The usual precautions apply. The motherboard has to be insulated with dielectric grease to fend off any accidental drops of water. Likewise, paper towel lines the gap between each memory slot, and then yet more paper towel wraps around the pot and memory sticks, to soak up condensation. A small fan helps blow the vapor away, too. When CPU performance drops or the paper towel gets too wet, you'll want to bring the kit's temperature back up using a blowtorch, dismantle everything, clean thoroughly and then reassemble to try again. This process alone could take a good 20 minutes at least.
Depending on the benchmark, the W-3175X had to be lowered to between -100°C/-148°F and 120°C/-184°F. That gave us more leeway compared to last year's i9-7980XE, which would stop functioning -- hitting a "cold bug" -- if it went below -104°C/-155.2°F.
After spinning up CPU-Z, we made some some fine adjustments on the clock speed and voltage in between pours, eventually stopping at 6.1GHz. That was still some way away from the 6.5GHz world record at the time of writing, but we had to make-do with the piece of silicon we got.
But the benchmark that we cared more about was Cinebench R15, which pushed all 28 cores and 56 threads to run at 100 percent -- as opposed to around 10 percent or less for the CPU-Z validation. That's tough. We even sought help from another top overclocker, Hiva "Hiwa" Pouri, but the PC kept ending up with a blue screen whenever we went beyond 5.5GHz. Dismantling and cleaning the kit didn't help much, either, so we settled with a score of 7,865 cb at 5.5GHz -- not far off from the 8,391 cb (at 5.68GHz) record.
According to Stepongzi, this was really impressive, considering that his i9-7980XE last year reached 5.6GHz on "just" 18 cores, and now we have a similar 5.5GHz speed but on 28 cores. That is to say, Intel has come a long way with the W-3175X's stability when overclocked. Stepongzi added that this easily blows away the i9-9900K, Intel's recent octa-core flagship, in the same benchmarks (though the i9-9900KS announced at Computex should see much improved performance).
Even though we failed to break any record, there are ways to improve our chances in the future. For one, a less humid environment would help a lot. Steponz said he could set up a rig in a dry place, like Las Vegas, and then bench for hours with no ice or vapor potentially affecting performance. The rest is all in the prep details. That, and a bit of luck.