Even locked Skylake processors can be overclocked after a BIOS update

skylake unlocked i3 chips intel i7 6700k review 4
Greg Mombert/Digital Trends
System builders seeking more budget-friendly components have always flocked to unlocked processors. For just the cost of some extra cooling, these chips allow a system’s performance to meet or even surpass more expensive options. When Skylake rolled around, this feature was only found at the higher ends, but it turns out even locked Skylake chips have some extra oomph under the hood, and TechSpot put hands on an experimental BIOS for an ASRock motherboard that opens them up.

The way it works is a little bit different than typical overclocking. A processor’s clock speed is determined by its base block, usually 100 MHz, times its multiplier. Usually, unlocked CPUs have a variable multiplier that can be bumped to offer faster speeds in increments of the base clock. For example, a Core i3-6100 has a base clock of 100MHz, and a multiplier of 37x, so it has a clock speed of 3.7GHz.

In the case of the locked Skylake chips, it’s the base clock, not the multiplier, that’s being raised. In the case of TechSpot’s trials with the i3-6100, they were able to raise the base clock to 127MHz, for a 1GHz boost overall. That’s an impressive overclock for a $125 chip, especially on air-cooling. The trick requires an ASRock Z170 motherboard equipped with an upcoming BIOS update, and also slightly increases the RAM’s clock speed. Know that doing so disables the integrated graphics, so you’ll need a dedicated card.

The now 4.7GHz processor provided modest performance improvements in line with what you might expect from a multiplier-based overclock. TechReport showed off 15-25 percent improvements in both single-core and multi-core performance in a number of areas. Gaming wasn’t as significant, but it should be noted that a GTX 960 was likely a bottleneck in the test system. It also only increased power consumption across the system by 25 percent, not bad for a 27 percent processor voltage and frequency bump.

For now, the BIOS update is still undergoing internal validation at ASRock, but when it rolls out, it will turn all of the brand’s Z170 motherboards into budget overclocking machines. Other motherboard manufacturers, including Asus and Supermicro, have hinted that they’re working on a similar BIOS update. None of this is condoned by Intel, so you’ll have to overclock at your own risk.


Qualcomm’s ‘Snapdragon 1000’ could bring octa-cores to Windows laptops

The rumored Qualcomm Snapdragon 1000 CPU may bring the octa-core design of mobiles and tablets to Windows laptops, offering four powerful cores for high performance, and four low-power cores for efficiency.

Nvidia is slowly rolling out its next generation of GPUs. Here's what you need to know about them

Nvidia's new RTX 2000 series graphics cards are impressive pieces of hardware, with some amazing advancements and some rather high price tags to match. Here's everything you need to know about Nvidia's new top-tier cards.

Intel stands by Core i9 benchmarks, testing company to seek more data

Benchmarking company Principle Technologies will be retesting the AMD Ryzen 7 2700X and Intel's latest ninth-generation chipset processors and will address earlier issues which skewed the benchmark results toward Intel.

Intel's 9th-gen chips could power your next rig. Here's what you must know

The Intel Core i9-9900K processor was the star of the show for consumers, but a powerful 28-core Xeon processor also led announcements. Here's everything you need to know about the latest Intel chipsets.
Emerging Tech

MIT is building a new $1 billion college dedicated to all things A.I.

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) has announced a new $1 billion college of computing designed to offer the best possible education to future machine learning A.I. experts.

Remove photo bombs, other unwanted objects with Photoshop’s new Content-Aware Fill

Photoshop's newest A.I-powered tool helps remove objects or fill in gaps for a distraction-free photo in the new Adobe Photoshop CC 2019. Here's how to remove an object in Photoshop using the new Content-Aware Fill.

Adobe Premiere Rush CC is the cloud-based video editing app you've been waiting for

On stage at Adobe MAX 2018, Adobe announced its cloud-centric, social video-editing application, Adobe Premiere Rush CC. We took some time to put it through its paces to see what it offers, how it works, and what's missing.

Feed your fandom: These are the best YouTube channels for sports lovers

If you're a cable cutter who still wants to enjoy quality sports highlights and analysis, YouTube is the place to go. There are plenty of great sports-centric channels on YouTube, each of which provides great highlights and top-shelf…
Social Media

YouTube is back after crashing for users around the world

It's rare to see YouTube suffer serious issues, but the site went down around the world for a period of time on October 16. It's back now, and we can confirm it's loading normally on desktop and mobile.

Winamp eyes big comeback in 2019 with podcast, streaming support

Classic audio player Winamp is getting a major overhaul in 2019 that's designed to bring it up-to-date and make it competitive with the likes of Apple Music, Amazon Music, Spotify, Audible, and more, all in one go.

Is the Pixelbook 2 still happening? Here's everything we know so far

What will the Pixelbook 2 be like? Has the Pixel Slate taken its place? Google hasn't announced it, but thanks to rumors and leaks, we think we have a pretty good idea of what the potential new flagship Chromebook will be like.

Adobe MAX 2018: What it is, why it matters, and what to expect

Each year, Adobe uses its Adobe MAX conference to show off its latest apps, technologies, and tools to help simplify and improve the workflow of creatives the world over. Here's what you should expect from this year's conference.

Problems with Microsoft’s Windows October 2018 Update aren’t over yet

Microsoft's Windows 10 October 2018 update is not having a great launch. More than two weeks after its debut and Microsoft is still putting out fires as new bugs are discovered and there's no sign of its re-release as of yet.

Adobe’s craziest new tools animate photos, convert recordings to music in a click

Adobe shared a glimpse behind the scenes at what's next and the Creative Cloud future is filled with crazy A.I.-powered tools, moving stills, and animation reacting to real-time tweets.