Overclocked Intel Core i3-12300 destroys quad-core CPU world record

Illustration of chip processor background circuit board
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Intel’s Core i3-12300 has taken the title of the world’s speediest quad-core CPU after setting a new record in the Y-cruncher benchmark (a stress test that taxes the processor by tasking it to compute pi to umpteen digits).

The Alder Lake processor was ramped up to 5,442MHz by Phantom K, a Korean overclocker, which resulted in a Y-cruncher time of 33.3 seconds, annihilating the previous quad-core record of 52 seconds (held by the AMD Ryzen 5300G).

The PC used to set the new record had the Core i3-12300 nestling in an Asus ROG Maximus Apex Z690 motherboard, with 32GB of DDR5-6736 RAM, as Tom’s Hardware reports. Notably liquid nitrogen wasn’t used in cooling the CPU (as is often the case with big overclocks), but dry ice instead.

If you’re wondering 'wait a minute, how can a non-K processor hold an overclocking record?' – remembering that only Intel’s ‘K’ models can be overclocked – well, with Alder Lake chips it has been discovered that even the standard CPUs can be overclocked, at least with certain motherboards (which offer the Unlock BCLK feature in the BIOS).

Analysis: A space to watch, for sure

Intel’s Alder Lake non-K processors are certainly making plenty of headlines with folks ramping them up with huge overclocks. Only yesterday, we reported on the bottom-end Celeron G6900 hitting 5.3GHz (when its default clock is way, way, lower than that at 3.4GHz).

Note that the record-setting Core i3-12300 overclock here was performed using a Z690 motherboard; in other words, a premium (expensive) model with the requisite BCLK support. However, German overclocker Der8auer (who did the Celeron overclock, again on the Z690 platform) theorized that this juicing up of non-K chips may work fine on lesser boards as well, and Tom’s Hardware seems to suggest that some B660 motherboards have been spotted being capable of achieving this feat (apply your own salt).

That could leave the door open to building a more affordable Alder Lake PC using a mid-range motherboard and chip, then pushing it with a big overclock (obviously not to the levels seen here, which requires specialist cooling, but there is a great deal of potential to drive performance pretty far with liquid or even air cooling). On the other hand, if this is the case, Intel may want to close that door to protect sales of its higher-end Alder Lake chips, so we’ll just have to watch how this one unfolds.

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).