MSI is about to release a new B660 motherboard. Why should I mention it when there are already a hundred or more other B660 boards on the market? This is configured to include an external clock generator. That means it should be able to happily overclock locked 12th Gen Alder Lake CPUs.
The news comes from a Twitter user chi11eddog (opens in a new tab). via Tom’s Hardware (opens in a new tab) with an article showing an as-yet-unreleased MSI motherboard. The MAG B660M Mortar Max WiFi DDR4 includes an external Renesas clock generator that will allow BCLK overclocking on non-K CPUs. It’s a big problem. The card will also include PCIe 5.0 and DDR4 support. These features are designed to make this board a very smart choice for users looking to build a high performance system at an affordable price.
Right now, if you want Intel’s most capable processor, you have to pay dearly. An i9 12900K (opens in a new tab) will set you back around $600 (£580 / AU$850). If you pair it with a high-end GPU, you’ll have a great gaming system. But, with base clock overclocking, you can take something like one of our favorite CPUs, the i5 12400 (opens in a new tab) or i5 12400F 6C/12T processor without IGP and overclock it to over 5.0GHz and get almost all the gaming performance of a much more expensive processor. For reference, the i5 12400 sells for less than $200 (£100 / AU$300). Heck, you can even go for an i3 or a Pentium if your budget is really tight.
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 100 MHz, everything is designed to work in harmony, but as you exceed this speed, other peripherals such as PCIe and SATA devices will stop working, leading to system crashes.
We have already talked about BCLK overclocking. It has been proven to work (opens in a new tab). I personally tested it on an Asus Maximus Z690 Apex, but it’s 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-budget CPU is unlikely, which, until now, has relegated CPU OC locked to hardcore overclockers only.
More than a few old school gamers will remember the days of taking locked multiplier chips and overclocking them to flagship performance levels. It was a fantastic way to get top performance without spending a lot of money. But in recent years, overclocking has become an increasingly high-end “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’ll save a lot of money right there compared to the still high cost of good quality DDR5. Combine the card with a good set of DDR4-3600, an i5 12400F and you have the heart of a very powerful and affordable little system. Overclock it to 5.2GHz, choose your GPU, and you should be a happy gamer.
If and when MSI releases this card, we’ll be looking for a sample and looking forward to testing it. An overclocked 12400 against a 12900K in a range of games seems like an interesting little experiment!