Intel speaks out against 12th Gen non-K CPU overclocking

Shawn Knight

Posts: 14,149   +155
Staff member
In brief: Some hardware enthusiasts were no doubt thrilled to learn earlier this month that non-K Alder Lake CPUs can be overclocked when paired with the right motherboard. Intel, it seems, isn’t as happy about the development.

The chipmaker told Tom’s Hardware that its 12th Gen non-K processors were not designed for overclocking, adding that the company does not warranty the operation of these chips beyond their specifications. Intel further noted that altering clock frequency or voltage may damage or reduce the useful life of the CPU or other system components, and could reduce system stability and performance.

Overclocker der8auer discovered a setting in the BIOS of his Asus motherboard when a non-K CPU was installed that unlocked BCLK (base clock) frequency manipulation. Using it, he was able to squeeze a 57 percent overclock out of a Celeron G6900 processor without too much effort.

It’s not all that practical to pair an expensive motherboard with a dirt cheap CPU, but for overclockers, it’s often the thrill of the hunt that gets their juices going. Pushing a chip well beyond what it was designed to do is enticing for some, even if the end result can't compete with many-core CPUs.

der8auer said in a recent forum post that at least one big motherboard maker is working on a B660 board with DDR4 support and non-K overclocking. Non-K overclocking might not be a big deal now as it is limited to expensive motherboards, but if cheaper boards start adding the feature, Intel might have reason for concern.

Tom’s said the BCLK unlock functionality might have come from an error in Intel’s microcode. If true, we wouldn’t be surprised to see the chipmaker patch it out in future updates.

Permalink to story.

 

umbala

Posts: 605   +1,013
Intel sells their K-series chips at a premium, so no wonder they aren't happy about people overclocking cheaper alternatives. Gotta love all the scare tactics they're trying to reach for though. Ooh, your CPU will explode in your face if it's overclocked and it's not a K-series chip! Better return it and buy the more expensive version just to be safe!
 

Avro Arrow

Posts: 2,373   +2,888
TechSpot Elite
Oh poor Intel, their artificial market separation is being threatened!

Boo-Frackin'-Hoo!

I've owned 5 AMD CPUs in a row and they were ALL unlocked right out of the box. IIRC, only the base-level Athlons aren't unlocked.

Somehow, the AMD CPUs managed to survive the "overclocking menace" that Intel is trying to invent.

I've said it before and I'll say it again:
"Intel is SATAN and nVidia sits at Intel's left hand."
 
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Dimitriid

Posts: 2,212   +4,262
Intel: "You should not overclock non-k Chips, we cannot guarantee their operation beyond their specifications"
Us: "Wait, so you *do* guarantee the operation of K chips that are overclocked?"
Intel: "...No, we do not guarantee the operation of K chips that are overclocked either"
Us: "So...what's the difference beyond you just putting a K letter, giving them a symbolic and on-paper only performance increase along with a *very* non-symbolic price increase?"
Intel: "...We have no further comments at this time"
 

Ludak021

Posts: 687   +508
"The chipmaker told Tom’s Hardware that its 12th Gen non-K processors were not designed for overclocking, adding that the company does not warranty the operation of these chips beyond their specifications. Intel further noted that altering clock frequency or voltage may damage or reduce the useful life of the CPU or other system components, and could reduce system stability and performance."

but not if you buy that same silicon that is unlocked, then everything is tip-top.
hypocrisy.
I've been removing power limits from non-K SKUs for ~10 years an undervolting them even. My 9700 is doing 4.5GHz 24/7 instead of being stuck at 65W...

edit: bclk overcloking is stupid unless you only do it expecting to reinstall windows every day or so, since it will break communication and result in data loss or corruption, consistently. DerBauer doesn't care for this, since systems he is doing this on have nothing on them to loose.
 

brucek

Posts: 1,131   +1,672
Intel sells their K-series chips at a premium
Isn't that premium often something like $10 - $20? Given all the other expenses involved for good overclocks (premium MoBos, cooling, higher quality RAM, etc) I'm not sure why anyone would be leaping for the chance to save such a small amount if there's even the slightest chance that Intel really may be binning the better chips into the K bucket. If there is, I'd think Intel's larger concern wouldn't be the ten bucks, it would be risking a reputation for bad quality if the non-K versions ended up failing in larger numbers.
 

RedBear

Posts: 48   +40
I've owned 5 AMD CPUs in a row and they were ALL unlocked right out of the box. IIRC, only the base-level Athlons aren't unlocked.
As far as I know only the 200GE and the PRO line of CPUs are locked, the Atlhon 3000G has full overclocking capabilities. Honestly if Intel doesn't drop their anti-overclocking position now that they've lost ground to AMD, they won't ever do it.
 
