Intel Performance Tuning Protection Plan

Ok. So you are thinking about overclocking your Intel processor, but you are worried about blowing it up and/or voiding the warranty. Smart thinking. Not that overclocking your processor has to be that dangerous. I mean. A few hundred MHz won’t hurt your K model. Not even with the stock Intel cooler. But what about…

spending a little extra to stay safe?

What? Yeah. Most people don’t know this, but Intel has a great deal for you. Here it is:

With this Intel Performance Protection Plan you can OC your processor without having to worry about blowing it up or voiding the warranty. Rest assured. Intel will replace it when it breaks. Once. Still. For me this was a pretty sweet deal to get a free replacement.

This program was introduced in 2012 for boxed CPUs and can be transferred between owners, but you can’t request a replacement CPU in the first 30 days of purchasing the plan. Anyway. This is great for people who are truly pushing the limits of what their Intel silicon can do.


Haswell and PSU requirements

Today I like to talk a little about the Power Supply Unit (PSU) requirements for the Haswell Shark Bay platform. And I am quite confident that many of you, if not all of you have read this report published by VR-Zone and thought OK. No problem. My PSU is fine. I am ready for Haswell.

Sure. I understand that PC enthusiast like you already know that much, but other less well informed people may think that they will need to buy a new PSU. Which I tell you is highly unlikely. Especially for people with a Sand Bridge or Ivy Bridge based PC configuration. Then your PSU should be fine, with a few exceptions of course. Let’s have a closer look what we found out so far:

Let’s start with Silverstone. Here is a list with the Silverstone power supplies that are Haswell Ready and if you happen to use one of these, then your power supply is ready for a motherboard and CPU upgrade.

Sea Sonic
Now over to Sea Sonic. Here you have to do a little more work but note the Intel Haswell Processor Ready logo below the PSU list. Most of them are ready for Intel Haswell Processors.

Next up Corsair. I tell you. The next link is a must read for PC enthusiasts because not only has Corsair a list with all their Haswell ready power supplies but Jonny Gerow also explains, in great detail, what changed and how it works.

Note: If your power supply use DC to DC technology – convert power from the primary 12V power rail for the secondary (3.3V and 5V) rails – then you should be fine. No need for a new power supply.

Enermax took a slightly different approach and published
this press release in which they inform people about the Enermax power supplies that are Intel Haswell processor ready.

What about Cooler Master?
What I can tell you about Cooler Master is what they told me, being that the Cooler Master V-Series has been tested and is fine, but that other PSU’s are in validation as we speak. They expect to update the website as soon as possible, but the webmaster is a bit slow. Seriously!

We checked the BeQuiet website and found the following power supplies to be Haswell compliant:

Dark Power Pro: 1200W, 1000W, 850W, 750W, 650W and 550W.
Straight Power: 700W, 600W, 500W, 450W, 400W, 680W CM, 580W CM and 480W CM.
Pure Power: L8 730W CM, L8 630W CM, L8 530W CM and L8 430W CM.

Note: The Pure Power L7 series doesn’t seem to be Haswell compliant. This despite their own press release!

EVGA has, apparently, only three Haswell compliant power supplies.

SuperNOVA: G2, NEX650G and NEX750G.

Note: The EVGA SuperNOVA G2 is actually just a rebranded Super Flower Leadex.

What about other brands?
Don’t worry. The UEFI BIOS will include settings to bypass the problem with old/unsupported power supplies. For the rest. There are many moons to come so guess what.. get back soon.

Just a tall guy with glasses

Hmm this is interesting. Asus seems to be the only brand with one or two DIP-8 sockets on their motherboards. Two for the ASUS Maximus VI Extreme (think Haswell) and one for the rest of the boards. Too bad we need it, because not only is register MSR 0xE2 locked, so it the entire UEFI BIOS.

I’m not sure if we can fix this. I know that Sam worked on it. And I know that because I found a number of e-mails where she said to have located the security message, but not only that… she also wrote a patch to skip the text from displaying. Meaning that she located the library and thus now it is time for us to continue her work.

You know what. Every time I write something like this my hearth rate goes up a tad. What a loss. She would have solved this problem in no time. I mean. Let’s not forget this guys. Not only did she locate the 0xE2 lock, but she also bypassed it. Nobody else was able to fix this. And even today, after over a year, people are still waiting for a patch to bypass the security verification error. What about that?

