MSI Game Boost

MSI Game Boost enables one-second overclocking providing you with an easy performance boost with the click of a single button.

z170 msi game boost

The Game Boost overclock setting depends on the specific CPU, motherboard, and sometimes even BIOS setting. On modern CPUs like Alder Lake or Raptor Lake, Game Boosts adjust the Turbo Ratio configuration and applies an AVX negative ratio offset.

MSI Game Boost in SkatterBencher Guides

We use MSI Game Boost in the following SkatterBencher guides:

  • SkatterBencher #50: Intel Core i7-13700K Overclocked to 6000MHz (link)
  • SkatterBencher #34: Intel Core i9-12900KF Overclocked to 5700 MHz (link)
  • SkatterBencher #31: Intel Core i7-12700K Overclocked to 5400 MHz (link)
  • SkatterBencher #11: Intel Core i7-10700K Overclocked to 5300 MHz (link)

MSI Game Boost: A Brief and Incomplete History

The history of Game Boost can be traced back to mid-2007 when Intel launched the P35 Express chipset for LGA775 processors. The feature wasn’t called Game Boost then, but the function was the same: a one-step process to achieve better performance.

Browsing through the manual of the MSI P35 Neo2-FR motherboard we find on page 2-19 a feature called Hardware Overclock FSB Jumpers. By configuring these jumpers in different positions, you can change the front-side bus frequency between 200, 266, and 333 MHz. This in turn increases the CPU core frequency. This crude way of automatic overclocking leverages the different default FSB configurations for the available processors at the time.

msi p35 hardware overclock fsb jumpers

About one year later, around June 2008, Intel launched the P45 Express chipset also for the LGA775 processors. MSI retained the OC Jumper as a way to increase the front-side bus frequency from 266 MHz to 400 MHz, though it was rebranded as RapidBoost.

It wasn’t until the launch of the Intel X58 chipset for LGA1366 processors that MSI changed from the old-fashioned jumpers to something slightly more user-friendly as switches. The Easy OC Switch, implemented on motherboards like the X58 Eclipse SLI, was still the one-step overclocking tool that allows users from any pedigree to increase the performance of their system by overclocking. Undoubtedly well-intended by MSI, but probably a thorn in the eye of Intel, MSI’s marketing slides point out that the Easy OC Switch can turn your US$300 Core i7-920 into a US$999 Core i7-965. Not all reviewers agreed with MSI.

Steven Walton from Techspot, nowadays at HardwareUnboxed, found the feature to be, quote, rather pointless.

Regardless, MSI continued its mission of providing novice users with a quick and easy way to overclock the CPU. In September 2009, Intel launched the P55 chipset for LGA1156 processors. And this time MSI was all in on the easy overclocking game with MSI OC Genie.

MSI OC Genie is a hardware-based automatic overclocking tool that relies on an actual chip on the motherboard to overclock the CPU. In a press release, MSI said that:

By extending the same concept of product design, MSI utilizes its 20-year R&D experience to develop the new Easy OC Technology, OC Genie. Combining OC Genie’s press-button and dedicated overclocking processor, no complicated setup and professional overclocking skill are required to boost up to 45% performance in 1 second.MSI

By just the press of the OC Genie button, the OC Genie Processor automatically detects the best overclocking settings of CPU, memory, and integrated graphics. Furthermore, OC Genie also adjusts the voltage settings to ensure stability.

Reading through motherboard reviews from the time, OC Genie seems to have been very well received. Guru3D extensively tested OC Genie with the MSI P55-GD80 motherboard and by the press of a button managed to increase the Core i7-870 CPU frequency by 800 MHz from 2.93 GHz to 3.74 GHz. They also indicate this was a 100% stable overclock.

MSI OC Genie eventually also carried over to some X58 motherboards like the MSI Big Bang X58 XPower as well as in BIOS form appeared as OC Genie Lite on certain AMD motherboards.

It got a little confusing at the time as some AMD motherboards like the MSI 890GXM-G65 featured both OC Genie Lite in the BIOS and an Easy OC Switch on the motherboard itself. Oh yea, that’s a forum post by the same Toppc who now works for MSI!

Moving forward, when Intel launched the P67 chipset for LGA1155 Sandy Bridge processors in 2011, MSI introduced OC Genie II technology. The 2nd generation of OC Genie was pretty similar to the first generation but better as MSI claims now even your girlfriend can get extra performance. Not entirely sure that line of thought would be possible these days.

Sandy Bridge fundamentally changed the way overclocking is done. Whereas before Sandy Bridge CPUs could be overclocked by increasing the base clock frequency, on Sandy Bridge overclocking was restricted exclusively to the K-SKU CPUs with unlocked CPU multipliers. Undeterred by this limitation, MSI claimed OC Genie II would increase the clock frequency of a Core i5-2500K by 900 MHz from 3.3 GHz to 4.2 GHz.

