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Unlocked Processors

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In this section, you will find processors designed for overclocking. Whether you want to overclock with air cooling, water cooling, or liquid nitrogen, there are plenty of options to choose from. If you want to set some benchmark records, we recommend Intel processors, especially our OC PRETESTED delidded versions from Elkim, the latest Coffee Lake i7-8700K, and Skylake-X series models. Don’t forget the proper PSU, motherboard, and sufficient cooling.

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Unlocked processors are suitable for those who want to get the most out of their hardware, enjoy better gaming performance, or people who simply like tinkering with their systems. Overclocking basically means that you increase the processor clock speed, running it at a higher speed than it was designed for (but still tolerable for the processor) by using an open multiplier.

What do I need?

The basic prerequisite for overclocking is to have a processor that enables it—you can choose from both Intel and AMD models. You also need to have a motherboard suitable for overclocking—with Intel there are motherboards with the chipset Z170, Z270, or the recently introduced X299; with AMD you can opt for the chipset X370, B350, or the upcoming X399.

Basic Unlocked Processor Parameters

Clock speed

Specifies the processor performance in MHz or GHz. If the processor has an unlocked multiplier, you can manually increase its performance by overclocking it by several hundred MHz. This also increases power consumption and heats up the processor. We therefore recommend buying a separate heatsink, as the basic one supplied with the processor usually won’t be strong enough.

Number of cores

This affects the processing speed of multithreaded tasks. In general, the more cores a processor has, the faster it is—especially when it comes to newer games and apps explicitly designed to use more threads. This means that a 2 GHz 4-core processor, for example, will be more powerful than a 3 GHz 2-core processor. Modern gaming processors usually have four to eight cores.

Automatic Overclocking vs. Unlocked Multiplier

Automatic processor overclocking

In addition to the so-called base clock speed, for example 3 GHz, most processors also have the maximum OC clock speed they can reach through automatic overclocking. This feature is called Turbo Boost for Intel processors and Turbo Core for AMD.

The processor overclocks automatically in response to performance peaks—if it has to process something particularly performance-intensive, it dynamically raises the clock speed up to the maximum OC speed and the user won’t even know it.

Unlocked multiplier for manual overclocking

If you are familiar with overclocking and want to get a processor that has an unlocked multiplier, choose Intel processors with the "K" or "X" designation, such as the Intel Core i7-7700K. Competing AMD processors with an unlocked multiplier are called Black Edition; meanwhile, all  AMD Ryzen processors are unlocked by default.

Other Unlocked Processor Features

  • Hyper Threading/Multi Threading - this is a feature that allows the processor to process twice the number of threads than it has cores. Basically, each core then behaves as two independent cores. This feature is usually found on the more powerful and expensive processors.
  • Manufacturing technology - listed in nm, it’s closely related to the power consumption of the processor. In general, the smaller the production technology (in nm), the newer the processor and the lower the power consumption.
  • TDP - expresses the amount of waste heat generated by the processor. The heatsink supplied with the processor is sized to ensure sufficient heat dissipation. However, overclocking raises the TDP and this means you will probably need a more powerful heatsink.
  • Box - some processors come with a heatsink.
  • Integrated GPU - some processors have an integrated graphics card, which can handle all the basic everyday tasks – photo viewing, web browsing, or standard office work.
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