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Tuning utility update reveals big Alder Lake overclocking news

Intel last week released an update for its Extreme Tuning Utility (XTU) that allows users to overclock unlocked processors and monitor performance. The latest release adds support for Intel’s upcoming Alder Lake platform, including overclocking support for both core architectures inside Alder Lake processors.

Alder Lake’s hybrid architecture uses performance (P) cores and efficient (E) cores, but we weren’t sure if both cores would be unlocked for overclocking. The latest XTU updates suggests that they will, allowing users to push P- and E-cores alike for higher performance. As for how far you’ll be able to push each core type, we’ll have to wait and see.

Intel XTU overclocking application.
Intel

In addition to manual overclocking, the new release adds support for Intel Speed Optimizer, which allows you to overclock with a single button. If you don’t mind getting your hands dirty, you can tweak voltages and frequencies on a per-core or package basis, as well as set a voltage/frequency curve.

Per-core overclocking has been around for a while, and it will likely be a big focus for Alder Lake. Most games only stress a single core, so if you can boost the single-core frequency, you can likely increase your frame rate. We don’t know much about package overclocking yet, but the name suggests it will allow you to overclock the entire chip at once, including both core types.

Both overclocking methods use Intel’s Turbo Velocity Boost (TVB) feature, which allows certain cores to boost higher than the rated speed. There are variations in CPU quality, so some cores may be able to reach frequencies beyond what Intel lists based on whether thermal conditions allow for it. You’ll be able to set that up in XTU once Alder Lake launches.

Ahead of the Alder Lake launch, the update brings DDR5 memory support to XTU, too. You can now tweak DDR5 memory timings in real time through Intel’s software.

XTU is an all-in-one utility that allows you to overclock and test your system. You can choose to overclock with Speed Optimizer or tweak settings manually, then test them using the built-in stress test. XTU works with desktop, laptop, and high-end desktop platforms, with support for 5th-gen Broadwell processors or newer.

Although Intel hasn’t confirmed that P- and E-cores are unlocked for overclocking, the patch notes call out both core types. Given that the E-cores are mostly there to boost multi-core workloads, it will be interesting to see how overclocking will boost performance, and by how much.

Alder Lake is set to launch later in 2021. Intel hasn’t announced a release date yet, but we suspect to hear more about the processors in October during Intel’s Innovation event. Either way, we hope to see Alder Lake in action soon. We’ve seen multiple leaked benchmarks over the last few weeks, but nothing official from Intel yet.

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Jacob Roach
Senior Staff Writer, Computing
Jacob Roach is a writer covering computing and gaming at Digital Trends. After realizing Crysis wouldn't run on a laptop, he…
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