Poll: Processor voltage madness

Today’s processors, especially Intel chips with Turbo Boost, do a reasonably nice job of keeping power consumption down when they’re idle and maximizing performance when the user demands it. Those sensible defaults don’t stop certain users from getting their hands dirty, though; some crave extra performance and push voltages and clock speeds, while others want to minimize power consumption and noise by doing the very opposite.

Our latest poll topic is simple: in which camp do you fall? Is your processor overvolted, undervolted, or running at stock settings, the way AMD or Intel intended? Clock speeds don’t concern us here; we figure you might be overclocking or underclocking, too, but we’re mainly interested to hear about your CPU’s voltage setting. As always, you may cast your vote either below or on our front page.

In case you missed our last poll, we were trying to determine whether stagnating hardware requirements in PC games had affected our readers’ upgrade cycles. Perhaps that’s not the case, after all. 51% of respondents said they got their last graphics card some time in 2009 or 2010, and 34% actually upgraded after June 2009. Another 27% upgraded in 2008, leaving only about a fifth of voters with a video card much more than three years old.

Comments closed
    • LoneWolf15
    • 10 years ago

    Q9450 running @3.2GHz, stock voltage. I really just wanted a simple overclock to QX9770 spec, and the bump from 333MHz to 400MHz FSB was perfect.

    • Shinare
    • 10 years ago

    E6420 @ 3.0GHz stock voltage. No matter how much voltage I throw at it I can’t get it above 3GHz anymore so I just run it at stock. I was once able to get it at 3.2GHz stock but it’s lost that ability along the way somehow. ๐Ÿ™

    • mcforce0208
    • 10 years ago

    haha the q6600 features loads here, it rocks (i have one!!!)

    • BKA
    • 10 years ago

    What kind of tech site is this with the majority of people running at stock. Wussies, crank that voltage up and see what that CPU can do!!!

    Just kidding, to each his own. I see it as a value, bought a i7 930 and cranked it up past a 950&975 with little voltage increase.

    • dpaus
    • 10 years ago

    My Phenom II 965 is now stable at 4.0 GHz, and it required one tiny tweek to get there, but I can’t remember the exact final voltage.

    • JokerCPoC
    • 10 years ago

    The Original QX6700 B1(ES), Pre Retail cpu which I bought in October of 2006 before anyone here had a Quad Core cpu, It runs at 3.30GHz at 1.4xx5 vdc(can’t remember the voltage that well enough, sorry) or If I had good enough cooling 3.52GHz @ 1.5vdc. All with an Asus P5K Deluxe w/an 812 Bios and PC2-8500 Patriot Viper ram @ 2.1v(running @ 400MHz currently) 24/7.

    • Voldenuit
    • 10 years ago

    C2D E7600. Running at stock.

    If it weren’t for the retarded Gigabyte BIOS, I’d be undervolting.

    • pragma
    • 10 years ago

    Lynnfield at constant voltage. Max speedstep = undervolt, min step = overvolt. Hehe. But since speedstep if off now too, I’ll mark it undervolted. (X3440 @ 155×19, 1.075V)

    • fantastic
    • 10 years ago

    I’ve messed with both under and overvolting very little. I tend to spend a little extra to buy the lower power chips. I let the factories worry about that stuff…

    • ADRENALIN
    • 10 years ago

    i7 860 @ 3.52 with turbo with stock voltage. ๐Ÿ™‚

    • albundy
    • 10 years ago

    AMD 955be @ stock clock of 3.2GHz 1.4v now… i did test it under intel stability tests and AMD’s overdrive @ 3.9GHz @1.55v at the time that i built the rig, but just dont need that horsepower now.

    • FuturePastNow
    • 10 years ago

    All stock. It has no problem with games at stock speed and is very very stable, so I see no reason to mess with a good thing.

    • Waco
    • 10 years ago

    Q6600 at 400×8, 1.3 volts. 48 hours Linpack stable, 48 hours prime stable, etc. I still see no reason to upgrade to anything newer.

