In a sense, overclocking a CPU offers a free performance boost, provided your cooling scheme and motherboard are up to the task. You also need a cooperative CPU. If building an Intel system, that means getting a K-series chip—like a Core i9 10900K instead of the regular 10900—otherwise you’re not going to get very far. Or at least that was the case before motherboard makers found a way to essentially fool a locked non-K processor into running at a higher clock speed than it otherwise would.

Before we get to that, let’s cover some basics. Intel processors with a “K” designation have an unlocked multiplier. This means you can hop in your motherboard’s BIOS and increase the CPU’s clock multiplier, which in turn bumps up the frequency. For example, the 9700K has a 100MHz base clock (or BCLK) and a x36 multiplier, hence it runs at 3.6GHz (100 x 36 = 3,600MHz, or 3.6GHz).

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