite projects are not necessarily those with the most views. In SkatterBencher #55, I overclocked the Radeon Graphics integrated into the Ryzen 7000 processors.
Ryzen 7000 “Raphael” processors were the first AMD processors with integrated graphics, excluding, of course, the APUs. While overclocking the integrated graphics wasn’t supported at launch, with AGESA 22.214.171.124, AMD gave us the tools to tune and overclock the integrated graphics.
The AMD Radeon Graphics (Ryzen 7000) integrated graphics features the RDNA 2.0 architecture in its most miniature form, with precisely 1 WorkGroup Processor. That’s 7 fewer than the Radeon RX 6500 XT, so the performance wasn’t great. But the overclocking capabilities were pretty good. We were able to overclock the graphics core from 2200 MHz to 3100 MHz, resulting in a performance increase of slightly more than 40% in some benchmarks.
This project is special because I wasn’t expecting AMD to enable overclocking for the IGP. I explicitly mentioned that in my Raphael launch content. But what really sets it apart is the comments I received on the YouTube video.
Thank you for the video, even though i had 7950x for a year now, i had no intention in using igpu since i had 3080, and now 3080 is in RMA and i had to use IGPU. Thanks to your video, frames improved a lot.Thaddeus2447, YouTUbe
Integrated graphics is a real value-add, even for people who use discrete graphics. Overclocking can help make the gaming experience a little more enjoyable while waiting for your powerful discrete graphics to return to reasonable pricing or return from repair.
OC #4: 6.7 GHz Core i9-13900KS at 6.7 GHz
On number four is the 6.7 GHZ Core i9-13900KS overclock from the beginning of the year. I know the 13900KS wasn’t that special a CPU launch for many since it was only a couple bins over the 13900K. But, indeed, for Intel, it was a remarkable launch because it was the first CPU clocked out of the box to 6 GHz.
Judging by the view count on my SkatterBencher YouTube video guide, many of you also enjoyed the 13900KS and its overclocking capabilities. SkatterBencher #53 is the second most-viewed video on the channel this year. I push the CPU to “only” 6.3 GHz in that guide. But in my 13900KS launch content, we push it up to 6.7 GHz. Of course, we needed to use some special conditions to achieve this frequency.
The first condition is that we exclusively use the P-cores and disable all the E-cores. That helps in two ways: (1) in an all-core gaming workload, the power consumption is much lower, and (2) we don’t have to deal with the E-core V/F curves when finetuning the voltage.
The second condition is that I use EK’s Delta2 TEC and Intel’s Cryo Cooling technology to achieve sub-ambient temperatures. In unregulated mode, the Delta TEC can lower CPU temperatures to 0 degrees Celsius. Of course, the much lower temperatures help improve the overclocking capabilities.
The third condition is that we must use Intel’s OCTVB toolkit to finetune the P-core frequency in various thermal scenarios. In this particular clock, I had up to two P-cores go up to 6.7 GHz when the temperature was below 10 degrees Celsius. Above 10 degrees Celsius, the maximum frequency was 6.4 GHz up to 50 degrees Celsius and 6.3 GHz up to 100 degrees Celsius. The all-core frequency is 6.1 GHz up to 70 degrees Celsius and 5.9 GHz at 100 degrees Celsius.
Obviously, the 6.7 GHz is only seen when idling at the desktop. In gaming workloads like CS:GO and Tomb Raider, the CPU frequency moves between 6.1 GHz and 6.4 GHz, depending on the scene and the operating temperature.
This project is special for me because it’s the ultimate expression of finetuning an Intel CPU. We use all the tricks in the book to maximize both the operating frequency and system performance.
Another reason why this project is dear to my heart is because this type of overclocking isn’t purely academic or for show. It’s actually possible to run this in a daily system, as I demonstrated during the Intel Creator Challenge, for which Elmor and I flew out to Los Angeles.
OC #3: X3D Overclocked Again!
It may surprise some that the 7800X3D overclocking project only made it to rank three. Yes, the 7800X3D video is by far my most popular YouTube video of 2023. Still, there are two more projects that I personally hold in higher regard.
