Intel tells mobo makers to go easy on the BIOS settings amid CPU instability reports

Do not disable safeguards by default, says chipmaker

Intel is reportedly telling motherboard manufacturers to use its recommended BIOS settings by default to stop CPU instability issues with 13th and 14th Generation chips.

"Intel requests system and motherboard manufacturers to provide end users with a default BIOS profile that matches Intel recommended settings," Intel said in an email to motherboard vendors published by Igor's Lab.

The chipmaker provides a default list of specifications for its CPUs, also known as stock settings. However, many motherboard manufacturers configure their boards with different settings by default, and on higher-end motherboards these differences usually include higher power limits, higher current limits, and other settings that are intended to increase out-of-the-box performance.

MSI, for instance, last month released BIOS updates that allow users to disable Current Excursion Protection for even more performance. Additionally, this Taiwan-based manufacturer sets exceptionally high default power limits – up to 4,096 watts and 512 amps – on some of its high-end motherboards.

Obviously, no consumer-grade Intel CPU will ever hit that much power or current, but Intel says most reports are coming from users who have motherboards loaded with these kinds of settings by default. In addition to using its default specifications, Intel also asks motherboard vendors to add warnings to performance-enhancing BIOS options so that users are aware that enabling such settings could result in system instability.

However, Intel has not yet determined or disclosed the precise reasons why these settings lead to issues. "Intel has observed that this issue may be related to out of specification operating conditions resulting in sustained high voltage and frequency during periods of elevated heat," Intel said in a statement. "Analysis of affected processors shows some parts experience shifts in minimum operating voltages which may be related to operation outside of Intel specified operating conditions."

Intel's explanation indicates that the performance-boosting settings that are prone to causing stability issues may require chips to use more voltage to work correctly. However, it's not clear if instability is caused by a lack of voltage, something that can easily affect chips, particularly with an overclock, or by an excessive amount of voltage, which could theoretically cause physical damage.

Intel plans to make a public announcement regarding its findings in May. We've asked Intel to comment further and will let you know if the company gets back to us. ®

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