ASRock turns on Z170 overclocking for locked Skylake CPUs

A couple days back, we covered some rumors about the possibility that locked Intel Skylake CPUs could be overclockable after all. That day is officially here, at least if you're the owner of an ASRock Z170 motherboard. The company has officially announced "SkyOC," a new feature for its lineup of Z170 motherboards which allows users to overclock locked Skylake CPUs by increasing the processor's base clock.

To take advantage of this feature, all that's necessary is a simple BIOS update to any ASRock Z170 motherboard. The company also hints at forthcoming support for this feature in other chipsets.

To demonstrate this feature, the company claims to have overclocked an Intel Core i5-6400 (a chip selling for $190) from its stock turbo speed of 3.3 GHz to an impressive 4.3 GHz. There are a couple caveats, though. ASRock says that users will need a dedicated graphics card, as the chip's IGP will be disabled. More importantly, control over the CPU's Turbo Ratio and power management C-States will be disabled. That could mean the CPU will always run at its top speed, increasing power consumption. Still, great overclocks on the cheap? Gimme!

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    • Freon
    • 4 years ago

    Losing C-state stuff kinda sucks. I never had any issues leaving it all enabled while BCLK overclocking my i7-950.

    • willmore
    • 4 years ago

    [quote<]ASRock says that users will need a dedicated graphics card, as the chip's IGP will be disabled.[/quote<] So we have to give up the iGPU that we never wanted to get the overclockability that we did want? Okay.

    • Hinton
    • 4 years ago

    [i<]That could mean the CPU will always run at its top speed, increasing power consumption. Still, great overclocks on the cheap?[/i<] Uh... Maybe get an editor on this piece?

      • tipoo
      • 4 years ago

      I think that was intentional rather than an editing miss. Like, “Great eats on the cheap?”

        • Hinton
        • 4 years ago

        I don’t. Power costs money, its not cheap.

      • TruthSerum
      • 4 years ago

      Maybe slow down and re-read for a bit?

    • Freon
    • 4 years ago

    Just picked up an i5-6500 for my secondary box. Only $156 off Jet.com! Holding on on the mobo, though, as I’d prefer MSI, Asus, or Gigabyte but my understanding is they are not far behind.

    There are some decent options for <$120 for Z170 boards, will probably go with one of those. I will say something like an ASRock Extreme3 or Pro4 look like they fit the budget I set for this setup fairly well without compromising too much for the price. I’ll hold off on a purchase until some more reviews come out.

    • s3alax
    • 4 years ago

    This is great news for system builders, enthusiasts, everyone. If there’s anyone keen on how to get Skylake system up and running for less than $500 – check my blog!
    [url<]http://bit.ly/1hAr1GH[/url<]

    • CScottG
    • 4 years ago

    Hmm, how about a little Xeon insertion with the E3-1245 v5, 4 cores with Hyperthreading for less than $290?:

    [url<]http://ark.intel.com/products/88173/Intel-Xeon-Processor-E3-1245-v5-8M-Cache-3_50-GHz[/url<] -might make the i7k look like a poor value (if it works).

      • dragosmp
      • 4 years ago

      That CPU looks awesome, can’t wait to see some OCing results

      • Freon
      • 4 years ago

      Electrically compatible with a standard Z170? It does look like a good deal, almost the same specs at the i7-6700 (non-K) but cheaper and supports ECC…

      • the
      • 4 years ago

      I thought Intel was locking the E3 v5 chips to the C230 series chipsets.

      I really do hope I’m wrong though.

        • auxy
        • 4 years ago

        No, you’re right. You can’t throw a Xeon in a Z170 board. ( ;∀;)

          • CScottG
          • 4 years ago

          From the link below:

          “If any one does try fit a Xeon chip inside their Z170 motherboard, then the processor will determine an invalid combination and the platform will simply not boot.”

          Read more: [url<]http://wccftech.com/intel-skylake-xeon-e31200-v5-greenlow-family-launched-workstation-chips-incompatible-100series-desktop-chipsets/#ixzz3uR9yKeBp[/url<] -bummer, probably based on the CPU "ID". Still, it's likely handled by the bios - so perhaps it's not impossible, just highly unlikely (unless someone hacks the bios and flashes their m-board's bios with a modified "update"). And after-all, this entire topic (overclocking what shouldn't be overclock-able) is basically about just that - though provided by the manufacturer.

