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New to overclocking (i5 9600k + RTX 2080 MSI Gaming X-Trio)

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New Member
Dec 16, 2018

I'm pretty new to overclocking, so I thought it would be smart to check out an overclocking forum such as this for some advice.

First of all, what are the most important things to avoid so I don't destroy any of my components?

Second, what are the different settings I should adjust when trying to overclock?

Third, how should I most efficiently test the different settings for stability, I know it's recommended you do like 1 hour tests to be sure, but that is way too slow for me.

My setup is as follows:

GPU: MSI RTX 2080 Gaming X Trio
CPU: Intel i5 9600k
AIO: Cooler Master ML240L RGB
RAM: Corsair Vengeance LPX 3000MHz (2x8GB)
PSU: Corsair TX750M 80+ Gold
SSD: 500GB WD Black NVMe M.2 SSD "WDS500G2X0C-00L350"
Wi-fi network card: Asus PCE-AC88 AC3100 PCI-E Adapter
Cabinet: Fractal Design Define R6 + an extra Fractal Design 140mm fan


My cooling setup is 1 140 mm fan in the far back set to exhaust, 2 140 mm fans in the top back of the case also set to exhaust, 1 140 mm intake fan at the bottom of the case in the far front end as well as a 240 mm 1 inch thick radiator with 2x 120 mm fans set to intake at the inside of the radiator (pull config).

So far all my overclocking changes are:

- Change Monitor settings on CPU fan to ignore since it was causing an error on boot due to using an AIO cooler.

- Change the "AI Overclock Tuner" to "XMP I" profile in order to get the full 3000 MHz out of my RAM, otherwise I only got 2133 MHz.

- Change "CPU Core Ratio" to 49 on all cores as 50 wasn't stable, the AI Optimized overclocking wanted to set it to 52, but that made my pc freeze on boot, my SIL Quality is 94% and cooler score over 180 at an ambient temp of about 20 degrees celsius and all cabinet panels closed.

- My DRAM Voltage is set to 1.35000, not sure if that's default or something the XMP I profile did, it's highlighted so looks like it might have been changed from default.

Regarding the GPU I've downloaded MSI Afterburner where I've made the following changes:

- Dragged Power and Thermal limit all the way to the right side (109% and 88 degrees)

- Increased Core Clock by 106 MHz

- Increased Memory Clock by 707 MHz

I've ran both the Time Spy demo, Heaven Benchmark and the MSI Kombuster stress tests several times and it seems stable, but it feels like a lot to test all this for every little change, maybe you could help make this process a bit more efficient?

Also I've had Prime95 running now for over 40 minutes, temperatures peak at 89 degrees and then the fans boost up I guess because the temps then drop down to mid/high 60s.
I would not overclock your GPU until you gave your CPU dialed in and are assured it is stable. You don't want to be guessing what may be causing instability of the system if it isn't stable. Eliminate as many variables as possible when you are overclocking.

You should run Prime95 for a couple of hours anyway in order to confirm stability of the CPU. Are you allowing the bios to set the CPU core voltage (what we call "vcore")? You really should set the vcore manually. You may easily have enough cooling power to get to 5 ghz if you add some to the vcore to make it stable but you may want to set your water cooler's fan profile differently so that the fans kick in sooner than 90c.

You may also want to set your LLC (Load Line Calibration) to a manual value. LLC adds to the vcore to keep it from sagging under load.

Probably the first thing you should do is download and install HWMonitor and run Prime95 for 20 minutes to get an idea of what your voltages are hitting under load so as to know where to set the vcore manually. In fact, please do that and then before closing HWMonitor, use Windows Snipping Tool to frame and capture the HWMonitor user interface after the 20 minute stress test. Then please attach the captured image using Go Advanced in the lower right corner of any new post window. We like images attached directly to posts here at OCF rather than linked.

1.35 for the RAM voltage sounds correct. That's what the specs call for on Corsairs web page.
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This time the temps went quite a bit higher than yesterday, I have no idea why it's the exact same settings, but this time it went all the way up to 96 degrees and not just 89, I can also see that my cooler score in the BIOS is down to 160 so I guess something must have changed, no idea what tho.

