Automatic CPU Overclocking
MSI's OC Genie was a very well-known automatic overclocking feature that accompanied many high-end MSI motherboards. OC Genie has been replaced with Game Boost. As we saw earlier, there is a GameBoot knob that resides in the lower right-hand corner of the motherboard for "HW" auto overclocking, a software knob that resides in the upper left-hand corner of the UEFI as we saw in the UEFI section, and also in the GAME BOOST menu in MSI's Command Center as seen above.
The HW (hardware) knob and SW (software) knob in the UEFI and Windows are all identical. To see if GAME BOOST is in HW or SW mode, look near the physical knob, and a red LED (HW) or white LED (SW) will be illuminated, or look at the center of the software knob. The software OC in the UEFI and the one in Windows do sync so that you can disable or enable from either locale.
The manual has the overclocked levels next to the level of overclocking applied depending on your CPU. I went with level 8 for my 7700K because I know it can do 5GHz. After applying the SW OC in the UEFI and exiting, we see the changes that the level 8 made to the UEFI. For starters, MSI disables any power saving options, so the CPU will always run 5GHz, it also disabled both auto-sensing headers smart fan control (so those fans run full-speed), set an AVX offset of -4, increased memory speed to 2933MHz, and set a VCore of 1.35v. The AVX offset will down-clock the CPU to 4.6GHz (50 minus 4) if the CPU encounters any AVX program such as HandBrake. The VCore is set 0.05v higher than my CPU requires with a 0 AVX offset, this is done so that most 7700Ks will be able to run at this frequency.
I was able to boot up just fine and run my tests with the Level 8 auto overclock.
Manual CPU Overclocking
Manual overclocking of the CPU is best done in the BIOS/UEFI. The first thing I did was set OC Explore Mode to Expert. I did this because a few options appear that make things a lot easier, such as CPU Ratio Mode and CPU Core/GT Voltage Mode. I set all my cores to 50x, and since I know how this CPU overclocks, I didn't set an AVX offset because it's not needed. I would start at 4.8Ghz with a 7700K and 1.3v, and work the multiplier upwards. If your CPU can handle any program that doesn't use AVX but crashes when running a program that uses AVX, then it would be smart to set an offset, I would start with -2 (lowers 200MHz when AVX is encountered) and go lower if required.
CPU Ratio Mode is unique to MSI, and it's basically a single setting to control multiple settings (Turbo, EIST, C1E, C-States). If you set the CPU Ratio mode to Fixed Frequency, the CPU multiplier will not drop when the CPU's load is reduced. Instead, you will always run at 5GHz. If you set the CPU Ratio Mode to Dynamic, the CPU frequency will vary with load to save power.
I applied XMP to my memory, which will take it to 3200MHz and apply the correct timings. I also set the VCore to Override (best to use Override if you are using Fixed CPU Ratio Mode), and the VCore to 1.3v. MSI offers multiple CPU VCore/GT Voltage Modes. Adaptive Mode will scale CPU voltage with frequency (best to use Adaptive with Dynamic CPU Ratio mode), Override will always push the voltage you select, and Offset will allow you to add or subtract an offset to the VID (default VCore) of the CPU at any given ratio. MSI also has Adaptive + Offset (could help scale back over-aggressive adaptive VCore) and Override + Offset (you can choose the VID). Your offset can be negative.
I went into the DigitALL Power menu so I could manually set Loadline Calibration. MSI is offering nine modes, with the lowest mode offering the most VCore compensation. Loadline Calibration (LLC) was developed to combat the VCore's droop under heavy load, which is there to keep the CPU within recommended power ranges and to avoid spikes in voltage. However, that droop causes a lot of instability when overclocking, and users figured out that removing the droop didn't greatly impact CPU life, so a few years ago LLC became a standard VRM option that is a must for overclocking.
I usually set the second most aggressive level, and in this case, it keeps my VCore hovering right around 1.3v (what I set). If your system shuts down immediately after applying a load on the CPU, you should increase over voltage protection or over current protection thresholds. If your system throttles the CPU, you should increase over temperature protection thresholds. I didn't need to touch any of the protection mechanisms, MSI has good auto-rules that increase those when you overclock. I also like to manually set the FCLK to 1GHz (default is 800MHz). FCLK can be found under the CPU Features menu; it helps improve 3D performance a tiny bit.
My manual overclock came out wonderful, and we saw some solid increases as well as lower temperatures compared to the automatic overclocking. Automatic overclocking has to overcompensate so that all CPUs can reach the set expectations, manual overclocking takes more work but offers a higher reward.
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