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How to Overclock Your Personal Computer (2020)

Edited By Piyush Kashyap, Reviewed By Gulshan

Thinking about overclocking your PC? But, what exactly is overclocking? It is nothing but a process to make your computer’s Central Processing Unit or CPU to run faster and achieve higher levels of performance. 

Although, all computers are programmed by the manufacturer to perform up to an optimum level, there are times when you wish to amplify performance without shelling out money for a high-end processor.

Overclocking comes into the picture here and if you can do it right, you’ll have an excellent quality, high performance processor within a budget.

How to Overclock Your Personal Computer

All processors are designed to run at a certain speed and overclocking would simply push it to go beyond its speed limits. Overclocking is a complex process and you need to understand the process before attempting to push your computer harder.

Most modern computers are equipped with CPUs that provide excellent speed and performance, despite the fact that their chipsets work only at a nominal speed grade which does not fully utilize its capability to run faster.

Now, if you are really interested to overclock your PC, there are certain components that need altering. Companies such as Intel or AMD manufacture CPUs that can operate at specific frequencies and these frequencies are responsible for the speed of your CPU’s clocking.

So, a 2.5GHz processor will be slower than a 3.0GHz processor. But, having said that, there are also other variables which determine the speed of clock cycles and you need to be mindful of them before overclocking. When a chip’s capacity is tested, its maximum limit is checked.

If for example, a chip shows stress at 3.2GHz, companies will essentially label it at 2.5GHz, well below its maximum capacity to reduce strains on the chip. So, if you are overclocking the CPU, there are chances of improving its performance. However, to overclock a processor, it has to be ‘unlocked’.

For example a ‘non-K’ Intel Core i7 has a locked clock speed and you cannot do anything with it. It is therefore essential to first find out whether your chip is locked or unlocked.

The Basics of Overclocking - What is it & Why Do I Need It?

Important Things to Know Before Overclocking

When you are going to push your CPU to its maximum limits, there are certain aspects you should be mindful of. Remember, increasing the performance of the CPU requires more energy. As a result, it creates more heat.

So, keep a robust cooling system in your computer before you pump in extra volts to overclock your CPU. Besides, there are chances of permanent damage if you exceed the temperature limit and your PC may have a Blue Screen of Death (BSOD).

This will result in data loss and hardware damage and therefore, you must be careful about the maximum voltage it can withstand. Let’s now find out how you can overclock your PC.

Find out CPU stability

A free software can be used to check CPU stability. In order to successfully overclock, you need to know whether your CPU is stable both at idle and maximum load. Another software will be required to constantly monitor the temperature of your CPU to ensure that it doesn’t overheat.

There are plenty of free software available online and you can check one that is compatible with your processor.

Monitor core temperature

It is extremely important to keep an eye on the core temperature of your CPU. Overclocking will be pumping in more volts and it is likely to heat up your system. Load a temperature monitoring system and always watch out for changes in core temperature.

Keep track of benchmarks and tests

All CPUs are designed to provide optimum performance and when you wish to overclock, it is necessary to track benchmarks and conduct a stress test. Check the temperature of your CPU at stock, when it is running on standard settings.

Compare it to the level that it reaches when you are pushing it to its maximum capacity. Track the temperature with a software and find out how hot your CPU is when it works at 100% capacity.

Cool down CPU

Wait for about 10 minutes, to notice the temperature changes. It is likely to stabilize by that time and then restart your PC. Take a closer look at login and loading times. If it seems to take longer than usual, your CPU may be stressed and you might just have strained it a little more than expected.

At this point, if you are using a Prime 95 software, select ‘Test’ at the top and press ‘Stop’. Restart your computer and press the ‘Delete’ key. It will now take you into the BIOS. Depending on the motherboard, there may be a difference in the key press to enter BIOS.

Check the vendor requirement and proceed accordingly.

How to Overclock Your PC - A Beginner's Guide

Profiles and Auto Clocking

CPU manufacturers will generally include overclocking profiles with their CPUs. If you set the motherboard to run on a suggested profile, it will help to determine the capability of your CPU. The process can also be automated, based on the software you are using.

But, be careful about this step because one wrong move can permanently damage your processor.

