Intel Charging $50 to Unlock CPU's Full Features

Software upgrade vouchers are something that we're used to. A simple code can either unlock previously dormant features or it can initiate a download of upgrade files. This sort of system is used for games and even operating systems like Windows 7. But now it's being put to use in Intel CPUs.

An Engadget reader spotted on the shelves a Best Buy a $50 upgrade card that claims to upgrade the processor inside the Gateway SX2841-09e, which is a Pentium G6951 dual-core LGA1156 Clarkdale processor.

The upgrade card appears to promise an upgrade from 2- to 4-way multi-task processing and a larger cache, speeding up data-heavy applications. Specifically, that means the enabling of HyperThreading and an extra 1MB of L3 cache for a total of 4MB.

To "unlock" the full features of this CPU, a user must go to the Intel upgrade website and install the upgrade application. From there, a PIN from the upgrade voucher must be entered for the upgrade before the reboot completes the process.

Right now, this "upgradeable" CPU is being tested in select markets, so it likely isn't a sign of things to come – at least not in the enthusiast high-end.

How do you feel about this kind of model? Do you feel that you should be getting 100 percent of the capabilities of the hardware you own, or are you pleased that you have an upgrade option that you can pay more for when or if you need it?

Marcus Yam
Marcus Yam served as Tom's Hardware News Director during 2008-2014. He entered tech media in the late 90s and fondly remembers the days when an overclocked Celeron 300A and Voodoo2 SLI comprised a gaming rig with the ultimate street cred.