That’s not to say the 7800X3D overclocking wasn’t very satisfying, certainly not. It is an excellent follow-up to the Ryzen 7 5800X3D overclocking guide from 2022. I consider the OC Strategies demonstrated in SkatterBencher #60 the most complete of all my Ryzen 7000 guides. That’s because we use all the techniques available: Precision Boost Overdrive 2, Curve Optimizer, Asynchronous Eclk, manual overclocking, and ASUS BIOS profiles.
The Asynchronous Eclk strategy, in particular, is my favorite. Asynchronous Eclk returned to Ryzen overclocking after disappearing since Ryzen 2000 Pinnacle Ridge. Ryzen 7000 “Raphael” processors support three clock generator modes: internal clock, external clock synchronous, and external clock asynchronous.
In asynchronous mode, there are two distinct external 100MHz reference clocks. One clock provides the 100MHz input for the CPU PLL, and another provides the 100MHz reference clock for the SOC PLLs. That means you can increase the reference clock for the CPU cores independent of your CPU’s other parts.
Leveraging asynchronous Eclk is fundamental for Ryzen CPUs that don’t support overclocking or have overclocking headroom above the Precision Boost Fmax limit. It often requires finetuning per-core stability using a positive Curve Optimizer setting.
In Skatterbencher #60, I use the Eclk strategy to push the Ryzen 7 7800X3D to 5.4 GHz. All CPU cores can achieve an effective clock frequency above 5.3 GHz; two cores almost hit 5.4 GHz, and the Shamino boost curve has increased by 250 to 350 MHz compared to stock.
I even teased 5.6 GHz at the end of the guide.
What makes these 7800X3D (and 5800X3D) overclocking guides unique is that we’re going against the grain and doing things we’re not supposed to. These days, it always carries a little more risk than a decade ago because enthusiasts rely entirely on the chip manufacturers to enable overclocking support. Suppose someone in the C-suite gets upset with enthusiasts doing things they’re not supposed to. In that case, it’s always a real possibility that overclocking gets shut down. That’s a point I often refer to when highlighting ISOOC.
Let’s hope it never comes to that!
Before we get to my top two overclocking projects of the year, here are the honorable mentions that didn’t make the cut:
In March, I launched the EFC SkatterBencher edition in collaboration with ElmorLabs. The EFC-SB is a customized version of the original ElmorLabs Easy Fan Controller, which I’ve used since SkatterBencher #26. The base product functions and features are the same as the original EFC, with a tiny improvement here and there. The most obvious difference is that this EFC version comes in the SkatterBencher color scheme: yellow, white, and black.
I covered overclocking the 11th gen Core i9-11980HK Tiger Lake in August. This project was dear to my heart because the 10nm Tiger Lake never came to DIY desktop. Furthermore, it was my first time trying a motherboard from 尔英 (Ěr Yīng), a non-Taiwanese manufacturer. Additionally, the BIOS options give us a great insight into how Intel CPU overclocking works behind the scenes.
2023 was also the year of the return of overclocking high-end desktops. Both Intel and AMD released their high core-count CPUs this year. They gave us overclocking entertainment for up to 56 and 96 cores, respectively. These overclocking projects are always interesting because they push the thermal solutions to their limit.
OC #2: Arc A380 & A770
On number two of my most memorable overclocking projects this year are actually two cards: the Arc A30 and the Arc A770. These represent the upper end and lower end of the Intel Alchemist discrete graphics card lineup. Alchemist is the codename for Intel’s first-generation desktop discrete graphics. It uses the Xe-HPG variant of the Intel Xe GPU Architecture.
The Arc product launch was pretty messy. I first acquired an Arc graphics card back in August 2022. To get my hands on the card, I had to purchase it from JD.com and import it into Taiwan. The only card available then was from Gunnir, a vendor I had never heard of before.
In 2023, I published SkatterBencher #44, covering the ins and outs of Arc A380 overclocking. At the end of the guide, I made it clear that with the state of the overclocking enablement at the time, the Arc A380 could not be pushed to its limit. I honestly expected my Arc journey to end there, but then I got my hands on an Arc A770 Limited Edition.
In SkatterBencher #64, published in July this year, I cover all the details about overclocking the Arc A770 with water cooling. In the final overclocking strategy, we overcome all the artificial limitations holding back the GPU and push it to 2.7 GHz.
