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Overclocking Intel's Core i7 920

Overclocking Intel's Core i7 920

Manufacturer: Intel

We've seen how the "Core" performance lies, but what about stretching the value of a new i7 920 purchase that much more? With an RRP of $284 it’s not exactly a Core 2 Quad Q6600 G0 territory bargain, but it's the cheapest of the new Core i7 CPUs by a large margin.

What potential does $284 buy you though? The Q6600s clocked to between 3.0 and 3.6GHz usually, although inevitably there are some people out there with some serious skills having eked out over 4GHz.

But with a new architecture comes a new way to overclock - we'll walk you through how to get a solid overclock out of the Core i7 920 on two of the latest motherboards, describing what BIOS settings we found worked.

Overclocking Intel's Core i7 920 How to overclock the Core i7 920 Overclocking Intel's Core i7 920 How to overclock the Core i7 920
Asus P6T Deluxe and the MSI X58 Eclipse - click to enlarge

Hardware Choices

With the launch of a whole new platform we're currently a little limited when it comes to hardware choices because not everything has arrived at the store-fronts yet. That said, there are two boards we have currently in the office that we’ll try just to see how far both go, although we'll be doing a full review as well so you know the ins and outs in the coming weeks.

In addition to the Core i7 920, we've got the Thermalright Ultra 120 eXtreme 1366-RT and Noctua NH12P with LGA1366 mounting brackets - both offer tremendous cooling power for these 130W TDP CPUs that will be overvolted, increasing their power output.

On the motherboard front we'll be using the MSI X58 Eclipse and the Asus P6T Deluxe - both of which retail for around £280 here in the UK. Finally we've got a 6GB triple channel Corsair Dominator 2 kit that's rated to 1,600MHz with 8-8-8-24-2T timings at just 1.65V. These should also retail for about $300 (approx. £230) making them an expensive investment.

What's more, because the Core i7 has oodles of memory bandwidth anyway, running triple channel 1,600MHz might not offer the greatest benefits given the price. While we'll investigate how memory bandwidth and latency affects performance specifically in a later article, if we're looking for the most awesome enthusiast platform available, 1,600MHz DDR3 is the way to go at 4GHz simply because it ties in nicely with the Core i7 920 – that’s demonstrated over in the BIOS page.

The rest of the components are identical to those used in the Core i7 review so the results we're quoting here are directly comparable.

Here's how we started out with the Core i7 920...

Overclocking Intel's Core i7 920 How to overclock the Core i7 920 Overclocking Intel's Core i7 920 How to overclock the Core i7 920 Overclocking Intel's Core i7 920 How to overclock the Core i7 920
We disabled Intel Turbo Mode for these pictures, which causes CPU-Z to read 2.93GHz for the i7 920. Click to enlarge

... and how we ended up after just ten or fifteen minutes of overclocking.

Overclocking Intel's Core i7 920 How to overclock the Core i7 920 Overclocking Intel's Core i7 920 How to overclock the Core i7 920 Overclocking Intel's Core i7 920 How to overclock the Core i7 920
CPU-Z reads the CAS latency information incorrectly - we had set it at Corsair's specifications of 8-8-8-24-2T in the BIOS. Click to enlarge