Intel i9-14900K/13900K CPUs Unstable even with Baseline Power Profile: Crashes in Games Persist

Intel’s Raptor Lake processors have been on the market for nearly two years, first as the 13th Gen and then as the 14th Gen Core lineup. Unfortunately, they have been the cause of widespread tumultuous experiences for customers and board partners alike. There are numerous reports of the 13th and 14th Gen K-series CPUs crashing in popular titles like Hogwarts Legacy, Mortal Combat, and Fortnite. We have RMA’d three Raptor Lake SKUs in the last 2 months, including two Core i9-13900KF (one of them being a replacement unit), and a Core i7-14700KF SKU.

Intel has issued multiple statements on this issue, first urging users and board partners to switch to the “Intel Default Settings” and more recently revealing that a Thermal Velocity Boost (TVB) bug is (at least partially) responsible for the crashes. We have been analyzing these unstable chips, and have made some observations.

Intel Baseline/Default Power Delivery Profiles

Intel’s official power delivery profiles, including baseline and performance modes, didn’t alleviate the issue on our samples:

The first Core i9-13900KF replacement was exclusively configured using the “Intel Baseline” power profile from day 1, but the chip failed roughly after two months. We started experiencing system crashes while gaming after which the PCIe Gen 5 lanes connected to the GPU malfunctioned.

The second replacement was received earlier this week and has already started exhibiting system crashes (BSODs) in graphics-intensive fast-paced games. Like before, the Core i9-13900KF was configured using the “Intel Baseline” power delivery profile, but the instability persisted. We experienced the same frequency of game crashes using the “Baseline” and the “MSI 4096W” power profiles.

Enhanced Thermal Velocity Fix Alleviates the Issue, not Fixes it

The eTVB (Enhanced Thermal Velocity Boost) fix released with the latest BIOS microcode update (0x125) reduces the frequency of crashes, but doesn’t eliminate them.

For us, BSODs were much less frequent after the firmware update and were replaced by CTDs (crash-to-desktop). Crashes are mainly observed in fast-paced shooters like Helldivers 2, XDefiant, and PUBG.

CPU Power and Core Clocks Before Crashing

We observed something interesting in the log files before the crash (BSOD applying the eTVB fix). There were anomalies in the CPU power, CPU usage, and the CPU E-core clocks. A few minutes before the crash:

The CPU power dropped by 30-40% and stayed at that level till the abrupt shutdown.

A steep decline in CPU usage across all cores (E-cores down to ~0%) was observed alongside the power drop, although the P-core clocks remained unchanged.

The E-core clocks followed suit, dropping from 3.9 GHz to 4.3 GHz in the last couple of minutes before the crash. The E-core usage dropped to almost 0%.

The framerates dipped by 20%, followed by utter and complete darkness. The game (Helldivers 2) ran well till the very end with averages of over 100 FPS.

The BSOD bug check analysis reveals a driver malfunction: A display driver checksum mismatch followed by an unsuccessful attempt to reset it or recover. Numerous users have gotten the same error and upon reporting it to NVIDIA, have been pointed towards Intel.

The CTD error observed after applying the eTVB firmware fix is an access violation error caused by a buffer overrun. The first Core i9-13900KF that we RMA’d suffered from memory corruption or out-of-access memory accesses.

How to Stabilize the Intel Core i9-14900K/13900K

  • Adhere to Intel’s “Default” power profile even if it may not work for all users.
  • Download the eTVB firmware fix from your motherboard vendor’s official website.
  • Cap your framerates at 60 FPS to reduce the load on the CPU. Preposterous, I know, but it works.
  • Reduce your CPU boost clock (P-core/E-core ratio) by 100-200 MHz. Or increase the core voltage by 5-15%.
  • Buy an AMD Ryzen CPU: A more reliable fix, but unfortunately isn’t free.

Areej Syed

Processors, PC gaming, and the past. I have written about computer hardware for over seven years with over 5000 published articles. I started during engineering college and haven't stopped since. On the side, I play RPGs like Baldur's Gate, Dragon Age, Mass Effect, Divinity, and Fallout. Contact: areejs12@hardwaretimes.com.
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