Thermal Interface and Extreme Overclocking

(with Alva Jonathan)

One of the big questions surrounding the new CPU is if Intel has decided to make changes to the way the CPU and the heatspreader make contact. The best way to make contact is to use an Indium-Tin solder, or a liquid metal, to ensure that the thermal load from the CPU is taken directly to the CPU cooler. The cheaper method (but more reliable method) is with a thermal paste, which is more resilient to thermal expansion coefficients over the lifecycle of the processor. In a perfect world, we'd expect the highest performance processors to use the solder method while cheaper processors can use a thermal paste. However Intel has been making its processors solely with thermal paste of late, causing extreme enthusiasts to resort to delidding and adjusting the thermal paste with liquid metal. AMD uses thermal paste in its APUs, and we did a delidding guide a few weeks back:

Delidding The AMD Ryzen 5 2400G APU: How To Guide and Results

The Intel method is mostly similar. However, the question for this review was if Intel would change from a thermal paste as used on the Core i7-8700K to a more overclocking and thermally friendly solder for the Core i7-8086K. The idea is that if Intel is geared towards enthusiasts, solder should be used, right?

Making It Possible

For this page, we are extremely thankful to Alva Jonathan, aka ‘Lucky_n00b’, a fellow overclocker and journalist for Jagat Review. I'm known Alva for almost 10 years, and like me, he also purchased his Core i7-8086K during Computex this week, except he went the full beans with delidding and liquid nitrogen. He is allowing us to share his results with our audience, so a big thank you to Alva!


Alva does some impressive overclocking coverage on all the new platforms at Jagat Review (in Indonesian), as well as doing exceeding well at overclocking competitions around the world. This week he scored third place at G.Skill’s live overclocking event at Computex, scoring some nice hardware and a cash prize.

Alva’s Core i7-8086K OC and analysis can be found here (in Indonesian).

Opening Up The Chip

Suffice to say, Intel made zero changes to the thermal interface on the Core i7-8086K. It is completely identical to the Core i7-8700K, using the same thermal goop as in previous generations of chips. For current Coffee Lake processors, removing the thermal goop and replacing it with a liquid metal implementation is generally good for lowering temperatures from 5-15C (depending on the quality of the application) or gaining another 100-300 MHz depending on the voltage response of the chip.

Alva recommends only delidding the processor for more frequency or better thermals if you intended to use more than 1.30 volts through the CPU. At this voltage, with a good ambient cooler, users will start to hit around 80 C when running the CPU at full load (we can confirm, our sample was similar), which is a good point for anyone considering a delid.

With his CPU, Alva achieved 5.0 GHz at 1.20 volts, which was stable enough to run CineBench R15 for a score of 1627 (compared to 1424 at stock with fast memory). The CPU also managed 5.2 GHz at 1.35 volts for a few more points at 1692. He used KingpinCooling KPX as the replacement thermal interface material.

Going Beyond with Liquid Nitrogen (LN2)

Extreme overclocking is an interesting pastime to participate in, however for the users on the extreme edge of the sport, every MHz counts. Not only for cooling but systems are physically modified to add better power delivery or to adjust voltages manually rather than through software. For those that can, it creates a thrill or two.

In Alva’s testing notes, he started with MSI’s Z370 Godlike Gaming motherboard prepped for sub-zero cooling, and used a heavy LN2 copper pot to manage temperatures with the liquid nitrogen. After bring the system down to -100C, he booted with BIOS settings such that the CPU was at 6.0 GHz (60x100), with an uncore of 5.0 GHz and a CPU voltage of 1.70 volts. Don’t try this without sub-zero cooling (!). Other voltages were as follows:

  • SA/IO Voltage: 1.35 V
  • DMI Voltage: 1.80 V
  • CPU PLL Voltage: 2.20 V
  • CPU PLL OC Voltage 2.20 V
  • CPU ST Voltage: 1.35 V
  • CPU ST V6 Voltage: 1.35 V

The CPU was kept in its full 6C/12T mode.

