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Quick & Easy MSI Z690/Z790 CPU Overclocking Guide - Beginner Friendly!

17180 Views 91 Replies 22 Participants Last post by  Ichirou
This is a very simple guide to overclocking your 12th or 13th Gen CPU on an MSI Z690 or Z790 motherboard.
It is not complex, and is designed to optimize your CPU for maximum performance at your desired voltage. Memory overclocking is not covered here.

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Prerequisites
Monitoring: HWiNFO
Stress Testing: Cinebench R23 (Game Stable) OR y-cruncher (Rock Stable)
Patience :)

Ideal Voltage
Everyone's risk tolerance is different, and degradation is real. I've degraded a few chips already from my own testing, so I can speak from experience.
I won't tell you what is a "guaranteed" safe voltage to stay under, but Intel states for the 13900K/KF that 253W is the max they support.
You should also try to keep your max core temperature under 80~85C at the most. That's one possible metric to determine how much headroom you have.

If you only want to be bare minimum "game" stable, Cinebench R23 is enough. But you're going to experience issues with any intensive workload.
y-cruncher gets pretty much to rock stable under any workload, but hammers the CPU quite hard and requires a lot more voltage is pass.
So they are akin to the minimum and maximum voltages you would need for any workload.
If you want to settle in the middle, you will need to field test your own workloads over an extended period of time to see what voltage is required.

MSI has graced users by automatically clocking down CPUs and lowering their voltage and power consumption during idle/light loads.
Even with an override (manual) voltage setting, this feature effectively makes the CPU work as if it were set to adaptive voltage.
(Changing the power plans in Windows doesn't really do anything either in my experience.)
Hence, there is no reason to overcomplicate the overclocking process. Just stick with using the override voltage setting for simplicity.

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Initial Settings
1) Enter the BIOS by holding DEL while booting up the PC.
If you have issues trying to get into it, try doing it just after the underscore on the screen disappears, but before the MSI logo appears.

2) If you are prompted to choose a cooler type, go with Water for now. You can always limit the wattage later.

3) On the main screen, go into Advanced mode by pressing F7 or clicking the button at the top.
Click Settings > Boot, and then enable GO2BIOS. This will make overclocking much easier.
Whenever you have issues getting into the BIOS, turn off the PC, and then press and hold the power button for four seconds to directly enter the BIOS.

Afterwards, navigate to the overclock (OC) section on the left.

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4) Set the "P-Core/E-Core Ratio Apply Mode" to "All Core". Set the "Per P-Core/E-Core Ratio Limit" to "Manual".

5) Start with the stock settings of your CPU for now to establish a baseline.
Google for your CPU to figure out what the default P-Cores, E-Cores, and Ring (cache) clocks are.
For example, with the
13900KF, Intel states that the Performance and Efficient core max turbo frequencies are 5.40 GHz and 4.30 GHz respectively.
The Ring (cache) clock tends to be general knowledge, but if you can't find your chip's base value, just assume it is 4.00 GHz for now.


Plug in the values of each into the "X-Core Ratio" and "X-Core #" fields, like below.
Be sure to convert the frequencies to multiplier values by multiplying them by 10. (Example: 5.40 GHz => 54)
Plug in the baseline ring/cache frequency into the "Ring Ratio" field.

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6) Enter the "Advanced CPU Configuration" menu.
Enable "BCLK 100 MHz Lock On".
You can disable "Hyper-Threading" here. You can also set the "Active E-Cores" to 0. I recommend leaving them, but everyone's use-case differs.

Disable "Intel C-State". You can set the "Long Duration Power Limit (W)" to limit your max desired wattage here.
And the "Short Duration Power Limit (W)" for instantaneous power spikes (it should be set equal to or higher than the Long Duration).


7) Enable "Extreme Memory Profile (XMP)".
There are more specifics to memory overclocking, but they are beyond the scope of this guide.
If you cannot boot to desktop after enabling XMP, you may need to change the "CPU IMC : RAM Clock" to Gear 2.


8) Set the "CPU Core Voltage Mode" to "Override Mode". Enter your desired voltage below.
If you want to play it safe, start with a value under 1.30V. You can always work your way up from 1.15-1.20V.

