It is no secret that Intel’s 13th Generation Core processors such as the i9 13900K consume more power and reach higher temperatures than their predecessors. However, vendors such as MSI have come up with a new setting to reduce the frequency and performance ceilings caused by the increased power draw and minimized thermal dissipation area. MSI calls this feature Load Line Saturation (LLS).
Most people might be familiar with Load Line Calibration (LLC), which was originally introduced many years ago as a firmware method to reduce Intel’s built in standard vdroop. Intel introduced vdroop to combat higher power draw and thermals at stock, so as current draw went up with usage, the voltage would drop to maintain lower total power consumption to stay within advertised power and thermal specifications. LLC was introduced as a way to keep the voltage steady even with increased current, and while that would increase power it also allowed a higher voltage which enabled transistors to operate at higher frequencies (overclocking). Before LLC, people would manually have to change the feedback loop of the voltage regulator by altering the resistance in the PWM controller’s feedback loop.
With the introduction of the 13900K we saw that voltage levels dictated how quickly a CPU would hit 6GHz or over on air. 6GHz is an overclock, a slight one, but also one that reaches the limits of the silicon as the voltage required to hit 6GHz is right at the brink of instability and the voltage frequency curve. However, the voltage applied at 6GHz is significantly higher than the voltage required for an all core overclock. One workaround is to only overclock a few cores and leave the rest at the maximum all core frequency, while using traditional LLC to help manage that. In the end, it becomes very tricky to find a sweet spot, because even a higher voltage for all core default speeds can cause thermal throttling.
MSI decided to add a feature called LLS, which will use current usage as a trigger to drop the voltage using different LLC levels. In an example reported by WCCFTech, we see that if LLS is set to 50A and mode 8 LLC (which results in a voltage droop on purpose), any single or few core load can receive a stable voltage without vdroop (like level 3 LLC), but when current increases over 50A voltage will drop based on the level 8 LLC curve (higher level more droop on MSI motherboards). The result is stable operation with a high single core overclock with a decent all core frequency overclock without throttling. MSI is implementing this on their Z790 motherboards that use a Renesas PWM, such as the Z790 Tomahawk WIFI DDR4 we reviewed earlier. GIGABYTE has implemented something similar on their Z690 and Z790 motherboards, they have 6GHz BIOS firmware for certain models.