After booting into the OS, MSI Command Center Lite was used to adjust the processor variables (multiplier, base clock, voltage) in real time. The system was cooled down further to its limit, known as ‘full-pot’ liquid nitrogen benchmarking, and the multiplier was raised to find the absolute processor frequency limit for a no-holds barred validation.

The final result? 7309 MHz:

In general, Skylake-based processors tend to see peak liquid nitrogen frequencies around 7.1-7.4 GHz, so this new processor is nothing out of the ordinary. Alva said that he was quite happy with this single chip, however he will need to test a few more to see exactly where if there is variation in the wafer/batch from Intel. When Alva posts his full sub-zero overclocking article, I will link to it here.

Edit: Here is Alva's article -

Intel Core i7-8086K Review Ambient Overclocking and Power Scaling Analysis
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  • Oxford Guy - Thursday, June 14, 2018 - link

    Welcome to marketing — land of emotion.
  • twtech - Tuesday, June 12, 2018 - link

    It seems like the only good reason to buy this processor would be for the preferential binning - it's kind of like a manufacturer official version of Silicon Lottery.
  • xpto - Thursday, June 14, 2018 - link

    New Vulnerability hits Intel processors - Lazy FP State Restore
  • jarf1n - Thursday, June 14, 2018 - link

    well i know and few more that anatech are and clear long time amd support and cant make test without raise amd gpus and cpus someway better.
    but we are not idiots
    its clear that both 6-core cpus 870k0 and 8086 are much better cpus than amds 8-core ryzen 2700x. that is clear fact

    2700x is 8-core and still loose 3dmarks what is historical.. bcoz never bfore cpu that own more cores LOOSE cpu wich have less them.
    its tell clear that ryzen 2700x is weak and also mem problem show it.
    2700x cant handle high timing and hertz,

    2700x is better and really shod be for mathematic apz,but as i say ITS 8-CORE CPU.

    still it loose many test.

    and for thouse importants games and 3dmarks its loose and clear.

    when intels ALSO 8-core cpu guess 9700k release we really see how bad 2700z is.
    i can say that 8-core 2700x loose clear for intels 9700k 8-core cpu.

    ok..then 6700k vs 8086 cpu

    well its clear that 8086 is better than 8700k,bcoz 8086 is hand picket cpus and oc'd better than 8700k.

    so its mean 8086 ov'c higher,running lower heat ...exmaple all 8086 ov'd easily 5ghz, many 8700k not. only best.. and i took 24/7 use.

    sure if you get good 8700k its different,but if different is example anatech saying 75$ that i can get good cpu i pay it for joy!

    if you want best gaming rig buy:

    asus hero x
    2x8gb 4000mhz cl17 mem
    8086 or 8700k cpu and ocäd it about 5ghz
    buy more nvidia gtx 1080 ti

    then u have gaming rig that amd cant beat near 2 years...think about it...

    gtx 1080 ti is old shit and amd vega only few month old still no chance.
  • xpto - Monday, June 18, 2018 - link
  • alpha754293 - Tuesday, June 19, 2018 - link

    FYI - On the overclocking CPU page - GeekBench MT chart is a duplicate of the CineBench MT chart.
  • sarahberard - Wednesday, June 20, 2018 - link

    Hello I am so delighted I located your blog, I was watching on google for something else, great
  • sarahberard - Wednesday, June 20, 2018 - link

    Your site fantastic, superior quality succeed...">.
  • none12345 - Thursday, June 21, 2018 - link

    I wasnt expecting much out of the 8086k over the 8700k... but this is truely underwhelming. Only a single core turbo boost? I was expecting all the boost tiers to be higher. And same there goes it doing anything more at stock.

    I wasnt going to buy one i guess it doesnt matter. I completely agree that intel could have and should have done more.
  • Thests - Sunday, November 17, 2019 - link

    Ich frage mich, wie schnell der technologische Fortschritt voranschreitet. Der nächste Schritt ist das Streamen von einem Online-Casino, beispielsweise über Es wird für alle Glücksspielenthusiasten mega aufregend sein

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