Core i9-7900X is a 140W CPU. But we already knew from our launch coverage that overclocking pushes it way beyond that thermal design power. In fact, the most remarkable result from today's testing was how quickly the CPU got hot when we overclocked it.
Although delidding isn't necessary if you use the Core i9-7900X at its default settings, replacing Intel's thermal compound does become an important step if you increase the supply voltage by even a little bit. And if you're looking to squeeze more performance from this 10-core behemoth, direct-die cooling can help decrease its temperature by more than 20°C. The Direct Die Frame is available now; just be sure it's compatible with your cooler.
As you work with your own Skylake-X-based processor, keep an eye on its critical parameters. These processors have a maddening tendency to throttle clock rates without much warning. Bad BIOS settings can severely limit performance, so take the time to adjust the Vccin and Load Line Calibration options carefully. As for Vcore, adjust it sparingly since small increases can seriously affect operating temperatures and power consumption.
Also, know when to stop. Avoid pushing for a 2%-higher overclock when it costs you 20% more power consumption. That's critically important if you want to maintain high performance without compromising stability.
The world of extreme overclocking is subject to a completely different set of rules. There, a few megahertz separate record-holders from everyone else, so it's important to start with the right equipment, and follow up with a delicate touch for finessing knobs and dials in the correct order. Conductonaut thermal paste, which performs very well in ambient environments, fails catastrophically once temperatures are lowered to -60°C. Moreover, although direct-die cooling worked brilliantly with our water-cooler, it wasn't particularly convincing when we broke out the liquid nitrogen.
As for our MSI X299 Xpower Gaming AC and Core i9-7900X combination, it continues running well in the Tom's Hardware FR lab, fast, stable, and cool. This goes to show that overclocking, performed carefully, won't damage your components. Take things slowly, test thoroughly, and don't be greedy.
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