Published in PC Hardware

Unstable Intel high-end CPU patches kill performance

by on23 April 2024

Up to nine per cent

Over the last few weeks, there's been a fair bit of chatter about high-end Chipzilla CPUs, like the Core i9-14900K, throwing a wobbly. Asus has knocked out a BIOS update for its Z790 motherboards to sort it, but it's nicked up to nine per cent off the performance in some tasks.

The latest BIOS update from Asus chucks in the Intel Baseline Profile. This profile switches off a bunch of tweaks that Asus Z790 motherboards do on the fly and keeps high-end Intel chips playing by Intel's rules. German outfit Hardwareluxx went with the new profile on the Core i9-14900K and found the CPU was about nine per cent less nippy in a few tests.

Take Cinebench R23, for instance. The Germans found that the Intel Baseline Profile chopped performance by nine per cent. In Y-Cruncher, a test that works out Pi, the performance took an 11% hit. Even gaming got a bit of a knock, with Starfield, Shadow of the Tomb Raider, and F1 2023 showing an 8% dip in performance at 720p (though you wouldn't notice this at higher resolutions).

The trouble comes from the sky-high power budget some motherboards allow high-end Intel CPUs to have. With the proper BIOS settings, a chip like the Core i9-14900K could have up to 4,095 watts. Your CPU won't ever need that much juice, but having such a lofty limit means it can guzzle power as required, even if it ends up crashing.

These tweaks align with what some tech heads have been suggesting lately. Asus probably popped out the BIOS update after Intel had a poke around the issue, but it's a bit murky if other motherboard makers will do the same.

The performance drop is only possible using the extra bells and whistles on Asus Z790 motherboards. But you might have been using them without realising it. By default, Asus slaps on whatever enhancements it thinks are best for your CPU in the BIOS, which might make things a bit shaky. If you've not fiddled with your BIOS settings, odds are your CPU will be a bit slower with the Intel Baseline Profile switched on.

Luckily, this shouldn't muck up gaming performance too much. The performance drop is mainly in other software, while the wobbles this BIOS update is meant to fix are primarily in games. It's not the best swap, but fingers crossed it sorts out the crashes for Core i9-14900K owners.

How widespread the issue is with Intel's top-shelf CPUs is still a bit foggy. Currently, it seems the Core i9-13900K and Core i9-14900K are the usual suspects, with the Core i7-13700K and Core i7-14700K getting into a pickle less often. Some of these chips are unstable, but other Intel CPUs should be right as rain.

Last modified on 23 April 2024
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