Can You Overclock a Non-K CPU? What Happens If You Try?

Written By Farhan Max

Overclocking capability is dependable on the CPU’s binning process. Intel sells those highly binned units addressed as K series CPUs.

Although all CPUs are Overclockable to a limited clock speed, K series ones are unlocked. And you can push the frequency limit of K series CPUs to unbounded multipliers until it’s stable.can-you-overclock-a-non-k-cpu

In this article, I’ll help you to clear your doubts about non-K CPUs, whether you can overclock those or not.

You may also like to read about are more Cores better in a CPU?

What Are The Differences Between Non-K and K Series CPUs?

Intel stands out for their high-performing processors by adding a K after the SKU (Stock Keeping Unit), selling those at a higher price. But how does it get expensive?non-k-and-k-series-cpu

Manufacturing a CPU is way more complicated, as integrating billions of transistors into a small die isn’t a facile task.

Since every specific CPU model is differently capable, a similar SKU (Stock Keeping Unit) model shouldn’t vary in performance.

But it varies because of an added K as a prefix after the SKU model number.

FYI, the SKU model is the number of one specific product available for sale. For example, an intel® Core™ i5-13400 Processor has an SKU code 13400, representing its generation and product line.

But the daunting part is why the processor of the exact SKU code spaces out from each other. An Intel Core i5-13600K has Around 12.8 GB/s (17%) higher theoretical memory bandwidth and 181w TDP with a 5.1 GHz max clock speed.

On the other hand, the Intel Core i5-13600 has only 154w TDP with a 5.0 GHz Max Clock Speed. Plus, lower RAM Bandwidth support, a locked 27x multiplier, and so on.

Why is such partiality between the CPUs with identical core count, architecture, and build?

The answer is a tad complex. Several attributes like building material quality (silicon), binning, strict manufacture, and intensive testing are responsible for this performance difference.

Thus, manufacturers unlock the processors only if they are confident after those processes and tests. And they name those processors K series.

However, Intel Alder Lake 12th gen processors became overclockable with some specific high-end LGA 1700 motherboards with the help of advanced VRM and BCLK.vrm-and-bclk

Furthermore, LGA 1700 motherboards with PCIe 5.0 x16 are overclock compatible, which isn’t possible on PCIe 4.0 Bus.

Several overclockers took advantage at that time by overclocking non-K CPUs up to 5.1GHz, which was not technically possible for a locked CPU with a limited multiplier. Although, some experienced stuttering due to excessive overclocking.

But intel strictly settled the incident and stopped the Overclocking ability in the newer Raptor Lake 13th gen processors. They locked CPUs because the non-K series processors are incompatible with higher limits, as they tested every single one.raptor-lake-13th-gen

Nonetheless, AMD plays differently by not launching a separate product lineup. Unlike Intel’s K series processors.

Yes, it’s too good to convey that all the AMD CPUs offered in their Ryzen line-up are unlocked. Users appreciate this often, which is a claimant.

Nevertheless, there is a catch: Ryzen CPUs generate more heat than intel. It happens because of the building design in chipsets.

But the good thing, AMD offers better value than intel. Average users prefer Ryzen CPUs rather than costly Intel ones. Moreover, Intel K series processors are even more expensive.

Go through our epic guide on at what Temperature the CPU shut down.

Does Overclocking Require an Intensive Cooling System?

Although non-K processors are not OCable, they can reach a Max Turbo Frequency, near the K series Overclocking frequency. So, how to gain such clock speed?

We all know Intel provides a stock cooler with the non-K unit, sufficient for average and little heavy use. But if you want to achieve the full potential with the highest possible clock speed, you must attach an aftermarket powerful cooler or water cooler.

Whether you use a locked or unlocked processor, investing in a good CPU cooler always treats you better. Keeping tabs on your processor’s temperature while gaming is also important if you have applied overclocking.

See our additional guide on how to check the CPU Temperature in Linux.


Can you overclock a normal CPU?

You can Overclock a normal CPU to a particular limit, usually locked by manufacturers as Max Turbo Frequency.

Does CPU overclock increase FPS?

Yes, I’d say primarily. Although not every game is CPU heavy, CPU always affects FPS one way or another.

Does overclocking reduce CPU life?

Every electronic loses potency over time, thus CPU lifetime is also negatively affected if you overclock it without proper cooling.

Can overclocking cause permanent damage?

OC does not damage a processor instantly, it harms the CPU over time, and the damage pace increases if sufficient cooling isn’t present.

How long will the Intel CPU last?

On average, an Intel CPU lasts around 15–20 years.

What is the world’s fastest CPU?

The latest Raptor Lake Core i9 13900 KS series processor is the most powerful CPU yet.

Final Thoughts

The need for Overclocking isn’t preferable for every user. Although it’s good to have a powerful processor in your rig whether you use it or not, it’s a waste of money if you never feel the need for that extra power.

If you feel like asking anything more regarding intel’s K series CPUs, you can ask through the comment box below.