I'm unsure how to change the limit for when the cooler boosts into overdrive, I'm assuming it's not under Q-Fan control? (As the Q stands for quiet I think)

I tried adjusting BCLK to 101, but then the PC started freezing up on boot again, I also tried to set what I believe is the VCore offset to 0.035 (did increments of 0.005), which let me get into Windows, but still was super unstable and crashed/gave me BSOD from doing practically nothing.
What I believe is the VCore offset is called "CPU Core/Cache Voltage" where I can change the mode to "Offset mode" and choose either - or +.

I have the manual for my BIOS here, what I believe is the VCore offset is found on page 37

It seems most the OC settings are on page 21 - 39 in the manual there.

Is the Load Line Calibration found on page 34 from that manual? If so what settings do you think I should try first?

Been wondering if I should set my SSD into Raid mode or not, I don't think I'll notice much difference at all considering it's pretty fast already so I might just leave it as is.

Regarding the GPU OC I just wont launch Afterburner until I've found the perfect balance for my CPU, I haven't enabled the Afterburner settings to apply on boot yet.
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I don't know about change but look at the maximum vcore in HWMonitor: 1.394. No mystery there why it's running close to throttle down temp of 100c. Too much vcore.

Do not fool with BCLK. Leave it at stock. Use the core frequency multiplier only to overclock. When you use the BCLK you are also increasing other bus frequencies such as PCIE that have little tolerance for change.

Don't use vcore offset. Set the vcore to a fixed value. Set the LLC to one notch below the highest value.

To start with, set the core frequency multiplier to stock and then set the vcore to a fixed value of 1.25. Run a 20 minute Prime95 blend test. Monitor temps and voltages. I'm assuming you will pass this test.

If you pass, increase the core frequency multiplier by 1x and retest with Prime95. Monitor temps and voltages. If you pass the stress test, raise the core frequency multiplier by another 1x.

Repeat this process until you fail the 20 minute Prime95 stress test and then add a 0.01 increment of vcore. Retest. If you still fail, add another 0.01 increment of vcore. Repeat process until you have reached the temp wall. I would limit that temp wall to 90c.

As far as fan profiles, you are poking in the right place in bios but you need to uncover more options. You should be able to set the fans to spin up by a certain percentage at certain temps. I'm assuming these are PWM four pin fans.
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How do I change the Processor Core Cache in the BIOS?
I can only do so in XTU, it's 4.30 GHz, but can be boosted up to 4.60GHz in XTU, can't figure out which setting that corresponds to in the BIOS tho.

I set all the fans to spin at max all the time, actually it seems like the AIO was spinning at max all the time anyways (it is quite noisy), making the other fans spin at max constantly as well didn't increase the noise level at all it seemed, probably because the AIO is so noisy.

I'll be going through the testing you suggested there, but I'd like to set the Core Cache to 4.60 first, no point having it run at 4.30 I feel.
I would leave the core cache on Auto unless you suspect it's frequency is increasing in lockstep with the cores themselves. The cache generally won't overclock as well as the cores. And there is little or nothing to gain performance wise by overclocking the cache. Overclock one component at a time so that as many instability variables can be eliminated as possible. It narrows down the troubleshooting.
Looks like your fan profile options are in the Fan Xpert section of your bios. Never used it. Not sure how granular it is. Looks like there are standard presets in the bottom row and more fine tuning options in the top row of tools. Do you need to install software in Windows for this to work with? I will warn you that fan control utilities do not scale well with actual fan speed. To reduce the PWM or the voltage (two different ways of controlling fan speed) by 50% does not result in a 50% reduction in fan speed. It may reduce the speed by 20% or completely stall the fan out. You really need to experiment with these things to arrive at the profile you are satisfied with.


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The Cache only goes as far as 4.6 GHz no matter how high I try to put it in XTU and when searching for this CPU it says 4.60 GHz is max cpu cache so I think it's just due to the factory underclock of 4.30 GHz that the Cache also wont go higher than 4.30 GHz unless I tune it up in XTU.

