Raptor Lake’s Unbreakable Overclocking World Record

overclocking world record

9117 MHz, set on March 7, 2024 with the Core i9-14900KS, might be unbreakable CPU frequency overclocking world record.

This frequency was achieved on March 7, 2024, by the overclocking team consisting of Peter Tan (Shamino), Jon Sandstrom (Elmor), SoonHo Jeong (Safedisk), and myself Pieter-Jan Plaisier (SkatterBencher). It is the culmination of a frequency record journey that began with the exceptional overclocking capabilities of Intel’s Raptor Lake processor architecture.

raptor lake cpu frequency overclocking world record

In this blog post, I’ll walk you through the reasons why some suggest this overclocking world record may never be broken, and how we achieved the world’s first 9 GHz and world’s first (validated) 9.1 GHz CPU overclock.

The 3 Key Ingredients of a CPU Frequency Overclocking World Record

There are three key ingredients to breaking the CPU Frequency Overclocking World Record:

  1. You need a great CPU with high-frequency potential and little to no cold issues,
  2. You need Liquid Helium to cool down the processor to temperatures far below -200 degrees Celsius, and
  3. You need a rock-solid overclocking platform that can drive the processor frequency and voltages at extremely low temperatures.

Since each of these ingredients can impact the performance of the other, you need them to play together nicely to have a shot at breaking the world record.

The Processor

Before Raptor Lake, the CPU frequency overclocking world record was held by the AMD FX-8350 processor featuring the Piledriver micro-architecture. AndreYang achieved nearly 8.8 GHz on November 19, 2012, well over a decade ago.

former overclocking world record

The AMD Bulldozer and Piledriver processors were known for their incredible overclocking capabilities, and their ability to operate at extremely low temperatures. For a variety of reasons, the AMD and Intel micro-architectures released in the years following Piledriver never came close to achieving frequencies surpassing 8 GHz.

YearCompanyArchitectureProductMax FrequencyLink
2011IntelSandy BridgeCore i5-2500K6382http://valid.x86.fr/pnum14
2012IntelIvy BridgeCore i7-3770K7247http://valid.x86.fr/559ntl
2013IntelHaswellCore i7-4770K7181http://valid.x86.fr/240rw0
2014AMDSteamrollerAthlon X4 870K6260https://valid.x86.fr/g5btin
2014IntelBroadwellCore i7-6950X5805http://valid.x86.fr/1zcvfi
2015AMDExcavatorAthlon X4 8454903http://valid.x86.fr/0kl2u6
2015IntelSkylakeCore i7-6700K7056http://valid.x86.fr/8v1dq5
2016IntelKaby LakeCore i7-7740K7562http://valid.x86.fr/gh9ifj
2017AMDZenRyzen 5 1600X5905http://valid.x86.fr/8gvc4s
2017IntelCoffee LakeCore i9-9900K7613http://valid.x86.fr/zmnzmz
2018AMDZen+Ryzen 7 2700X6000https://valid.x86.fr/qytcc1
2019AMDZen 2Ryzen 5 3600XT6155https://valid.x86.fr/8ki3vn
2020AMDZen 3Ryzen 5 5600X6175http://valid.x86.fr/yrp0cu
2020IntelComet LakeCore i9-10900K7707http://valid.x86.fr/cr6b2e
2021IntelRocket LakeCore i9-11900K7337http://valid.x86.fr/sqt4ap
2021IntelAlder LakeCore i9-12900KS7800http://valid.x86.fr/nheapx
2022AMDZen 4Ryzen 9 7950X7471http://valid.x86.fr/mlcmxz
highest frequency per cpu architecture

During the Intel Innovation 2022 event in September 2022, Intel announced the Raptor Lake processor architecture as the successor of Alder Lake. Two slides stood out at that event.

First, Intel claimed the upgraded Intel 7 process, featuring the 3rd generation SuperFin transistors, would bring peak frequency improvements of +600 MHz.

raptor lake performance improvements

Second, Intel teased the very first processor clocked at 6.0 GHz out of the box. This processor would later become known as the Core i9-13900KS.

intel 6 ghz out of the box

The highest frequency achieved on Alder Lake is 7800 MHz. So even with the improved Intel 7 process, no one expected Raptor Lake to touch AMD’s 8.8 GHz frequency record. But that all changed one month later when Elmor, Shamino, and SoonHo achieved 8812.85 MHz, breaking the decade-old world record.

13900K overclocking record

The most remarkable part about that overclocking result is that it was done with liquid nitrogen, not liquid helium.

The Cooling

This is the right time to spend a couple of minutes talking about the use of Liquid Helium for overclocking world records.

The obvious reason why liquid helium is used by overclockers is that it can cool the processor down to near absolute zero temperature. In theory, liquid helium (4.2K) provides a 73 kelvin advantage over liquid nitrogen (77.36K). Lower temperatures usually increase the overclocking headroom.

liquid helium vs liquid nitrogen

Modern Intel processors are surprisingly good at handling extreme temperatures. With a combination of the right motherboard and voltages, a lot of processors will operate without cold bug at minus 196 degrees Celsius.

Helium is indeed a rare element on earth and, thus, there’s a finite amount available. It’s a non-renewable resource too, so some claim using helium for overclocking records is an unacceptable waste of scarce resources. However, keep in mind that during an overclocking world record attempt, usually only 100 to 250 liters of Helium is consumed. That’s a blip of the estimated 160 million liters produced annually.

Furthermore, in the words of Max Planck, the 1918 Nobel Laureate in Physics, “Scientific discovery and scientific knowledge have been achieved only by those who have gone in pursuit of it without any practical purpose whatsoever in view.”

max planck quote

And, boy, liquid helium is a very impractical cooling method for your gaming system!

