Intel has announced no more its Performance Tuning Protection Plan (PTPP). An end-user who previously purchased a PTPP from Intel was guaranteed a one-time replacement CPU if they fried their chip by overclocking it, provided the chip was still within warranty.

The program has existed because the Sandy Bridge era, but Intel is bringing it for an end, effective immediately. All previously purchased plans it's still honored. Intel claims that it’s discontinuing this program because customers “increasingly overclock with confidence” which interest in the merchandise has dropped as a result. This does not apply to the Xeon W-3175X, that is overclocking-unlocked and guaranteed from the gate. This chip, specifically, will continue to be covered for overclocking.

The end of a program such as this is further evidence the future of overclocking is looking pretty dim. Some of the high core-count CPUs from AMD and Intel actually overclock modestly well, if you're able to cope with heat output and afford their prices, but that’s because these CPUs conform to power limits that effectively reduce their top-end frequencies by default. At the high end of the mainstream consumer market, desktop overclocking is all but dead. Chips like the Core i9-10900K and Ryzen 5800X are optimized inside an inch of their lives to extract every last bit of performance possible.

XTU running on a 7700HQ. Applications such as the Intel eXtreme Tuning Utility will still be available.

Mainstream CPUs sometimes offer a a bit more oomph, at least if you want Intel CPUs. The Core i5-10600K is capable of doing obtaining 5-15 percent in some benchmarks, with the higher figure more likely if you're able to hit an all-core 5-5.1GHz. AMD’s midrange chips don’t compare as well here; the 5600X only seems to gain 5-7 percent typically. Intel comes off looking better in comparison, only because it’s been such a long time since an overclocking-friendly CPU actually existed.

My own media center PC used to be built around an Intel Core i7-920, a couple.66GHz CPU I’d overclocked to 3.9GHz, a gain of just one.46x. Chips such as the Athlon 1GHz, Duron 600, and Celeron 300A counseled me historically capable of overclocking by 1.4 – 1.6x. The Q6600 was often good for 1.2 – 1.3x. OC headroom started decreasing with Ivy Bridge, and it’s not returning unless we have fundamental breakthroughs in transistor design which have so far eluded us. Single.05 – 1.15x clock gain is nice by modern standards and barely worth mentioning by historical ones.

It is feasible to squeeze additional performance out of the Threadripper 3970X and 3990X — the 3990X can benefit, at least — but reviews of the 5600X and 3300X suggest both chips only pick up 3-5 percent additional performance whenever you overclock them. Chips like the Core i5-10600K could possibly offer a 5-15 percent improvement over standard, but here’s the caveat:

Lower TDPs and lower base clocks don’t necessarily impact the performance of Intel CPUs at all, as we’ve seen. Intel’s Core i5-10600 and Core i5-10600K perform nearly identically, despite the fact that the Core i5-10600 has a much lower base clock and it is with a rating of 65W rather than the 125W TDP on the 10600K. The Core i5-10600 costs ~$218 at Intel MSRP, while the Core i5-10600K is ~$267. Customers who choose the unlocked variant are paying about 1.22x more for a chance at 5-15 percent improved performance.

If you want to take a go at overclocking, we’d recommend the Core i5-10600KF over the K, since dropping the integrated graphics should pull the price down to around $240 as opposed to ~$265. If you would like guaranteed multi-threading over hypothetical OC-dependent gains, the Core i7-10700F is about $303 in contrast to ~$218 for that Core i5-10600. That’s a 1.39x cost increase for what ought to be a ~1.3x performance improvement in multi-threaded code, and that’s as near to some linear tradeoff as exists nowadays. Manual AMD CPU overclocking barely exists at all, though features like PBO provide most of the benefits AMD chips can handle.

While this doesn’t relate directly to overclocking, it’s only fair to notice that AMD currently charges even more to step up from six current generation cores to eight cores than Intel does, even if we assume normal manufacturer MSRPs. The Ryzen 3700X launched at $329 in contrast to $249 for that Ryzen 3600X, which fits to 1.32x more income for a 1.33x core count improvement. The Ryzen 5800X is 1.67x more expensive than the Ryzen 5600X, yet only offers ~1.3x better multi-threading performance. Both Intel and AMD currently nudge people towards buying six-core CPUs by deliberately making their upper-end Ryzen and Core CPU families a less-attractive deal. Again, all the discussion above assumes normal CPU pricing, not the present market.

Long-term, the only method overclocking will continue to exist is that if manufacturers deliberately offer items that can handle it, at base clock speeds low enough to create a window for performance gains. Such products will be disadvantaged to some extent because neither Intel nor AMD particularly really wants to sell a CPU with a ton of performance left on the table. Not when performance is so tricky to find.