Is your new Intel X490 or X590 mainboard unstable?

You have put together several computers in your day and never had the kind of instability and random reboots you are seeing now….

You check the message boards about setting the voltages to get a stable setting and it still won’t work…

Even at system defaults it you still face random reboots?

Sound familiar?

There are two reasons why this is, especially on the 10th and 11th generation i5 processors such as the i5-10600k.

1 – Because of the chip shortage processors that Intel normally would never sell are going to retail. Since the quality of the silicone is not as pristine it will take higher voltage settings to make the processor stable.

2 – These new chips, less so with the 11th gen processors, just don’t like memory over 2800 mhz. It doesn’t mean that you can’t make such speedy RAM work, such as the DDR4 PC3600 or faster. It just takes some extra effort.

Some who have bought these new processors that did not win the silicon lottery are having these problems and Intel selling less than pristine silicone is rather recent. Some users noticed  some of the more expensive $500 mainboards with advanced Artificial Intelligence (AI) overclocking were setting memory and core voltages higher than expected to gain stability even with a low to moderate overclock.

Instead of the typical .9-1.2 core voltages, these advanced boards AI is setting the core voltages on these chips from 1.3-1.5 volts with a VCCIN of 1.9 or 2.0 volts – which is almost unheard of with older more pristine chips. These boards are also using RAM voltages from 1.38 to 1.45 (or more) volts. Intel considers these voltages safe – Notice we said voltages (plural). New Intel processors have 3 core voltage settings.

Less expensive boards in the $200 range such as the ASUS z590 prime have AI, but it is not nearly as sophisticated so the settings will have to be made manually.

Set your XMP profile for your faster RAM to XMP II. XMP I will cause the mainboard to try to speed up the timings of your RAM automatically and most main boards choose settings that are too optimistic for stability.  The XMP II setting forces the settings that are actually in the default XMP profile programmed into your RAM.

What we are going for here is a mild overclock, and we do mean mild. These settings allow 4.8ghz on multiple cores and not just a single core. The power saving will still adjust down the clock of cores not being used or underutilized, but under load all of the cores will be capable of 4.8ghz instead of just a single core.

Once we realized that we did not win the silicone lottery we set the SVID setting in the photo above. If you are having problems you can actually tell the motherboard you have a lower quality chip and it work to keep it stable.

Notice the voltages here, as they are higher than you will typically see on many enthusiast forums. Some of these newer chips need higher voltage to get them stable. Worry not, so long as you use a decent aftermarket CPU cooler your temps at load will still be acceptable. In our case, playing games such as Cyberpunk 2077 are yielding temps from 45-52c. If you have one of these lesser chips massive overclocks such as 5.1ghz are not likely to happen.

Notice the setting “CPU Cache Ratio” this sets the maximum speed of the CPU cache memory. The default fastest is 4.3ghz. A slight boost to this setting really makes an impact. With a pristine chip 4.6-4.7ghz is possible, but for some of us 4.4-4.5ghz is the best we can hope for and maintain stability.

As as a rule, the faster your RAM the higher your VCCIO and System Agent voltage will need to be, if you did not win the silicon lottery, as is our case, you may need to go slightly higher than the graph below:

The 11th Generation processors such as the i5-11600k are more forgiving with faster RAM than the 10th gen such as the 10600k.

Did you put your older hard drives into your new computer? Lot’s of people do it unfortunately EUFI support in older hard drives is either problematic or non existent and this can cause instability.

There is a setting under the BOOT section of your bios called CSM compatibility. You may wish to enable it as we did. Also, newer boards share an M2 slot with the SATA slot #2. If you use an M2 drive SATA #2 will be disabled. Even though we did not use an M2, we had better stability skipping SATA #2 altogether. If there are not enough slots on your mainboard for all your SATA devices we suggest getting a PCIE SATA add on card.

We hope this guide helps. We understand that the voltages mentioned here seem to buck old norms when Intel only sold more pristine chips. Those days are gone for the foreseeable future.

Every processor and mainboard is different, as well are the quality of the power supplies and RAM modules so your mileage will vary.  We were able, with days more testing and tweaking, to bring down the voltage by a tenth or two. For the record we used a Corsair 750 gold series power supply.

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