How to Overclock an Intel 4770K Guide

hornybluecow - 2013-09-10 22:39:44 in CPU's
Category: CPU's
Reviewed by: hornybluecow   
Reviewed on: October 2, 2013

How to Overclock an Intel 4770K Guide: Introduction

So you have a shiny new Haswell (1150) CPU and want to see what it can do? In this guide I will cover an assortment of topics, all of which are focusing on the best results and how to achieve them. Currently the retail Haswell chips are having low overclock results past 4.2GHz. It has been said only about 70% of current chips can reach 4.5GHz. There is a lot that goes into a high overclock to avoid damaging components in the computer, so make sure you read the whole guide before trying to overclock yourself.

DISCLAIMER!

WARNING! Overclock at your own risk. Overclocking a CPU can void your warranty and cause other problems! OverclockersClub cannot be held responsible for the information provided below. Please, if you have any questions, jump onto the forums and ask away! Overclock at your own risk!

 

How to Overclock an Intel 4770K Guide: Setup

Now that we have that disclaimer out of the way, let's get to the pre-steps before overclocking. As a reminder, if that disclaimer threw you off wanting to overclock, just remember you can ask questions on the forums. Generally speaking, if you follow the advice in this guide and DO NOT go over the maximum voltage limits, chances are you are not going to damage the chip.

 

Software Needed:

Below are links to the software provider websites and a quick explanation of what is used for. I suggest you download and use all of them.

 

Cooling:

Cooling is a very important part of overclocking! The Haswell line, even though has a rating 84 TDP*, will heat up all the way to 130 TDP and above as the overclock rises. Many coolers that worked great on Ivy Bridge or Sandy Bridge may have a hard time handling the increased clock speed and thermals on the 4770K. That's due mostly due to the amount of transistors under the lid as well as the integrated voltage regulator that takes up space on die. Off the top of my head, here are a few coolers that will work reasonably well if you don't push to hard on the v-core: Corsair H80 / H110 and Noctua NH-D14. If you do not have a high-end air or water cooler, it is possible to achieve a solid overclock, but you will need to be more cautious when rising the voltage past 1.1v. When you get up towards 1.2 to 1.25v, you get close to the limits of what the core can actually shed through the integrated heat spreader and what the cooling solution can shed.

*TDP = Thermal Design Power, which refers to the cooling requirements to dissipate heat. Example; 84 TDP requires a CPU cooler with the ability to dissipate 84 watts of heat.


Pre-Overclock Stability:

The goal here is to make sure you have an 100% stable system before starting a overclock. This alone can and will solve hours of frustrations. All too often the weakest link will cause a failure before you ever get off the ground. While I won't dive much into possible reasons for a failed stability test, I will list the most likely reasons per software below.  I do not think I can stress enough that It is very important to run these tests before overclocking. The reason for stability tests is to avoid adding possible reasons for a failed overclock. As an example, if you find the memory failed the pre-tests, you solve the issue before overclocking; otherwise it will continue to fail no matter what settings you pick. All that will accomplish is a headache with a side of frustration.

Memtest86:

Once you have downloaded this software it's a simple matter of burning a CD and booting it instead of Windows. This software checks the memory for bad chips by running every known pattern. This is becoming more critical since every Intel CPU in the last few years has the memory controller on-board the chip. The software tests each core to the memory also, just in case the CPU has a bad controller (not very common). The tests can take anywhere from 30 minutes to five hours; it's all dependent on how much memory you have populating the DIMM slots. As an example, an i7 3930K (socket 2011) takes five hours for 64GB of  DDR3-1600 memory, while 16GB on the Core i7 4770K can take about an hour and 20 minutes.


Prime95:

To use Prime95 you must boot into Windows and run it from there. Simply picking the "Small FFTs" test as a stress test will test the CPU only and not the entire CPU / memory subsystem. To do this chose either the Blend test or the Custom test to identify the operating parameters and let it run. Make sure to monitor the temps with HWMonitor to keep tabs on the CPU and system thermals. At stocks speeds you should not be going over 80 °C ! Prime95 is used to stress the CPU by using algorithms to create prime numbers. This simulates generally anything you can throw at a processor by getting pegged with 100% usage without letting up. Below is a small stability chart with information of what to expect.

Pass:

Fail: If at anytime the system freezes or crashes, then you have a problem. This can be a whole assortment of things from heat and current MHz/GHz to low voltage from the power supply. If you are failing at stock speeds, I would jump on the forums and ask some questions. Make sure to list your current computer hardware for easier diagnosis.

