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Intel Warns Of 'Damage' From Non-K Alder Lake CPU Overclocking

Intel Celeron GS6900
(Image credit: der8auer)

We're sure many readers have had their imaginations fired up by the revelation that non-K Alder Lake processors can be overclocked using certain motherboards, especially given that this wasn't possible on previous-gen processors. We reached out to Intel for an official statement about the matter. In brief, Intel tells us that overclocking non-K CPUs is not covered by the warranty and may cause damage to the processor and associated PC components. The statement implies that this new overclockability isn't sanctioned by Intel, but the company hasn't stated that directly.

Last weekend, we reported on overclocker Der8auer's first video, in which he shared his discovery of BCLK overclocking options for locked Alder Lake-S CPUs. The story developed further on Monday when he tested some lower-end ADL-S CPUs like the Celeron G6900 and Core i3-12100. The overclocking feats achievable with these humble parts were quite breathtaking. For example, the Celeron achieved a 57% OC (hitting 5,338 MHz), with standard off-the-shelf cooling.

HWBot world records continue to fall to non-K Intel Alder Lake CPUs (Image credit: HWBot)

Moving forward a day or two we noticed that, as predicted, the non-K ADL-S CPUs were kicking up a storm on HWBot, grabbing all sorts of world records. This was particularly apparent in the quad-core charts, as Intel hasn't produced an unlocked quad-core since its 7th Gen Core processors. In the same article, we first noted that a trio of Intel B660 chipset motherboards also appear to have unlock BCLK functionality in their BIOS: the Asus Strix B660G, Asus B660F and the ASRock B660 Steel Legend. These were still pretty high-end, high priced B660 samples, but thankfully much more accessible than the Asus ROG Maximus series where this non-K ADL-S overclocking was uncovered.

Earlier today we saw der8auer mention that "one of the big manufacturers is working on a B660 board with DDR4 for Non-K OC," which could bring the entry ticket price to ADL-S overclocking fun down much further.

Intel's Statement on Non-K Processor Overclocking

In recent hours, Intel commented to Tom's Hardware about non-K processor overclocking:

"Intel’s 12th Gen non-K processors were not designed for overclocking. Intel does not warranty the operation of processors beyond their specifications. Altering clock frequency or voltage may damage or reduce the useful life of the processor and other system components, and may reduce system stability and performance."

We had been worried that enthusiasts overclocking Intel's non-K processors would cause great consternation at Intel, with the expectation that this avenue to lower-priced OC antics will be closed pretty quickly. However, while Intel's statement appears to firmly disapprove of this overclocking activity, on the surface at least, it isn't suggesting it will be shut down ASAP.

"Errors" Will Be Fixed

It's rumored that the unlocked BCLK functionality for non-K CPUs was born of an error in Intel's microcode. Considering Intel's history of shutting down similar loopholes, it's likely that this non-K overclocking fun will be removed in any newer BIOS updates to boards where it is currently available.

Mark Tyson is a Freelance News Writer at Tom's Hardware US. He enjoys covering the full breadth of PC tech; from business and semiconductor design to products approaching the edge of reason.

  • Phaaze88
    They're trying to protect their higher stacks, huh?
    Reply
  • InvalidError
    Intel doesn't officially sanction overclocking on K SKUs either for the exact same reasons.
    Reply
  • Phaaze88
    I know, but still... this feels like a sherlock thing, but someone will always take it too far.
    Reply
  • alceryes
    InvalidError said:
    Intel doesn't officially sanction overclocking on K SKUs either for the exact same reasons.
    Yeah, I find their statement funny since they don't officially support overclocking on ANY CPU, anyway.
    They're just trying to protect their K-class CPU margins.
    Reply
  • $h0nuff
    Meh.. If it's Asus and I read it on the internet or saw it on YouTube it must be true..

    Examples: No one has been able to purchase an Asus 3070 Noctua edition because they don't exist. Stackable micro atx mobo..doesn't exist. An Asus mobo that magically unlocks non-K Intel CPUs. No..

    Another Asus vaporware story.. Please tell me someone else sees the obvious trend here..?
    Reply
  • TerryLaze
    alceryes said:
    Yeah, I find their statement funny since they don't officially support overclocking on ANY CPU, anyway.
    They're just trying to protect their K-class CPU margins.
    Nah they are just making it clear that they will not accept RMAs caused by this, just like back in the day where they made the same exact statement about ram overclock.
    People that want proper overclocking are still going to go for K CPUs.
    Reply
  • alceryes
    TerryLaze said:
    Nah they are just making it clear that they will not accept RMAs caused by this, just like back in the day where they made the same exact statement about ram overclock.
    People that want proper overclocking are still going to go for K CPUs.
    But they don't accept RMAs from overclocking K CPUs either.
    Reply
  • $h0nuff
    "There's a brand new gimmick every day Just to take somebody's money away.."
    Reply
  • spongiemaster
    alceryes said:
    Yeah, I find their statement funny since they don't officially support overclocking on ANY CPU, anyway.
    They're just trying to protect their K-class CPU margins.
    There's only three K SKU's. The only part of the stack that overclocking makes any real difference is at the bottom of the stack with their artificially low base/turbo clocks. The 12600K/KF is the only 6 core or fewer CPU with any eCores. No amount of overclocking on any sku below that is going to make up for the missing 4 eCores. This overclocking is more likely persuade someone to buy a 12400 over a 12600 of an i3 12100 over a 12300. But with only a $20 or $30 difference, does it even make sense to do that?
    Reply
  • TerryLaze
    alceryes said:
    But they don't accept RMAs from overclocking K CPUs either.
    But this is a response from them about non-k overclock and not about rma in general.
    Reply