Intel Microcode Update Thwarts Users Seeking Cheap Skylake Overclocks

Are you ready for today's 'Aw shucks' moment? Intel is working with its hardware partners to roll out BIOS updates that will effectively prevent users from being able to overclock non-K Skylake processors. Of course, that's how it was always meant to be, but motherboard makers discovered a way to allow making BCLK adjustments to cheaper Skylake CPUs and quickly began flaunting that ability.

Perhaps that was their collective mistake. If you want to overclock, Intel charges a premium for unlocked processors labeled with a "K" (Intel Core i7-6700K, for example) that allow users to make BCLK adjustments to boost base clock frequencies. Less expensive non-K, or locked processors don't offer the same luxury, or at least they're not supposed to.

ASRock Sky OC

Things changed when ASRock started issuing BIOS updates that thwarted Intel's locks on non-K processors and actively advertised the feature as "Sky OC Technology" on its line of Z170 chipset motherboards. Other motherboard makers followed suit with BIOS updates of their own. Had they not flaunted this ability, maybe Intel would have looked the other way. But it didn't, and so the ability to OC non-K Skylake processors is coming to an end. The chip maker confirmed this to PCWorld in a statement.


"Intel regularly issues updates for our processors which our partners voluntarily incorporate into their BIOS. "The latest update provided to partners includes, among other things, code that aligns with the position that we do not recommend overclocking processors that have not been designed to do so," Intel said. "Additionally, Intel does not warranty the operation of the processor beyond its specifications."

ASRock is no longer advertising its Sky OC Technology and one by one, BIOS updates from all motherboard makers will go back to blocking BCLK adjustments on non-K Skylake processors. The easy way to avoid the limitation is to not update the BIOS on your motherboard, but that only works for people who are currently taking advantage of the loophole. For everyone else, buying a new motherboard in hopes of overclocking a cheap Skylake CPU is a gamble, as it might come with the update already applied. Aw shucks.