How To Overclock an Intel 4770K: BIOS Options

Below I will explain a bit about each BIOS option used for overclocking. While there are many more settings that can be used to really tweak the system to perfection, the normal, everyday overclocker will never use the settings and it's best to leave them alone (set to Auto). My only advice to avoid headaches and frustrations is after each BIOS adjustment save and reboot. Afterwords run a short stability test, explained on page one, rinse and repeat. Going directly for a high overclock will only result in a system crash and as you approach 4.5GHz, the BIOS settings will really need to be tweaked. In the future and a few Haswell revisions, above 4.5GHz will (hopefully) become common. For now, take it slow and it will not be long before rocking out with a good overclock.

Safe Voltage & Defaults:

By default all motherboards should have its settings on auto. Many companies include Auto OC setting in a form of an onboard button, BIOS, or Windows Software. Generally I am not against a small automatic OC, but usually the automatic voltage profiles are higher than comfort. The reason for that is these companies determined that (X) voltage will work on all chips. If your CPU can do the same or better with lower voltage, it's best to set these settings yourself. Before going further please rest your settings to defaults.

Here is a small chart of safe voltages for air. Every bit of extra voltage will increase the heat and lower the half-life of the CPU. At some point the CPU will no longer be able to keep a stable overclock with a certain voltage. This will happen, so prepare yourself! The solution is either to raise the voltage or set it back to stock. Two major factors play into this: voltage and heat. Simply keep both low as possible and avoid going over maximum safe limits.

CPU Voltage
1.25v (Air) (1.325v Max)
CPU Ring Voltage
1.2v
System Agent Voltage
1.3v
I/O Analog Voltage
1.3v
I/O Digital Voltage
1.3v
CPU TJMax
100c (Throttles @ 98c)

CPU BIOS Options:

The initial (K) in Intel's naming sequence stands for an "Overclocking Enabled" SKU featuring an unlocked multiplier, which offers up additional ways to increase the core clock speed outside a simple bclk adjustment. You want to locate the "CPU Ratio", which is based on the BLCK (default 100), and start to raise it. By default it's Auto along with the voltage. A simple OC start would entail setting the CPU core voltage to 1.1v and raise the multiplier to a level above the stock Turbo Boost ratio of of 39. Afterwords, boot into Windows and run Prime95. If it crashes, raise the voltage a little and try again. Make sure to read the rest of the options that play into this.

Memory BIOS Options:

Memory speeds can be adjusted by DRAM frequency or X.M.P. (Extreme Memory Profiles). I suggest setting the X.M.P. first before playing with any other voltage or CPU multiplier. If you do not have X.M.P. profiles, you can manually set the DRAM frequency and DRAM voltage. The following advanced settings are voltage adjustments for the memory controller on the CPU. These adjustments are "System Agent Voltage", "I/O Analog Voltage", and "I/O Digital Voltage" that deal with high speed memory. Lower speeds like DDR3-1600 will not need or see the benefit from a raise in voltage, but for example speeds of DDR3-1866 and higher might stabilize a high overclock. While using DDR3-2400 memory I raised the System Agent to 1.18v to stabilize an OC of 4.5GHz. The results will vary and if you find your overclocks are failing when you raise the memory past 1600 then this will be helpful.

CPU Ring / Voltage BIOS Options:

The CPU Ring, formally known as "Uncore" controls the CPU cache and can be run in "Synchronous" or "Asynchronous" AKA it does not have to match the CPU frequency. It is, however, best to keep as close to the current CPU frequency as possible to get the best results. From my research people are receiving mixed results; some can run it higher than the CPU frequency, others cannot rise it as high. It seems the Haswell CPUs are all over the place, so you will really need to play around with the CPU Ring for the best results.  Last up is the CPU Ring Voltage. You are going to want to keep this below 1.2v and, generally when reaching about 4.5GHz, you will have to raise the CPU Ring and voltage.

CPU Base Clock Strap:

In the past without purchasing the Intel "Extreme" SKU that included an unlocked multiplier, overclocking was limited to rising the FSB (Front Side Bus). With the release of Sandy Bridge (2nd Generation Intel Core™ Processor Family), Intel architecture changed. In place of FSB is now "CPU Base Clock" (BLCK) that is currently used today. BLCK is directly tied to PCIe/DMI frequency. The downside of switching is that the BLCK is extremely sensitive to anything above 100MHz. Therefore without BLCK, Intel's solution for overclocking was the release of "Overclocking Enabled" CPUs, as explained above. As a result of the linked PCIe/DMI frequencies, Intel added "CPU Base Clock Strap" (CPU Strap) to allow the BLCK to pass 100MHz without affecting PCIe/DMI frequencies with a +/- 10%  maximum tolerance.

