What exactly is overclocking?

By circusboy01
Jul 28, 2012
Post New Reply
  1. What exactly is Overclocking. How is it done (installed?) Once you have it, what does it do, and why.
  2. cliffordcooley

    cliffordcooley TechSpot Paladin Posts: 5,765   +1,427

    Over-clocking is increasing the frequency of which hardware operates. By increasing the frequency, you are forcing hardware to work faster and as a result hardware will reach hotter temperatures. There are several ways to over-clock. Over-clocking used to be done by changing jumper settings on the hardware itself. Over the past fifteen years, over-clocking has evolved in making changes within BIOS configurations. It's now possible to over-clock through Windows by simply pressing a button within an over-clocking application.

    However you decide to over-clock, monitoring your systems temperatures is and will always be a full time job. If you are not willing to keep an eye on your system temperatures, over-clocking is not for you. Sure you can get a fantastic cooling system that will operate daily for years, but there is always the chance of failure and when that day comes, you will want to be watching.
  3. Ranger12

    Ranger12 TechSpot Guru Posts: 630   +116

  4. circusboy01

    circusboy01 TechSpot Enthusiast Topic Starter Posts: 804   +9

    So why do people overclock I don't understand how increasing the frequency of which hardware operates causing the hardware to run hotter, could be something you would want. Obviously I'm missing something. Does it make your PC faster or what?
  5. circusboy01

    circusboy01 TechSpot Enthusiast Topic Starter Posts: 804   +9

    Wasn't planning on trying to overclock when I wrote this post. Now that I read these two replies, I'm sure I don't want to. Just does not seem like it's worth the risk. cliffordcooley and Ranger12 thanks to both of you
  6. cliffordcooley

    cliffordcooley TechSpot Paladin Posts: 5,765   +1,427

    Yes it makes the PC faster, thats the point behind over-clocking. The higher the over-clock the faster the PC will be. However, the higher the over-clock the higher the temps will be.

    I didn't mean to completely frighten you with talk of high temps. Normally a small over-clock can be obtained without much rise in temps. Its just when talking about over-clocking, it's usually referring to people that push to extremes depending on what their CPU coolers can handle while keeping their PC operating as stable as possible. Over-clocking a few hundred MHz is usually nothing to shake a stick at. In fact I discovered, I could lower the voltage of my CPU while moderately over-clocking and actually run my PC with cooler temps than at default BIOS settings.

    I'm not over-clocking at the moment, but I did over-clock a bit about a year ago. I'm no expert by a long shot but I was capable of greatly increasing the performance of my CPU. I increased the frequency of my Core2 Q9400 from 2.66Ghz to 3.6Ghz. And then again increasing the frequency of my i7-2600K from 3.4GHz to 4.2GHz. Both system over-clocks was done with third party cpu air flow cooler. As I mentioned above, monitoring temps was a constant process making sure everything was staying within tolerance. I finally grew tired of the constant monitoring and dropped my over-clock. I'm not even slightly over-clocking which could be done without much monitoring.
  7. circusboy01

    circusboy01 TechSpot Enthusiast Topic Starter Posts: 804   +9


    I wasn't frightened. Well, at least not completely.;0) .Although you've shown me that there are, relatively safer ways to do it.. I still thank I'll leave overclocking to the pros. Especially when I consider all the extra monitoring.I'd have to do.
  8. slh28

    slh28 TechSpot Paladin Posts: 1,925   +170

    Overclocking with Intel's newest Sandy Bridge and Ivy Bridge chips is really a piece of cake, with a decent CPU cooler it's possible to get about 30% extra free performance by only changing one number (the multiplier) in the BIOS and leaving everything else alone. With older chips it gets a little bit more complicated.

