Intel Comet Lake Non-K CPUs ‘Power Limit’ Overclocking on ASUS, ASRock, MSI H470, B460 & H410 Motherboards Detailed & Compared
Overclocking on Intel platforms has long been exclusive to the top-end chipsets and unlocked K-series CPUs. This generation is no exception with only three CPUs & Z490 chipset motherboards offering users the ability to overclock. However, this generation has seen the most aggressive push by motherboard makers to market their own clock boosting technologies on the non-K standard CPUs when running on H470, B460 & H410 platforms.
MSI, ASUS, ASRock Deliver Clock Boosting Technology For Non-K 10th Gen CPUs on H470, B460 & H410 Boards - Overclocking Through Raising The Power Limits
What each manufacturer is doing here is simple but also specific to their own motherboards. Intel supplies a baseline for the power limits, also referred to as PL state, to motherboard vendors which is a standard across all 10th Gen K and Non-K CPUs however, the limit can be altered by the vendor if their boards have the necessary power delivery solutions onboard them.
The power limit is generally defined in two categories, a PL1 state, and a PL2 state. All Intel CPUs list down the TDP at PL1 state which is the average power these CPUs consume while operating at the base frequency. The PL2 state is the power these CPUs consumer while operating at the maximum boost frequency and is usually not mentioned by Intel on its official product listing page. How long these CPUs can maintain their PL2 state is defined by Intel as the Tau or Turbo Time parameter. It's the maximum time these CPUs can maintain their turbo 'PL2' state before clocking down, however, just like how board vendors can change the PL states of the CPUs, the Tau can be altered too which allows them to set the limit to any value they wish or even unlimited if you look at some of the high end products out there.
So to put it in simpler terms, this feature isn't exactly what one would refer to as overclocking but a restriction bypass, allowing users to have their 10th Gen Comet Lake CPUs run at higher clock with the use of higher Power Limits to support higher overall frequencies. Raising the power limits does raise the power consumption numbers too but so does standard overclocking. It's a tradeoff users will have to pay for higher performance out of their non-K standard CPUs. But having some sort of clock boosting features that are in addition to the Intel spec one is a great addition for mainstream H470, B460, and H410 motherboards.
So coming to the details, each motherboard manufacturer has their respective technology. MSI is offering the highest power limit solution on its lineup with up to 255W (long/short duration) on its B460 lineup. MSI is followed by ASUS who are offering their APE (ASUS Performance Enhancement) on the H470 & B460 lineup with up to 210W power limits. Lastly, we have ASRock who has the BFB (Base Frequency Boost) technology implemented on H470 & B460 boards with up to 125W PL state. Following is the average clock speed bump stack up for each respective motherboard vendor:
MSI, ASUS, ASRock H470, B460, H410 Intel Non-K CPU Power Limit Boost Technologies Detailed
ASUS APE (ASUS Performance Enhancement) For Intel 10th Gen Non-K CPUs (210W):
|Motherboard||CPU||Intel TDP||CPU Base Clock||CPU Power Unlock (APE Enabled)||CPU Clock Boost (APE Enable) - PRIME95 Test||Cinebench R20 (65W Default)||Cinebench R20 (210W APE)||Performance Improvement (With APE Enabled)|
|ASUS ROG STRIX B460-F Gaming||Intel Core i9-10900||65W (PL1)|
|2.8 GHz||210W||4.4 GHz||4891||5932||21%|
|ASUS ROG STRIX B460-F Gaming||Intel Core i7-10700||65W (PL1)|
|2.9 GHz||210W||4.5 GHz||3831||4789||25%|
|ASUS ROG STRIX B460-F Gaming||Intel Core i5-10600||65W (PL1)|
|3.3 GHz||210W||4.4 GHz||3197||3466||8.4%|
ASUS only lists down their ASUS ROG STRIX B460-F Gaming in the comparative chart which is also the only board that features the full 210W power limit. The CPU does yield higher performance in multi-core and single-core scenarios with ASUS stating up to a 57% performance boost. However, aside from the single board, all other H470 & B460 products from ASUS in its ROG STRIX and TUF Gaming lineup which support APE are set to 125W. ASUS has certified BIOS versions out which can be downloaded from the product pages of each respective motherboard listed that include:
- ASUS ROG STRIX B460-F Gaming (210W APE)
- ASUS ROG STRIX B460-H Gaming (125W APE)
- ASUS ROG STRIX B460-G Gaming (125W APE)
- ASUS ROG STRIX B460-I Gaming (125W APE)
- ASUS ROG STRIX H470-I Gaming (125W APE)
- ASUS TUF Gaming B460-PRO (Wi-Fi) (125W APE)
- ASUS TUF Gaming B460-PLUS (125W APE)
- ASUS TUF Gaming B460M-PLUS (125W APE)
- ASUS TUF Gaming B460M-PLUS (Wi-Fi) (125W APE)
- ASUS TUF Gaming H470-PRO (Wi-Fi) (125W APE)
- ASUS TUF Gaming H470-PRO (125W APE)
ASUS also provided us with a short Q/A of its APE technology:
ASRock has already announced the BFB on its 400 and part of 300 series motherboards. Is it similar to our APE feature?
Ans. Yes, but apparently it’s not so-called a new technology or innovation like ASRock said. The Entire function is that the motherboard maker just gives an option to unlock CPU power limit and get a significant performance boost on CPU side, especially for non-K CPUs. ASUS performance Enhancement (APE) made even better than other brand can reach up to 210W power limit beyond 65W by Intel default as well as 125W promoted at competitor side.