I guess that this is, in part, also why I feel some pressure. Knowing that my sister had something special and people who keep saying things like: She took the room by storm. Yeah. That makes me a little nervous. After all. She was an elegant and pretty young lady, but I am just a tall guy with glasses…

A huge thank you to Andy for dedicating his SLIC Tools to Sam (RevoGirl).

Update Some people seem to be missing the bigger picture here, because there is no “old” UEFI BIOS version that we can flash in order to unlock the BIOS regions. Locked is locked. Basta!

Setting up a test lab

Only a select number of people will ever get an invitation from companies like Gigabyte to do LN2 benching in their OC lab, and since I wasn’t invited for the grand opening, we’ll have to do it with a setup that was used by Team Australia.
The main purpose of sharing this picture here is to give you a rough idea what a LN2 lab setup may look like. My room for example is much smaller, but then again I’m not Gigabyte. I’m on a tight budget, but I do happen to have a window and balcony. And the table and wall plate pretty much looks like what I have here (10mm square holes with a 38mm distance). Be it in a different colour.

The Setup
Ok so what else is there to see. I see a table with two power supplies on it. Required for the SLI setup, though we would probably just add another one. At the wall there is a yellow blow torch, used to heat up the pot when someone hits the cold bug. There are probes and tools to measure temperatures. You also need a (few) multi-meters to monitor, well, the voltages. There’s a (Samsung?) monitor showing a Windows – no comments – and I also see blue cloths wrapped around the pot (think insulation) and underneath the motherboard. There’s also some other unimportant stuff which we will skip for now. Oops. I almost forgot the red Corsair Force Series GT SSD hanging between some of the PSU cables. What an excellent spot for a SSD. Well. That is basically it… if we skip the dewars with LN2 in it. Whatever. All just to give you an idea.

No Test Bench?
What I don’t understand is why they don’t have/use any test benches. Like the nice Sahara Yellow DimasTech test bench I have here. That not only has room for two PSU’s – with optional extra PSU bracket – but also makes everything stay where it need to be. Like my SSD and two radiators – room for up to five of which three on top of the table. This enables me to bench boards with a water-cooling setup, without the need of having to do the same kind of work over and over again.

Ok. There was one thing that I had to make myself, and that was a neoprene cover for the top. You know to prevent spilled LN2 to boil off the paint and to stop LN2 from going into the PSU, which is right under the motherboard. And on top of the neoprene I have cloths to soak up the condensation. Another thing that I don’t see is a fan on the pot, which we use to suck off evaporated stuff. Without one you get a lot more ice on the outside of your pot. Which you don’t want. This means that this setup wasn’t completely ready. Work in progress so to speak.

No Pictures
Yes. There aren’t any pictures of my lab. Not yet, but the thing is that my lab is being worked on as we speak. Not to mention that it isn’t pretty and thus I want to work on it before I show you what I have to work with. Just give me some time to finish it up. I’ll share pictures of my table, wall, DimasTech test bench, power filter, power meter, power measurement equipment with data logging, wall mounted UPS, Fluke multi-meter, Fluke temperature meter, Fluke AMP clamp, Weller Station, hand tools and a lot of other stuff.

What’s Next?
The list is even longer. However. That stuff isn’t mine. Still have to add a few more items to my list, but it is getting pretty darn expensive. Way too expensive says my girlfriend, and she is right because we also need to think about the other stuff we need/want. Like owning a Vespa and maybe a two or three week vacation. We have to because I proposed to my girlfriend and she said yes! Woohoo. Yes. We are about to enter a new chapter in our relationship. Can’t wait. Life is too short already so we better enjoy it to the fullest.

The New Asus Z87 Motherboards Pictured

Asus appears to have given the green light to for sharing this with you, and thus here they are:

Maximus VI Extreme
Maximus VI Hero
Maximus VI Gene Z
Asus Sabertooth Z87
Asus Gryphon Z87
Asus Z87 Deluxe
Asus Z87I-Deluxe (mini-itx)
Asus Z87-Plus
Asus Z87-Pro

I want to point out that we are missing one board and that price info is still unknown.

Update: Oops. Seems like the photographs have been removed.

Page Not Found. Apologies, but the page you requested could not be found. Perhaps searching will help

Someone didn’t read/understand the NDA and got a reminder? I guess that we’ll have to follow this request as well. Let’s see if does the same.