    I've been running my i7 920 at 3.8Ghz (over a 40% increase over the stock 2.66Ghz) for about 3 years and it's still running strong, overclocking means I haven't needed to shell out £500 to upgrade to a new platform.
  9. circusboy01

    circusboy01 TechSpot Enthusiast Topic Starter Posts: 804   +9

    Overclocking with Sandy or Ivy Bridge sounds pretty safe, and who couldn't use a little extra speed. Maybe I'll try it after all. You say I need a decent CPU cooler. What would be considered decent?
    How do I go about doing this? Do I need Sandy and Ivy both, or do I have a choice?
    Do I download them from Google or FF?
    Maybe it is something I really don't want to try. Like I said at first. I'll make a final decision after I see the how to instructions.
  10. cliffordcooley

    cliffordcooley TechSpot Paladin Posts: 5,765   +1,427

    Sandy Bridge and Ivy Bridge are names given to Intel CPU's. Both Sandy and Ivy run on the LGA1155 (for mainstream) CPU socket. Ivy is the newest generation which uses less power for the same performance level. slh28 was simply suggesting, if you had one of Intel's last two CPU architects, a moderate over-clock wouldn't be difficult.
  11. Rabbit01

    Rabbit01 TechSpot Booster Posts: 886   +39

    I think the ease to OC depends on the BIOS. If your computer is the DIY type, then you should be able to go into the BIOS and tweak the settings. Some mobo vendor provide utility that you can use to tweak the settings in Windows then I would assume reboot for new settings to take effect. Computers from Dell, HP, etc. might have BIOS that aren't too customizable. The BIOS of the Dell Optiplex at work is really really basic. You'll have to Google to see if your compute can be OC.

    As for recommendation for a cooler, it'd be best if you post the spec for your CPU.
     
  12. DjKraid

    DjKraid TechSpot Maniac Posts: 611   +14

    What are your system specifications? -is it a self-built computer or..?

    ...lower the voltage...how is that possible...what rig was that on..? -I had to increase my voltage "slightly" to get the system to run at max OC...check my OC and max OC
  13. cliffordcooley

    cliffordcooley TechSpot Paladin Posts: 5,765   +1,427

    I wasn't suggesting max over-clock. I was however suggesting, the voltage could possibly be dropped with a mild over-clock.

    Without over-clocking at all, I lowered my temps by 20C (at full load) when dropping the voltage to my CPU. Even over-clocking a few hundred Mhz, I was still using less voltage than with auto settings. My motherboard at the time was an ASUS P5Q with a Core2 Quad Q9400@2.66GHz. I was very comfortable over-clocking the machine to 3.2GHz on less voltage than auto provided. For some reason auto allowed the CPU enough voltage at standard clock for an over-clock of 3.8GHz.

    Please note I was using my PC for folding@home and ran my CPU as well as GPU at full load for almost 2 years. Once I stopped contributing to the folding@home project, I dropped my over-clock as I no longer felt I needed the extra processing power.
  14. DjKraid

    DjKraid TechSpot Maniac Posts: 611   +14

    Nope...but still, I don't get it, I have never seen an OC where the vCore has been lowered :p I can get my rig as an QuadCore to ~3.5GHz without doing anything to the vCore and then as a DualCore to ~3.6GHz before the system becomes even slightly unstable.

    Anyways, to stick to the topic...my overclock resulted in that I could play games with higher settings and the boot time for the system got shorter and then also everything ran much faster than what it did on default settings. Then also I had the option to use AMD Overdive but when I unlocked my CPU to QuadCore AMD Overdrive wasn't able to do anything...so all my overcklocking is done the old fashion way, manually by hand in the BIOS :D
  15. slh28

    slh28 TechSpot Paladin Posts: 1,925   +170

    It's perfectly possible, a lot of chips have the default voltage set way too high to ensure guaranteed stability. For example my i7 920 by default runs at 2.66Ghz 1.25V but it's perfectly stable at 3.8Ghz 1.13V (albeit with HT off). It entirely depends on what chip you have though, and even chips with the same model numbers will differ individually, some will just not like lower voltages.
  16. Marnomancer

    Marnomancer TechSpot Booster Posts: 808   +51

    Bottom line is, overclocking is a last resort if you're not an enthusiast and only want more performance.
  17. circusboy01

    circusboy01 TechSpot Enthusiast Topic Starter Posts: 804   +9

    So how do I find out if I have one of the 2 cpu architects? I couldn't find anything in Belarc Advisor. ( but that could have been because I really didn't know what I was hunting for.) I typed cpu into the start up window, and clicked see all results Got all sorts of results, but didn't know one from the other, or what was what.. If I start asking some dumb questions, that make you think, "maybe he shouldn't try overclocking. It might be too technical for him." Please let me know. I won't be offended
  18. Rabbit01

    Rabbit01 TechSpot Booster Posts: 886   +39

    Never used Belarc Advisor. Something like CPU-Z should tell you what you have.
     