Once you gain access into BIOS, look for the overclocking tab. In Prime 95, it is referred to as ‘OC Tweaker’. You can now let the motherboard do the overclocking according to set profiles, ranging from 4GHz to 4.8GHz, based on the CPU installed in your computer.

It is the easiest method as the motherboard will run one of these profiles in an attempt to overclock the chip to that frequency without any outside input. But, it may be difficult to go beyond the 4.8GHz threshold if you choose auto clocking.

Automated profiles also sometimes, do not push for higher frequencies and it might just achieve a slightly higher frequency.

When You Have Overclocked Your PC

The following are some tips and reminders to be aware of and to follow in order to have a better experience when it comes to overclocking and/or having overclocked computers.

Adjust settings

Make use of a software program to monitor the overclocking. If you are sure about a safe frequency to run your CPU, necessary adjustments can be made and new settings can be applied accordingly. But, be very careful about the voltage and multiplier.

Carry on benchmarking

In order to ensure stability, benchmarking the temperature and speed is extremely important. Continue to monitor until you are absolutely sure about your CPU’s stability. When you are assured about consistent performance, relax and enjoy your computer’s best performance.

Changing the multiplier

A lot of users believe, true overclocking must have manual control. The CPU ratio or multiplier for all cores can be changed to a target number and it can only be achieved with manual control.

The multiplier then starts working with the cores’ BCLK or base clock frequency to reach the final target figure.

Start testing at max load

After changing the CPU ratio multiplier, save the new changes and exit BIOS. To test your machine at maximum load, boot into Windows and monitor your CPU temperature from Core Temp. If you are using Prime95, go to Options> Torture Test and finally Blend Test.

It will now give you an idea about your chip’s performance at max load. Wait for five minutes and if it remains stable, the multiplier can be further increased to reach a higher overclock. Continue testing by increasing the multiplier by one.

Repeat stress testing until you reach the point where you see Blue Screen of Death or your CPU itself begins to throttle on its own. It is always better to reach the blue screen before the CPU touches its thermal limit.

Increasing voltage

If you want to maintain stability and stress test at your target frequency, you have to first overcome the blue screen issue by finding the CPU Vcore Voltage Mode in BIOS. You have to change it to ‘Fixed’. Then start increasing the voltage by 0.01 volts each time.

It will give you a fair idea about the point where your CPU finds stability and is ready to boot and undergo the stress test. Gradually, you’ll learn how your CPU responds to different amounts of voltage and accordingly, you can increase the voltage.

Finally, there will be a stage where you cannot move further to the next frequency, irrespective of how much voltage you are throwing at your system. At that point, dial back your overclock by 0.1 GHz and drop Vcore voltage to the last stable settings.

This will be your final overclock and you cannot go beyond this point under any circumstances.

Go back to benchmarking again

In order to ensure that you’ve achieved a stable overclock, you need to benchmark for as long as you consider appropriate. It will now test your patience and the benchmark testing can be carried out over an hour to 24 hours, depending on how many times you want to do it.

At the end, you will successfully overclock the CPU and enjoy maximum output from your device.

Shortcomings of CPU Overclocking

No matter how interesting it might sound, overclocking your CPU comes with a few drawbacks. To start with, your power bills will mount because you’ll be using a lot more volts to increase the clock speed.

Your PC will need a lot of energy and the cooling system will also consume electric power. Hence, your overall power consumption will increase considerably.

Secondly, there is a chance of system failures. Although, you’ll be looking to improve the overall performance of your computer, the stress and strain caused due to overclocking may cause other parts to fail. Sometimes, you may have to upgrade some parts to keep up with an overclocked CPU.

Additional costs for its maintenance and cooling will also add up with time. So, bear in mind all the shortcomings of CPU overclocking before you start the operation.

Overclocking may be a complex task but, if you are successful, it will let you enjoy lightening speeds on your PC. It is particularly useful for gaming computers and if you really like to upgrade your PC, this is a task that you’ll always be excited about.


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About the Author

Piyush Kashyap is a Ph.D student at Sant Longowal Institute of Engineering and Technology, Sangrur. He is a budding editor/ writer and has been working as a part-time reviewer for online content. He loves to read tech-based articles and has a knack for reviewing such articles He likes to stay updated about the latest trends in technology. He has also been working as a reviewer for many scientific journals. He also writes articles based on science. Know More About Piyush

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