Since overclocking is only possible on unlocked CPUs, it is mandatory to know whether the processor is locked or unlocked.
But it’s hard to remember and check all unlocked processor lists for non-tech enthusiasts.
Surprisingly, there is an easy way to detect which CPU is unlocked and which isn’t. Here, I will tell you that.
So, tag along.
How to Tell If CPU is Unlocked
You can know whether a CPU is locked or unlocked by looking at the processor’s model number. All Intel processors that have a K or an X in their model numbers are unlocked processors. On the other hand, all AMD Ryzen series CPUs are unlocked.
For example, take any K & X series CPUs, such as Intel Core i9-12900K, Core i9-9900X, Core i9-11900K, etc. All of these K & X series CPUs are unlocked.
Besides the X & K model, all other processors, such as Core i5-12400 and Core i9-11900, are locked.
On a side note, if you’re interested in overclocking, take a look at our in-depth guide for overclocking a CPU without BIOS.
Open the System Information application or go to About from Windows settings if you don’t know your CPU model number. There you will find your processor’s model number.
An unlocked processor has its advantages, especially for overclockers. With an unlocked CPU, you can modify the power, memory settings, core, voltage, and so on.
Moreover, the unlocked CPU boosts the other components’ speed, which helps you experience smooth and sharp gameplay.
Alongside this, with an unlocked CPU, you will be able to utilize the full potential of a processor.
Check out the latest guide to find out whether your CPU is overclockable.
What’s the Difference Between a Locked and an Unlocked CPU?
The main difference between a locked and unlocked CPU is the overclocking capability. In a locked processor, you can’t overclock, or change the clock speed, power, core, voltage, etc. But, with an unlocked processor, you can overclock and customize all the processor settings.
When the debate comes to locked vs. unlocked, it mainly refers to the processor’s clock multiplier. If the clock multiplier is locked, the CPU is locked. If it is unlocked, the processor is unlocked.
It’s just that simple.
In addition, you can change the processor settings to whatever you’d like on an unlocked CPU. You can even push the processor’s clock speed beyond its factory limit.
But unfortunately, on the locked CPUs, all the modification settings, including overclocking, are restricted. You must use the settings your CPU manufacturer has fixed for your processor.
If you have been using your processor for quite a long time, read our expert opinion on when you need to upgrade your CPU.
Can You Unlock a Locked CPU?
Technically, you can’t unlock a locked CPU. It is impossible to unlock a processor that has been factory locked. Mainly because locking and unlocking are entirely physical processes. No software application will be able to unlock your locked CPU.
It’s the manufacturer who keeps the processor locked. The main reason is to prevent the users from overclocking the CPU.
Many users like to overclock their processors to improve their performance by increasing the clock speed. But they don’t realize, by continuously doing this, the lifespan of the CPU starts to decrease.
Moreover, the temperature rises to a certain level during overclocking, where the CPU gets damaged. That’s why manufacturers locked the CPU to stop this situation from happening.
However, a few years back, it was possible to increase the base clock speed in some 12th Gen non-k chips. But nowadays, it doesn’t work anymore.
Go and check our other article on how to check if the CPU is already overclocked.
Is Unlocked CPU Worth It?
The worth of an unlocked processor depends on your priorities. If overclocking is your primary preference, money isn’t an issue, and you like to spend cash on CPUs and motherboards to get better performance, an unlocked CPU will be a perfect choice.
You may wonder whether this means those who don’t overclock should stay away from these unlocked CPUs.
The short answer is no way. Because everyone wishes to experience fast processing performance. Even if you don’t intend to overclock, an unlocked CPU can be just the hardware component you’ve been looking for.
So, if you think you’d truly benefit from the increased performance, don’t hesitate. Just go and get an unlocked processor for your PC.
To learn more about CPU overclocking, you should know about CPU ring ratio.
What does it mean if a CPU is unlocked?
If a processor is unlocked, it means the clock multiplier of the CPU is unlocked. You can overclock that unlocked CPU to experience faster core speeds.
How do I know if my CPU is overclockable?
For Intel, if there is the letter K or X on the processor’s model number, CPUs are overclockable. All current AMD Ryzen series processors, on the other hand, are unlocked. So, overclocking is possible in all AMD Ryzen series.
Are all Ryzen CPUs unlocked?
Yes, all Ryzen CPUs are unlocked. They are unlocked by default from AMD workshops.
Why are some CPUs locked?
The key reason some CPUs are locked is to stop the users from performing overclocking.
You should, however, remember one thing. Even if the CPU is unlocked and overclockable, several low-end motherboards may not have the necessary utilities or VRMs to support overclocking. So, alongside the CPU, check about your motherboard also.
I hope I have cleared all your doubts about locked and unlocked processors. Comment below if you have any queries.