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BigRedPDX

Posts: 271   +191
Intel: "You should not overclock non-k Chips, we cannot guarantee their operation beyond their specifications"
Us: "Wait, so you *do* guarantee the operation of K chips that are overclocked?"
Intel: "...No, we do not guarantee the operation of K chips that are overclocked either"
Us: "So...what's the difference beyond you just putting a K letter, giving them a symbolic and on-paper only performance increase along with a *very* non-symbolic price increase?"
Intel: "...We have no further comments at this time"

I can drive over to their campus in Hillsboro and ask those questions if need be. I haven't really been an Intel fan since the Pentium 4 days. AMD rocked Intel back then.
 

Darth Shiv

Posts: 2,277   +828
"The chipmaker told Tom’s Hardware that its 12th Gen non-K processors were not designed for overclocking, adding that the company does not warranty the operation of these chips beyond their specifications. Intel further noted that altering clock frequency or voltage may damage or reduce the useful life of the CPU or other system components, and could reduce system stability and performance."

but not if you buy that same silicon that is unlocked, then everything is tip-top.
hypocrisy.
I've been removing power limits from non-K SKUs for ~10 years an undervolting them even. My 9700 is doing 4.5GHz 24/7 instead of being stuck at 65W...

edit: bclk overcloking is stupid unless you only do it expecting to reinstall windows every day or so, since it will break communication and result in data loss or corruption, consistently. DerBauer doesn't care for this, since systems he is doing this on have nothing on them to loose.
Technically they may be speaking truth but let's look at the relevant context. Are the CPUs going to degrade below the usual service lives? If you aren't pushing them very hard then no. The Ks degrade too.

This talk is not aimed at people who know what they are doing.
 

Nintenboy01

Posts: 217   +174
Intel sure leaves a lot of performance on the table with these locked chips eh? At least with Ryzen even if you don't overclock there's not much headroom anyway.
 

Ben Myers

Posts: 197   +78
Drive a car with its engine revving above the red line, and you take a risk. Same with using a CPU above its rated speed. You are on your own. Good luck.
 

hwertz

Posts: 141   +80
I remember back when the specs were the specs, overclocking was overclocking. No vendor approval of any overclocking whatsoever, that was running it outside factory specs period. I mean, in reality, some chips had specs way under what they could do but Intel, AMD, etc. were not going to condone running low-end, medium-end, or high-end chips above the spec. I find this whole concept of factory-approved overclocking odd, after all if the chip supports factory-approved higher speeds why wouldn't it just be sold as a higher-speed chip rather than claiming "this is the speed, but REALLY it's this if you factory-approved overclock it?"
 

Avro Arrow

Posts: 2,373   +2,888
TechSpot Elite
As far as I know only the 200GE and the PRO line of CPUs are locked, the Atlhon 3000G has full overclocking capabilities. Honestly if Intel doesn't drop their anti-overclocking position now that they've lost ground to AMD, they won't ever do it.
I never had any hope that they would. Doing things that are pro-consumer are antithetical to the beliefs held by the blues and greens. :laughing:
 

Aryassen

Posts: 207   +236
Drive a car with its engine revving above the red line, and you take a risk. Same with using a CPU above its rated speed. You are on your own. Good luck.
Yeeaah, but the missing piece here is as if Ford for instance would say to you

"...but Sir, if you buy the same Mustang with a 12-15% higher price tage, which we call "Special Edition", you may (!) have the chance to run it a bit higher rpms than the other Mustangs (we don't guarrantie it though, of course). It's the same car really, manufactured in the same facilities using the same resources and materials, we just run some very basic/short preliminary tests on it for you, which indicate that this particular example may (!) resist over-revving a bit better...are you interested?

Ohh, and while I don't forget, you will need premium tyres for this too...sure it wouldn't be a problem, would it?"
:)
 

Aryassen

Posts: 207   +236
Isn't that premium often something like $10 - $20? Given all the other expenses involved for good overclocks (premium MoBos, cooling, higher quality RAM, etc) I'm not sure why anyone would be leaping for the chance to save such a small amount if there's even the slightest chance that Intel really may be binning the better chips into the K bucket. If there is, I'd think Intel's larger concern wouldn't be the ten bucks, it would be risking a reputation for bad quality if the non-K versions ended up failing in larger numbers.
It's more like 50-60 ($/€/Ł). But that only goes for the same model (I checked 12600 and 12700k vs non-k). If you go for something like the 12400 vs 12600K, then the gap opens a lot wider ($150+). Whether that is a lot or not, depends on everyone's personal circumstances and preferences, of course.

As for the failing, I don't understand how or why would CPUs fail prematurely (especially in large numbers) if overclocked beyond their factory specs, considering today's built-in protection features.

To the best of my memory, Intel introduced locked multipliers with Pentium 2 (I sure remember freely overclocking Pentium 166 to 200 or even 233 if lucky, but had to use base clock increase for Celeron 300A), and it was always a marketing driven narrative (interestingly, when Intel was in a pintch, unlocked processors were released and were not a concern). What slightly pisses me off is that they down't own this up. Why? Treating your current and potential customers as imbecils is not decent (at least that's how I was brought up)
 

Bobbydpue

Posts: 329   +217
Oh poor Intel, their artificial market separation is being threatened!

