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MSI just unlocked a 98% performance boost for some Intel CPUs

If you own a non-K, 14th gen Intel CPU and are interested in reducing heat and power while maintaining performance, this update is for you.

There’s a new MSI motherboard BIOS available that lets users turn off current excursion protection (CEP) for non-K Intel CPUs. What does that mean? Well, it means that anyone that’s using a non-K Intel CPU can now save power and reduce the heat of their system without performance taking a nosedive.

While this update doesn’t currently affect any of the chips on our best gaming CPU guide, users of the likes of the Intel Core i5 14600 – the non-overclockable version of the Intel Core i5 14600K – have faced a problem if they found their system was running hotter or using more power than they would like.

With K-series chips, the user could just turn down the AC load line voltage on the chip and its power consumption and heat would correspondingly turn down, with performance only slightly being reduced, so long as CEP was disabled. However, for non-K chips, there has never been the ability to turn off CEP, and trying to just turn down the voltage with CEP enabled could see performance tank. It’s this issue that the CEP update addresses.

MSI tested this scenario on its own boards, showing that if a user reduces the the voltage by half on the 14900K, 14900, and 14700 CPUs, performance plummets when CEP is enabled. However, with the new BIOS applied, and with CEP disabled, performance on all three chips hardly drops at all, despite CPU temperatures dropping from 100°C to 67°C on the 14900 and from 88°C to 63°C on the 14700. As such, if a user were to run a 14900 at such a reduced voltage, disabling CEP via the new BIOS could unlock a 98% performance improvement.

msi motherbaord bios cep performance 14900 comparison

MSI does point out that reducing the voltage supplied to a CPU can reduce system stability so there’s still some risk in this process. However, in most instances, you should be able to find a point where heat and power are reduced without your system becoming unstable.

As to how this works, CEP is a system that kicks in to protect the CPU from insufficient voltage, but for some reason, it hammers performance when the AC load line voltage is reduced. Intel has thus enabled the ability for these chips to switch off CEP, with MSI adding this update to its latest BIOS releases. Support will vary from board to board, so you’ll have to check the specific BIOS releases for your MSI board.

There’s a good chance we can also expect this change to roll out to other motherboard manufacturers too but don’t have confirmation yet. In the meantime, you can see our current top picks for motherboards in our best gaming motherboard guide.