Intel’s Alder Lake non-K processors can be overclocked as we’ve seen in recent times – when it should only be unlocked ‘K’ models that can do this, traditionally – and it has now emerged that this trick works with mid-range motherboards too.
Der8auer is the expert overclocker who has been working away at juicing up Alder Lake CPUs like the Core i5-12400, and even a lowly Celeron model, but previously it was thought that these chips could only be overclocked in a high-end Z690 motherboard with support for BCLK unlock.
You may recall that Der8auer theorized that B660 motherboards should allow for non-K processors to be overclocked like this, and indeed the German overclocker has now proved this, achieving the feat with two different Asus ROG Strix B660 motherboards as VideoCardz spotted.
So, buying one of these cheaper mid-range B660 models – rather than forking out megabucks for a Z690 – and pairing it with an affordable Core i5 (or Core i3) non-K Alder Lake CPU with a big overclock is indeed possible - all for a relatively modest outlay.
Well, sort of, because as we noted in the headline above, there’s a catch, and a fairly substantial one: Der8auer says he hasn’t found a DDR4 supporting B660 board that offers this overclocking ability, only DDR5-ready models.
Analysis: DDR5 costs are prohibitive – but don’t lose all hope
As this is apparently DDR5-only, that presents a big problem in that this system RAM is not easy to find, and very expensive, as it’s still early days for the new memory sticks. As ever, when a new RAM standard emerges, you can expect to pay well over the odds to get hold of the memory modules.
So, regarding the idea of a Core i5 Alder Lake system for a modest outlay, going the B660 route, that’s rather scuppered by the price you’ll have to pay for the DDR5 memory that will be the only choice to fit the motherboard.
All hope of pulling off a more wallet-friendly overclockable non-K rig isn’t lost, though, because it may yet turn out that there is a DDR4 supporting board which also has the capability for a BCLK unlock in the BIOS. And even if there isn’t – let’s face it, Der8auer does not seem optimistic about that – then we must bear in mind that DDR5 availability and pricing will get better as time goes on (and also when component shortages become less of a concern, which could hopefully happen later in 2022).
If all that pans out, then we could still be looking at some interesting possibilities for big overclocks in modest systems, maybe with Raptor Lake CPUs. Intel’s next-gen chips are expected to arrive later in 2022, of course, being pretty much a refresh of Alder Lake (but speedier, naturally), and therefore it could be expected that they will keep this unlocking functionality. That said, there’s no guarantee Intel will keep these overclocking possibilities in for Raptor Lake.
We’ll just have to see, but meantime, it’s still fascinating to witness the kind of overclocking which can be achieved with non-K Alder Lake silicon, which has already led to a world record overclock with the Core i3-12300 (absolutely destroying the previous quad-core record holder, the AMD Ryzen 5300G).
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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).