Back in December, ASRock released a Z170 motherboard featuring a BIOS that allowed BCLK overclocking on all Intel Skylake CPUs – whether their model number ended in a K or not. This tore a great big hole in Intel’s product marketing strategy – the established model is that K chips can be overclocked and cost a little more, where as their locked non-K equivalents ran at the stated clock speed and multiplier, and so cost a bit less.
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From a consumer perspective, this newfound capability to adjust the BCLK of non-K Skylake CPUs and thereby raise their operating frequency seemed a bit too good to be true. Suddenly, with the right Z170 mobo and BIOS update (MSI would later get in on the act) you could overclock a Core i5 6500 into 6500K territory. For free.
To absolutely no one’s surprise, then, Intel have recently announced that they’ll be putting an end to this practice. In a statement issued to PC World, an Intel representative said the company “regularly issues updates for our processors which our partners voluntarily incorporate into their BIOS.
“The latest update provided to partners includes, among other things, code that aligns with the position that we do not recommend overclocking processors that have not been designed to do so. Additionally, Intel does not warranty the operation of the processor beyond its specifications.”
In short: there’ll be a raft of BIOS updates in the near future which will wipe away the ability to overclock locked Skylake CPUs.
What that means in the present though is that if you’re already overclocking a non-K Skylake CPU, all you need to do is – well, not install future BIOS updates. That’s mildly inconvenient, granted, but it’s extremely unlikely that any future BIOS updates will patch in something as useful and performance-enhancing as the ability to overclocked locked processors.
In fact, as Eurogamer point out, you could even go and by a non-K overclocking compliant motherboard right now, pair it with a i5 6500, and sit pretty. You’re under no obligation to actually install the update that prohibits this practice.
And look, let’s be honest: who enjoys updating their BIOS? However many times you go through the procedure, there’s always that lingering terror that this time you might just lose everything and junk a £1000 PC, isn’t there?