Someone Managed to Overclock a 14-Year-Old Intel Processor to 8.36 GHz

Navya Pramod, a systems engineer in Intel’s overclocking lab in Hillsboro, Oregon, pours liquid nitrogen to cool down a 9th Gen Intel Core i9-9900K processor during an overclocking demonstration in September 2019.
Navya Pramod, a systems engineer in Intel’s overclocking lab in Hillsboro, Oregon, pours liquid nitrogen to cool down a 9th Gen Intel Core i9-9900K processor during an overclocking demonstration in September 2019.
Photo: Walden Kirsch/Intel Corporation

There’s overclocking, and then there’s overclocking. Sure, there’s a certain satisfaction in overclocking a brand new AMD Ryzen 9 5950X, but that seems like child’s play compared to what one overclocker was able to do with a 14-year-old Intel processor. According to TechSpot, HWBot.org user ivanqu0208 took an Intel Celeron D 347, a single-core, single-thread processor, which originally launched at the end of 2006, and cranked its 3.06 GHz base frequency to 8.36 GHz.

To put that into perspective, the highest anyone has overclocked Intel’s 10th-gen Core i9-10900K desktop processor, which has a base clock 3.70 GHz, a boost clock of up to 5.30 GHz, 10 cores and 20 threads, was 7.71 GHz according to both HWBot and the CPU-Z OC World Records. And that processor isn’t even a year old!

For any CPU to run that much faster than its advertised speeds, it needs to stay cold. Really cold. Enthusiast overclockers often pour liquid nitrogen over the CPU, or surround it with blocks of liquid nitrogen, to keep it cold while they perform their overclocking magic. Without that type of extreme cooling, speeds in excess of 8 GHz wouldn’t be possible. If a CPU goes over its maximum operation temperature, the motherboard generally turns off the PC as a failsafe to prevent any permanent damage to the processor, which makes it all the more impressive that someone was able to do this with a 14-year-old processor.

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That 8.36 GHz speed isn’t even the fastest ever recorded, either. As of 2014, the Guinness World Record for the highest CPU clock rate, 8.72 GHz, was achieved by AMD employees at its Austin, TX headquarters with an AMD Piledriver-based FX-8370 chip. That CPU was released the same year AMD set that record, so it’s quite a bit newer than the Celeron D 347, and it has a lot more cores and threads. But there’s some discrepancy on the record. According to CPU-Z OC World Records, which lets users submit scores that it then verifies, the fastest ever is still 8.8 GHz with AMD’s FX-8350 processor.

At the time of its release, Celeron D 347 processors became popular with overclockers because of how easy they were to overclock. Random impurities in the silicon can affect how fast someone is able to overclock their processor, but the Celeron D 347s seemed to be an especially good batch, clearly. People still like overclocking them! Thankfully for the rest of us who are perfectly content with getting just a little bit extra speed, we can still overclock without resorting to liquid nitrogen.

Staff Reporter, Reviews at Gizmodo. Formerly PC Gamer, Maximum PC.

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DISCUSSION

8 Ghz.  Isn’t that 8 Billion cycles per second?