      • Kulith
      • 10 years ago

      interesting, my q6600 is 365×9 I think. And I have to have it at 1.35 volts. I may try that

        • Waco
        • 10 years ago

        The higher bus speed proved to be more stable than the lower one with a higher multiplier. Chips are funny.

    • anotherengineer
    • 10 years ago

    AMD 955 at stock clocks – 3.2GHz andundervolted to 1.2V from the stock 1.35-1.40V.

    Could probly go a bit less but runs good like that so meh.

      • charged3800z24
      • 10 years ago

      My 965 C3 run 1.35v @ 3.6v for normal use. Stock is 1.4v. I voted undervolting for that reason. But, when benching, I have had it pretty high, 1.6v under chilled water.

    • oldDummy
    • 10 years ago

    Was considering running undervolted; but with speedstep or whatever it’s currently called running at .93V undervolting would be limited.
    running the i7 at stock 3.3G.

    • Pasdepardon
    • 10 years ago

    If I could undervolt my processor and still get al the turbo boost features (or turbo core) i’ll do it. Taking 0.1 to 0.4v from the stock setting and still get the turbo logic, would be great!

    • nightmorph
    • 10 years ago

    I would undervolt it if I could, but apparently ASUS doesn’t know how to make a BIOS that permits it. I have an M3N78-VM, and the thing is geared exclusively toward overvolting and overclocking.

    I miss my old MSI K9N Platinum board. But not too much . . . the thing did fry on me and die, after all. Still, it had nice, tiny incremental steps for undervolting.

    • GFC
    • 10 years ago

    i7-920 (D0) @ 0.9875v (from: 1.25v) @ 3ghz (from: 2.66)
    These days processors are just INSANE. Love my d0. ๐Ÿ™‚

      • Ikeoth
      • 10 years ago

      i7-920[D0] 2.66ghz @1.25 -> 3.00ghz @1.20v in the bios / 1.12v w/ Cpu-Z.
      Stock Cooler. Idles around mid to lower 40’s, max temps in the 80’s I think (been a while since my last stress test).

    • jackbomb
    • 10 years ago

    s939 Opteron 185 dual-core @ 3.2GHz, 1.45v (default: 2.6GHz, 1.35v).

    • Meadows
    • 10 years ago

    The dominance of intel processors in this thread is astonishing, if slightly expected.

      • NeelyCam
      • 10 years ago

      That’s what 80%/20% does.

        • ronch
        • 10 years ago

        I think it’s even something like 86% Intel and 13% AMD. 1% others.

    • yuriylsh
    • 10 years ago

    Voted stock. Overclocked Phenom II x3 720 @ 3.2GHz (from 2.8) on stock voltage.

    • alex666
    • 10 years ago

    All three of my home systems are running Intel processors, two C2Ds, one Lynfield 860, all are over-clocked, modestly over-volted, and all have big fat HSFs keeping them nice and cool and quiet . . . and all run great, the two C2Ds running this way for well over two years. I’ve always sought the “sweet spot” when OCing, i.e., balancing the maximum OC with the smallest amount of over-volting that thus having a stable system.

    I did the same when I used to OC AMD chips.

    • MadManOriginal
    • 10 years ago

    I guess mine is technically undervolted although I haven’t compared with auto or default settings to be sure. Q9550 @3.6GHz with Speedstep/EIST/powersaving enabled: 1.088V idle/1.184V load according to CPU-Z (in BIOS it reads 1.21V) and the VID is 1.10V idle/1.2375V load. Maybe I’ll load the default settings in BIOS and see..

    • MixedPower
    • 10 years ago

    I have my E2140 running at ~1.4V, although I can’t remember what the stock voltage is for it. I’m pretty sure my motherboard automatically overvolts it when it’s needed, but it’s within Intel’s stated range.

    • crazybus
    • 10 years ago

    E4400 at around 1.4v. It’s been awhile since I messed around with the voltage settings in the BIOS so I can’t remember exactly what it’s set to. CPU-Z shows 1.37v idle, 1.34v under load.

