Wednesday, September 28News That Matters

Intel Raptor Lake flagship CPU may have ‘extreme performance’ mode – at a cost

Intel could make it easy to get the most out of the Core i9-13900K processor

Intel’s Raptor Lake flagship could offer a special ‘extreme performance’ mode which really juices up the power supplied to the CPU to offer a sizeable frame rate boost.

This rumor comes from a Hungarian tech website, ProHardver(opens in new tab), as spotted by VideoCardz(opens in new tab), so we’d take this with more seasoning than usually applied; but it does back up what we’ve been hearing from the grapevine elsewhere (we’ll return to that point later).

ProHardver claims that the performance mode will up the ante for power usage to 350W with the Core i9-13900K, whereas the standard PL2 (power consumption at maximum boost) is set at 253W. So it’d theoretically represent a huge leap in the top level of power supplied to the CPU in the order of almost 40%.

Now, it should be easy to enable this mode, we’re told, and literally a case of flipping a switch – at least to turn it on, but for it to work in the first place, there are some requirements the PC must meet in order to get the increase of up to 15% with frame rates that the mode will purportedly provide.

So, about those requirements: the mode will only (theoretically) be possible on some Intel 700 series (Raptor Lake) motherboards, namely premium mobos which are built with high-quality components to be able to ensure such performance while maintaining stability. Furthermore, you’ll need a seriously good cooling solution to keep the thermal demands of pushing the 13900K to around the 350W mark in check, but again, that should come as no surprise.

Analysis: Looking at the bigger picture
First off, we shouldn’t forget that we’ve already seen sample chips for Raptor Lake get pushed to hit high power limits close to 350W. And of course, it is possible to crank up existing Alder Lake Core i9 parts to much bigger power usage levels via manually tweaking things (using Intel’s Extreme Tuning Utility), if you have a setup that’ll cope with this. The difference with Raptor Lake is that Team Blue could be making it much easier to do so if this official performance mode really exists.

Do enthusiasts who’ll fork out for top-end motherboards and extreme cooling solutions really need this, though? Well, we get the point that more casual users aren’t likely to go this route anyway, but it doesn’t hurt to make things easier and more convenient – and what’s more, it points more broadly to something else.

Namely, the rumors we’ve already heard that there really is much more headroom for Raptor Lake to be supercharged to higher performance levels, and it’ll be less of a struggle to eke meaningful gains out of 13th-gen chips compared to current Alder Lake silicon (where it has been rather a case of diminishing returns when looking at more extreme overclocking).

Of course, we’re still only looking at (up to) 15% better performance relative to the best part of a 40% increase in wattage – or so the website claims – which may not balance up too well, especially considering that the power demands of the CPU are becoming a more sensitive issue as utility bills shoot through the roof (and the situation threatens to worsen by a worrying degree as time rolls on). But 15% extra for frame rates in some scenarios is definitely a worthwhile increase, and the kind of PC owners buying freshly introduced Core i9 flagships with beefy coolers in high-end rigs are likely not going to be worrying much about power bills.

We need to watch this space, for sure, but the general indication that Raptor Lake will represent considerable progress for overclockers compared to Alder Lake is a theme that seems to be strengthening as the launch of 13th-gen processors comes nearer. We’re expecting to see Raptor Lake unveiled at the end of September, with the CPUs being available to buy at some point in October – or at least, that’s what the rumor mill would have us believe.

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