Are you planning to overclock your PC? If so, knowing whether your CPU is locked or unlocked is vital. Only then will you be able to proceed with overclocking.
For a beginner, it might be difficult to check the entire list of locked and unlocked processors. Therefore, I have written this guide to help you figure it out much easier.
The procedure is very simple, and I promise you’ll get the hang of it in no time. So stick with me till the end, and you’ll know everything there is.
An Overview of Overclocking
Before we begin determining your CPU’s capacity for overclocking, you should familiarize yourself with a few technical details. Cores are autonomous processing units found in CPUs that are capable of carrying out program instructions.
Your CPU will perform and operate more efficiently with more cores, especially while doing demanding activities. Each CPU has a specific clock speed that describes how quickly the CPU cores operate and process information.
It displays the number of Hertz cycles a core completes each second.
The CPU can carry out many tasks more quickly the faster the clock speed is. Overclocking is the process of raising a CPU’s clock speed over what the original manufacturer has set for it.
There are three ways to evaluate clock speed:
- Base Frequency: The base frequency of the CPU is the rate at which it runs while your computer is not in use. That indicates that it isn’t under stress and working on simpler tasks. This quantity is mentioned in the CPU’s specifications by the manufacturer.
- Turbo Frequency: The CPU can run at its highest clock speed during periods of higher workloads. Entry-level CPUs lack this information, whereas the majority of mainstream CPUs mention their Turbo frequencies under their specifications.
- Overclocked Frequency: Your CPU will be functioning at the overclocked frequency if the Basic and Turbo frequencies are set higher than the manufacturer’s recommended values.
How To Check If CPU is Unlocked?
Your CPU will be functioning at the overclocked frequency if the Basic and Turbo frequencies are set higher than the manufacturer’s recommended values. By looking at the model number of the processor, you may determine whether it has been locked or not.
A K or an X in the model number designates an unlocked CPU, which describes all Intel processors. All AMD Ryzen series CPUs, however, are unlocked.
Take, for instance, any CPU from the K or X family, such as the Intel Core i9-12900K, Intel Core i9-9900X, Intel Core i9-11900K, etc. These CPUs from the K and X series are all unlocked.
All CPUs, with the exception of the X & K model, are locked, including the Core i5-12400 and Core i9-11900. If you don’t know your CPU model number, use the System Information program or select About from Windows settings. The model number of your CPU can be found there.
A processor that is unlocked provides benefits, especially for overclockers. You can change the power, memory settings, voltage, core, and other aspects of a CPU if it is unlocked. Also, the unlocked CPU speeds up the other components, enabling you to play with greater precision and fluidity. Also, you will be able to use a processor’s full capability if it is unlocked.
Differences Between a Locked and Unlocked CPU?
The ability to overclock differentiates a locked CPU from an unlocked CPU. You cannot overclock or alter a locked processor’s clock speed, voltage, core, power, etc.. But you can overclock and alter every parameter on a processor if it is unlocked.
Locked vs. unlocked relates mostly to the processor’s clock multiplier in the discussion. The CPU is locked if the clock multiplier is. The processor is also unlocked if it is.
You can also alter the processor settings on an unlocked CPU, whatever you desire. Even the processor’s factory maximum clock speed can be exceeded. But regrettably, all modification parameters, including overclocking, are constrained on locked CPUs. Use just the configurations that the maker of your CPU has predetermined for it.
Is It Possible to Unlock a Locked CPU?
In theory, a locked CPU cannot be unlocked. A CPU that has been factory locked cannot be unlocked, mostly due to the purely physical nature of locking and unlocking. Your locked CPU will not be able to be unlocked by any software program.
The processor is locked by the manufacturer. To stop people from overclocking the CPU is the key motivation. Many users really want to overclock their processors to boost the clock speed and increase performance. Yet, they are unaware that doing this repeatedly shortens the CPU’s lifespan.
Also, when overclocking, the temperature reaches a point where the CPU suffers harm. Manufacturers locked the CPU to prevent this scenario from occurring.
In some 12th Gen non-k processors, raising the base clock speed a few years ago was feasible. Yet it is no longer effective in modern times.
Is an Unlocked CPU Worth It?
Depending on your priorities, an unlocked processor may be worth something. An unlocked CPU will be the ideal option if overclocking is your main priority, money is not a concern, and you enjoy spending money on CPUs and motherboards to gain higher performance.
You might be wondering if this implies that people who don’t overclock should avoid using these unlocked CPUs. The quick response is “no way” since everyone wants to have a quick processing experience. Even if you don’t plan to overclock, an unlocked CPU can be the exact piece of hardware you need.
So don’t wait to act if you believe the improved performance would be beneficial to you. Simply purchase an unlocked processor for your computer.
Disadvantages of Overclocking
You should choose whether or not to overclock your CPU after determining whether it has been unlocked.
Your system’s performance is significantly improved by overclocking. But it has disadvantages and hazards of its own.
Overclocking can cause stability problems in your system if you’re not careful. Bluescreens, freezes, and other similar system issues could happen. Your computer might even abruptly shut down to safeguard its parts from further harm.
The CPU produces heat while it is functioning normally. If you overclock your CPU and place a heavy strain on it, it will begin to overheat. To cool down your CPU, you must set up your system for overclocking and install a potent airflow heatsink or maybe an All-in-One (AIO) water cooling unit.
High Voltage Requirements
The more work your CPU performs, the more power it will require to continue operating. Your PSU must provide the high voltages required by your overclocked CPU. In order to avoid having your CPU destroyed, you must use a PSU that is of the highest caliber and is certified as Bronze, Gold, or Platinum.
- How do you know if the processor is locked or unlocked?
Answer: Processors from Intel can be overclocked if the model number begins with the letters K or X. On the other hand, all current AMD Ryzen series processors are unlocked. Thus, all AMD Ryzen series processors allow for overclocking.
- What does it mean if a CPU is unlocked?
Answer: In order to fine-tune the processor settings, processors can be unlocked. If the CPU is unlocked, you can boost performance by changing the power, voltage, core, memory, and other important system variables. It makes your gameplay and component speed faster.
- Can you unlock a locked CPU?
Answer: Locked CPU chips are physically locked right out of the factory. There is no hack or magic trick to get past it; your chip is either locked (non-K) or unlocked (K). Although a locked CPU can still have its base clock increased, the base clock (bclk) has effects on other components as well.
By reaching this segment of the text, you now know how to differentiate between a locked and unlocked CPU. We also provided an overview of overclocking to clear things up for you if that is your next step.
One important thing to remember is that overclocking also depends on the motherboard. Low-end motherboards usually don’t have what it takes to support overclocking. Therefore, that is an important point to bear in mind when attempting overclocking.
You must also understand the drawbacks of overclocking before you proceed to perform it.