This B660 Motherboard Will Let You Overclock Locked Intel Alder Lake 12th Gen CPUs
Some of the older overclockers will recall the days when the biggest gains to be had were by overclocking
a processor's "FSB", or "Front Side Bus". FSB overclocks haven't died, exactly, they're just not called that anymore because we don't have FSBs anymore. On modern systems, there's a "base clock" (often shortened to "BCLK") from which all other clock rates on the motherboard are derived. This base clock is almost always nominally 100 MHz, as that provides a nice round number for multipliers to work from.
Meaningful overclocking using the base clock is almost impossible, though, because devices like SATA controllers, USB controllers, and PCIe cards really don't like being overclocked. Most boards won't tolerate being more than just a couple of MHz out of spec before components start giving up the ghost. An extra 100 Mhz of CPU clock isn't enough to warrant making your system flakey, so generally, people don't bother with BCLK overclocking anymore.
There are exceptions to this, though. Some motherboards come equipped with extra clock generators for specific components so that you can overclock your "BCLK" without affecting the clock rates for other components. This has the advantage of allowing you to overclock processors that are, in theory, locked from overclocking.
"Unlock BCLK OC" option in the ASUS ROG Maximus Z690 Apex BIOS.
We've already seen this done to fantastic effect with current-generation Alder Lake
processors; champion overclocker Der8auer took a Core i5-12400 up to 5.2 GHz all-core
—the same clock rate that the Core i9-12900K
hits on a single core. This is, obviously, a ludicrous value in terms of price-vs-performance, but there's a catch: he was using a pricey ASUS ROG Maximus Z690 Apex
Indeed, there really isn't a shortage of motherboards that include these capabilities, but they're overwhelmingly parts that occupy the higher price tiers. That makes BCLK overclocking more of a novelty, as those boards are likely to be paired with high-end "K"-series processors that are unlocked for overclocking—and so fast that they don't really need it, anyway.
Well, there's cause for celebration based on Twitter user chi11eddog's (@g01d3nm4ng0) latest leak. The tweet reveals the details of an upcoming MSI motherboard purportedly to be named "MAG B660M Mortar MAX WIFI DDR4". This is an Intel LGA 1700 motherboard for Alder Lake (and presumably Raptor Lake) CPUs that sports a low-cost B660 chipset, DDR4 memory support, and Wi-Fi 6E—as well as an integrated clock generator for BCLK overclocking.
The extant MSI MAG B660M Mortar doesn't include the OC Engine feature.
This motherboard is actually a revised version of the MAG B660M Mortar WIFI DDR4
(note the lack of "MAX"). Aside from the OC Engine feature, it also includes PCIe 5.0 support for the main graphics card slot, 2.5 Gigabit Ethernet, and HDMI 2.1 for the CPU's integrated graphics. All in all it looks like quite a fine motherboard. We don't know how much it'll will run, but it's sure to be cheaper than the high-end Z690 models that you would have had to buy to get BCLK overclocking support. Chi11eddog says the board will be available in July.