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.
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.