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Careful with that SoC: overclocked AMD Ryzen 7000 CPUs are burning out

High voltages blamed, AMD reportedly on the case

Owners of AMD Ryzen 7000 processors, you may wish to reconsider any overclocking plans. This hardware family may include some good gaming CPUs but several users have recently reported cases of fatal overheating, sometimes even with their processors burning the motherboard socket in the process.

Investigations by Tom’s Hardware and YouTuber der8auer suggest the culprit is SoC (system on chip) voltages being pushed beyond safe levels during memory overclocking attempts. AMD haven’t confirmed this directly, but are supposedly working on a fix that would prevent this accidental overvolting from happening again.

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From the sounds of things, these burnouts – which the Ryzen 7000X3D sub-series appears particularly prone to – aren’t strictly caused by negligent overclocking or improper CPU installation. Allegedly, raising the SoC voltage high enough will destroy the Ryzen chip’s onboard temperature sensors, negating its ability to shut the system down if it detects excess heat. Voltages are therefore allowed to climb higher unimpeded, resulting in a fried processor (and, potentially, motherboard). To the user, however, the fact that their PC is still running up to that point would indicate that the overclock is stable. Sabotage, misdirection - there were any intent behind this, it would be quite the devious PC-bricking strategy.

Again, AMD haven’t confirmed anything, though Tom’s Hardware says the chip makers are working on a fix that would cap or lock SoC voltages at the firmware level. Asus and MSI, two of the brands whose motherboards have been reportedly cooked by red-hot Ryzens, have also released BIOS updates "to correct some of the issues."

At the moment there’s nothing to suggest non-overclocked Ryzen 7000 processors are at similar risk, and if you’ve overclocked your own by simply changing clock speed and core voltage values – i.e., leaving the SoC voltage alone – then that should be fine too. Assuming you installed a CPU cooler that can handle it. But yes, an electrical fault that obliterates the sensors designed to protect against electrical faults sounds particularly nasty. Fingers crossed it gets addressed, fast.

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About the Author
James Archer avatar

James Archer

Hardware Editor

James had previously hung around beneath the RPS treehouse as a freelancer, before being told to drop the pine cones and climb up to become hardware editor. He has over a decade’s experience in testing/writing about tech and games, something you can probably tell from his hairline.

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