Update 2:
Link to pictures are back up on

Update 3:
The Dutch website has a list with assumed retail prices of four new Intel motherboards (74-112 Euro) and twelve ASRock motherboards (73-155 Euro). Not bad, though the prices of the ASRock motherboards are a bit more expensive than the current generation. Up to 30% on one of the boards I was told. But you know what. Maybe someone took the current price list and added a rough percentage, just to be on the safe side, or these motherboards are simply more difficult/expensive to make.

Still no word about other brands, but my personal estimate for the Asus motherboards would be somewhere between 122 and 369 Euro. Maybe even a bit higher, if we have to believe the retail prices of the ASRock boards. I just hope that this isn’t the case because Gigabyte has some pretty awesome boards as well. Come with a newly developed UEFI and OC tools, and looking at the board that I have seen… I’d say that professional overclockers have influenced the design.

You know what. All these new motherboards make my hardware look out dated. Instantly. I also wonder about the few who ordered a ProjectQ motherboard/system. I myself did not order one, but if I had then it would probably have started to collect dust on delivery day. But I didn’t and thus I can spent my money on… whatever it is going to be. My best guess would be either an Asus or Gigabyte board. Not sure yet. I’ll let you know in due time – we first need to fix that UEFI update problem, because I won’t use anything without power management support.

Haswell i7-4770K Reached 7.2 GHz on LN2


The new Asus Maximus VI Extreme is still king of the crop. Did 5.2 GHz on air and 6.1 GHz with H20 (2 * 360 rads). Easy.

More good news. Tonight we are going to push the barrier on two other new Z87 boards. Jeroen and Mike already did some benching yesterday, and the day before that, and that looked very promising so we are expecting great things to happen tonight/tomorrow.

We also like to acknowledge the help that we are getting from companies like:

Asus, AsRock, CoolerMaster, Corsair, DimasTech, Enermax, G.Skill, Intel, Samsung, OSZ and MSI.

Too bad that EVGA isn’t sending us any gear, but I think that this will change. You cannot get past some of our efforts. Hey. Some even joined us in Spain to film our efforts. Yah. Here come the pizza’s. And some cans of Cerveza (SanMiguel sin alcohol) for the guys of course!!!

The building we are in is notorious for power failures and with six huge 1500 Watt power supplies running hot… the lights went out. Had to wait two hours for things to be restored, but then most of the folks went to bed as well. We’re now about to go out for a nice English breakfast – I like to have a breakfast with bacon, eggs and orange juice early in the morning. Hmm. One word. Delicious.

After breakfast we’ll probably take a taxi to show the folks some of the work of Antoni Gaudí. I mean. Being here in Spain and not seeing his work, and my girlfriend being a tour guide (which is where I met Angélica) that I tell you would be plain stupid. Anyway. We are enjoying life as it comes.

Oh and guys. That pizza we had yesterday. Boy that was one spicy pizza. Never had something this bloody hot before. Still a sore throat and then the smell afterwards. Pffft. Yup. Must open the windows. And all of them. You know what I am trying to tell you here, don’t you. LOL

Ok. I also seem to have said to propose, my dearest Angélica, when we hit 8 GHz so maybe someone better start saving for a wedding 🙂

Update II: We signed an NDA and thus cannot share details and pictures. Anyone who does… shouldn’t (Intel will surely remember it).

Extreme Case Modding

Today I want to talk a little about case mods, and most of you won’t need any kind of introduction to case modding anymore, but I need to kick off with some obvious mods before I can talk about the mods that I like to address here. So here goes.

Getting The Right Case
It all starts by getting the right case for your build. Pick whatever brand and model you want, but remember this. You may want to add water cooling or a second power supply, and thus think twice before you order one.

Cable Management
This is probably where most people start. With cable management. Simply put. Re-routing the cables inside the case in such a way that it makes them almost unnoticeable. This is also probably one of the, if not the most inexpensive things you can do. To stop the cable clutter. Something that can be done by everyone. All you need are a couple of ty-raps and possibly a few rubber grommets. Well that and a little time.

Modular PSU
The next thing you may want to look into is a modular power supply, in case you don’t have one yet. You know. One where you decide which cable to use, when you need them. Less cables will most certainly help you to reduce cable clutter so if you plan on buying a new PSU… get a modular one. And don’t forget to think green – too much Watt is not only overkill, making it more expensive, but just plain silly.

