The harsh but established reality in Intel’s CPU range since Sandy Bridge in 2011 is that if you want the privilege of overclocking, you pay extra for a K model chip. It makes the cornucopia of similar-sounding models easier to navigate – just look for the ‘K’ and you’ve found your gaming CPU, but at the same time it forces a compromise when building low and mid-range gaming systems.
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ASRock are about to change the status quo, though. They’ve developed a BIOS update for their mobos built around the existing Z170 chipset that’ll allow you to increase the base clock value of any Skylake CPU, even i3 models, which opens the door for serious performance gains.
Techspotput ASRock’s BIOS update to the test using an Intel Core i3-6100 3.7GHz CPU (available for under £100) installed on an ASRock Fatal1ty Z170 Gaming K6+ board. They clocked it up to 4.7GHz from 3.7, which resulted in a 25% performance increase in single-threaded mode running the Cinebench synthetic benchmark, and a 10-30% increase across all other apps and benchmarks tested. All by boosting the newly unlocked BCLK value in the motherboard’s BIOS.
It is worth mentioning that overclocking this chip means disabling Intel’s integrated graphics functionality though, so you’ll need a discrete graphics card if you want to squeeze some extra juice out of it.
Hopefully this heralds the beginning of widespread circumvention of Intel’s CPU-locking, as this isn’t a move from Intel itself but the motherboard manufacturer. There’s nothing stopping others from following suit, so I’ll be keeping my eyes peeled for further announcements.