  19. learninmypc

    learninmypc TechSpot Evangelist Posts: 5,096   +223

    Thanks circusboy01 for the question & thanks to all who replied. I was wondering the same thing.
  20. CMH

    CMH TechSpot Chancellor Posts: 2,572   +9

    I should update that sticky in the guides section. Ever since Sandy Bridge, some information is a little dated, but I wrote it to give people a general idea of what they're thinking of.

    A lot of that information did relate to people trying to achieve the highest performance possible from their CPU according to their setup (ie: might stay with stock cooling/voltage, and seeing how fast it'll go). However, it is very much possible to just tweak it a little. This is very easy to do, as CPUs are binned to be very rock solid. And it just gets better as time goes on as they make changes to the manufacturing process.

    Here's a paragraph from the sticky:
    I currently run my computer overclocked, but I never did check my temps. I just found what the highest possible clocks I could get on the hottest day in summer, reduced that value to an operating temperature I would be comfortable with (at load of course!) and left it at that. Monitored temps for a week or so, and on the hotter days, and after awhile, just left it alone. I do give my heatsinks a clean to get rid of the dust once a year or some disgraceful about of time. Most of the time I get to "peel" off the layer of dust that's accumulated.

    These days very overclockable Sandy/Ivy Bridge CPU has overclocking stats with every cooler. To figure out where these chips top out on a stock or aftermarket cooler is a matter of Googling (admitted, there's some variance) so its safe enough to just experiment a few multipliers lower than what others have done on the same cooler. Everything's resettable anyway. And as cliffordcooley mentioned, you can even lower the voltages to save on electricity bills or run the comp cooler. As long as you don't increase voltages, you run a negligible risk of burning anything out (I say negligible risk just to cover my as$. Its just as possible for your comp to spontaneously combust).
  21. nissanman

    nissanman TechSpot Maniac Posts: 362

    Overclocking is the act of changing the clock speeds or frequencies of a certain component in a computer. It is usually done in the BIOS for CPUs/Memory, or using a specialized tool in Windows for video cards (such as MSI After Burner). Overclocking a component increases its speed, but if it is not done correctly, can make the computer run unstable, or can even damage components. Temperatures are the main thing to look out for while overclocking. If you do not have adequate cooling, the components will at some point overheat, which can cause failure. You also have to keep the voltages in check. Overclocking a component too far with stock voltage can cause instabilities. If the BIOS lets you, voltages can be changed for the CPU and other hardware. Increasing the voltages of a component will increase its heat output significantly.

    Long story short, don't overclock if you are not comfortable doing so. Because doing something wrong can turn out to be very bad. Including giving a component far too much voltage, and literally frying said component.
  22. ImaBrokeDude

    ImaBrokeDude TechSpot Member Posts: 41

    Some manufactures have more lenient restrictions on their warranties when it comes to overclocking. Read your warranty well.
  23. hood6558

    hood6558 TechSpot Booster Posts: 292   +44

    In the last 2 years overclocking has become increasingly mainstream. With the advent of K series unlocked multipliers it's a given, and mobo manufacturers all have advanced o.c. settings on even their low end Z68 & Z77 boards. It's a way to stretch a dollar and increase performance at the same time. I paid $199 for my i5-3570K, and oc'd to 4.3 GHz it performs very much like an i7-3770K at stock speeds, which costs $330. To do this and still run nice and cool I had to buy a Corsair H100, but I would've gotten one anyway. Like Cliff says, even with the best cooler in the world, one day it'll quit and try it's best to cook your system, so temps must be perpetually monitored. No problem for me, though, I'd monitor them even without the overclock.


Add New Comment

TechSpot Members
Login or sign up for free,
it takes about 30 seconds.
You may also...


Get complete access to the TechSpot community. Join thousands of technology enthusiasts that contribute and share knowledge in our forum. Get a private inbox, upload your own photo gallery and more.