Asus is unlocking the ability to overclock CPUs on non Z-series motherboards through the release of an updated BIOS.
The move to unlock overclocking is likely driven by the release of the Pentium Anniversary Edition CPU, a low cost processor that has an unlocked multiplier.
The new UEFI BIOS releases for the H87, H97, B85 and H81 motherboards will enable support for overclocking with supported processors.
Asus states that it cannot guarantee all processors attached to the boards will allow for overclocking, but it did name check K-series Haswell and Haswell Refresh processors as well as the Pentium Anniversary Edition CPU as being compatible.
Activating overclocking features on the boards requires users to update to the most recent version of the BIOS and then insert one of the supported CPUs into the socket. This will automatically enable overclocking options in the BIOS screen through adjusting the multiplier in the settings.
The new BIOS is likely in response to the launch of the aforementioned Anniversary Edition Pentium chip. This CPU, compatible with 8-series and 9-series motherboards, features an unlocked multiplier and sells for around the $80 mark (and we're working on a review of it right now).
Due to the low price of the CPU, its usefulness would be more limited if it could only be utilised in more expensive Z-series boards. Industry commentators suggest that Asus may have collaborated with Intel to unlock overclocking on other cheaper boards to give the chip a wider potential market.
There is precedent for Asus issuing BIOS updates like this and it has unlocked overclocking features on lower-end motherboards in the past, and ASRock too has done the same with its Non-Z OC feature.
Earlier this year, Asus revealed its Z97 motherboards
ahead of the release of Intel’s 9-series chipse, which launched in May.