A locked CPU and an unlocked CPU refer to specific features of a central processing unit (CPU), which is the main component of a computer responsible for executing instructions and performing calculations. The primary difference between the two lies in their overclocking capabilities.
Locked CPU (Non-K or Non-X CPUs):
- A locked CPU is one that comes with a fixed clock multiplier. This means that the CPU’s clock speed, which determines how fast it processes data, is set by the manufacturer and cannot be easily adjusted beyond its specified limits.
- Locked CPUs are typically less expensive than their unlocked counterparts because they are designed to operate at a specific clock speed without the need for user adjustments.
- Overclocking, which is the process of increasing a CPU’s clock speed to achieve higher performance, is limited or restricted on locked CPUs. Users may have limited or no control over adjusting the CPU’s clock speed in the BIOS settings.
Unlocked CPU (K or X CPUs):
- An unlocked CPU, often denoted by a “K” or “X” in its model name (e.g., Intel Core i7-9700K or AMD Ryzen 9 5900X), allows for greater flexibility in overclocking.
- Unlocked CPUs come with an unlocked or adjustable clock multiplier, which means users can manually increase or decrease the CPU’s clock speed within certain limits to achieve better performance.
- Overclocking an unlocked CPU can potentially lead to higher processing speeds, making it attractive to gamers, enthusiasts, and professionals who require maximum performance from their systems.
- However, overclocking can also generate more heat, and it may require additional cooling solutions and careful monitoring to avoid stability issues or damage to the CPU.
In summary, the primary difference between locked and unlocked CPUs is the degree to which users can adjust the CPU’s clock speed. Locked CPUs have limited or no overclocking capabilities and are typically less expensive, while unlocked CPUs provide users with the ability to fine-tune the CPU’s performance by adjusting its clock speed. The choice between the two depends on the user’s specific needs, budget, and interest in overclocking.