An Overclocking Trick For Intel's Non-K Raptor Lake CPUs Was Just Dealt A Devastating Blow

hero core i5 12thgen box
If you follow hardware news, you likely recall the discovery that Intel's 12th generation Core processors, even the ones without the "K" suffix, could be overclocked on fancy motherboards that featured an external clock generator. Well, as it happens, despite the company bragging about it initially, that was apparently the result of an error on Intel's part—an error it has now rectified for the 13th gen. In other words: no BCLK OC for Raptor Lake.

For those unfamiliar, we'll explain. BCLK overclocking is the ages-old method of modifying the motherboard's base clock rate from which all other clock rates are derived. You have to do it this way on non-K processors because their multipliers are unmodifiable. Naturally, this increases the clock rate of the processor as well, since its own clocks all depend on the BCLK, although it can also create stability issues as it changes the speeds of other clock rates on the board. That's why you need an external clock generator.

der8auer farcry6
Der8auer's overclocked Core i5-12400 has the best minimum framerate in Far Cry 6.

Folks found that "non-K" 12th-gen CPUs could be overclocked in this way, but there wasn't much point to it at first because all of the motherboards capable of BCLK OC were high-end overclocker motherboards to begin with. In other words, the promise of buying a cheap processor and slapping it in any old motherboard to then get huge gains by overclocking was a non-starter.

12700 nonkoc
Image, Credit: Tom's Hardware

However, motherboard vendors like MSI released boards such as the MAG B660M Mortar Max. This is a relatively reasonably-priced mainboard that doesn't even support normal processor overclocking, but it does include an external clock generator and a toggle in the system firmware to swap back to the microcode that made this type of overclocking possible. With this inexpensive board and a cheap Core i5-12400, you could have your very own 5-GHz-plus six-core Alder Lake CPU, offering immense gaming performance for not a lot of money.

13700 nonkoc unavailable
Image, Credit: Tom's Hardware

Well, hang it up for the 13th gen, because Tom's Hardware reports that even on a board so-equipped, this type of overclocking isn't available with a Raptor Lake CPU. The site posted the pictures above, which clearly show that while the trick still works with 12th-gen CPUs, it simply isn't available on Raptor Lake.

Most of the "non-K" 13th-gen chips are more similar to Alder Lake.

That's a bit of a bummer given that Intel's latest CPUs do offer some significant upgrades for gaming performance—most notably the presence of additional L2 cache in each CPU core. However, that's actually not the case for the low-end chips that you would likely want to be overclocking with this method. The cheaper 13th gen chips sport more E-cores than their 12th generation equivalents, but they don't use the new core architecture.

It's not impossible that some enterprising hacker could create a modified microcode given the close similarities between 12th and 13th gen processors, but we wouldn't hold our breath. Hacking CPU microcode is very deep magic indeed, and the benefits of doing so would likely be extremely flimsy.