Intel to Restrict Overclocking on Sandy Bridge

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After all the overclocking triumphs with the Core line of processors, it is hard to believe that the latest Sandy Bridge CPUs from Intel will be more difficult to overclock. is reporting that Intel has “designed the CPUs to deliberately limit overclocking” according to slides prepared by Intel:

A video to HKEPC and posted on YouTube (see from 2mins onwards) confirms the fact that only a 2-3 per cent OC via Base Clock adjustments will be possible. This is because Intel has tied the speed of every bus (USB, SATA, PCI, PCI-E, CPU cores, Uncore, memory etc) to a single internal clock generator issuing the basic 100MHz Base Clock.

This clock gen is integrated into the P67 motherboard chipset and transmits the clock signal to the CPU via the DMI bus. This means there’s no need for an external clock generator that used to allow completely separate control of all the individual hardware.

When you’re overclocking, you want to be able to push certain frequencies, such as the Base Clock and memory clock, but leave others, such as SATA, completely stable as they’re very sensitive to adjustment. Current motherboards allow multiple bus speeds because external clock generators are programmable via the BIOS.

Intel Slide (Courtesy

The report continues with more technical information and analysis. This fundamental design change will impact casual overclockers all the way to highly-regarded extreme benchmarkers. Don’t panic and switch to AMD just yet, motherboard manufacturers are looking for ways to circumvent the locked frequency. As Bit-Tech points out, locking the frequencies will essentially level the playing field among all motherboard manufacturers. By taking overclocking out of the equation, there is less reason to purchase a higher-end motherboard.

If the past is any indication, this may not be as much of an issue as anticipated. Intel was expected to carry out a similar plan to limit overclocking before the release of the Nehalems core.

Worst case scenario, Intel will still manufacture the unlocked K-series chips. End-users will pay a premium for those CPUs, but their overclocking potential will probably make up for the extra cost.

Will AMD reclaim the overclocking crown? Will motherboard manufacturers discover a workaround? All this remains to be seen. Stay tuned.

For more information visit Intel Plans to Deliberately Limit Sandy Bridge Overclocking


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  1. The OCing results, along with the the encoding/transcoding testing on the 2 K series chips are simply amazing! I think Intel really nailed it again :)

    As for them limiting the OCers to just the K series chips, thats all fine with me if it yields the results I have been seeing.
    Man, Im so golden. Wife just said today when am I going to build a 2nd computer for the house :D SB here I come! Probably keep this rig the way it is and give me a chance to try out a GTX570 maybe :D
    Happy New Year! :thup:

    some small results to Core i5-2500k

    Thanks for posting those pics!

    Does CPU-Z need to be updated or something? Those RAM multis don't look right. It seems like the RAM speed is based on a 133MHz Bus speed instead of 100MHz. :confused:

    Does SB allow the use of odd multis for RAM?
    That, of course, assumes you pay for an unlocked cpu.

    This whole thread was about the locked cpus and locked bclk.

    Aye, can't argue with that. It's a pain that overclockers are limited to two CPUs on an entire platform.
    They overclock, you can rest assured of that. It's restricted in the sense that you can't do much with bclk (a 7 MHz + increase is good), but multipliers can work wonders. :)
    There is some OCing allowed, just not much.

    "A few" extra multis. Sounds like ~500mhz to me.

    We are a drop in the bucket. A decent sized one, and one worth exploiting, but a drop nontheless.
    I know they won't allow base multiplier because of OEM clocking before, so they locked it, and they say turbo will have a few bins on the top limit, that will only help single threaded applications.

    You can believe what you want, I trust what intel tells me about data with products and data of buyers that are overclocking they have the money to do the research and engineers just for the enthusiast market. We are not just drop in the bucket overclockers, because we help the DIY community that does not overclock and that is rare to see that, intel does not want that to fizzle.

    Think of it this way, is it harder to select the correct parts and build a PC then to overclock a few bins.:)

    Where are the websites on the net that are for non overclocking enthusiast. At one time i wanted to get out the oveclocking forms, just to deal with regular pc problems and I could not find any sites, it's all about overclocking on the net and always has been.

    Overclockers are not just a drop in the bucket.

    Overclocking is all about cost effective parts opened up to a whole new level of performance. If you have the cash for high-end parts - then more power to you - but I've always stuck with ~$200 CPU's and ~$200 MoBo's - and I have no intention on changing that because Intel wants to rake us over the coals to make some extra cash...

    Basically I agree with you. But consider this.:shrug:What if you have to spend say $400 more to water-cool than to air-cool, to achieve a higher overclock? From an overall "systems" perspective, at some point you simply take all that extra cash for your "overclocking budget" and spend it on faster components? :confused: No?

    Just wondering. And no, I'm NOT trolling. :chair:
    There is some OCing allowed, just not much.

    "A few" extra multis. Sounds like ~500mhz to me.

    We are a drop in the bucket. A decent sized one, and one worth exploiting, but a drop nontheless.