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Intel Alder Lake dual-core Pentium CPU gets overclocked to near 6GHz

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Intel Alder Lake CPUs have been shown to be capable of all manner of impressive overclocking feats when it comes to non-K chips (ones that shouldn’t officially be open to overclocks), and the latest one is a cheapo Pentium model being pushed to truly dizzy heights.

As you may be aware, only Intel’s ‘K’ model processors are officially produced with overclocking in mind, and the chip giant recently made it very clear that while non-K CPUs can be ramped up due to an apparent loophole with Alder Lake, they shouldn’t be. And indeed you’re voiding the warranty and running the risk of ruining the processor with such overclocking (they simply aren’t designed for this).

But that obviously won’t stop professional overclockers really going to town on what might be possible with Alder Lake non-K silicon, and following Der8auer hitting 5.3GHz with a Celeron G6900, Hicookie (Gigabyte’s in-house expert) has overclocked the Pentium Gold G7400T CPU to 5.8GHz.

To put that in perspective, this is a low-end dual-core Pentium processor that costs just $64 (around £47, AU$89), and normally ticks along at 3.1GHz, having its speed almost doubled with an overclock that comes close to 6GHz.

The method used to overclock non-K Alder Lake models is the ‘unlock BCLK’ feature that’s present in the BIOS of some motherboards. Hicookie pushed the Pentium Gold to 1.656V and used liquid nitrogen for cooling.

As Tom’s Hardware, which spotted this, makes clear, this is not the fastest speed a dual-core CPU has ever achieved, but thanks to Intel’s Alder Lake architecture pushing forward with performance, the G7400T at 5.8GHz did break a number of dual-core world records in benchmarks. That includes Geekbench 3.4.4, HWbot X265 Benchmark (at 1080p and 4K), and Y-Cruncher-Pi-1B.


Analysis: How long before non-K overclocks get KO’d?

Naturally, the relevance to the real world is limited here: no punter is going to grab a Pentium Gold G7400T and use it in a high-end motherboard (a Gigabyte Aorus Z690 Tachyon was employed, in this case) with a beefy cooling solution to get it up to near this kind of speed. This is simply an exercise to demonstrate how far non-K Alder Lake chips can be pushed, with some staggering potential therein.

However, in terms of the real world, that will also translate into proportionately impressive overclocking even with normal air (or perhaps liquid) cooling with the various non-K Alder Lake models. Indeed, you may recall that we’ve also recently seen a Core i3-12300 being clocked up to become the world’s fastest quad-core CPU.

Anyone contemplating trying an affordable PC build using a non-K Alder Lake processor and substantial overclocking should bear in mind the cost of the motherboard – even the B660 boards with the BCLK functionality are the costlier mid-range models – and moreover, remember Intel’s warning as mentioned above.

Given that this non-K overclocking seems to be unintentional on Intel’s part – rumor has it, the result of a slip-up in Alder Lake microcode – along with Team Blue’s freshly revealed stance on the likes of warranties, it seems likely that future BIOS updates will patch this ‘feature’ out. In short, you’re taking a risk in more than one way if planning to build a new rig around a non-K overclock.

As we’ve observed before, Intel doubtless isn’t going to want to risk sales of higher-end Alder Lake processors, in terms of those CPUs having to compete against cheaper majorly overclocked silicon.

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).