    When overclocking, I usually stick to a voltage limit of 10% over stock voltage, as long as temps stay in check.

    • travbrad
    • 10 years ago

    Undervolted E8400 at stock clock right now. My video card is the limiting factor so there isn’t much point in overclocking. I have the stock Intel HSF still too, so undervolting helps with heat and power.

    • mdk77777
    • 10 years ago

    undervolt,

    ASUS MB has poor voltage regulation, need to undervolt to hit the actual sweet spot of the CPU. Stock is 1,3 volt, need to set it to 1.165 to run CPU OVERCLOCK from 2.5 to 2.8 Needless to say, next MB will not be ASUS ;(

    • nagashi
    • 10 years ago

    My desktop is overvolted slightly, but I’ve run most of my laptops over the last decade have been undervolted. Buys me 20 more minutes of battery life, and runs a bit cooler

    • Gerbil Jedidiah
    • 10 years ago

    i7 920 undervolted at 1.18 volts and overclocked at 3.8 GHZ. Runs stable folding 24/7 at 100% load.

    • rechicero
    • 10 years ago

    E8400 @ 3 GHz (stock) with 0,875 volts :-).

    I used to overclock, and it was fun. But with my E8400 I didn’t see any performance delta at 3.950 MHz and I changed to undervolt.

    Now I have it at stock speed and heavily undervolted. And the undervolting process was as fun as the overclocking.

    With the beasts we can buy nowadays, overclocking is a big overkill. The bottleneck is the HDD anyway.

    EDIT: Typo

    • BoBzeBuilder
    • 10 years ago

    E5200 @ 4.0Ghz voltage set to 1.50 in the BIOS. It’ll die soon.

    • NeelyCam
    • 10 years ago

    Stupid MSI H55M-ED55. No undervolting available.

    MSI: get your act together! Energy efficient my a$$

    • Hurst
    • 10 years ago

    Been running my setup for a little more than 2 years now. Its mainly for gaming and web browsing. Have had no reason to upgrade yet.

    Intel E8400 3ghz chip @ 4ghz (450 mhz bus) with 1.275v (Perfectly stable for 2 years now)
    Abit X38 motherboard
    4 GB Mushkin PC1066 ram

    Started out with an Nvidia 8800GTS 512 card and now running ATI 4890. Been very happy with it so far.

      • killadark
      • 10 years ago

      i just cant get my e8400 above 3.93GHz even with it running at 1.37 volts mabey a bad batch of the processor

        • Hurst
        • 10 years ago

        I would be afraid to push mine more than 1.3v with out a peltier or water cooling. I have a very large Coolermaster solid copper heatsink with dual 90mm fans. The thing barely fits inside the case. Even with only 1.275v and 450mhz bus it still runs a little warm. usually 42c at idle and then climbs to 55c during heavy loads. How warm does your chip get? Is it over heating maybe?

        Did you try tweaking the memory settings? I had to turn my timings down a little bit to make 450mhz bus work. Figure thats 1800 mhz bus and my memory is only PC1066 CAS3. IIRC I used the 1:20 bus divider to slow the memory down.

        I could do 3.6ghz (400mhz bus) on stock voltage and no memory tweaking at all. At 3.8ghz I had to up the cpu to 1.25v. I then tried 450mhz bus and that was the max stable buss speed I could get. I can get windows to boot at 4.5ghz (500mhz bus) with 1.35v But it would blue screen and do a kernal dump every time. Same results with 475mhz bus. 450 is the max stable bus speed I could eek out of it and havent had any problems with it.

        It might be your motherboard also. Perhaps the voltages arent stable. Abit boards have always been good with over clocking for me. Its an older board.. wasnt really even a top of the line board at the time. Abit IX38-QuadGT. Too bad they arent making motherboards anymore. I will miss them. I have been using Abit board as far back as my old BH6 which I OC’d my Celeron 300c to 450mhz using a socket 7 to slot II adapter. I thought I was the shiz back then. Now here I am with a full 1ghz OC. I’ve been thinking about picking up a Q9650 if the prices come down a little more,.. but not sure if I’ll be able to get a Quad core to 4ghz. That should put me closer to I5/I7 performance in many things other than gaming.

