The CPU typically runs at speeds of 3.8GHz – 4.2GHz. While it can be comfortably overclocked to about 4.5GHz without any elaborate cooling mechanisms, to achieve 7.3GHz you have to jump through a lot of hoops.
The team managed two impressive feats: hitting 5.1GHz through air cooling and reaching 7.3GHz with liquid nitrogen, by ramping up the voltage to 1.616V and 1.956V, respectively. They achieved both clock speeds by disabling two of the processor’s cores.
Clearly it isn’t practical for most users to cool their CPU with liquid nitrogen, so while the 7.3GHz benchmark is impressive, it’s not all that meaningful. On the other hand, the 5.1GHz benchmark is. Having two cores running at 5.1GHz instead of four cores running at 4.5GHz won’t win over too many multitaskers, but it’s perfect for gaming and makes the budget-priced 5800K a highly attractive proposition.
Not everyone is sold on the idea of forgoing a discrete graphics card for an all-in-one chip like the Trinity APU, but its ability to turn out decent clock speeds with a $122 price tag is sure to win it a few friends.