Intel Alder Lake Core i5 CPU you can’t buy hits a staggering 5.7GHz overclock

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(Image credit: Intel)

An Intel Alder Lake Core i5 processor which is a non-K model – meaning it isn’t unlocked, so shouldn’t be able to be overclocked – has been clocked up to new heights, but note that this CPU is only available to buy in Asia.

There are a couple of things to unpack here, and firstly that’s the exact model in question which is the Core i5-12490F, a chip with six-cores (all performance, with no efficiency cores) that’s only on sale in China. Further remember that processors which aren’t unlocked ‘K’ models (this one is ‘F’, meaning it has no integrated graphics) shouldn’t be able to undergo overclocking as mentioned, but they can thanks to an unofficial way of using the Unlock BCLK feature in the BIOS on some motherboards (Z690 or B660 chipsets).

So, what’s happened here is that some enterprising owner has taken Der8auer’s BCLK method and juiced this Core i5 Alder Lake CPU up to 5.7GHz, which is way above its default clock speed of 3GHz (nearly double, in fact), and a huge chunk more than the maximum boost of 4.6GHz.

As Tom’s Hardware, which spotted that leaker Tum_Apisak had highlighted this overclocking feat on Twitter, points out, the BCLK was set to 142.53MHz and voltage ramped up to a massive 1.696V. This means some kind of exotic cooling must have been used, as any standard methods wouldn’t give the headroom to push nearly this hard – although sadly no details of the actual cooling employed were provided.

Analysis: Major overclocking potential, but with an equally major caveat

Once again, another big overclock – joining the Core i3-12300 which was clocked up to be the world’s speediest quad-core CPU earlier this week – shows the potential of these 12th-gen non-K processors to be serious performers. As we mentioned above, the cooling used here isn’t made clear, but in that Core i3 effort, dry ice was used to provide super-cool conditions.

Even with normal cooling, non-K Alder Lake chips have a good deal of potential to be ramped up, in theory – but there’s one fly in the ointment. Namely that Intel just came out and said that such non-K CPUs are not designed to be overclocked, and that powering them up in this way could “damage or reduce the useful life of the processor and other system components, and may reduce system stability and performance.”

In other words, you have been warned about the dangers here, and the processor’s warranty will be voided too. It seems likely that Intel will patch out the ability to perform these BCLK overclocks on non-K CPUs before long via BIOS updates in the future, so we wouldn’t bank on this workaround being present for all that long.

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).