What Is Overclocking?2
Most of us have heard of overclocking — boosting the speed of a processor beyond its factory settings. This means increasing the frequency of instruction cycles that a CPU (Central Processing Unit) performs every second, its “clock speed,” and adjusting the voltage sent to the CPU.
Speeding up the processor, the computer’s “brain,” means faster retrieval and processing of information. An overclocked CPU can run faster without the need to buy new hardware. This can translate to performance gains in programs limited by your CPU speed.
But there are a few hurdles to overcome before you can start overclocking. The traditional process involves making changes in BIOS or UEFI (the text-based interface seen before the operating system boots up) and manually testing the CPU to see if it remains stable at higher speeds or under heavy load.
While this is a great way to learn how to overclock your CPU, it can be time-consuming. The Intel® Extreme Tuning Utility (Intel® XTU) simplifies the process of stress-testing and monitoring an Intel® CPU to find a stable overclock by allowing the user to work within the operating system instead of the BIOS.
However, an even easier method of overclocking now exists for the latest gen Intel® Core™ processors: Intel® Performance Maximizer.
What Is Intel® Performance Maximizer?
Intel® Performance Maximizer is overclocking software that uses machine-assisted testing for automatic overclocking on the latest gen Intel® Core™ processors. Intel® Performance Maximizer replaces the manual overclocking process of testing and adjusting. It does the work for you with intelligent testing, then finds the maximum stable frequency for an overclock based on the individual characteristics of the CPU.
How does this testing work? In the words of Aaron Mcgavock from Intel’s Client Performance/Enthusiast Strategic Marketing department: “Intel® Performance Maximizer uses proprietary tests to cover a wide range of stresses and algorithms that your processor may encounter during operation. This coverage is tested on a core-by-core basis and can take a few hours to complete, depending on the number of cores present in your processor.”
Intel® Performance Maximizer uses up to 16GB of storage space to create a partition where it can test the CPU without interference from the operating system and other software. This is done in the UEFI (Unified Extensible Firmware Interface) environment, an interface which boots before the OS, and which takes the place of BIOS (Basic Input/Output System) in most modern computers. The computer will reboot to enter this environment during testing.
In addition to 16GB of free space, you’ll need the following to get started:
- Compatible latest gen Intel® Core™ processor with a K designation.
- Windows* 10.
- An overclock-capable motherboard with a Z390 chipset and the latest BIOS.
- At least 8GB of RAM.
- An aftermarket cooling solution such as a multi-fan air cooler or All-in-One (AIO) liquid cooler. Better cooling can help your CPU to safely reach higher speeds.
- Several hours when the PC will not be used (the length of testing depends on the number of cores). Do not interrupt testing by powering off the PC.
- Backup storage. Before proceeding, back up any important data on the drive that will be partitioned.
How to Use Intel® Performance Maximizer?
Before beginning installation, disable all overclocking software. If you have previously changed your BIOS settings, refer to pages 7-8 of the Intel® Performance Maximizer user guide to restore them to defaults.
Next, download Intel® Performance Maximizer. Open the .exe and grant administrator privileges if asked:
After accepting the license agreement and installing, restart the system.
After the system has rebooted, open Intel® Performance Maximizer. Carefully read the disclaimer on the effects of overclocking.
If you have any concerns, consider purchasing an Intel® Performance Tuning Protection Plan (Intel® PTPP) for $19.99. See this FAQ for more information.
Select an internal storage device (not an external USB drive or stick) to create the UEFI partition. If space is not available, Intel® Performance Maximizer can shrink an existing partition. Back up all important data before taking this step.
Intel® Performance Maximizer may take several minutes to create the partition. Now you’re ready to begin testing!
Be aware: Testing can take several hours. Intel® Performance Maximizer individually and exhaustively tests each core of your CPU, which is more time-consuming than relying on standard data to predict how it will perform. This yields more accurate results, due to small differences in the manufacturing of each silicon chip. This also means testing will take longer for an eight-core CPU than a four-core CPU. Multiple reboots are normal during testing.
Do not interrupt the process by powering off the computer during the test. This can cause inaccuracies.
Click “Continue” when ready to begin. During testing, Intel® Performance Maximizer will report its progress from the UEFI environment (where it can test without starting windows):
If you want to cancel the test, you can safely do so when the message “Press any key within 10 seconds to abort testing” appears.
After testing, the system will reboot as Intel® Performance Maximizer applies the new settings. The utility will then summarize the improvements to the CPU clock speed:
If error messages appear at any point in the process, refer to the Troubleshooting section of the Intel® Performance Maximizer user guide for resolution.
Once you’ve clicked “Finish,” you’ll want to verify that your system is stable. Restart one final time, then run a stress test with the Intel® Extreme Tuning Utility (Intel® XTU) to ensure stability.
Enjoy Your Overclock
Intel® Performance Maximizer helps take the guesswork out of overclocking. Unlike other overclocking software, it relies on the results of machine-assisted testing rather than “pre-characterized data.”
As Mcgavock puts it, Intel® Performance Maximizer runs “an extremely robust performance validation analysis, and then automatically adjusts settings to match the distinctive capabilities of an individual, unlocked processor.”
In short, Intel® Performance Maximizer makes the overclocking process easy for anyone with an unlocked latest gen Intel® Core™ processor.
Just follow the steps above to unleash the power of your Intel® CPU.
Intel® Extreme Tuning Utility (Intel® XTU): Use this to stress test your CPU after overclocking.
Intel® Extreme Memory Profile (Intel® XMP) guide: Learn more about increasing RAM speeds with this feature, which PCs with Intel® CPUs can enable from the BIOS screen.