The following terms will be used throughout this guide, so it's important to
get a good grasp on them now.
FSB (FrontSide Bus): The data bus that carries information from the processor
to the main memory and the rest of the system. A processor's internal
multiplier multiplied the FSB speed of the system = that processor's speed in
MHz or GHz.
Increasing the clock speed of the FSB (and thus the speed of the memory and
the processor as well) is the most common and effective way of overclocking a
AMD Athlon 64-based systems do not use a conventional FSB since the memory controller is built right onto
the processor's core instead of being located in the motherboard's core logic chipset.
Instead, a value called motherboard clock speed is used to determine
the speed of data transfer between the processor and the memory. For
the purposes of this article, FSB and motherboard clock speed are interchangeable
Internal Multiplier: The ratio of a given processor's speed (in MHz or
GHz) as compared to the FSB (Frontside Bus) speed of the computer system it is
installed in. A processor with an internal multiplier of 16x installed in
a system with a FSB of 200MHz would run at 3.2GHz internally, since 16 x 200MHz
= 3.2GHz. Most modern processors are 'multiplier locked' to some degree,
meaning that their internal multiplier cannot be changed (or at least
increased). This in turn means that increasing the FSB speed of a system
is the only way to overclock the processor.
Memory Divider: Most modern Intel Pentium 4 and AMD Athlon motherboards allow a
memory divider to be set. This divider allows the system memory to run slower
than the actual FSB speed. By default, FSB speed and memory are usually
set to a 1:1 ratio, meaning that increasing FSB speed (by overclocking)
increases memory speed by the same amount. Most 'generic' system memory is
not built for overclocking and thus may not be able to take the level of
overclocking that the processor or motherboard can achieve.
The memory divider allows users to mitigate this problem by reducing the
speed increase of the memory relative to that of the FSB and the
processor. Setting a 5:4 memory divider would mean that memory speed
increases at 4/5th the rate of the FSB, for example.
Reducing the relative speed of the memory does result in a slight decrease in
performance as compared to the default 1:1 ratio between FSB and memory speed,
but it may help users with generic memory achieve a higher
Stock Speed: The default or factory speed settings of computer hardware
like the processor, memory and motherboard. With the processor, stock
speed refers to the clock speed in MHz or GHz of the processor. With the
memory, stock speed refers to the highest standard memory speed that the memory
module is rated for (PC3200 DDR memory has a stock speed of 200MHz, for
example). In the case of the motherboard, stock speed refers to the
default speed at which the processor and memory work together, the FSB
To tie this all together, say a motherboard has an Athlon XP 3000+ processor
installed (stock speed 2.1GHz) which uses a FSB speed of 166MHz. A PC3200
DDR memory module (stock speed 200MHz) is installed. Since the processor
requires a 166MHz FSB, the motherboard will set the memory speed to 166MHz which
becomes its stock speed with the current configuration.
Core/Memory/Chipset Voltage: These three voltage values represent
the amount of electrical power being fed to the respective components. When
a processor, memory or motherboard is made to run faster due to overclocking,
more voltage may be required in order for that component to run stably.
With this in mind, voltage adjustment is one of the most important principles of
If an overclocked computer becomes unstable, increasing
one or more of these voltage settings by a very small amount (0.05V to
0.1V) can often mean the difference between an unbootable system and a
stable overclocked one. That being said, it is important to make some
distinctions with respect to voltage adjustments; more voltage does not
necessarily mean faster speeds, rather minor increases can help improve
stability. Computer circuits are designed to operate within very specific electrical ranges, and
drastically increasing the electricity being supplied to a chipset will raise temperatures,
and potentially damage it.