        3.95ghz is nothing to sneeze at. Probably not even noticeably different than what I have now. And depending on your memory timings you might be faster.

    • Ryhadar
    • 10 years ago

    Running an Intel E6600 at 3.0GHz undervolted to 1.125V (CPU-Z reads the voltage at 1.072V).

    I also undervolt pretty much every AMD build I do. Stock 1.4V Athlon IIs/Phenom IIs is way too much. I usually drop it down to 1.325.

      • OneArmedScissor
      • 10 years ago

      r[

        • StuG
        • 10 years ago

        I have to agree, I can get up to 3.5Ghz on my 940 @ 1.35v, but I can do the stock 3.0Ghz just sipping 1.1v, why would anybody need the extra .25v core they have in there?

    • maxxcool
    • 10 years ago

    4ghz i5-750 with 1.3volts on the core

    • tejas84
    • 10 years ago

    Stock clocks FTW espcially since I am a programmer and errors on the data bus are not welcome espcially for compilers!

    Stock i7 860 w/ turbo and stock ATI 5870 FTW!

      • Firestarter
      • 10 years ago

      I’m sure your average gamer is much more tolerant of ‘data bus’ errors while he’s trying to shoot me

      ..

      8-|

    • format_C
    • 10 years ago

    X2 3800+@2.4GHz & 1.2V
    (default: 2.0GHz & 1.35V)

    • Bombadil
    • 10 years ago

    All of the above.

    • Sargent Duck
    • 10 years ago

    In my earlier days, I would overclock my processor as high as I could go on stock voltage. That was my “personal” limit.

    Now with my Core 2 E7200 (2.53Ghz) everything’s stock. It’s fast enough as is and I haven’t had any problems with my games needing more cpu juice.

    • rpsgc
    • 10 years ago

    Undervolted AND overclocked.

    • BiffStroganoffsky
    • 10 years ago

    I stopped investing the time trying to overclock and tweaking the voltage once ‘stock’ became faster and cheap(er), and the performance no longer became the bottleneck for the apps I run. Now, peripheral devices and ISP speeds (…lack thereof) are my bane for which no overclocking or overvolting will remedy. Does plugging the cable modem into 220v count and, more importantly, will it make my internet faster?

      • TO11MTM
      • 10 years ago

      Only in the sense there’s a good chance you’ll wind up buying a newer (And thusly likely better) cable modem. ๐Ÿ˜‰

    • bhtooefr
    • 10 years ago

    Stock voltage and clock here, too.

    Don’t think I’ve ever overvolted a CPU, actually. Underclocked and undervolted (basically, forced SpeedStep to minimum speed/voltage at all times,) yes. But, even that’s still technically *A* stock speed and voltage, just not the maximum.

    • Jigar
    • 10 years ago

    Q6600 @ 3.7 GHZ at 1.45 V, Thermalright Ultra 120 taking care of my chip.

      • StuG
      • 10 years ago

      Woot Thermalright Ultra 120 Rev C ๐Ÿ™‚

      • Envy007
      • 10 years ago

      E6400 @ 3.2 @ 1.2V (Stock 2.1 GHz @ ~1.35V)
      So undervolted and overclocked. Also with a Thermalright Ultra 120.

    • MrBojangles
    • 10 years ago

    Voted stock .I did have my i5 750 pushed up to 4ghz with a slight voltage increase, but after sitting back an evaluating things put it back at stock. just not worth the extra power and heat at least not in my situation. Were it spends 3/4 of the day just sitting at idle or under 30% load even at the throttled down speed step speeds.I do game and occasionally do some video encoding but nowhere near enough to push it even at stock. Having it juiced up so my browser will technically load “faster”(even though it was already coming up instantaneously to begin with) just doesn’t seem worth it.

    • Krogoth
    • 10 years ago

    I’m giving my Q6600@3.0Ghz, a little more volts than stock for stability. Never had any problems.

