Overclocked Intel Core i9-7900 Skylake-X CPU breaks 6GHz barrier

HWBOT via SOFOS1990. Click for original.
(Image: © HWBOT via SOFOS1990)

An experienced overclocker has broken multiple HWBOT records using a heavily overclocked Intel Core i9-7900X processor. Using liquid nitrogen to keep things nice and chilly, SOFOS1990 raced to 6GHz and slightly beyond, hitting 6,016MHz with a vCore of 1.6V. The overclock comes barely more than a month after the Core i9-7900X set new benchmark records in Cinebench at 5.7GHz.

Such an overclock is not for the faint of heart, or wallet—the newly minted Core i9-7900X is a 10-core processor that retails for over $1,000. It supports Hyper Threading, has 13.75MB of cache, and comes clocked out of the box at 3.3GHz with a max Turbo frequency of 4.3GHz (4.5GHz via Turbo Boost 3.0). It is a burly chip in its own right even without an overclock applied to it.

The Core i9-7900X is part of Intel's new Core X-series, which comprises both Kaby Lake-X and Skylake-X CPUs. This one is part of the latter. Beyond its apparent ability to hit high clockspeeds, part of the appeal with this CPU is that it offers up 44 PCI-Express lanes to play with. This is helpful for fully loaded builds that are running multiple graphics cards and multiple NVMe solid state drives, all of which direct traffic through the PCI-E bus.

For this overclock, SOFOS1990 plopped the Core i9-7900X into a Gigabyte X299 SOC Champion motherboard. It was flanked by 4GB of G.Skill Trident Z RAM, a 120GB Corsair Neutron GTX SSD, and a beefy Corsair Professional Series Gold 1,500 power supply.

Pumping 1.6V through a Skylake-X CPU is a surefire way to zap the chip without proper cooling. In this case, LN2 was used. It is an extreme form of cooling that is typically reserved for record-setting overclocks and is not viable for much else.

By applying LN2, SOFOS1990 was able to keep the CPU nice and frosty at -110C. His overclock to 6.01GHz now stands as the highest achieved on a 10-core CPU. It also netted him 12,189.52 points in HWBOT, the most ever for a single processor. There are higher scores in HWBOT's database, but those were all achieved with setups containing multiple processors.

While neat, these types of overclocks are of little practical value. If you're looking for a takeaway, it's that the underlying Skylake-X architecture has room to scale, at least under extreme conditions.