- If you're a computer hardware enthusiast,
you probably know that if you want to overclock your CPU,
meaning run it at a higher speed,
then it would be best to buy an unlocked processor.
Now, as we explained in this video,
an unlocked processor
means that it has an unlocked multiplier.
That is an adjustable number
that the base clock of your processor gets multiplied by
to determine the actual frequency it runs at.
Now, all of AMD's modern desktop CPU offerings are unlocked,
and so is Intel's K and X series.
But team blue actually sells many CPUs
that have locked multipliers,
meaning that the user cannot adjust them.
And the only way to overclock manually
is to adjust the base clock, which can be quite tricky.
You see, there isn't really any way to hack an Intel chip
to unlock it.
Unlocking a chip is a physical process
that occurs at the factory on the die itself.
So there's no code to try to break through
on a non-K series chip.
You can't unlock the multiplier, end of story.
But it turns out that there are still other ways
that motherboard manufacturers
have used to boost performance on locked chips.
To find out more,
we reached out to Nick Shih at ASRock,
and we'd like to thank him for his contributions.
Intel chips contain something called microcode,
which you can think of as being similar to firmware.
The microcode is what is fundamentally responsible
for controlling the CPU's behavior,
including what clock speeds it'll run at.
Previously, there was a loophole in the microcode
where it wouldn't check the processors base clock
against a hardware clock governor,
allowing ASRock to come out with a feature
called SkyOC that would allow users
to crank up the base clocks really high
for significant performance boosts.
Talking 30% in some cases.
Now, SkyOC worked with original non-K Skylake CPUs,
and users seemed to enjoy the feature,
but Intel more aggressively locked down the ability
for a user
to make base clock adjustments shortly thereafter,
meaning the feature basically died
before it had much of a chance to see widespread adoption.
However, a newer method has since appeared on the scene.
ASRock calls it base frequency boost, or BFB,
while Asus calls it Asus Performance Enhancement.
Even though Intel has placed restrictions
on base clock overclocking on locked CPUs,
what they didn't lock down is the chip's power limits.
This means that your system
will simply raise the power limit to 125 Watts from 65.
The CPU will detect this,
understand that it has more thermal and power headroom
to work with, and raise its own clock speeds accordingly.
Now, ASRock claims this method can bump your frequencies up
by a gigahertz or even more,
depending on what chip you're using.
However, there are some important caveats.
One is that since you're raising the power limit,
you'll generate significantly more heat.
So as with overclocking an unlocked CPU,
you'll want to make sure
that you have a good cooler on hand.
Another is that overall,
you shouldn't expect to get the same caliber of results
as you would with a CPU that has an unlocked multiplier
from the factory.
Although raising the power level
will obviously make your chip faster
than it would otherwise be,
unlocked CPUs typically are the top of the range ones
and are a better option
for those who are chasing the ultimate in performance.
The thing is, Intel typically uses better quality Silicon
in these unlocked chips
so that overclockers will have an easier time
raising their speeds and setting records.
So even though some of the cores in a locked chip
might be amenable to having their rates adjusted,
there might be others that simply aren't able to do it.
So at the end of the day,
solutions like BFB are more for people
who want to get more performance out of a locked chip
that they already own, or they got for a super great deal,
as opposed to people who are looking to make a decision
about what to buy.
Besides, who knows what Intel's gonna pull the rug
out from under us yet again.
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