You can unlock the full potential of your CPUs through overclocking, however, in order to do so, you need to have the right tools including the right motherboard. Hence you may ask “does my motherboard support overclocking or not”?
Fortunately, checking whether your motherboard supports overclocking is quite simple. You can either check through the specsheets of the motherboard, or better yet, you can tell by the chipset model the motherboard uses whether it is designed for overclocking or not.
In the following text, I will talk in detail about how to check if your motherboard supports CPU overclocking as well as touch base on VRMs and compatible “unlocked” CPUs – both of which are an important topic for overclockers.
How to Check Does My Motherboard Support Overclocking?
Well, as alluded to earlier, there are basically three ways to check whether your motherboard supports overclocking or not:
- Through its Specsheet
- Through the Chipset Model It Uses (Preferred Method)
- Through BIOS
I personally prefer the second method as it is quite straightforward, however, you do need to have the basic knowledge of different motherboard chipset models in the market – which I will explain.
1. Checking Whether Motherboard Support Overclocking Through Specsheet
You can check whether your motherboard supports overclocking or not by heading over to its specsheet online.
Take for the instance the specsheet for the ASUS Prime Z690A motherboard below:
You can clearly see that this motherboard supports overclocking.
Of course you would need to know the make and model of your motherboard to search up its specsheet online in the first place.
How to Figure Out Make and Model of Your Motherboard?
I have written a comprehensive guide on this topic: How to Check What Motherboard Make and Model You Have?
But basically, you can easily check the make and model through the System Information utility in Windows.
You can access this utility by typing “System Information” in the Windows 10 Search Bar or press Windows+R keys and type msinfo32.
- Baseboard Manufacturer refers to the make of the motherboard
- Baseboard Product refers to the model of the motherboard.
You can also check the make and model of your motherboard through a simple and free third party utility called CPU-Z.
The following video explains further
2. Checking Whether Motherboard Support Overclocking Through The CHIPSET IT Uses
This is my preferred method to check whether your motherboard support overclocking or not as it is very straightforward.
Basically, you can tell whether a motherboard supports overclocking or not through its chipset model/series.
Both Intel and AMD have different chipset series
Intel has the Z, B and H series motherboards; AMD has the X, B and A series motherboard. The different chipset series basically cater to a different market segment.
Intel Z and AMD X series cater to the premium market, whereas the Intel H and AMD A series cater to the budget market.
For Intel motherboard, ONLY THE Z SERIES motherboards, such as those with the Z690, Z590, Z490 etc. chipsets support overclocking for commercial motherboards.
For AMD the X and the B series motherboard support overclocking i.e. X570, x470, B550, B450 etc. for commercial motherboards.
The following table summarizes the chipsets that support overclocking. I have included both commercial and workstation grade chipsets for Intel and AMD.
|Intel||Z||Z690, Z590, Z490||Premium
|B||B550, B450||Mid Range
Hence you can now tell by reading the motherboard’s model itself whether it would support overclocking or not. This works for desktop motherboards, not for laptop motherboards.
Let us look at some examples:
- ASUS Prime Z690-A supports overclocking as it has the Z690 chipset
- Gigabyte B660 Gaming X DOES NOT support overclocking as it has the B660 chipset – again for Intel commercial boards, only Z series supports overclocking
- MSI MPG B550 Gaming Edge WiFi supports overclocking since it has the AMD B550 chipset.
3. Checking Overclocking Capability Through BIOS
The final and also a relatively easy method to check whether your motherboard supports overclocking or not is through BIOS.
If for instance, you motherboard allows you to modify the voltage or the frequency of the CPU, then it is designed for overclocking.
If this function is not available to you, then your motherboard or the CPU does NOT support overclocking.
You can access BIOS at the system startup by pressing ESC, DEL of one of the Function keys (the exact key differs from model to model).
Why VRMs are Important for Overclockers?
An often overlooked aspect of a motherboard specification particularly of great interest to overclockers is the number of VRMs it has and their quality.
Often gamers and enthusiasts look only for the overclocking enabled motherboard chipsets and a good cooling solution without paying attention to the VRMs.
VRM stands for voltage regular module. These are basically responsible for delivering clean power to the CPU.
These are often located on the motherboard next to the CPU socket:
Motherboards vary in the number of VRMs they offer. The higher the number of VRMs a motherboard has, the more expensive it is and the more capable it is for overclocking.
While cheap motherboards can have a 6+2 VRMs configuration (6 for the CPU and 2 for the RAM slots), premium motherboards offer as many as 14 or more VRMs.
Power Stages / Power Phases / Phase Power Design is a specification given to indicate the number of VRMs on a motherboard.
You can see above that while both ASUS ROG Strix Z590A and ASUS ROG Strix Z590-I are overclockable (as they both have the Intel Z590 chipset), the former would be more capable at overclocking thanks to the higher number of VRMs.
Read in Detail: What are Motherboard VRMs and Phase Power Design?
Not All CPUs Are Overclockable
It should also be noted that along with the right motherboard, you also need to have an “unlocked” CPU to enable overclocking.
Not all CPUs are overclockable. For Intel line of CPUs, only those with the K suffix such as the Intel Core i7 12700K or the Intel Core i5 12600K can support overclocking, the rest cannot.
AMD is a bit more flexible as a majority of there Ryzen CPUs are overclockable.
Also Read: Intel K vs KF vs F Series CPUs
Does AMD A520 Support Overclocking?
No, none of the AMD motherboard with the AMD A series chipsets support overclocking.
Which Motherboards Support Overclocking?
As explained, currently for commercial motherboards only those carrying Intel Z series chipsets such as the Z690, Z590 support overclocking
For AMD’s commercial motherboards, the X series and B series motherboards such as the X570 and the B550 support overclocking.
Also Read: What is the Safe Idle CPU Temperature?
The answer to the question “does my motherboard support overclocking?” is not always affirmative. Often only the premium motherboards support overclocking function.
Fortunately, you can easily tell whether you motherboard support overclocking or not either by consulting the specsheet or by reading the model name (particularly reading the chipset in the model name).
Again, you need to have both the motherboard AND the CPU supporting the overclocking for it to work.
For instance, if you were to install a non-K series Intel CPU such as the Intel Core i7 12700 onto a Z690 motherboard, you will not be able to overclock it despite the fact that the Z690 chipset does support overclocking.