Even Intel's cheap Skylake CPUs can be ramped up with serious overclocking

Skylake CPU
Could Skylake be the overclocking gift that keeps on giving?

As you're no doubt aware, for some considerable time now – since Sandy Bridge processors were introduced by Intel – overclocking hasn't been possible (or rather, any real overclocking hasn't) and CPUs have been locked at their default clock speed unless you pay a bit more for an unlocked 'K' model (and these weren't even made for the lower-end Core i3 offerings).

There have been slight exceptions to this rule, like the Pentium G3258 anniversary edition, but everything has apparently changed with the newest Skylake processors from Intel, as not just the 'K' models but also the standard CPUs from this range can be overclocked, Techspot reports.

There has been plenty of previous speculation that major base clock overclocking could be possible with Skylake, and it was just a matter of motherboard vendors implementing workarounds to bypass the restrictions put in place by Intel.

And this has happened in the case of Asrock, which has come up with a BIOS update that enables overclocking non-'K' CPUs on its Z170 motherboards – an update which will be rolled out soon enough, by all accounts.

Core i3 blimey...

And Techspot has tested this out, managing to overclock a Core i3-6100 from its base speed of 3.7GHz to 4.7GHz – an impressive boost indeed, making for some equally impressive benchmarks. For example, the overclocked i3 outpaced a Core i5-4430 in Cinebench R15 in both single and multi-threaded tests.

This is certainly exciting news for folks who like to buy a bargain processor, stick a fat cooler on top of it, and ramp it way up to get some real juicy performance numbers out of a relatively cheap piece of hardware.

While Asrock is the first motherboard manufacturer to successfully implement this update, it doubtless won't be long before other major vendors follow suit with their mobos. Then overclocking enthusiasts just have to hope that Intel doesn't attempt to block such workarounds.

Further performance benefits will come to those running a Skylake CPU with Windows 10 thanks to Intel's Speed Shift technology, although this will hardly make the same impact as a substantial overclock.

Darren is a freelancer writing news and features for TechRadar (and occasionally T3) across a broad range of computing topics including CPUs, GPUs, various other hardware, VPNs, antivirus and more. He has written about tech for the best part of three decades, and writes books in his spare time (his debut novel - 'I Know What You Did Last Supper' - was published by Hachette UK in 2013).