Cable Sleeving
This may be news to you, but more and more people replace the factory cable sleeves, which are usually black, with something that fits their builds colour scheme. This is a cosmetic only thing, like most of the mods, but there is one thing that you definitely should keep in mind: Don’t mess with the airflow (example below)!

Note: Computer case designers do think about the airflow, and thus when you start to mod your case and F up things in a bad way, then your motherboard and processor end up running in a hotter environment.

A Colour Refresh
A nice colour on the inside, or parts of your case can make a huge difference. All personal preference, but this is where you are in control. You decide what colour(s) you want and where to put them. This can be a simply DIY job with help of some spray cans, or you visit a professional painter. Powder coating is my kind of thing and thus that is what I usually end up doing. Just go with whatever works best for you. After all. You are paying for it.

Fan Replacements
Replacing the stock fans is another great way of adding something of your own preference to your build. Getting rid of the factory noisy black by replacing the fans with some great looking coloured ones will change the looks of your rig right away.

Adding LED’s
Fancy a few LEDs in your case? Go get some and enjoy the red, white, blue, green or whatever colour it is that you want for your build. Again. It’s all a personal preference, but some people can’t do without a few LED strips. Whatever works for you…

Cutting Metal
Your case may not come with a window or you may not like certain drive bays. Or your rad/fans don’t seem to fit. Time to get your hands dirty. To use a rotary tool and cut out the pieces that you’d like to see removed. Want a window in the side panel? Go use Google and see how this works, because that involves far more than I like to discuss here.

Water Cooling
Water cooling not only looks nice, but it also gives you the option to overclock your rig. Sometimes far more than the usual air coolers. However. Not all cases have room for radiators, pumps and reservoirs and thus the big question is… is your case ready for water cooling?

Ok. So now we have mentioned a few of the obvious mod candidates, yet none of them make me really happy. I mean look at the PSU. Not a single cable sleeve colour can hide the cables, but I want them gone. And I mean all gone.

Now look at the fan headers on your motherboard. I don’t want to see them. I want them removed. All of them.

Next up. The 8/24-pin headers on the motherboard. Do I need to say more? Yup. I want them removed as well. I just don’t want to see them anymore. Seen them long enough.

Are you nuts? How should this work? Hey. I told you so (see title) this is extreme case modding done the Pike way. No ordinary mods here, but anyway. Let’s talk business.

We start with a PSU mod. Remove the PSU casing and turn the print 90 degrees so that the modular connectors face outward to the motherboard tray – we want a new cut for the cables. Then move the power connector and power switch to the new back side of the power supply. Wait! Why don’t you use a nice sleeved cable and a grommet instead? We don’t necessarily need the power connector/plug. I think that this mod will look awesome.

Last but not least. Put a new cover on the PSU and we are done. Well. Almost. We also want to paint it (see also header removal) to match it with the colour scheme.

Header Removal
The next thing I want to do is to remove the 8-pin and 24-pin connectors from the motherboard – move them to the backside of the motherboard. Then shorten the PSU cables, and make them match the mirrored cable order.

Same kind of deal for the fan headers on the motherboard. Much simpler and less dangerous. But another kick ass mod.

We could do the same for the SATA connectors on the motherboard, but this also requires some custom SATA cables. Not impossible, but a little more daunting.

Motherboard Tray
Moving the connectors to the back of the motherboard does require one additional change and that is that we need a new motherboard tray. This enables us to have only the openings we need for our motherboard. All the rest is gone. No more dust vents.

No More Water Cooling Hoses
I never really liked the water cooling hoses. Whatever colour they are I just don’t want to see them in my build. I want metal tubes. Pipes with as little fittings as possible. Combined with a water block that allows me to connect the pipes on the side of the water block rather than the top. This way you only see a few centimetres. All the rest is hidden behind the motherboard tray. And I want to use the same kind of pipes for the pump and reservoir. To hide as much as possible.

I hear you think. What about the GPU blocks? What about them? You think that we cannot hide them 😉

So what do you think?

Oops. It is getting rather late here, and I have work to do tomorrow… later folks!

Update: Fixed a few typos and change some of the lines – it was getting late yesterday. Ehum. Rather early this morning.