Overclocking used to be the dark magic of the computer world.
Only the most extreme techs would know how to do it.
However, as the practice has become more common, more people have become interested in it.
One way of overclocking your CPU involves adjusting the base clock in your chipset, a.k.a. BCLK.
What Is BCLK?
BCLK stands for Base Clock speed.
It’s the frequency of your motherboard’s chipset, the central hub that allows your CPU, GPU, RAM, storage, and hardware ports to communicate and coordinate their operations.
The default value is 100 MHz, meaning the chipset can perform 100 million calculations per second.
Although that number sounds very high, it’s dwarfed by the current speeds of modern CPUs, which can run at 4.5 GHz—4.5 billion operations each second.
Therefore, to sync the chipset and the CPU, we need a multiplier, also known as a CPU core ratio.
That’s how we arrive at the formula below:
CPU Clock Speed = Multiplier X BCLK
What Is BCLK Overclocking?
Looking at the formula above, it’s easy to see that you can increase the CPU clock speed in two ways:
- Increasing the multiplier
- Increasing BCLK
With that explanation, we can define BCLK overclocking as increasing BCLK from its default value of 100 MHz to slightly higher (for example, 100.2 MHz).
Note that the value can’t go up significantly because your hardware can’t support it.
However, as the multiplier is quite large (between 30 and 45), the gains will be noticeable.
If you want to boost the frequency by more than 100, you can increase the multiplier instead of the base clock.
Important warning: Tweaking your base clock by more than two or three percent can cause significant stability issues in your system.
That’s because the chipset is connected to all of the components on your motherboard, such as the PCI express lanes and SATA ports, which may not be able to handle the increase in base clock speed.
Therefore, if you increase the base clock too much, not only do you risk corrupting your operating system, but you may even lose data.
Some processors support what’s known as a CPU strap, a significantly higher band frequency where the entire system can reach sufficient stability.
The 125 MHz strap with a BCLK of 100 Mhz and a multiplier of 30 to 45 is a typical arrangement that yields a moderate performance gain.
Note that the speed of your other components remains unchanged.
Ultimately, a stable overclock depends on your actual computer parts.
You’ll need some trial and error to hit the right combination of settings.
Why Use BCLK Overclocking?
The most common way to overclock a CPU is to increase its multiplier, which has three advantages:
- It’s cleaner because you deal with multiples of 100.
- It doesn’t require any technical knowledge. You simply increase the multiple by one to three.
- It offers excellent performance gains compared to other overclocking methods.
However, there are cases when you might need to modify BCLK.
1. You Have An Intel CPU
The first situation is when you have an Intel CPU.
Intel has many CPU series, but only the K and X series allow you to adjust the CPU multiplier.
The remaining models are physically locked during manufacturing.
You have to take the harder route when it comes to overclocking most Intel CPUs.
To check the CPU’s model when buying a device, look at the one or two letters at the end of the model.
Here’s an informative video that explains what the letters in Intel models mean:
Fortunately, AMD’s modern desktop CPUs (Ryzen series) are unlocked.
2. You Want To Harness Your CPU’s Maximum Capacity
Returning to the formula above, it’s easy to see that adjusting the multiplier only gives you increments of 100 MHz.
What if your CPU can handle 4.75 GHz?
To get the last bits of power from your CPU, you need to modify the BCLK.
How Do You Do BCLK Overclocking?
First and foremost, your motherboard has to support the modifications.
Manufacturers include different capabilities in their various models: some prevent BCLK overclocking, while others come with intelligent utilities for it.
That’s true for virtually all major motherboard manufacturers, including Asus, Gigabyte, and ASRock.
When purchasing a computer, carefully read the motherboard’s full specs to ensure you have the ability.
After that, it’s time to see if your CPU can be overclocked via BCLK.
Over the years, Intel hasn’t been consistent with whether they allow their non-K series to be overclocked via other means.
Starting with its 7th Gen CPUs, the company restricted overclocking more aggressively.
However, now the 12 Gen processes are overclockable, despite Intel’s warnings that the overclocking can significantly damage the chips.
Check your CPU model to ensure you have an overclockable one.
You can figure out your CPU’s model by right-clicking on This PC and clicking Properties.
Search the complete model on Google to find out the detailed specs.
Once you’re sure your motherboard and CPU support BCLK overclocking, search for a guide on overclocking your specific setup.
The steps vary widely between manufacturers and models.
For example, here are the instructions for an Asus ROG Maximus Z690 Apex with a 0811 BIOS and a 12th Gen Core i5-12400:
- Restart your PC, and enter the UEFI BIOS utility tool.
- Go to the Extreme Tweaker tab.
- Under Tweaker’s Paradise, enable BCLK overclocking.
- Enable the XMP II profile for your memory.
- Set your preferred values for BCLK frequency, CPU core voltage, etc.
What If Your Setup Doesn’t Support BCLK Overclocking?
Not all hope is lost if you have a locked CPU or a motherboard that doesn’t support BCLK overclocking.
After Intel disabled adjusting the BCLK on their chips, motherboard manufacturers had to change their firmware.
For example, ASRock had a convenient BCLK overclocking feature for Skylake CPUs, which it had to kill after only a couple of months.
