This feat was achieved by Der8auer, a well-known German overclocker who has set many previous records when juicing up chips, and managed to get the G6900 CPU to hit 5,338MHz (up from the default base clock speed of 3.4GHz).
What’s even more interesting here, aside from a low-end chip blazing away at over 5.3GHz, is that of course this is a non-K processor – only Intel’s ‘K’ model CPUs are officially able to be overclocked. However, with Alder Lake, other models can be ramped up, at least if they’re running on a Z690 (high-end) motherboard, using the BCLK unlock capability in the BIOS (BCLK meaning base clock).
Recently Der8auer has also demonstrated overclocking other Alder Lake non-K processors including Intel’s Core i5-12400, with seriously impressive results (reaching 5,240MHz across all cores). Plus in this new video, he shows the Intel Core i3-12100 hitting 5,400MHz – about 26% faster than its rated boost.
Analysis: This trick might apply outside top-end motherboards, too
Taking that last point, it’s worth noting that the Core i3-12100 running at 5.4GHz with all-cores managed to pretty much keep pace with the AMD Ryzen 5 5600X in Cinebench R20 multi-thread. Given the big price difference here – the Ryzen processor costs around twice as much – that’s seriously impressive, although remember overclocking results with the 12100 will vary (depending on the quality of the chip), and this is just a single benchmark (gaming performance for example will doubtless be very different).
Still, even given those caveats, the overclocking of Alder Lake chips via BCLK would appear to provide a sizeable dollop of extra performance mileage for those with a good enough motherboard. And it’s certainly eye-opening to see a Celeron hit such speeds – not that the G6900, as a dual-core CPU, is any great shakes for, say, the likes of gaming even at high clock speeds (and of course you’d never pair such a chip with the necessary high-end motherboard in the real world).
Speaking of motherboards, Der8auer used a couple of Asus Z690 models when testing these overclocks so far, but theoretically other boards – and those from different manufacturers – should work too, or at least some of them (note that the overclocking expert failed to achieve the feat on a couple of other Asus mobos). Apparently, it could be the case that the necessary capability in determining whether non-K overclocking is possible may be an external clock generator, as this might be required for the Unlock BCLK feature in the BIOS.
Although as Tom’s Hardware, which spotted this, points out, in theory Intel has previously said that such an external clock generator wouldn’t be necessary for overclocking, and that a ‘synthetic BCLK’ could allow for tweaking on motherboards that don’t have one.
At any rate, there’s also the exciting possibility that this kind of overclock could be possible on lower-end boards with Alder Lake. Indeed, in Der8auer’s YouTube video comments, he notes that he’s found two B660 motherboards that “should technically” allow for non-K overclocking like this. These have been ordered, and Der8auer is hoping to provide an update on whether he can pull this off in the next few days.
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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).