Are some Z390 motherboard makers cheating with pre-overclocked BCLKs?

Posted on Thursday, Nov 01 2018 @ 10:18 CET by Thomas De Maesschalck
In a new video, GamersNexus explores the fine line between optimizations and cheating on Z390 motherboards. In particular, the site discovered that depending on which Z390 motherboard you use, a Cinebench round with the Core i9-9900K can give you a score anywhere from around 1970 to 2300. The reason why the range is so big is because some motherboards boost the BCLK.

There's a lot of obfuscation going on, and in case of MSI the Godlike motherboard displays a "100" BCLK value in the BIOS while the actual value is 100.8. Similarly, the Auto setting on the ASUS Maximus XI Hero hides the BCLK field, but makes the CPU run at 100.5 instead of the default 100 value. Both companies do not make it 100% clear to users that the BCLK is being modified by default, making it hard to draw the line between a "feature" and "cheating". MSI for example admitted they overclock the BCLK to achieve a competitive advantage. For consumers, this complicates things as you often don't know if you're truly seeing an apples-to-apples comparison:
The biggest problem is that of consistency of review data. Even in Principled Technologies’ scrutinized report, the company used MSI motherboards that (we now know) run a 100.8 BCLK. This means the PT tests had the Intel CPUs pre-overclocked by minimally 40MHz in some tests, and more in tests that are heavily pegging 1-2 cores (nearing a 50MHz offset). Other reviewers using MSI boards can control for this and might have, but the fact remains that it’s consumers who will end up confused. Manufacturers are slipping in sneaky pre-overclocks that affect performance, and are doing it in ways that are unexpected even by seasoned reviewers. The end result is a muddied pool of information for consumers, and that’s not good.
You can find the written version over here.

About the Author

Thomas De Maesschalck

Thomas has been messing with computer since early childhood and firmly believes the Internet is the best thing since sliced bread. Enjoys playing with new tech, is fascinated by science, and passionate about financial markets. When not behind a computer, he can be found with running shoes on or lifting heavy weights in the weight room.

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