The new method of overclocking locked CPUs involves increasing the power at the CPU’s disposal.
Instead of receiving 65 W, the CPU now gets 125 W.
Once it detects the surge in available power, it automatically uses it to perform at a higher clock speed.
ASRock has dubbed the technology Base Frequency Boost (BFB), whereas Asus calls it Asus Performance Enhancement.
According to DSOGaming, BFB can boost your CPU performance by nearly 30 percent.
However, increasing the power limit on your CPU will cause a significant amount of heat, so you will need to invest in high-quality cooling.
Moreover, you can’t expect the resulting performance boost to be as effective as overclocking a CPU that doesn’t come with restrictions.
According to a user on Reddit, that’s because the CPU may not be able to draw all the allotted power.
Plus, if the applications you use don’t already max out the CPU, they’re unlikely to benefit from the turbo boost.
If you’re looking for ultimate performance, you should buy an unlocked CPU because Intel uses higher-quality silicone in its unlocked chips.
Tips For Performing A BCLK Overclock
Overclocking involves running your hardware outside of its normal specifications.
In other words, your parts aren’t guaranteed to be able to handle the extra load.
Therefore, your success with overclocking depends on luck.
You may get excellent performance boosts with one computer but subpar results with another computer running identical components.
That said, you should follow best practices to ensure you get the best results you can.
Here are a few important ones:
- Set aside a large block of uninterrupted time. Overclocking can go wrong in many ways, so it’s best to have the time to fix all the problems without rushing through them.
- Get a top-line cooling system. Overclocked chips have significantly higher thermal output. That’s why your regular fan and heatsink won’t get the job done. If you can afford it, go for a liquid cooling system.
- Make sure you have overclockable hardware. Although there are always workarounds, it’s best to get AMD Ryzen or Intel K-series CPUs to avoid time-consuming hacks and ensure optimal results.
- Get an outstanding PSU. A high-quality power supply outputs cleaner and more stable power. Also, make sure your power supply is validated for C6 and C7 states.
Locked Vs. Unlocked CPU: Which One To Buy
As mentioned earlier, modern AMD Ryzen CPUs are all overclockable.
If your Ryzen model ends in an X, the CPU has a higher nominal performance and it’s better suited to overclocking.
However, Intel’s offerings are primarily non-overclockable, except for the K series.
KF and HK models are also unlocked.
The former lacks integrated graphics, while the latter is a high-performance CPU.
Intel’s CPUs tend to get more significant boosts from overclocking than AMD Ryzens.
The only reason to buy an unlocked CPU is if you want to overclock it.
You can’t expect higher performance from unlocked CPUs out of the box.
Overclock Extended Warranty
Overclocking can make your computer unstable and damage your CPU in the long run.
It also increases heat generation.
However, each CPU has a specific capacity for handling the heat.
The differences are so common and vast that the industry has dubbed the term “silicon lottery” to point to the randomness of overclocking potential.
One CPU may handle 300 MHz higher while another one of the same model and build might only have room for an extra 100 MHz.
That’s why manufacturers only warranty their CPUs up to a particular frequency band to ensure that they can guarantee normal operation.
Intel used to offer an extended warranty plan called Performance Tuning Protection Plan for their non-K series chips.
It was essentially an insurance policy that promised to replace your CPU if it was damaged by overclocking.
However, the company quietly killed the program in March 2021 without providing a specific reason.
Frequently Asked Questions About BCLK Overclocking
1. Can You Overclock A Locked CPU?
There isn’t a way to hack a locked CPU because locking is a physical process in the factory.
In other words, unlocking a locked CPU isn’t a software process.
However, motherboard manufacturers have found ways to work around the limitation set by CPU manufacturers.
One of the solutions is to adjust the base clock, while another approach involves increasing the system’s power limits, giving the CPU more power to consume.
2. Is BCLK Overclocking Dangerous?
Any method of overclocking can damage your computer parts because it forces them to operate at higher-than-optimal levels for extended periods.
Since adjusting the base clock affects almost all the components in your computer, it can cause more stability issues than multiplier overclocking.
However, it’s rare for components to die on the spot unless they’re old or low-quality.
To avoid problems, don’t modify the BCLK by more than two percent, or see if your CPU supports a safe strap that can give you sufficient stability.
3. Is BCLK Overclocking Worth It?
BCLK overclocking is only worth it if you need to squeeze out every bit of power from your CPU as it allows you to aim for between-multiple values.
Otherwise, aim for multiplier overclocking because it’s a more stable solution and doesn’t require as much technical knowledge or time.
It’s always better to get a CPU built for overclocking than to force a workaround.
4. Should I Overclock My CPU?
Overclocking means running your CPU at a higher speed than the nominal value indicated by the manufacturer.
Users overclock their CPUs to boost their performance.
You can expect performance gains between 10 and 50 percent depending on the setup.
The practice is prevalent among hardcore gamers and graphics/video editing professionals.
However, it also has disadvantages—mainly that it generates excessive heat and reduces your hardware’s lifespan.
Unless you need your computer to provide extreme performance while running CPU-intensive software, we don’t recommend overclocking.