A render of an Intel CPU in a futuristic PC.

(Image credit: Intel)

Intel’s latest desktop processor, the Core i9-14900KS, is the record-breaking fastest processor in the world right now. However, if you want it to actually run that fast, you’re going to need to do some serious modification – and that’s going to void your warranty.

But what if you could modify a CPU to run faster without voiding the warranty? Well, Intel has just given a handful of select PC manufacturers permission to do just that.

Since the 14900KS is so powerful, it runs hot and guzzles power – that’s part of why you won’t see it on our list of the best processors. So Intel has cut a special deal with PC-building companies like Maingear, allowing them to partially dismantle the chip and apply a third-party cooling solution directly to the CPU die, all while retaining the original Intel warranty.

This process is called ‘delidding’ by CPU overclocking enthusiasts. Basically, it involves carefully removing the slab of metal that sits atop the silicon to act as a heat spreader (the ‘lid’), thus enabling you to affix your own cooling system. Normally, you won’t see delidded chips in pre-built PCs, but with Intel’s temporary new deal, manufacturers can create custom-cooled systems that squeeze as much performance as possible from the 14900KS.

An intruiging move from Intel

Such PCs are already on sale – Maingear’s flagship MG-1 custom desktop can already be configured with a delidded 14900KS for an extra $200 over the regular chip, with Maingear promising ‘increased performance and cooling’ for the modified CPU.

Although Intel has historically allowed overclocking with external software, it’s the first time Intel has permitted third-party companies to truly meddle with their processors like this – and with warranty support, no less. Delidding a chip comes with inherent risks to the hardware, so the deal Intel has cut likely includes the PC manufacturers shouldering at least some of the risk. Still, it’s quite exciting to see; this could pave the way for delidded CPUs inside more pre-built desktop systems, thus boosting the speed and thermal performance of the PCs we can buy.

The CPU selection screen on Maingear's website configuration page for the MG-1 desktop PC.

(Image credit: Maingear)

Unfortunately for PC-building enthusiasts, Intel’s benevolence on the matter does not extend to individuals. Popular tech YouTuber der8auer bemoaned this in a recent video review of the 14900KS, remarking that it’s something he’s never seen before but “it doesn’t count for us normal consumers”. However, he does go on to say that the process is “pretty cool”, and that he hopes we might see Intel selling pre-delidded enthusiast chips in the future.

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As for ‘normal consumers’, well, some of my usual PC-building advice just got turned on its head. As a rule of thumb, I generally say that pre-builds are for convenience, while custom builds are for performance. But if you can actually get better performance from the CPU in a pre-built PC without losing your warranty, that rule goes out of the window.

Of course, if you’re an overclocking fiend who doesn’t care about warranties anyway, then get your coolant of choice ready, because the 14900KS is the new top dog in town.

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Christian is TechRadar’s UK-based Computing Editor. He came to us from Maximum PC magazine, where he fell in love with computer hardware and building PCs. He was a regular fixture amongst our freelance review team before making the jump to TechRadar, and can usually be found drooling over the latest high-end graphics card or gaming laptop before looking at his bank account balance and crying.

Christian is a keen campaigner for LGBTQ+ rights and the owner of a charming rescue dog named Lucy, having adopted her after he beat cancer in 2021. She keeps him fit and healthy through a combination of face-licking and long walks, and only occasionally barks at him to demand treats when he’s trying to work from home.

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