The CPU Strap can be set to 100 (1:1), 125 (1:25) ,166 (1:66), and 250 (1:2.5). Using a little math you can determine the BLCK output values. You are essentially dividing by the ratio of whatever BLCK you set. Below is a chart showing some examples. Just keep in mind using a CPU Strap has mixed results as some video cards and other PCIe devices cannot handle a tolerance of 2MHz above stock (100MHz). It also worth noting from my research I have yet to find someone who has successfully used a CPU Strap of 250.

Example Base Block
CPU Strap
Ratio
Math
=
Resulting BLCK PCI-E/DMI
105
100MHz
1:1
105 / 1.00
=
105MHz
125
125MHz
1:25
125 / 1.25
=
100MHz
166
166MHz
1:66
166 / 1.66
=
100MHz
250
250MHz
1:2.5
250 / 2.5
=
100MHz
130
125MHz
1:25
130 / 1.25
=
104MHz
140
125MHz
1:25
140 / 1.25
=
112MHz
171
166MHz
1:66
171 / 1.66
=
103.01MHz
255
250MHz
1:2.5
255 / 2.5
=
102MHz

Intel C-State:

Intel C-State allows for the CPU to lower its current frequency along with voltage. C-States vary from C0 (Operating state) down to Haswell's new C6/C7 in which the CPU is in sleep/hibernation. By default all motherboards will have this enabled typically under the title "Intel-C-State". When C-State is set to C0, the CPU will not drop voltage or frequency. This can be helpful to establish an overclock if running into stability problems. While I noticed zero negative impact on the Haswell, please be aware that using "CPU Voltage Override" along with enabling C-State may cause the voltage to stay constant when the CPU frequency drops. Once again this did not happen for me but with some motherboards this can be an issue. The solution is to use "CPU Voltage Offset" instead or disable C-State completely.

How To Overclock an Intel 4770K: Results

Final BIOS Settings 4.2GHz:

Reaching 4.2GHz should not be a problem for most people. Some current chips do take 1.2v to reach it these settings and my BIOS settings below is only a guide to what you may have to apply in order to reach the same as me.

CPU Voltage
1.1v
CPU Frequency
4200
CPU Multiplier
42
CPU Ring Ratio
39 (3900)
CPU Ring Voltage
1.064v /(Auto)
System Agent Voltage
1.088v / (+ .250)
I/O Analog Voltage
1.016v / (Auto)
I/O Digital Voltage
-------    / (Auto)
BLCK
100
CPU Temp
68 °C

Final BIOS Settings 4.4GHz:

Up until 4.4GHz with only minor tweaks, I was able to run Prime95. Once you approach 4.5GHz, many of the voltages will have to be adjusted and tweaked. At 4.4GHz is when CPU Ring Ratio may need to be raised along with the voltage. Finally, do not forget about the Agent voltage! That one is completely dependent on a few different things, like speed of the memory, density (4 or 8GB modules), and slots used (1, 2, or 4).

CPU Voltage
1.2v
CPU Frequency
4400
CPU Multiplier
44
CPU Ring Ratio
39 (3900)
CPU Ring Voltage
1.176v
System Agent Voltage
1.088v / (+ .250)
I/O Analog Voltage
1.016v / (Auto)
I/O Digital Voltage
------     / (Auto)
BLCK
100
CPU Temp
73 °C

Final BIOS Settings 4.GHz:

For me reaching 4.5GHz was a journey with many failures along the way. One day it would boot and run Prime95 and the next time, Windows would not load. It took a while to sort it out by backing down to 4.4GHz and raising each until I settled on the below settings. Ultimately, I simply forgot about the CPU Ring, which caused it to crash every other time. The BIOS simply didn't save my last tweak done in Windows. My final advice is to write your settings down every time you make a change and take it slow.

CPU Voltage
1.25v
CPU Frequency
4500
CPU Multiplier
45
CPU Ring Ratio
42 (4200)
CPU Ring Voltage
1.2v
System Agent Voltage
1.088v / (+ .250)
I/O Analog Voltage
1.2v /  (+ .1950
I/O Digital Voltage
 ----- / (+ .1950)
BLCK
100
CPU Temp
78 °C

Final BIOS Settings 4.5GHz:

Below is a screenshot of the final BIOS settings for 4.5GHz. Like I explained above, plugging in these values will most likely not work for you. It's a matter of reaching a plateau and tweaking it from there.

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