As previously discussed on this blog, Intel decided to quit the desktop board business in 2013. What has not been discussed is how Intel treated the buyers of the last generation (i.e. 8-series Lynx Point chipsets) of those boards. Since I have now acquired two of those boards, DZ87KLT-75K and DQ87PG, I had an opportunity to familiarize myself with the situation.
In 2014, Intel released the updated and faster Haswell Refresh CPUs, as well as the Devil’s Canyon i7-4790K, Intel’s first 4.0 GHz processor (ten years after the Pentium 4 very nearly got there first). For most owners of existing LGA1150 boards, supporting the new processors was just a matter of updating the BIOS.
Not so for the owners of Intel boards. To show just much Intel values its customers, they were informed that BIOS updates were not forthcoming and the newer, faster processors were not supported on Intel boards. That was no doubt particularly galling to the owners of the DZ87KLT boards, which sold for around $300 when new and are worth $150 or more even today (2019).
Of course the owners of these boards did not leave it at that. They soon found out that the Haswell Refresh CPUs mostly work, with just one minor but highly annoying issue: Instead of rebooting, the machine hangs. But even that could be resolved by manually updating the Management Engine (ME) firmware. That nicely illustrates Intel’s behavior: They had all the pieces, but refused to provide them to their own customers.
Customers understandably complained, but the official Intel position was that it’s just too much work to update the BIOS/firmware and validate the refreshed CPUs. End of story.
Except not quite. After all the hoopla in 2018 about Meltdown and Spectre, guess what happened: Intel somehow magically managed to update the BIOS for those boards after all. For the DZ87KLT-75K, nothing really changed because the ME firmware did not get updated. But for the DQ87PG board, the 2018 BIOS updates did update the ME firmware as well.
What that means is that a DQ87PG board updated to the latest BIOS from Intel works with Haswell Refresh CPUs (an i7-4790 non-K in my case, because I wanted VMCS shadowing) without any need to separately update the ME firmware. Of course the Haswell Refresh CPUs are still not officially supported on these boards, but if Intel does not care about its customers, why should those customers care what Intel officially says…