Out of the box, Intel's limited edition Core i7-8086K processor commemorating 40 years of x86 computing can hit 5GHz without overclocking, via the chip's boost frequency. For those who are willing to pop the integrated heatspreader (IHS) off, however, much higher clocks are possible, as extreme overclocker Der8auer demonstrated by taking the chip north of 7GHz.
For those who don't follow the extreme overclocking scene, Der8auer (real name Roman Hartung) is an engineer from Germany who has been active in the scene for more than a decade. He's often one of the first to delid new processors, both to see what's underneath and to 'unlock' crazy overclocks.
In this case, Der8auer discovered that the Core i7-8086K is not a soldered chip, and instead uses a grease-based thermal interface material (TIM). That bit is going to disappoint some consumers, as Intel has been criticized in the past for using what's perceived as poor quality TIM on its recent processors. If that's the case here, then the downside is that a soldered design would likely have provided better thermals.
On the flip side, the benefit for extreme overclockers is that by not soldering the IHS, it's easier to pry off the lid. Der8auer actually created a special tool that makes it a cinch, which he shows off in his latest overclocking video.
He also shows the Core i7-8086K hitting 7.24GHz on all six cores. It took a few attempts and some tweaking the voltages and base clock to accomplish this, and of course Der8auer used liquid nitrogen to keep the chip chilly enough to run at such a high frequency. So, it's obviously not a practical overclock.
For comparison, Der8auer had previously overclocked a Core i7-8700K to 7.3GHz. However, he had a lot more samples to work with in order to hit that clockspeed. He's confident that with more time and chips, he could surpass that mark on the Core i7-8086K.
"I think if we [had] more Core i7-8086K [samples] and more time, I'm pretty sure we could break the record of 7.3GHz, which we previously achieved with the Core i7-8700K," Der8auer said. "Overall I think the Core i7-8086 is basically just a good pre-tested Core i7-8700K, and that goes for both liquid nitrogen and also air or water cooling."
Intel is limiting production of the Core i7-8086K, reportedly to 50,000 units, and giving away 8,086 of those as part of a sweepstakes that kicks off later today. So, hit that link later if you want a shot at getting one.
In the meantime, you can check out Der8auer's delidding and overclock below: