Introduction to Overclocking

What is “Overclocking”?

What is Overclocking? I’m certain all gamers have at least heard of this term being thrown around in forums or even in games before. Simply put, overclocking is the action of increasing a component’s clock rate. Basically running components at a greater speed it was engineered to run. Overclocking is usually done for the CPU or GPU but other components can be overclocked too. In this article, we will be focusing on the overclocking of a CPU.

What is Overclocking - Intel i7 CPU

Photo Credits: How to overclock your CPU. Retrieved from Techradar.com, URL: https://www.techradar.com/how-to/computing/how-to-overclock-your-cpu-1306573

Example of Overclocking

To provide an example, almost all processors ship with a speed rating. An Intel Core i7 860 runes at 2.80GHz out of the box. Therefore, overclocking it means pushing it to a clock speed higher than 2.80GHz. You can do so by increasing the CPU’s speed by setting a higher clock rate or multiplier in the computer’s BIOS, making it perform more operations per second. Additionally, every modern CPU’s speed rating specifies the speed at which every processor in the same manufacturing batch can or cannot run. This number is very likely considerably lower than the maximum speed the processor is capable of.  Moreover, Some of Intel’s CPU has a feature called Turbo boosts, that allows the CPU to run at a clock speed higher than default ones under certain conditions. For instance, when only of the core of the Core i5 750 is in use, the turbo boost frequency 3.2GHz.

Can you “Overclock”?

It depends on an individual’s component. Many motherboards and Intel CPUs ship with locked multipliers, that prevents you from playing around with their values and overclocking your CPU. Thus, take additional note when shopping for CPUs that can be overclocked. Look out for CPUs with “K” in their model number, to check if it is overclockable.

Preparations for overclocking

As mentioned, every individual CPU is different, and motherboards have different BIOS options. Hence, it is not possible to create a guide for overclocking that fits all models. But here are the basics.

What is Overclocking - Liquid-Cooling-System-for-PC

Photo Credits: Air Cooling vs. Liquid Cooling. Retrieved from EKWB, URL: https://www.ekwb.com/blog/air-cooling-vs-liquid-cooling/

Step 1:

First, have a plan and objective in mind. As they say, failing to plan equates to planning to fail. Think about what you want to accomplish and set a plan. Let’s say the user plans to just run standard desktop programmes; Microsoft office, web browsers etc. Overclocking is not worth the effort. However, if you’ll need to run system-intensive programmes such as games, that require all the different components of the desktop to be running, overclocking may help to boost your performance. As we are focusing on CPU on hand, an overclocked CPU is best for multi-threaded applications. Photo editing and video trans-coding will experience a heightened performance from an overclocked CPU. The main objective, however, is not just power. Stability is essential for longevity and balance.

Step 2:

Ensure your system has adequate and proper cooling. With the additional heat arising from overclocking, the stock fan and heat sink will not be enough to handle the additional heat. Additional cooling is required. This issue could be tackled with an aftermarket heat sink that can help dissipate more heat or an additional and stronger CPU fan that can aid in blowing the hot air away. Another important note is that you would want extra free space in the computer’s case, so air can move around more freely to be blown out. So, in a sense, the system’s ventilation and airflow must be great.

Step 3:

If you’re an extreme gamer who wants to take his game to its highest level, we recommend using a water cooling system. Although at a hefty price, it is the optimal cooling system for hardcore overclockers. Water-based coolant is pumped through tubes inside of the case, where it absorbs the additional heat created from overclocking. The water is then pumped out, where the radiator expels the heat into the outside air. Water cooling is definitely a level ahead in terms of efficiency compared to air-cooling systems.

Step 4:

To overclock, you’ll need to go into the computer’s BIOS and either increase the CPU clock rate or voltage. First, increase it by a small amount, then boot your computer. Check to see if the computer is stable by running a demanding benchmark like Prime95. Prime95 stimulates heavy use while simultaneously provides and monitors the computer’s temperature. This helps the user to note if cooling is adequate. Slowly adjust the overclock rate and voltage to a higher amount until the heat generated is too much to bear. After which, drop it down to a more stable level. Note that the increase must be gradual, increasing in large increments may damage your components. Other great stress-testing tools we recommend are PCMark Vantage, FurMark, and 3DMark. 

Step 5:

Motherboards today offer automatic, semi-automatic or manual overclocking. We recommend getting either a semi-automatic or manual overclocking motherboards. Simply because the semi-automatic approach lets the user choose from several overclocking presets and set the limited overclocking. This greatly helps with time savings and aiding users with some knowledge gap. The more experienced should proceed with the manual overclocking motherboards. Why? Because with experience, the freedom of choices will help these users experiment and choose settings based on their own preference and needs. We would recommend avoiding automatic overclocking motherboards. Because, when enabled, the BIOS setup program runs a few tests then sets the various clock speeds for CPU and memory to the highest clock speeds it feels is stable. However, at the highest speed recommended, it often becomes unstable when users boot into windows and try to run applications for a significant period.

What is Overclocking - 3DMark-benchmark

Source: 3DMark 

Pros of Overclocking

Obviously, it makes the processor run at substantially higher speed. Which in turn, results in programmes running at higher speeds. Gamers will rejoice over greater speed. Not only that, video editors, programmers, and even photographers will all benefit from heightened operation speed. The time taken for rendering and editing of videos will drop significantly, potentially saving costs and time.

The downside…

Overclocking your components will usually void your warranty for your components. Why? Because when you overclock your CPU for example, you’re doing something that you are not supposed to do with it. Secondly, as mentioned above, the drastic increase in the system’s temperature. Without proper cooling methods, the components may become too hot and suffer permanent damage. This complete hardware failure is not very common but overclocking commonly results in an unstable system. Additionally, the BIOS is a complicated place for a beginner. A mistake or a wrong tweak will likely result in damaging your PC and at times may lead it to become unusable. Hence, we recommend users without experience and knowledge to avoid overclocking. Instead, we urge users to first consider upgrading your components or cleaning your PC.

Last thoughts

Overclocking is definitely useful in getting your computer to perform more than it can. Overclocking in a sense helps to save money and time by “upgrading” your existing components. But, it should only be done with proper knowledge, experience, and guidance. A wrong move could result in the complete destruction of your system. Therefore, we do not recommend beginners to overclock their computer components. Even if you do, seek professional advice or start by tweaking at a very minimal level. Alternatively, users can plan their objectives of the PC before purchasing it and buy the right components for the right usage. It is important to perform some research before diving into a computer build.

Find out more!

With the knowledge and power of overclocking in your skill-set, it’s time to overclock your rig to play highly intensive games! There are many exciting games out there but are they worth the money and time? BIILT does game reviews as well to save you the trouble of experimenting with games. Read one here Game Review: Fallout-76

Moreover, there are many game releases in 2019. However, which should the gamer invest their time into? Read here for BIILT’s recommendation for the top 5 anticipated games of 2019.

If you’re too busy to do build a computer yourself, why not engage BIILT? We provide end-to-end custom computer building services with an emphasis on the quality of the build & service that we provide. Learn more about us here!

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