Intel's stock Raptor Lake chip will do 6GHz and overclock another 25%, if it keeps cool

Ladies and gentlemen, start your engines

Intel says its 13th-Gen Raptor Lake CPUs will do 6GHz at stock settings and top 8GHz when overclocked, according to slides shared during the company’s Tech Tour in Israel this week.

This would give Intel a clock-frequency lead — 300 MHz— over AMD’s Ryzen 7000-series CPUs, announced late last month, which top out at 5.7GHz. Though, we’ll note that frequency is only one measure of performance and instructions per clock (IPC) and thermal headroom can play an equally important role in actual performance.

It’s also worth noting that AMD has a habit of underpromising and overdelivering with its Ryzen desktop CPUs. Ryzen 5000 processors routinely delivered 50-150MHz higher clocks than advertised. For example the Ryzen 9 5900X claimed a 4.8GHz single-core boost clock, but actually delivered closer to 4.95GHz under stock settings. If the same ends up being true for Ryzen 7000, Intel's frequency lead may end up being narrower than the appear.

It’s not clear whether the 6GHz reported claims will be on Intel’s mainstream chips or reserved for another flagship KS-series part, Intel was previously able to eke out an addition 300MHz, for a max boost clock of 5.5GHz from by binning its best 12900K CPUs, which sold as the 12900KS.

Given that AMD is claiming its entry-level 7600X can outperform Intel’s 12900K, it’ll be interesting to see how these chips stack up in real world testing.

As for Intel’s claims of an 8GHz “world record” overclock, it’s not clear what measures are required to achieve such a frequency. However, exotic cooling is likely. At Intel’s 12th-gen launch event last year, the company attempted to overclock the chips using liquid nitrogen, only for the system to crash mid livestream.

If this kind of overclock is required, few if anyone can expect to see 8Ghz on any Raptor Lake CPU.

It’s also unclear whether achieving these higher clock speeds required any additional power over Alder Lake. The latter, delivered a substantial uplift in frequency last year, but Intel paid for it with ramp in power consumption, especially on the chipmaker’s overclocking-enabled K SKUs.

Boosting power consumption — TDP — of chips to achieve higher performance has become something of a trend among consumer and datacenter platforms in recent years.

Intel’s 12900K for example is capable of pulling 241W under max turbo. But Intel’s hardly the only chipmaker pushing higher voltages in exchange for higher frequencies. Nvidia’s 3090 TI made waves when it was announced earlier this year, not just because of its $1,999 MSRP but because the minimum recommended power supply called for an 850W PSU and a quoted power consumption of around 450W.

AMD also increased the TDP of its Ryzen 7000 CPUs by between 40-65W depending on the SKU. Though during the company’s launch event, AMD went out of its way to claim TSMCs 5nm process was actually more efficient, suggesting the higher TDPs may not be indicative of the chip’s actual power consumption under load.

With that said, unless Intel has managed to improve the efficiency of its 10nm process or packaging techniques, its K-class desktop chips will almost certainly require liquid cooling to unlock their full potential.

Intel’s Raptor Lake CPUs are expected to launch later this year. ®

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