9) If you are keeping your E-Cores active, set the "CPU E-Core L2 Voltage Mode" to "Override Mode". Enter 1.35V below for now.
This voltage helps stabilize higher ring/cache frequencies when the E-Cores are enabled. 1.35V is typically more than enough.
You will be optimizing this later, once the primary overclocking is done.
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10) Enter the "DigitALL Power" menu. Set the "CPU Loadline Calibration Control" to "Mode 5" to start.
There are lots of specifics to get into about loadlines (LLC), but they are beyond the scope of this guide.
It's a bit time consuming to find the ideal LLC value, and as the Mode value increases, the Vdroop does as well.
Vdroop is healthy for CPUs, but if you want a flat LLC, go with Mode 2/3 instead.


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Finding A Baseline
11) Boot up Windows, and run HWiNFO. Open the Sensors window. Look for the section that contains "VR VOUT". This is your true VRM voltage reading.
The far left first column is the active (ongoing) value. The second column is the minimum. The third is the maximum. And the fourth is the average.
The "Current (IOUT)" and "Power (POUT)" are important values as well, as they are the true current and wattage readings.
If you're just a beginner, all that you should care about is the Power (POUT) reading.
(If your motherboard or BIOS does not reveal these values, the CPU Package Power reading is good enough, albeit somewhat inaccurate.)

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12) Do a quick test with Cinebench or y-cruncher to determine if the voltage you set is enough to begin with.
With Cinebench (game stable only), you will want to do a quick 10 minute test to start.
Click File > Advanced Benchmark to show the "Minimum Test Duration" parameter, and select 10 minutes. Start the "CPU (Multi Core)" test.

With y-cruncher (virtually rock stable), you will want to run the main pi benchmark to start.
Press 0 and hit Enter. Then 1. Then enter the value which corresponds with the most memory your RAM capacity can handle.
For example, 16 GB would be 7, 32 GB would be 8, and 64 GB would be 9. Press Enter to start the test.
(Warning: y-cruncher requires much more voltage than virtually all other stress tests, which means it is more likely to degrade your CPU.)

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There are various possibilities for how your tests will turn out:
If your Cinebench test is successful, the program will give you a score next to the start button for Multi-Core.
If your y-cruncher test is successful, the program will give you a "Total Computation Time" and a "Start-to-End Wall Time".
If either test is unsuccessful, you will either encounter an error, or your PC will crash with a BSOD (which is most likely pointing to too low voltage).

Note: With either test, if HWiNFO reveals any "Windows Hardware Errors" (WHEA errors), it is considered unsuccessful.
Note 2: On Windows 10, y-cruncher might have an issue forcing all cores to run at 100%. To verify this, monitor the Effective Clocks in HWiNFO.
If you notice that only the E-Cores are maxed out while the P-Cores are not active, you will need to run the full test instead (see Step 16 below).

If you are successful, move to Step 13. If not, set a higher CPU Core Voltage value. Increase it by +0.01V increments, retesting after each change.
At this point, you have found the minimum voltage required to run your CPU's baseline clocks on all-core.

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13) Keep boosting up your CPU Core Voltage setting until you reach a true voltage/wattage which you no longer wish to go any higher.
Each time you gradually raise the voltage, you will need to retest the chip, but you don't need to run it for the full duration of time.
You can just let it run for 10-20 seconds and check the active voltage and power values. It's fine to interrupt the test to revise the voltage.
Once you have found the voltage that leads to the current and wattage you wish to permanently stick with, proceed to the next step.

If the voltage required to pass either test surpasses your maximum acceptable wattage, chances are, you have a poorly binned chip.
There's not much you can do about that, so you have to decide at this point whether you want to proceed, or resort to underclocking instead.

To underclock, reduce all of the multipliers of either the P-Cores or the E-cores in Step 5 by 1 until either test passes.
The errors/crashing could be from either the P-Cores or the E-Cores, so you will need to test both out to see which is the weaker link.


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Core Optimization
14) After finding a baseline and establishing your maximum voltage, return to the BIOS's overclocking menu.

