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Intel just admitted it still doesn’t know why games crash on its CPUs

Intel denies that the eTVB feature of its Raptor Lake Core i9 processors is causing instability, saying it still hasn’t found the root cause.

intel core i9 raptor lake instability

Intel has come out to publicly admit that it still hasn’t identified the root cause of its high-end Core i9 Raptor Lake CPUs having instability issues in games. The Intel CPU crashing issue that affects some of its 13th and 14th generation CPUs instead remains an ongoing point of investigation for the company.

The problems predominantly affect variants of the Intel Core i9 14900K and 13900K variants (KF, KS, and so on), which are the company’s current best gaming CPU options. However, it can also affect the company’s Core i7 14700K and 13700K processors.

PCs based on these CPUs have been crashing in some games, particularly those based on Unreal Engine 5. Beyond that, the specifics are vague – as you might expect given that Intel still hasn’t nailed down the cause of the issue. However, the problem has been consistent enough for any suggestion of user error or software problems to be ruled out.

More recently, there had been speculation that a cause had been found, which is that there’s an error in the microcode used to control the Enhanced Thermal Velocity Boost (eTVB) feature of Intel’s top-tier processors. This feature automatically increases the clock speed of the processor as far as possible in accordance with how well the CPU is being cooled. If there’s thermal headroom, the CPU will push its speed higher and higher.

However, Intel has now come out and confirmed to Tom’s Hardware that, while this issue is “potentially contributing to instability, it is not the root cause.”

All this is off the back of Intel having said it would issue a public statement on the problem back in May 2024, but as yet we’re still waiting.

So what can you do to help reduce the chances of this happening to your Intel gaming PC? The main piece of advice Intel has so far suggested is update the BIOS for your motherboard. A while back, Intel released a set of guidelines for default BIOS settings that motherboard manufacturers have been implementing via BIOS updates.

These settings include enabling C-states, Enhanced Thermal Velocity Boost, Current Excursion Protection (CEP), Thermal Velocity Boost, and Thermal Velocity Boost Voltage Optimizations by default. Intel also recommends having ICCMAX Unlimited Bit set to disabled by default and TjMax offset set to 0.

However, interestingly, it doesn’t make any changes to the ICCMax, ICCMax_App, and Power Limits settings. These allow the chips to still draw large amounts of power, suggesting that Intel doesn’t believe the issue is solely to do with the CPUs occasionally drawing too much power. All you really need to know, though, is that if you download the latest BIOS for your motherboard it should at least reduce the chances of these crashes.

If you’re on the lookout for a new gaming CPU right now, check out our Ryzen 7 7800X3D review to find out why this AMD processor is our top choice.