Beginners Guides: Overclocking the CPU, Motherboard & Memory
The term overclocking is thrown
around a lot, for better or worse. If you're one of the many who has never
overclocked, this guide will explain what it is and how to do it to the computers'
processor, motherboard and memory. - Version 1.0.0
The prospect of overclocking a computer system can be intimidating for a computer newcomer,
to say the least. The idea is simple enough; make the computer's processor
run faster than its stock speed to gain more performance without paying
for it. The execution of this idea though, can be anything but
Successful overclocking is as often a matter of 'what you know' as 'what you
have'. Understanding the maze of hardware dependencies and tweaks that can
make the difference between a successful overclock and total failure is a
In this Beginners Guide, PCSTATS will explore the process of
overclocking processors, motherboards and memory to achieve a faster yet still
stable computer. The article will guide readers step-by-step through
understanding overclocking concepts, how to discover their hardware's
overclocking options and the actual process of overclocking. If you
consider yourself an expert already, read on - there are a few tips and
tricks packed into this guide that you may not know... or have a look at our
recent experiment with underclocking. For
insight into videocard overclocking, please see our companion guide on that
subject right here.
What Does Overclocking Do?
Overclocking a computer's processor or memory causes it to go faster than its factory
rated speed. A processor rated at 2.4GHz might be overclocked to 2.5GHz
or 2.6GHz, while memory rated at 200MHz might be pushed to 220MHz or higher.
The extra speed results in more work being done by the processor and/or
memory in a given time period, increasing the overall computing performance of
Can Overclocking Damage Computer
Yes, but it's typically unlikely. Generally speaking, when computer hardware
is pushed beyond its limits, it will lock up, crash or show other obvious errors
long before it gets to the point where the processor or memory might be
permanently damaged. The exception to this is if extreme voltages
are used when attempting to overclock, but since most motherboards do not
support extremely high voltages, and neither does this guide, it's not likely to
be an issue.
For older processors, heat is also a factor worth keeping a close eye on.
Modern processors have thermal sensors which will slow down or shut off the PC,
but older CPUs do not necessarily feature these safety devices. The best
know example of this is the AMD AthlonXP (socket A/462), which was famous for
burning itself up in less than 5 seconds if the heatsink was not installed
properly (or at all).
The Purpose of Overclocking
The most obvious reason to overclock a computer system is to squeeze some
additional performance out of it at little or no cost. Overclocking the
processor and system memory can significantly boost game performance, benchmark
scores and even simple desktop tasks. Since almost every modern processor
and memory module is overclockable to at least a slight degree, there are few
reasons not to attempt it.