15) Raise the "P-Core Ratio" by 1 to raise the maximum. Do not raise all of the "P-Core #" multipliers at this time.
Go from top to bottom for simplicity. Raise a single "P-Core #" multiplier by 1.

Load up Windows and go through a short test. If it passes, raise the same multiplier by 1 again. And also raise the "P-Core Ratio" to follow suit.
When it fails, revert the change and make a note about how it failed.
For example: Did it BSOD? Or did it simply error? How quickly? Any WHEA errors? How high could the multiplier reach?

Repeat this process for each of the P-Cores. It will take some time. Based on your notes and findings, sort your P-Cores from strongest to weakest.
You do not need to revert a core back to the base multiplier to test a second one. If one is successful, keep it as-is and adjust the next.


16) After you've found the highest multipliers each core can pass tests at, run the full test instead and try to pass it.
In Cinebench, that would be the 30 minute stability test instead.
In y-cruncher, you enter 1, then 7, and then 0. (You only need to pass one loop, so stop the test after it does.)

If you succeed, proceed to Step 17. If not, then based on your notes, start reducing the weakest cores by 1 until it does pass.
You are done optimizing your P-Cores at this point.


17) Raise the "E-Core Ratio" by 1 to raise the maximum. Do not raise all of the "E-Core #" multipliers at this time.
Repeat the exactly same process as the one in Step 15. The E-Cores are built in clusters of four, so they cannot be adjusted individually.
You are done optimizing your E-Cores at this point.

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18) Raise the "Ring Ratio" incrementally by 1 or 2. Keep retesting until it fails to pass.

19) Gradually reduce "CPU E-Core L2 Voltage" by -0.05V decrements and keep retesting until it fails to pass.

20) Attempt to increase the LLC Mode by 1 to see if you optimize the voltage a little more. (But it's probably not going to work.)

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CPU overclocking and performance maximization finished! Feel free to ask questions :)

Baseline: 8x 56 on the P-Cores / 4x 45 on the E-cores / 51 on the Ring, at 1.28V VR VOUT. 41,800 points in Cinebench.
Optimized: 5x 57, 3x 56 on the P-Cores / 1x 46, 3x 45 on the E-Cores / 51 Ring, at 1.28V VR VOUT. 42,300 points in Cinebench.
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1 - 20 of 92 Posts

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Thanks, I'm going to need this as I've only used Asus and Asrock before and also first time I'll need to do per core OC.

Also did you get 4200CL14 to work on your ram?
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Also did you get 4200CL14 to work on your ram?
Yes. Take a look at the screenshot in the spoiler. TM5 anta777 ABSOLUT stable.
 

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Yes. Take a look at the screenshot in the spoiler. TM5 anta777 ABSOLUT stable.
Very good kit you have then, mine don't boot at 4200CL14 G2.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Very good kit you have then, mine don't boot at 4200CL14 G2.
Sounds more like a motherboard or CPU IMC issue.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Great guide! What voltage are you running at 5.7ghz with your chip? And how many years have you been running your B-dies at 1.65v?😊
5.7 GHz all-core requires quite a lot. It's not a good chip. Hence, I just have it on 5.6 with most cores at 5.7 instead.
But now chip has degraded, so none of it is applicable anymore.

This kit of RAM is perfectly fine no matter how much voltage I hammer it with. But I do have it under water to keep it cool as an ice cube.
For most folk, testing up to 1.60V max is best.
 

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5.7 GHz all-core requires quite a lot. It's not a good chip. Hence, I just have it on 5.6 with most cores at 5.7 instead.
But now chip has degraded, so none of it is applicable anymore.

This kit of RAM is perfectly fine no matter how much voltage I hammer it with. But I do have it under water to keep it cool as an ice cube.
For most folk, testing up to 1.60V max is best.
Do you know what specific setting you had it under that caused it to degrade?

Thanks for the tip on the RAM.
 

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Thanks for the tip on the RAM.
I have the same ICs and have pumped them up to 1.8v on 10900K, but the IMC stopped scaling at 1.725v ram settings.

I had them at 1.725v for about 6 months without issue before moving them to Z690.

