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Intel updates microcode to block H87/B85 overclocking

Intel updates microcode to block H87/B85 overclocking

Intel's microcode update will prevent the overclocking features of K-suffix processors from operating on anything but high-end Z87 motherboards.

Intel has confirmed that it plans to issue a microcode update for its processors that will prevent the use of K-series overclocking tweaks on all but Z87-based motherboard chipsets.

Intel has long tolerated overclocking on its products, competing enthusiastically with rival AMD to encourage overclocking competitions that allow its chips to hit ever-higher clockspeeds in the name of headlines. The company balances this, however, with a desire not to harm its revenue stream: if customers can get the same performance as a £150 processor from a £100 processor, there's little incentive to spend that extra £50 on a higher-margin product.

Accordingly, it limits overclocking to its more high-end products: only chips that feature a K suffix include unlocked multipliers for full control over the clock speed, and only Z-series chipsets include the controls required to adjust said multipliers. At least, that is how it has worked in the past.

Recently, however, several motherboard manufacturers have been releasing BIOS updates for their non-Z-series motherboards - which sell for less than their high-end Z-series equivalents, even when offering much the same feature set - which allow the user to play with the overclocking features of K-series chips. While they don't offer the same overclocking potential as the premium Z-series motherboards, largely thanks to corners cut in other areas such as voltage regulation, they do offer the chance for buyers on a budget to eke a little more power out of their purchases.

Until now. French enthusiast site Hardware.fr has confirmation from Intel that its motherboard partners are going to be given a slap on the wrist in the form of a microcode update that blocks all current K-series processor overclocking features from operating on anything but a Z87 motherboard.

'Intel plans to release a firmware update that limits processor core overclocking to Intel Z87 based platforms,' the short statement reads - confirming rumours that have been spreading from motherboard manufacturers over the past week. The update will patch the microcode of the processor via the motherboard's BIOS, and while its installation will not be mandatory for those who have already purchased a board and chip it will soon find its way into the retail channel as a preinstalled update.

Intel's statement suggested that the update was provided to motherboard manufacturers in Week 30 of 2013 - this week, in other words. As a result, we'd recommend that anyone enjoying the benefits of a K-series processor on B85 or H87 chipset motherboard treat any BIOS update from their manufacturer with suspicion from this point on.

18 Comments

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Corky42 25th July 2013, 10:02 Quote
Seems a bit off that Intel is dictating what people are allowed to do with non Intel MoBo's even if they do make the chipset. Then again if your buying a K series why would you scrimp on a lower spec MoBo ?
rollo 25th July 2013, 10:23 Quote
Sounds like a safety issue. The cheaper boards are most likely designed for stock speeds only not over volting and clocked to the hilt.
SpAceman 25th July 2013, 11:54 Quote
I would only consider getting a Z87 if I was going for a K-series in any case.
schmidtbag 25th July 2013, 14:22 Quote
I find this a little disappointing. Considering how high people can overclock intel CPUs on stock voltage (or the stock heatsink), a cheap board should be able to get to at least that point. You can save a considerable bundle of cash by overclocking with a cheap board. While you might not reach the best performance, that's what you get for not buying something better. The stupid thing is with Intel's decisions, people are building a system that is overkill for their needs without overclocking to begin with. So it's either pay good money for products that don't need overclocking, or pay less money for products that do need it but can't.


But, I haven't bought an intel processor myself since I think 2005 (though I did get an intel-based netbook in 2009) so I don't really care either way.
Kruelnesws 25th July 2013, 14:46 Quote
I personally have a z series board. So this has no effect on me! Even if you get a mobo that is not a z87, with the new block in place, couldn't you just go to the manufacturers website and download an older version of the bios as a workaround? Or do you think they might tweak some of the older ones?
Tangster 25th July 2013, 14:55 Quote
Intel, party poopers of the overclocking world.
schmidtbag 25th July 2013, 14:59 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Kruelnesws
I personally have a z series board. So this has no effect on me! Even if you get a mobo that is not a z87, with the new block in place, couldn't you just go to the manufacturers website and download an older version of the bios as a workaround? Or do you think they might tweak some of the older ones?

Seeing as how I'm not much of an Intel or Windows user anymore, I'm not 100% sure on this but I don't think it's that simple, because I think newer versions of Windows keep the microcode up to date without warning. I'm sure it is actually possible to reverse the microcode but I guess my point is something is bound to set it to something newer again whether you like it or not.

In Linux anyway, you have to go out of your way to tell the OS to upgrade the microcode. It isn't hard but it isn't something you just simply know to do off the top of your head either.
Corky42 25th July 2013, 16:26 Quote
While Windows can update the microcode AFAIK Microsoft only do this for critical bugs, so in theory you could just use a older BIOS ROM.

I cant see this affecting many people, i mean how many people have a K series on a B85 or H87 chipset ?
it's not like they are stopping people from OC'ing via the FSB, they are just stopping the B85 or H87 chipset from going higher than the default multi when using K series CPU's.

EDIT: some sites are even saying this is Intel fixing something that wasn't intended, a bug, all be a good one :)
Madness_3d 25th July 2013, 17:14 Quote
The knock on effect of no competition at the top end :-/
r3loaded 25th July 2013, 18:31 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Madness_3d
The knock on effect of no competition at the top end :-/
Yup, the sad truth is that even a locked Haswell is still a better performer in both performance and power than anything AMD has unless you do a lot of multithreaded work.
Corky42 25th July 2013, 18:43 Quote
Am i missing something hear then ? because AFAIK all previous K series CPU's were only supported in high end MoBo/Chipsets.
The only reason Haswell K's could be used in B85 or H87 chipsets was because of a workaround developed by MoBo manufactures.
GeorgeStorm 25th July 2013, 18:46 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Corky42
Am i missing something hear then ? because AFAIK all previous K series CPU's were only supported in high end MoBo/Chipsets.
The only reason Haswell K's could be used in B85 or H87 chipsets was because of a workaround developed by MoBo manufactures.

You could run k chips in low end boards, as far as I'm aware at least.
TimB 26th July 2013, 02:45 Quote
So I assume this only effect LGA 1150 (Haswell) chips?
lysaer 26th July 2013, 03:20 Quote
I wonder if Intel are getting a lot of warranty requests due to overclocking becoming so popular.

They could be trying to limit their potential replacements. Since I doubt they have a valid way to prove if a chip has been overclocked.

Besides, build a ten foot wall and someone will inevitably build an eleven foot ladder

Sent from my GT-I9505 using Tapatalk 2
rollo 26th July 2013, 11:21 Quote
Intel dont make the motherboard first and foremost, Only the chipset thats on the boards is from Intel. Mobo manufactures would still have to implement this to the chipset.

The haswell K chips are not designed for the B85 and H87 chipsets last I checked most of those boards did not even support the newer chips.

Also not sure why you would buy a £40 board a £200 cpu thats like buying a ferrari and sticking some crappy tires on it.
dynamis_dk 27th July 2013, 20:59 Quote
Not everyone buys a high end CPU to overclock and not everyone who would like the higher end clocks of a top end CPU need the bells and whistles which often give top end board there price tag. My Dad is one of these such users. 2600k, basic motherboard = does exactly what he wants it to :)
Corky42 28th July 2013, 05:48 Quote
I cant think of any reason to buy the more expensive unlocked CPU if you wasn't going to overclock it :?
Bindibadgi 29th July 2013, 11:20 Quote
Just to clarify our position on this:

1) ASUS hasn't yet received any official documentation or instruction from Intel.
2) It's a fact that already shipping and channel products won't be affected and you can still get the unlocked BIOS from the product pages.
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