Finding an unlocked CPU
Defeating the lock - solutions
When the Thunderbird core was originally launched last June, AMD stated that all Duron and Thunderbird processors would have their clock multiplier locked. Of course, we found out later on that many Duron and Thunderbird processors "slipped through the cracks" with their clock multiplier unlocked!
We discovered this firsthand when we purchased a Duron 700 from a local retailer last week. At the time we didn't know if our processor was locked or not, but we were hoping for the best.
Fortunately, our luck panned out and we were able to overclock our Duron 700 to 1GHz with an ASUS A7V!
If you're looking for an unlocked processor and prefer a sure thing however, we're here to report on two ways to find one:purchase the CPU straight from a vendor that's already verified that the clock multiplier is unlocked, or
read the serial number on the processor core
Solution One: Pre-tested CPU
Many online retailers offer overclocked Athlon and Pentium III processors that have been pre-tested to work at a certain clock speed (say for instance an Athlon 800 overclocked to 1GHz). The justification for purchasing a pre-tested CPU is simple - you already know the maximum clock speed of the CPU you just purchased, the guesswork has essentially been done for you.
With this peace of mind comes a price premium, retailers usually charge ~20-25% more for pre-tested CPUs.
In addition, we've already found one vendor selling unlocked processors - The Overclockerz store. One word of warning, we've never purchased from this vendor before so we have no clue how good their service is. Their prices are a little more expensive than the lowest listings on Pricewatch, but still fairly competitive.
Over time, many vendors will likely offer overclocked Thunderbird and Duron systems. For those who don't want to purchase an entire system, some vendors will probably also offer overclocking combos with the CPU and motherboard bundled together.