Do all ASUS 400 Series motherboards adopt APE feature?
Ans. Only selected ASUS H470/B460 motherboards can support APE depending on different power solutions and thermal design. For more motherboard support information, please refer to the APE feature file as attached.
Apart from ASUS H470/B460, ASUS Z490 motherboards have also implemented ASUS MultiCore Enhancement (MCE) to unlock CPU performance without power limit.
When is BIOS available on ASUS website?
Ans. Some has been uploaded from today and the rest will have been done by this week.
ASRock BFB (Base Frequency Boost) Technology For Intel 10th Gen Non-K CPUs (125W):
|CPU (ASRock Z490/H470/B460 Series)||Intel TDP||CPU Default Base Clock||CPU BFB TDP||Long-Term CPU Frequency (BFB)||Cinebench R20 (65W Default)||Cinebench R20 (125W BFB)||Performance Improvement (With BFB Enabled)|
|Intel Core i9-10900||65W||2.8 GHz (2.6 GHz Avg at 65W)||125W||3.7 GHz||4282||5527||29.0%|
|Intel Core i7-10700||65W||2.9 GHz (3.0 GHz Avg at 65W)||125W||3.9 GHz||3776||4605||21.9%|
|Intel Core i5-10600||65W||3.3 GHz (3.5 GHz Avg at 65W)||125W||4.1 GHz||3161||3469||9.7%|
|Intel Core i5-10500||65W||3.1 GHz (3.5 GHz Avg at 65W)||125W||4.2 GHz||3152||3303||4.7%|
ASRock is also offering its BFB technology but only up to 125W. Their entire motherboard lineup, including Z490, H470, and B460 supports the feature, and BIOS is already available for them. The following list includes all ASRock motherboards along with their specific BIOS to enabled the BFB technology.
Now, we have to talk about MSI who are offering the highest power limits on its B460 and H410 lineup. MSI is the only vendor to support the H410 series motherboards too. Following is how MSI's lineup stack up in power limits.
MSI B460/H410 Motherboards Power Limit Specs
|Motherboard Name||Current Limit||New Long Duration Power Limit (PL1)||New Short Duration Power Limit (PL2)|
|MSI MPG B460I Gaming Edge WiFi||210W||255W||255W|
|MSI MAG B460 Tomahawk||210W||255W||255W|
|MSI MAG B460M Mortar WiFi||210W||255W||255W|
|MSI MAG Mortar B460M||210W||255W||255W|
|MSI MAG B460M Bazooka||180W||135W||180W|
|MSI B460M-A Pro||180W||135W||180W|
|MSI H410I Pro WiFi||210W||255W||255W|
|MSI H410M-A Pro||180W||135W||180W|
|MSI H410M Pro||180W||135W||180W|
Even with MSI, only the higher tier B460 & H410 feature standard 255W power limits which makes up the bulk of their lineup. The remaining four B460 and H410 have power limits defined at 180W for a short duration and 135W for prolonged periods. MSI has also stated that they won't focus on H470 motherboards as B460 provides a better value proposition and this feature makes sense on the B460 and H410 series when coupled with a non-K Intel 10th Gen CPU.
In its comparison with how their boards do against competitors, MSI has also listed the all-core clock speeds for non-K CPUs which have been set by Intel themselves. The comparison is as follows:
MSI B460/H410 Power Limit Setting For Intel 10th Gen Non-K CPUs:
|CPU||Intel Base Clock (65W)||Intel All-Core CPU Spec (125W PL2)||MSI B460/H410|
(255W PL1 / 255W PL2)
|MSI B460/H410 (135W PL1 / 180W PL2)||ASUS H470/B460 (210W PL1)||ASUS H470/B460 (125W PL1)||ASRock Z490/H470/B460 (125W PL1)|
|Intel Core i9-10900||2.8 GHz||4.5 GHz||4.45 GHz||3.9 GHz||4.4 GHz||TBD (Similar to ASRock BFB)||3.7 GHz|
|Intel Core i7-10700||2.9 GHz||4.6 GHz||4.6 GHz||4.03 GHz||4.5 GHz||TBD (Similar to ASRock BFB)||3.9 GHz|
|Intel Core i5-10600||3.3 GHz||4.4 GHz||4.4 GHz||4.4 GHz||4.4 GHz||TBD (Similar to ASRock BFB)||4.1 GHz|
MSI has additionally provided us with some more performance statistics of their power limit boost feature. You can see the relative performance for both the Intel Core i9-10900 and the Core i7-10700 at default, PL Boost, and Unlimit states. While there is a big performance uplift using the power limit boost feature that MSI is offering over the standard 65W settings, MSI shows that the difference vs Unlimit profile is barely noticeable since the CPUs have a frequency and thermal headroom defined which would only result in drainage of excessive power.
The 255W settings also deliver prolonged max boost speeds near what Intel spec compared to boards offering 135W/180W profiles. A Core i9-10900 non-K CPU running on board with a 255W profile will deliver an average of around 4.5 GHz clock speeds consistently while a board with a lower 135W/180W profile will end up around 3.9-4.0 GHz on average. The results were conducted in the PRIME95 AVX stress test for 30 minutes. Similarly, a Core i5-10600 will deliver consistent performance on a 255W profile versus downward spikes on a 135W/180W profile.
There are a set of advantages to going with either brand but MSI currently provides the highest power limit profile on its motherboards for Intel's 10th Gen non-K lineup along with strong power delivery and cooling solution. In conclusion, the power limit boost is definitely a useful feature that would allow even the mainstream audience the get additional power out of its chip which would otherwise remain untapped.
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