    • jessterman21
    • 4 years ago

    Finally we get to see why there’s no unlocked i3s. They [url=http://www.techspot.com/review/1108-intel-locked-skylake-cpu-bclk-overclocking/<]match or beat[/url<] i5s when overclocked! Just updated my budget gamer recommendations...

      • bittermann
      • 4 years ago

      Agreed. I always thought they would be i5 killers if allowed to OC.

        • TruthSerum
        • 4 years ago

        For single threaded = 1 task. 2 cores is always going to feel like less than 4 though IRL loads.

        It’s the lowball cost that makes the value consideration work, *IF you can OC them.
        So far it’s a custom BIOS and a specific few mobos doing that but it will improve.
        *IF intel doesn’t lock that back up somehow.

          • eofpi
          • 4 years ago

          Intel specifically put in to Skylake the tech that allows BCLK overclocking to work again. I think they knew this would happen.

            • TruthSerum
            • 4 years ago

            I would not tend to think that was their motivation in design choices.

            The IGPU doesn’t work with it for example. Intel isn’t keen on giving away free unlocks.

            • eofpi
            • 4 years ago

            No, it’s not a free lunch. And I’m not saying they did it specifically to enable overclocking on non-K chips; maybe it lets them do finer-grained DVFS or something.

            But BCLK (or FSB) overclocking has such a long history that I can’t believe nobody on the Skylake team pointed out that this would happen if they decoupled it, so Intel had to have known during the design phase.

            • TruthSerum
            • 4 years ago

            ” maybe it lets them do finer-grained DVFS or something.”

            That’s what I was thinking. Every chipset/sb combo handles things differently.
            If they’re redesigning the wheel like skylake you can make the case either way.

            I doubt they foresaw hack bioses unlocking their cheap cpus THIS QUICKLY, though.

          • auxy
          • 4 years ago

          [quote=”TruthSerum”<]For single threaded = 1 task. 2 cores is always going to feel like less than 4 though IRL loads.[/quote<]No? Most tasks are single-threaded and MOST people don't do more than a few things at once. The four threads of a Core i3 can easily handle the workloads of a typical user including gaming. Only when you start doing some pretty heavy multitasking -- e.g. trying to work while rendering video -- can you see the benefits of a Core i5. This is especially true with post-IVB as Haswell and its children have more execution resources available and thus much better utilization via hyper-threading. I've been saying for a while now that with Haswell and later, get a Core i3 or an i7. The two extra cores are a bunch more power and not a lot more performance in the end.

            • TruthSerum
            • 4 years ago

            “MOST people don’t do more than a few things at once”

            If you run windows, you do about 36+ things at once, at least. Lots of people multitask now.

            You can tell the difference between a quad and a dual core, all things being otherwise equal.

      • Hinton
      • 4 years ago

      They match or beat non-overclocked i5s at single core tasks?

      Holy crap, has anyone been informed about this?

      If only Intel would release some single core CPUs! But they won’t, because they’re scared, and the man and stuff.

    • brucethemoose
    • 4 years ago

    [quote<] More importantly, control over the CPU's Turbo Ratio and power management C-States will be disabled. [/quote<] That'll help with performance anyway. Modern desktop CPUs are pretty aggressive about dropping into low P/C States, so disabling that tends to smooth out gameplay.

      • Ninjitsu
      • 4 years ago

      They’re not [i<]that[/i<] aggressive...

        • TruthSerum
        • 4 years ago

        You can actually get noticeable micro-stuttering….

        • auxy
        • 4 years ago

        Disabling core parking made an immediate and tangible performance for many people with 8-thread CPUs (including both AMD FX and Intel Core i7s). I would say it’s pretty darn aggressive.

    • UnfriendlyFire
    • 4 years ago

    Within a few weeks or months:

    “Here’s a new BIOS, firmware and microcode update. All new mobos will also come with the new update.”

    (Not mentioned: Disabled overclocking because Intel said so.)

    • DPete27
    • 4 years ago

    I don’t understand why the multipliers would be affected by increasing the BLCK. It seems this should operate more like back in the good ‘ol days when overclocking was done via FSB. The chip would still be able to change its multiplier based on load, but of course you’re multiplying by a higher number.

