MSI is ready to release a new B660 motherboard. Why would I mention this when there are already a hundred or so other B660 boards on the market? This is configured to include an external clock generator. That means it should be able to happily overclock 12th Gen Alder Lake processors with a locked base clock.
The news comes from Twitter user hot dog (opens in new tab). through Tom’s Hardware (opens in new tab) with a post showing an MSI motherboard not yet released. The MAG B660M Mortar Max WiFi DDR4 includes a Renesas external clock generator that will allow for BCLK overclocking on non-K CPUs. That’s a big deal. The card will also include PCIe 5.0 and DDR4 support. These features are set to make this board a very smart choice for users who want to build a high performance system at an affordable price.
Right now, if you want Intel’s best performing CPU, you have to pay a lot. One i9 12900K (opens in new tab) will cost around $600 (£580 / AU$850). If you pair it with a high-end GPU, you have an excellent gaming system. But with base clock overclocking, you can get something like one of our favorite CPUs, the i5 12400 (opens in new tab) or i5 12400F 6C/12T processor without IGP and overclock to over 5.0 GHz and enjoy almost all the gaming performance of a much more expensive CPU. For reference, the i5 12400 retails for under $200 (£100 / AU$300). Heck you can even go with an i3 or a Pentium if you’re really on a tight budget.
The inclusion of an external clock generator allows the base clock to be decoupled from other system bus clocks. This allows the CPU clock to be increased without interfering with other devices. At 100MHz, everything is designed to work in harmony, but as you go beyond that speed, other devices such as PCIe and SATA devices stop working, causing the system to crash.
We’ve talked about BCLK overclocking in the past. It’s been proven to work (opens in new tab). I personally tested it on an Asus Maximus Z690 Apex, but this is a high-end card and one of the few expensive cards to include an external clock generator. Pairing a high-end card with a low-end CPU is unlikely, which until now has relegated the locked CPU OC to only hardcore overclockers.
More than some old school gamers will remember the days when they took locked multiplier chips and overclocked them to flagship performance levels. It was a fantastic way to get top-notch performance without breaking the bank. But in recent years, overclocking has become an increasingly sophisticated ‘feature’. This MSI card should bring back some of that frugal overclocking spirit.
The MSI MAG B660M Mortar Max WiFi notably includes DDR4 support, so you save a lot of money compared to the still high cost of a good quality DDR5. Combine the card with a good set of DDR4-3600, an i5 12400F and you have the core of a very powerful and affordable small system. Overclock it to 5.2GHz, choose your GPU and you’ll be a happy gamer.
If and when MSI releases this card, we will be looking to sample and look forward to testing it. An overclock of 12400 vs 12900K on a variety of games sounds like an interesting little experiment!