You reached 5GHz on air? big whoop! Any scrub can flood voltage and push unlocked “K” processors with multipliers if the cooling is capable enough. Intel’s pronouncements of a “return” to enthusiast overclocking with the CPU VRM moved back to motherboard were not exactly very satisfying either. But good news from ASRock, ASUS and MSI as non-K overclocking on Z170 mainboards is now possible, making overclocking fun once again and more in line with what made it exciting and fun in the first place. Imagine getting significant performance with up to 60% from a Skylake CPU that costs a lot less than the unlocked i5 and i7 variants with just a BIOS update. Obviously, it is not an official Intel solution hence why only these three motherboard manufacturers have released updates that enable it so far.
The update does not enable multiplier overclocking and relies on BCLK adjustment. Before you take to the streets and proclaim a return to the Celeron 300A era, there are a few caveats with this compared to straightforward multiplier overclocking: on-board graphics will be disabled as well as CPU Turbo ratio and C-states. The first one is obviously easy to alleviate with the use of a discrete graphics card but with the lack of power management functionality, and the fact that these BIOS updates still require some fine tuning, benchmark results may be buggy and temperature readings are not accurate for now.
List of ASRock Z motherboards and BIOS versions that support “SKY OC” non-K overclocking feature:
|Z170 OC Formula||L1.92||Z170M Pro4||L2.23|
|Z170 Extreme7+||L2.16||Z170M Pro4S||L2.23|
|Z170 Extreme4+||L2.01||Z170 Professional Gaming i7||L1.14|
|Z170 Extreme4||L2.43||Z170 Gaming K6+||L1.92|
|Z170 Extreme3||L1.61||Z170 Gaming K6||L1.92|
|Z170M Extreme4||L1.34||Z170 Gaming K4||L2.23|
|Z170 Pro4||L2.83||Z170 Gaming K4/D3||L1.51|
|Z170 Pro4/D3||L1.74||Z170 Gaming-ITX/ac||L1.53|
Filipino overclocker Dhenzjhen was the first to post non-K BCLK overclocks a few weeks ago using a Supermicro motherboard but by the time of this article, overclockers Elmor and L0ud_sil3nc3 have managed to get the top scores with non-K CPUs on Cinebench R11.5 as well.
Elmor who has close ties to ASUS has posted on the HWbot forums BETA BIOS updates for Maximus VIII Hero, Maximus VIII Gene, Maximus VIII Extreme, Maximus VIII Impact, Z170-DELUXE, Z170-A and Z170-E motherboards that enable the feature. French overclocker Pepinorang who works for MSI has posted updates for the MSI Z170A XPOWER GAMING motherboard as well on his HWBot OC guide thread. Although these high HWBot results are obviously under LN2, ASRock promises that up to 60% performance is possible with an air cooler which any user can achieve, even on just their Z170 Pro4 boards with out the need for their high-end Z170 OC Formula or Z170 Extreme 7+.
For now, the feature is only available on Z motherboards but ASRock urges users to “have faith in ASRock’s skillful engineers, sooner or later more Christmas gifts from ASRock are going to be delivered”, which implies possible enabling of non-K OC on more affordable chipsets such as B150 or H170 mainboards.