Core i7-5960X Overclocking
Overclocking the Haswell-E CPUs is pretty simple: although you can fiddle with literally dozens of settings in a modern X99 BIOS, you can get 95+ of your best overclock simply by setting the multiplier and CPU core voltage…and making sure you have a good cooling solution, since this baby can dissipate 140 watts without any overclocking at all.
Starting with the Devil’s Canyon iteration of the LGA1150 Haswell CPUs, Intel has changed the thermal interface material used between the CPU die and the heat spreader. Intel calls it a “next generation polymer thermal interface” and says it should address the problems enthusiasts had overclocking the previous generation chips. The Haswell-E CPUs get this too, so I was hoping for some pretty epic overclocking action.
And I did get it, although not to the degree I had hoped. Intel’s press materials say that most CPUs should be stable at 4.5GHz @ 1.3VCORE, but the best I could do, even with my Corsair H100i cooler, was 4.4GHz. The system would boot into Windows at 4.5GHz but would crash running any benchmark. This is disappointing considering I had easily hit 4.8GHz in the Sandy Bridge Extreme Core i7-3960X CPU, and that was with Intel’s uninspiring 120mm liquid cooler. Granted, the 5960X does have an additional 10 watts in its TDP (140W vs. 130W), but I think some of the difference might simply be due to the extra complexity.
The maximum temperatures I saw running AIDA64’s “System Stability Test” were in the high 70s (Celsius). This caused the H100i fans to rev up a bit but were still within the acceptable range.
Although the overclock was less than what I’d hoped for, it did result in substantial performance increases in many of the benchmarks (items flagged with an asterisk: lower score is better):
|Benchmark||Stock||[email protected]||% Increase|
|x264HD Pass 1||117.3||154.7||31.9|
|x264HD Pass 2||28.3||37.0||30.7|
|SPECAPC Lightwave Interactive||540||441||18.3|
|SPECAPC Lightwave Multitask||971||724||25.4|
|SPECAPC Lightwave Rendering||384||302||21.4|
So, there’s 26% free performance that should be readily available to almost any 5960X whose owner is willing to spend a couple of minutes in the BIOS.
I’ll present my thoughts and conclusion on this new CPU in the next section.