Thanks to a community forum post from HWBot, we have a full list of the known Alder Lake motherboards that support overclocking on Intel's locked CPUs (known as non-K overclocking). Despite Intel doing its best to block this "feature" from being supported, there are still several motherboards from Asus, Gigabyte, and MSI that allow you to overclock Intel's locked chips.
Unfortunately, the list of motherboards supporting non-K overclocking is very small, with nearly all being premium boards. That makes the idea of building a budget-friendly overclocking capable rig with a locked Alder Lake CPU basically impossible. In addition, none of the motherboards support DDR4 memory, meaning that you'll have to pony up for price-gouged DDR5 memory if you want to overclock a non-K processor. Unfortunately, these additional costs mean that most users could just step up to an unlocked chip for the same (or less) amount of cash.
Asus has the largest selection of boards that support the feature, with the Asus Maximus Z690 Formula, Extreme, Hero, and Apex, as well as the Strix B660 G and F Gaming Wifi models.
MSI has four boards supporting non-k overclocking: the MSI Z690I Unify, Z690 Unify X, and Z690 Ace. Gigabyte has one, the Aorus Tachyon, and the same goes for ASRock with the Z690 Aqua OC.
HWBot also has a full list of currently known BIOS versions that will work with non-K overclocking on each motherboard. This information could be very important in the future if Intel prevents non-K overclocking for good with another update, which is basically assured. The only exception to the above is the Z690 Ace and some Unify boards, which are not listed on the HWBot forum post just yet.
How Non-K Overclocking Works
According to a new video by overclocking expert Buildzoid, the only reason these specific motherboards can provide overclocking functionality on locked Intel chips is thanks to an external clock generator. This clock generator is installed as a separate component on the motherboard and controls the base clock (BCLK) of all the primary components -- including the CPU.
However, not all motherboards have external clock generators since Alder Lake CPUs already have a very capable BCLK clock generator built into the chips. The only caveat with the built-in clock gen is that you cannot go higher than 103 MHz without introducing instability on other busses, meaning the CPU can only be overclocked ~3% using this method. This is why an external clock generator is needed to bypass Intel's regulated internal clock generator.
Technically, each motherboard vendor could add an external clock generator to every single motherboard they produce to get this capability. In fact, Buildzoid notes that some of Gigabyte's cheaper Z690 motherboards already have the installation points to equip an external clock generator.
However, external clock generators add additional cost to the motherboard, which is probably why we haven't seen these chips equipped on budget-friendly motherboards. It is a shame since the only plausible reason you'd BCLK overclock is to save some money, and confining it to high-end motherboards that only support DDR5 memory effectively quashes any reason to pursue non-K CPU overclocking.
Which Motherboards Support Non-K Alder Lake CPU BCLK Overclocking
- Asus Maximus Z690 Formula, Extreme, Hero, Apex, Strix B660 G and F Gaming Wifi
- MSI Z690I Unify, Z690 Unify X, and Z690 Ace
- Gigabyte Aorus Tachyon
- ASRock Z690 Aqua OC.