Intel's move to restrict overclocking to its enthusiast-grade K-series processors looks to be coming to an end, with motherboard makers issuing BIOS updates that enable base-clock overclocking on all models - even entry level parts.
While Intel supports its enthusiast customers with a range of high-price K-series parts, its bread-and-butter comes from volume sales of entry-level processors. These chips are low power and low cost, and to prevent customers getting more performance than they had paid for - or, more fairly, from ending up with an unstable system by pushing the parts too hard - are overclocking-prevented. This left a clear gap in the market: enthusiast customers building lower-power or lower-cost systems who still want the benefits of overclocking, like in the old days before the K-series was ever a thing.
Those days appear to be coming back: Techspot
has a write-up on a new BIOS which has allowed an entry-level Intel Core i3-6100 3.7GHz processor running on an ASRock Fatal1ty Z170 Gaming K6+ motherboard to hit 4.7GHz - thanks to a new option to boost the base clock (BCLK), previously locked, while leaving the multiplier alone. While there are trade-offs - unlocking the base clock on the motherboard required disabling the integrated graphics processor on the chip, requiring the use of an add-in discrete graphics card - the extra performance certainly helped push the machine up the benchmark rankings.
Hearkening back to the days of overclocking via increasing the front-side bus (FSB), the base clock overclocking method increases both CPU speed and memory bandwidth. Techspot's testing on the machine showed a 25 per cent increase in singled-threaded Cinebench performance as a result, with similar 10-30 per cent increases in various applications including Excel and Handbreak.
ASRock is due to release a base clock update for its various Intel Z170 chipset motherboards in the near future, with other manufacturers expected to follow suit in due course.