I have read a bit on overclocking and it seems (if I am understanding correctly) there are some risks with overclocking. I am under the impression that overclocking a system can make it unstable, is that right? If this is right then are there any averages for the likelihood of the system crashing, e.g. on a regular bases or vary rarely. Also is it component dependant how unstable the system will become?
Finally I am looking at buying an Intel i7-3770k with my build, from what I have read the k stands for unlocked which means it has the potential to be overclocked, but is not overclocked in its current state. Is that correct? Would this unlocked CPU be more unstable than a locked one?
The only instability overclocking introduces is when you don't test properly and then try to run when the system isn't really stable. If your system isnt stable then its set to high. The main disadvantage Overclocking does it it can prematurely wear out electrical components. If you're afraid of it no one is forcing you to do it. A k-series chip will run perfectly fine at stock settings. If you do wish to try overclocking then make sure to get a good cpu cooler and thermal paste along with the cpu.
You are correct in the sense thata K-Series chip does NOT come "pre-overclocked". The only difference between the K-series chip and the stock 3770 is that the K series offers you the option to Overclock if you so choose.
I will always direct someone who is thinking about which one to get to just get the K series. Even if you have no intentions to overclock at the present time you might in the future. W/o the K series you might regret it down the line.