I wouldn't try this on any ICs other than Micron B die or higher bins of Hynix DJR though.

Someone on reddit told me they killed their Micron B dies at 1.7+v, but they were using a 3600 standard ballistix kit so maybe thats why, from what I can tell, modules that failed binning for the 4000 kits end up on the 3600, and even if the 3600 OCs as well it takes more voltage for the same settings.
 
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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Do you know what specific setting you had it under that caused it to degrade?

Thanks for the tip on the RAM.
Too much Vcore.
 

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If you are successful, move to Step 12
I think that's meant to be 13.

Thanks for the guide handy for someone like me who has only ever done all core overclocks (just upgraded from an 8600k to 13600KF). Currently sitting at 5500P, 4400E but I'll follow your steps to see if some cores can be bumped up.

Regarding the CPU degradation is that generally caused by exceeding the IccMax values? I think for my CPU it's 170A so was planning on keeping my max power draw around 220W, <1.3V. The only time I'm ever going to hit those kind of values is stress testing/benchmarking so I'm not going to go too overboard, probably just stick with R23.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
I think that's meant to be 13.

Thanks for the guide handy for someone like me who has only ever done all core overclocks (just upgraded from an 8600k to 13600KF). Currently sitting at 5500P, 4400E but I'll follow your steps to see if some cores can be bumped up.

Regarding the CPU degradation is that generally caused by exceeding the IccMax values? I think for my CPU it's 170A so was planning on keeping my max power draw around 220W, <1.3V. The only time I'm ever going to hit those kind of values is stress testing/benchmarking so I'm not going to go too overboard, probably just stick with R23.
Thanks for correcting my typo.

The degradation basically caused by wattage. You really shouldn't be going above Intel's max turbo spec of 253W, regardless of cooling.
 

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What worries me a little bit here is that some boards will just pump insane voltages by BIOS defaults and basically slowly eat your chip away without you ever realizing. My MSI Pro Z690-A pumped something like 1.35V with all power limites removed as a BIOS default, causing my 13600K to consume ~220W in Cinebench. At first I thought I mounted the cooler wrong, but nope, just the board going balls to the wall by default. The board is brand new, BIOS updated with flashback.
 

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@Ichirou

Enable "BCLK 100 MHz Lock On".

Does this stop the BCLK from auto downclocking to what it does at auto BCLK?

Like on my current board I have to set it to 100.25 to lock the actual OC numbers.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
@Ichirou

Enable "BCLK 100 MHz Lock On".

Does this stop the BCLK from auto downclocking to what it does at auto BCLK?

Like on my current board I have to set it to 100.25 to lock the actual OC numbers.
It's just a hotfix for Z690/Z790 boards where the BCLK is on 99.8 MHz by default. It makes it 100.0 MHz instead.
 

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It's just a hotfix for Z690/Z790 boards where the BCLK is on 99.8 MHz by default. It makes it 100.0 MHz instead.
Yea thats the same thing, to run actual 100 on my asrock I have to set 100.25.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
Is 1.5v safe if i'm not going above 90C and limiting my power to 300w? What is the community accepted standard for safe alder/raptor lake vcore voltage?
No. Max VR VOUT that's safe is like, 1.30V at the highest. Temp being like 80-85C max. And power being like 253W as Intel states.
You can use LLC to Vdroop heavily from 1.50V to something like 1.20V on load, but for sustained loads, that's gonna kill your chip.
 

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No. Max VR VOUT that's safe is like, 1.30V at the highest. Temp being like 80-85C max. And power being like 253W as Intel states.
You can use LLC to Vdroop heavily from 1.50V to something like 1.20V on load, but for sustained loads, that's gonna kill your chip.
My Z790 Tomahawk D4 doesn't have a VR OUT sensor. Do you know how much the discrepancy is usually with the 'vcore' sensor in HWINFO64?

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
My Z790 Tomahawk D4 doesn't have a VR OUT sensor. Do you know how much the discrepancy is usually with the 'vcore' sensor in HWINFO64?

View attachment 2584577
On my MSI Edge Z690, 1.28V VR VOUT is about 1.30V VCC Sense in the BIOS
 
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