Since now the only thing holding back the GPU was cooling, I also decided to try extreme cooling. In early August, I published my results, which included a near-clean sweep in the 3DMark leaderboards and a maximum frequency of nearly 3.6 GHz.
The Intel Arc overclocking projects are special to me for various reasons.
First, because this was totally uncharted territory. When the cards launched in 2022, there weren’t any overclocking tools, let alone overclocking guides on how to unlock the potential of the cards. With Shamino, we had to build the Arc OC Tool software ourselves to even get started. Later, with the A770 card, I needed Elmor’s help to figure out how to use the voltage regulator with his EVC2 device to work around crucial limitations. Getting Arc to overclock was truly a collaborative effort!
Second, it also showed me how passionate some folks at Intel are about overclocking and performance tuning. Over the course of the year, starting with my first piece on the A380 all the way to the nitrogen-cooled A770, multiple people from Intel reached out to provide support and guidance where possible. Even when it wasn’t their job. It’s nice to know that hardcore enthusiasts reside in those large, usually faceless, corporates.
Third, because we were one of the first to use liquid nitrogen on Intel Arc. I wasn’t the very first, as that honor goes to Reddit user un8ounded. But I believe I was the first to run the card without artificial limitations, thus seeing the true maximum performance capabilities.
Lastly, because we almost got 3.6 GHz on the GPU! As I mentioned in my guide, this was Intel’s first attempt at a discrete graphics card in a very long time. Getting speeds well over 3 GHz is nothing short of remarkable.
Clearly, the Arc overclocking projects have a lot going for them. But they didn’t make it to my number one spot, and that’s because we achieved something far more special just a couple of months ago.
OC #1: 9.1 GHz & New Frequency Record
While 2023 was a year full of unforgettable overclocking projects, none can match the rush of hitting 9 GHz once again and seeing 9.1 GHz for the very first time.
Being the first to hit 9 GHz almost precisely one year ago was already special. Still, this year’s record is even more memorable on a personal level. Not only because we managed to surpass last year’s record but because it took a lot of energy to get there. Intel put up a great video documenting the record attempt, and I highly recommend watching that.
Overclocking with liquid helium is always a challenge because so many moving parts need to come together. You need to have a CPU with extraordinary cores, a motherboard that can deliver power in extremely cold conditions, and the right operating system to maximize the probability of success.
Even with all that in place, things can still go wrong for an experienced team like ours. We had everything figured out for the first record attempt and even beat the world record on our first attempts. But at the end of the session, none of our CPU-Z validations passed. All were rejected. So, no record.
Discouraged but not deterred by the setback, ASUS approved ordering another 100L of liquid helium for the week after. During the weekend, Shamino, SoonHo, Elmor, and I worked from morning to late in the evening to find out what went wrong. At the end of the weekend, we figured out what went wrong but didn’t figure out a foolproof solution.
So, going into the helium session on Monday, we had a plan but no certainty that it would work. Fortunately, the cores were capable, and in the end, we managed 10 results surpassing the previous world record. However, only one also passed the CPU-Z validation: Intel Core i9 14900KF @ 9043.92 MHz.
It’s hopefully apparent to you why this is my number one highlight of the year. It’s the combination of getting 9 GHz once more – we’re the only team that’s done it so far – and seeing 9.1 GHz for the first time, as well as the fact that that happened at the end of a tumultuous emotional rollercoaster of a week. We were all mentally and emotionally exhausted after this session.
Wrapping up 2023
To wrap up this amazing year full of overclocking adventures, I’m excited about what’s to come in 2024. With Zen 5 and Arrow Lake, two major CPU launches are coming in the second half of the year. Of course, I’ll try to cover those with extensive guides as I did with previous architectures.
To end this blog post, I want to say thanks for being a part of the SkatterBencher community. Nearly all comments and feedback you provide on this channel are positive and encouraging. That means a lot to me. Of course, I also want to give special thanks to the Patreon supporters for the extra support.
Now it’s time to celebrate the end of the year in the company of friends and family. Here’s to a fantastic year ahead!
‘Till the next one!