The Platform

Standard computer motherboards are not made to operate at liquid helium temperatures, but some are designed to achieve overclocking records. For the Raptor Lake CPU Frequency World Record attempts, we rely on the ASUS ROG Apex series motherboards.

The Apex series motherboards are designed for maximum performance. Think of it as the Sports edition of the standard ASUS ROG motherboards. The boards not only have a bunch of BIOS and hardware features geared towards enabling performance tuning capabilities, but also have a bunch of engineers working tirelessly on bringing firmware updates to further improve the overclocking capabilities.

asus rog motherboards

The platform for the CPU frequency attempt also includes other specialized tools.

A CPU liquid nitrogen cooling container is used to pour in liquid nitrogen and spray the liquid helium to cool down the processors. The designs require a balance of sufficient mass and contact surface area to achieve the best thermal transfer.

CPU and memory heaters are used to prevent the extremely cold temperature from spreading too far away from the processor. This has two important functions.

  1. First, it prevents any other component from becoming unstable due to too cold.
  2. Second, it also helps prevent condensation from causing short circuits.

Multiple temperature probes and sensors are used to measure the exact temperature of the processor and cooling container. This is important to ensure the processor is cold enough for the record but not too cold to operate.

An external OC panel provides the tools to configure the processor at run time. The most important tools include a button to enable Slow Mode, buttons to increase the base clock frequency in steps of 0.1 MHz, and a button to reset the system.

elmorlabs oc panel

Core i9-14900KS Raptor Lake Refresh Processor

The Core i9-14900KS is the final evolution of the Raptor Lake processor architecture. It represents the best of the Raptor Lake silicon, symbolized by its out-of-the-box frequency of 6.2 GHz. It’s also the fourth Raptor Lake “halo” SKU following the Core i9-13900K, Core i9-13900KS, and Core i9-14900K.

The team’s track record since achieving the 8.8 GHz with the Core i9-13900K is pretty solid. We’ve broken the world record twice since: twice with liquid helium.

14/10/20228812.85Core i9-13900Khttps://valid.x86.fr/k3dwcu
09/12/20229008.82Core i9-13900Khttps://valid.x86.fr/t14i1f
16/10/20239043.92Core i9-14900KFhttps://valid.x86.fr/7s8pff

We achieved the first 9 GHz back in December 2022 in preparation for the Core i9-13900KS product launch. We initially aimed to set the record with the KS, but turned out that the 13900K was also a one-of-a-kind chip. It could run colder and faster, and was the only processor capable of breaking the 9 GHz barrier.

You can check out my report and Intel’s documentary to learn more about that session.

We achieved 9 GHz for the second time in October 2023 while preparing for the Raptor Lake Refresh product launch. Again, the team identified a particular chip that had an edge over the others and, more importantly, an edge over the 9 GHz 13900K. Achieving the new record proved a lot more difficult than anticipated. We ultimately achieved a new record, but due to time limits weren’t able to fully max out the processor.

You can check out my report and Intel’s documentary to learn more about that session.

Given the Core i9-14900KS is supposed to be the best Raptor Lake has to offer, in preparation for the product launch in March 2024, the overclocking team came together to aim for the CPU Frequency Overclocking World Record one last time.

helium overclocking team

March 7, 2024: Record Attempt

Here’s what a typical liquid helium overclocking world record attempt looks like:

helium overclocking world record session typical schedule

Most of the work for the record attempt is done in the weeks leading up to the event as the team must sort through the available processor samples and identify the best candidates. Then, in the days leading up to the event, most attention is paid to identifying which specific cores have the highest overclocking potential as well as ensuring the overclocking is consistent. In simple terms, it means that it must be straightforward to replicate the target frequency multiple times.

On the day of the record attempt, before we use the liquid helium, again we make sure the processor can achieve the expected frequency with liquid nitrogen. If not, we re-mount the system. If yes, it’s go time.

It’s not that uncommon to need a remount. That’s what we did for this attempt as well. Even though the system behaved normally in the morning, we ran into some strange issues preparing for the helium session. So, we did a remount and then went for the liquid helium.

I’ll now leave you to enjoy the record attempt.

Is This Really an Unbreakable Record?

People suggest this may be an unbreakable record because of a couple of reasons.

  1. First, few overclocking teams have access to the resources required to operate a successful liquid helium overclocking session. As demonstrated by the Chinese overclocking team that attempted to break 9 GHz a couple of weeks ago, using liquid helium is not that simple.
  2. Second, this particular Core i9-14900KS processor sample appears to be one of a kind. It’s about 100 MHz better than the next best chip we’ve seen across all the thousands of Raptor Lake processors tested by the collective overclocking community.
  3. Third, not many processors can handle temperatures as low as the -230 degrees Celsius required for the overclocking record.

So, all these things combined make it very difficult to challenge this record with another Raptor Lake processor.

But what about future processors? Unfortunately, the trend of increased technological integration in silicon makes it more likely that future processors will struggle with extreme temperatures.

IP integration

Overclocking enthusiasts may recall the integration of technologies like the integrated memory controller, integrated PCIe controller, and integrated voltage regulation has a significant impact on a processor’s capability to handle extremely low temperatures.

Future processors feature a variety of interposers, more SRAM, and other technologies. While it’s not impossible that, ultimately, those processors will also be capable of running at extremely low temperatures, the deep integration of technologies makes it less likely.

If that’s true, then the Core i9-14900KS Raptor Lake processor may forever hold the CPU Frequency Overclocking World Record.

9117 overclocking world record


All right, let us wrap this up.

I want to thank the ASUS ROG team for including me in this little part of computer history. I also want to thank Intel and their OC team for their continued efforts to improve the overclocking experience.

I want to thank my Patreon supporters for supporting my work. If you have any questions or comments, please drop them in the comment section below. 

See you next time!

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