Boo-Frackin'-Hoo!

I've owned 5 AMD CPUs in a row and they were ALL unlocked right out of the box. IIRC, only the base-level Athlons aren't unlocked.

Somehow, the AMD CPUs managed to survive the "overclocking menace" that Intel is trying to invent.

I've said it before and I'll say it again:
"Intel is SATAN and nVidia sits at Intel's left hand."
I don't understand your post. Intel only said their non-k chips weren't designed to be overclocked and if someone breaks their CPU from overclocking its on them. That seems pretty reasonable to me. Also Intel is providing entry level CPU's while AMD hasn't. Also I've attempted to overclock two of the three AMD CPU's I've owned and both overclocks even just using OCP resulted in instability and benchmarks showed the extra performances wasn't worth the extra heat and power.

AMD doesn't care about you any more than NVIDIA or intel they are all companies trying to make as much money as they can just like most for-profit companies.
 

QuantumPhysics

Posts: 6,308   +7,247
"altering clock frequency or voltage may damage or reduce the useful life of the CPU or other system components, and could reduce system stability and performance."

Translation: "We don't care if you can get 10GHz out of the chip overclocking it. When it burns out, we WILL NOT repair/warranty it and you can hand us more of YOUR money!"
 

Avro Arrow

Posts: 2,373   +2,888
TechSpot Elite
Isn't that premium often something like $10 - $20? Given all the other expenses involved for good overclocks (premium MoBos, cooling, higher quality RAM, etc) I'm not sure why anyone would be leaping for the chance to save such a small amount if there's even the slightest chance that Intel really may be binning the better chips into the K bucket. If there is, I'd think Intel's larger concern wouldn't be the ten bucks, it would be risking a reputation for bad quality if the non-K versions ended up failing in larger numbers.
Isn't it obvious? It's because with AMD they never had to.
 

Avro Arrow

Posts: 2,373   +2,888
TechSpot Elite
I don't understand your post. Intel only said their non-k chips weren't designed to be overclocked and if someone breaks their CPU from overclocking its on them. That seems pretty reasonable to me. Also Intel is providing entry level CPU's while AMD hasn't. Also I've attempted to overclock two of the three AMD CPU's I've owned and both overclocks even just using OCP resulted in instability and benchmarks showed the extra performances wasn't worth the extra heat and power.

AMD doesn't care about you any more than NVIDIA or intel they are all companies trying to make as much money as they can just like most for-profit companies.
That's ok. It has nine likes so enough people understood it to satisfy me. If you don't understand it, don't worry about it because it means that you were never meant to.
 

Gezzer

Posts: 259   +134
While I understand the Intel hate being posted here, and even agree with it to a certain extent. We're talking BCLK overclocking here. It's not nearly the same as just changing a multiplier. Your base clock is used for quite a number of other system components and it's really easy to screw up if you don't know what you're doing. I've been overclocking since the Pentium days and the work I put in trying to squeeze an extra 100mhz or so from a K6-2? Yeah, in retrospect it wasn't really worth it. When you consider how complicated modern platforms have become I don't blame Intel for being concerned.
 

RedBear

Posts: 48   +40
I never had any hope that they would. Doing things that are pro-consumer are antithetical to the beliefs held by the blues and greens. :laughing:
It's not a matter of being pro-consumer for the sake of it, if you're losing ground with consumers you need to offer them something in order to regain market share. For instance Intel appeared to be on the right track when they (kind of) stopped limiting RAM overclocking to the Z series motherboards with the previous generation (it remains locked for the H510/610). So, yeah, I kind of hoped that they would relax their attitude to CPU overclocking too over time.

To play devil's advocate, Intel has a large offer of CPUs, thus it has more incentive to keep playing with artificial segmentation and the gains made on these little Alder Lake parts appear to be impressive, I was checking out TPU's test and the 12100F overclocked to 5.2Ghz basically matches the 5600X in gaming. But on the other hand getting angry about an overclocking method that requires expensive motherboards looks really silly, consumers will prefer cheaper motherboards/RAM combos (and if they're worried about motherboard manufacturers extending this capacity to cheaper mobos they should talk privately to their partners, instead of venting about overclocking being dangerous).
While I understand the Intel hate being posted here, and even agree with it to a certain extent. We're talking BCLK overclocking here. It's not nearly the same as just changing a multiplier. Your base clock is used for quite a number of other system components and it's really easy to screw up if you don't know what you're doing. I've been overclocking since the Pentium days and the work I put in trying to squeeze an extra 100mhz or so from a K6-2? Yeah, in retrospect it wasn't really worth it. When you consider how complicated modern platforms have become I don't blame Intel for being concerned.
I'm not an overclocking expert and I might be wrong, but I think it's not really an issue, this kind of overclocking is only possible with an external clock generator that bypasses the internal clock generator (and it's apparently available only on high end Z series motherboards with DDR5 memory, for some reason it's not included in the DDR4 models). If you just try to change the BLCK on any other motherboard the system will simply shut down when you go beyond 103Mhz.