      • Mithent
      • 10 years ago

      I also run a Q6600 at 3GHz, but keep it at the stock 1.25V as it seems to be happy there and has been for two years now. I’m sure it could be overclocked more, but I don’t really see the need for what I do.

        • Krogoth
        • 10 years ago

        My unit is at 1.2625V. I had figured that a little boost wouldn’t hurt and might give the overclock some more stability.

          • Meadows
          • 10 years ago

          I actually don’t think you’re making a difference.

            • Krogoth
            • 10 years ago

            It certainly doesn’t hurt to try. ๐Ÿ˜‰

            • Meadows
            • 10 years ago

            Did you have stability issues at stock?

            • grantmeaname
            • 10 years ago

            How do you know? More voltage does indeed provide more stability, and every chip is different. My friend’s wouldn’t even hit 3GHz on 1.4V

            • Meadows
            • 10 years ago

            It sounded like he raised voltage “just because”. That’s not a very solid way to go about things, it would’ve been better to at least test it on stock if he already went ahead with the trouble of overclocking.

            • Ikeoth
            • 10 years ago

            While I agree with you Meadows in that you should at least stress it once with stock before a bump it is also his CPU and If he wants the excess heat from a unwarranted voltage increase then that’s his choice. I will say My Q6600 never got to 3GHZ on stock so I never pushed it ( darn thing wouldnt even boot =\)

            • Krogoth
            • 10 years ago

            I would have never imagine that a modest boost to voltage would cause such an uproar.

            Overvolting is serious business!

    • ColdMist
    • 10 years ago

    I used to be stock clocks until Bad Company 2 came along ๐Ÿ˜‰

    Now I’m overvolted and overclocked.

    • indeego
    • 10 years ago

    Stock. Stability/reliability is crucial. If I got one error/headbashing session troubleshooting an overclock it would be one too many.

    I dabbled in it ten years ago, but I found it eating up more of my time than was worth itg{<.<}g

      • ManAtVista
      • 10 years ago

      I’m with you, it’s not worth chasing phantom blue screens, I’d rather just buy a faster cpu/graphics card and run at stock, with 100% reliability.

        • cygnus1
        • 10 years ago

        i second that as well

      • CasbahBoy
      • 10 years ago

      It is a fun hobby on secondary machines, but my main rig is strictly stock. The Supermicro boards I’ve been buying tend to cement that decision.

        • StuG
        • 10 years ago

        My rule is to never go above stock volts, but squeeze as many (stable) mhz as you can out of the processor. I got my Phenom II 940 up to 3.5Ghz on stock voltage without a hick-up. 3.6Ghz showed a little unhappiness so I tuned it back down, been running like a champ for more than half a year now.

      • Kaleid
      • 10 years ago

      Overclock and leave on prime95 during the night. If you have no errors for 8+ hours then it is unlikely to ever crash due to the overclock.

      (I run a e7200 2.53Ghz @ 3.8Ghz, 1,3v)

        • StuG
        • 10 years ago

        If your overclocking the memory too I usually prefer memtest86+ over prime95, just because it checks the memory and puts the processor under a decent load.

        Heck, you could run both if you really wanted too!

      • Waco
      • 10 years ago

      If you run Linpack / Prime95 to check stability it’s pretty damn easy to get a perfectly stable overclock…

      • ronch
      • 10 years ago

      Agreed. There are already too many things that can go wrong in a PC and introducing one more potential source of error for a bit more performance just isn’t worth it. In the end, reliability and sane power requirements are King.

      And with the price of overclock-friendly motherboards higher than ‘standard’ boards, IMHO it’s better to just grab a standard board and spend your money saved on a faster processor.

    • moshpit
    • 10 years ago

    I used to be a big overclocker, and 2 of my rigs here still are overclocked and overvolted. But I voted “running at stock settings” because my main rig has no overclocking at all on it. Core i7 860 with 2x 5870, and a 1920×1080 resolution to fill. I am in no shortage of horsepower for whatever I want to do.

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This