Btw this undervolting was incredibly good!
I've kept it at 1.25 and 4.8 GHz, I changed the LLC to level 6 out of 7 and it's been completely stable for 28 minutes not even reaching 80 degrees, 78 max :D

I'll try 4.9 Ghz now
I believe that Dual Intelligent Processors 5 software is outdated stuff...I can't find it anywhere, not for download or in the BIOS.

The only fan setting I can adjust according to CPU temp is my AIO and AIO pump, they are both set to run at 100% no matter the temperature by default.

4.9 GHz has been a bit more troublesome, I'm about to test with 1.28 volt now.

I think the fans are only 3 pin tho, except the AIO of course, but I was still able to swap them to PWM mode and adjust the minimum RPM as well as whether they should run in Silent, Standard or Turbo mode....I choose maximum possible for min RPM (600) and Turbo mode.
The AIO is making so much noise anyways that I can't hear those other fans at all, of course I'm using a headset when gaming so the noise isn't all that bothersome...only a little bit.

But what is LLC? I'd like to know what that setting did...also I'd like to change the cpu cache to 4.6 GHz in BIOS so I wont need to have XTU running to get that...I assume it's making my CPU run faster due to having more data easily accessible?
LLC is Load Line Calibration. Core voltage naturally "droops" under load and LLC is designed to shore that up and keep it approximately at the level you set it to in bios.

Having your fans go full blast is troublesome. You may need to look into a third part fan controller. They have nice ones that fit into an open drive bay. You should probably reach out to Asus and see what's going on with that. I couldn't live with that noise. Your AIO fans should be able to ramp up gradually according to CPU temp or motherboard temp, whichever you choose.

I need to let you know that once you get to a certain point in overclocking to get one more .1 ghz of speed requires a disproportionate amount of extra vcore to make stable. It's not a linear relationship. At some point you hit the wall, either because vcore is reaching an unsafe amount or temps are. And that is your limit on air and water cooling which both depend on ambient air temp. You can change that equation with super cooling like Liquid Nitrogen.

Again, I would leave your core cache ratio alone, at least until you get the cores overclock established as stable. Just because it's lower than the core cache doesn't mean it's underclocked. To ensure that your overclock settings are stable you need to run a 2 hr. Prime95 test. See caveat below about alternative stress testers.

If Prime95 is driving temps too high then use another stress tester like AIDA64 Extreme (run 4-5 hrs.) or Realbench (run 2-3 hrs.) They are more real world stress testers and don't drive temps up so high. Many people have abandoned Prime95 for stress testing the newer generations of Intel because the temps are driven up unrealistically high. You will never see them that high in real application usage.
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Okay, yeah I've noticed a huge difference between 4.8 GHz and 4.9 GHz....4.8 seemed to be no problem at all...I still can't get it stable at 4.9...gonna try 1.30 volt next and not increase the cache in XTU...I thought increasing the cache might help it be more stable, but maybe not? :p

Regarding the fans I'll look into it eventually....first I wanna find a good stable OC and I guess leave some extra headroom with the temps...I used Prime95 because I thought it might be the most efficient way to test the stability since it was so intense, but maybe that is just for temps and not stability?
Actually, if you want something even more efficient than Prime95, use IntelBurnTest for the quick test to establish tentative stability. It will drive temps up quicker than Prime95. Set it to the High stress level, not default. 1.3 volts should be well within safe voltage limits. I think anything up to about 1.35 is safe if core temps are under control. Prime95 is still the gold standard for stess testing but the newer CPUs run so hot because of AVX2 instructions sets that a lot of people just don't have the cooling to cope with it.

There is another bios setting that might be of help to you and that is the AVX offset. The AVX offset lowers the core speed multiplier by the value you set it to when it encounters programs with the AVX instruction set. In programs without AVX instructions the CPU will run at the full value. the new versions of Prime95 and a lot of other stress testing programs use AVX instructions but if you want to avoid that then there are older versions of Prime95 available that don't have AVX. Prime95 26.6 does not have it. You can google for it if you want. A lot of real world software does not use AVX, though it is becoming more common. It is used heavily in programs used by engineers and scientists for special purpose calculations.
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I haven't really had time to do any more testing and now I'm going away for the holiday, but I'll continue next year, hope to still have your guidance when I get back, thanks a lot for you help so far! :)