      • dragosmp
      • 4 years ago

      It might be just immature BIOS, things may sort out. Even back in the good ol’ days there were inconsistencies between manufacturers, some implemented the FSB OCing better than others

    • TheJack
    • 4 years ago

    Overclocking made unattractive. More of a gimmick, I’d say.

      • EndlessWaves
      • 4 years ago

      I’d say the opposite. It’s the huge premiums for Z-boards and CPU-Ks that are the gimmick. They’re so expensive they only offer value in their overclocked state.

        • eofpi
        • 4 years ago

        This is a Z-board.

          • DPete27
          • 4 years ago

          [quote<]The company also hints at forthcoming support for this feature in other chipsets.[/quote<] Is very exciting.

            • eofpi
            • 4 years ago

            Thanks, I missed that line. The flip side is, non-Z boards tend to have fewer VRMs, so may not handle the higher power draw of an overclocked CPU as well as a Z-series board would.

        • TheJack
        • 4 years ago

        Not saying you are wrong, but I’ll stay with my comment. The downsides are too significant. Losing the igpu, power states, Tubo, for a relatively small overclock. and then as mentioned by some the possibility that Intel will disable this by a BIOS update.

        • auxy
        • 4 years ago

        [url=http://i.imgur.com/ieBR14t.png<]Huge premium = $20?[/url<]

    • f0d
    • 4 years ago

    if asus follows with a bios update im going to get a z170 just for some overclocking fun with the lowest end i3 and i5 cpu’s

      • Hinton
      • 4 years ago

      Intel might release microcode disabling this. :/

        • f0d
        • 4 years ago

        i have to download it first
        since im only going to be doing it for fun i just wont download any windows updates or bios updates after i get it working

        besides when they did the microcode update for the g3258 and non z chipsets it was only for windows 10 and it was easily bypassed so i dont think it will be an issue even if i decide to use it in a more permanent way

    • chuckula
    • 4 years ago

    [quote<]That could mean the CPU will always run at its top speed, increasing power consumption.[/quote<] But power consumption doesn't matter! -- AMD

      • TruthSerum
      • 4 years ago

      What’s the difference in 400 mhz in terms of power consumption. A few watts, maybe 20 tops?

        • NTMBK
        • 4 years ago

        Power consumption and frequency don’t scale linearly.

          • TruthSerum
          • 4 years ago

          Well it’s a curved line anyway, and the curve changes. I know.

          But what’s the average use case, say a 750 watt 80% PSU with CPU1 @ 4ghz vs 3.6?
          Scaling .4 ghz or +1/10th of the clocks regardless of load state shouldn’t add “that” much.

          Edit : With a laptop it matters, battery life. D’uh, d’oh.

            • Waco
            • 4 years ago

            You need to compare 800 MHz versus whatever the overclocked speed is…and that’s going to be a potential difference in the tens of watts even at idle.

            • TruthSerum
            • 4 years ago

            Not sure I follow. I was comparing the base clock vs turbo clock power usage, what’s 800 mhz?

            Edit : you mean 800 mhz resting base clock, gotcha.

          • Takeshi7
          • 4 years ago

          Actually, power consumption and frequency do scale linearly. It’s power consumption and voltage that don’t scale linearly. But since modern chips scale frequency and voltage, this probably won’t scale linearly.

            • TruthSerum
            • 4 years ago

            PSU starts to lose efficiency towards that finite max, but yeah.

            • NeelyCam
            • 4 years ago

            That is accurate only for ideal switching logic circuits. Some analog circuits draw DC current. Also, leakage contributes to non-linearity, especially when higher switching frequency and the resulting power consumption increase affects the chip temperature.

          • ImSpartacus
          • 4 years ago

          Gotta love this site’s comment voting system when it throws a nice pile of upvotes at a post that is completely incorrect. It really increases the confidence that the community knows what it’s talking about…

          In general, power and frequency ARE linearly related while power and squared voltage are linearly related. Increase both and they both will increase power in their own special way.

        • Hinton
        • 4 years ago

        Thanks to your post, I discovered the downvote button! ;D

          • TruthSerum
          • 4 years ago

          ok? I mean it wasn’t worded “the best” but way to be a goof.

            • Hinton
            • 4 years ago

            You don’t realize that CPU’s lower their clock speed at idle.

            Wording has nothing to do with it.

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