Intel Core i7 and i9 CPU stability issues stem from power limits

You're probably pushing your CPU too hard.

A meme about Intel CPUs running hot.
Background by Carlos Lindner.

Intel processors are seemingly causing game crashes, specifically during the shader compilation procedure of Unreal Engine 4 and 5. Apparently, it all comes from the CPUs pushing themselves too hard, causing instabilities. We’ve all been there.

Saying Intel can’t catch a break would be an understatement. Joining the snake oil propaganda and SPEC’s test cheating accusations, Blue Team CPUs are suspect number one for game crashes. This issue seems to mainly affect higher-end 13th and 14th Gen Intel chips like the 13700K, 13900K, 14700K and 14900K. If you can’t use them as intended, then they’re quite literally unusable.

It all came to light after Sebastian Castellanos complained about the growing number of CPU-related instabilities. Specifically those occurring during shader compilation in Unreal Engine games like Fortnite and Hogwarts Legacy. Hassan Mujtaba replied with his own experience fighting the issue.

Mujtaba’s problems began a few months after he upgraded from a Core i9-12900K to a 13900K. When launching Hogwarts Legacy, the game randomly crashes to the desktop. While the CPU runs hot, reaching its 95°C limit, we expect this for recent chips trying to push the maximum frequency.

At first, he thought it was GPU-related as these crashes came with an “out of memory” message. Swapping to a different graphics card didn’t solve anything. Even Nvidia couldn’t locate the source of these problems. After months of troubleshooting with different BIOS and fresh installs of Windows, the only thing left to try was undervolting. Lo and behold, there have been no issues since then.

Now, the CPU is most likely more relaxed thanks to this undervolt, leaving more room for taxing tasks like the initial shader compilation processes. Vermintide 2 and Darktide developer Fatshark recommends users experiencing these crashes downclock their CPU multiplier by 2x, i.e. 200MHz. RAD, an Epic Games company, also makes similar recommendations.

Personally, seeing how much electricity costs nowadays, I immediately undervolted my CPU and GPU the moment I upgraded my system to save on power. It also has the added benefit of producing less heat during summer.