Many reviewers had a go at manual overclocking OC Genie II, including a young Linus Tech tips. With the press of a single button Young Linus managed to overclock his Core i7-2600K to 4.2 GHz.

In April 2012, Intel launched the successor of Sandy Bridge and P67 with Ivy Bridge and Z77. MSI’s leading mainstream overclocking board was the MPower which also featured OC Genie II. Young Linus again showed off the overclocking capabilities of the OC Genie II feature demonstrating a 30+ percent improvement in the 3DMark score. The OC Genie II feature was also present on a wide range of MSI X79 motherboards allowing media such as PC Perspective to achieve an overclock of 400 MHz on a Core i7-3820 with a base frequency of 3.6 GHz .

Then came Haswell and Z87 in June 2013. Here’s where MSI is starting to take the automatic overclocking tool in a fresh direction. There are several changes to how OC Genie works:

  1. First, we jump straight from OC Genie II to OC Genie 4
  2. Second, the function is now available both in the form of the traditional button as well as a “virtual” OC Genie in BIOS
  3. Third, an OC Genie Mode switch provides two “gears” which determine how aggressive OC Genie pursues the overclock

Based on AnandTech’s coverage of the MSI Z87 Xpower motherboard, Gear 1 would overclock the Core i7-4770K to 4GHz whereas Gear 2 would overclock that same CPU to 4.2 GHz.

The Haswell refresh and accompanying Z97 chipset wasn’t much of a change from the products launched one year earlier. MSI pretty much adopted the same OC Genie 4 feature set. Also, on the HEDT X99 platform, the implementation was the same. At least … on the first generation launched in 2014 together with the Haswell-E processors.

Then, in August 2015 something changed.

With the launch of the 6th generation Intel Core processor codenamed Skylake and their accompanying Z170 chipset,  the OC Genie was put back in its bottle and replaced by … the Game Boost Knob. Game Boost’s function is not too different from OC Genie in that it still aims to provide an easy way for novice users to overclock their CPU. The physical knob is present only on the high-end Z170 motherboards and mid-end to low-end motherboards have a “virtual” Game Boost button in the BIOS.

When researching the Game Boost knob, I came across an interesting story on the origins of this physical knob. The long story short is that AnandTech’s Ian Cutress claims he’s responsible for MSI’s decision to bring this knob to market. As his story goes, the knob originally featured on development versions of MSI’s Z170 motherboards and was used by the engineers to do specific things like loading OC profiles, safe booting, memory safe booting, applying specific settings. Ian alleges he convinced MSI to repurpose this knob or dial as a multi-step overclocking function.

The Z170 Game Boost knob is an 8-step dial that goes from 0 to … eleven. Each step has a predefined BCLK frequency, CPU ratio, and voltage which lifts the frequency of a Core i7-6700K from 4300 MHz at step 1 to 5000 MHz at step 11. Virtual BIOS of the Game Boost function offered no multi-step approach but a binary on/off where on would mean the CPU is overclocked. For the Core i7-6700K Game Boost on means running at 4.4GHz which is equal to Game Boost 2 on boards with the 8-step dial.

MSI adopted the Game Boost knob on the 2nd generation X99 motherboards which launched with the Broadwell-E processors in 2016. We even have a video up on our YouTube channel where we overclock a Broadwell-E Core i7-6950X processor using the MSI Game Boost dial on the MSI X99A Gaming Pro Carbon motherboard. By now, the virtual Game Boost knob in the BIOS offered the same features as the physical dial on the motherboard with 8-step multi-level overclocking from 0 to 11.

And from there the Game Boost feature sort of continued to live on. High-end motherboards with the 8-step dial up to eleven offers both a physical and virtual multi-step overclocking function, whereas boards without the knob offer only a binary on/off.

On the Z270 motherboards, you’ll find automatic Game Boost overclocking for 6th gen and 7th gen processors. On X299 motherboards which still feature the Game Boost dial, it is no longer bears the intrusive bright red color but is replaced by a black dial. But the 8-step overclocking to 11 persists. For example, on the X299 Xpower Gaming AC. On the Z390 motherboards, the bright red button returns like for example on the Z390 Godlike. The button still goes up to 11 and changes the CPU ratio as well as CPU voltage.

By this time AMD has Ryzen from the Bulldozer ashes and also gets their Game Boost feature. On the X370 Xpower Gaming Titanium, we find the same bright red button as on high-end Intel motherboards. And we find the same 8-step overclocking levels up to 11. We find the less intrusive black dial version on the MSI X470 Gaming M7 AC with more overclocking up to 11. We also find the black dial on the X570 Godlike launched in the summer of 2019.

In 2020, the Game Boost dial disappeared from the high-end MSI motherboards leaving us with exactly one Game Boost function in the BIOS: on and off. The button’s function is the same across the MSI product stack and offers the same automatic overclocking: exactly 1 turbo ratio higher than the default.