The process of running your computer at a faster clock rate than its manufacturer’s specifications is referred to as overclocking. The computer components that can be overclocked are the motherboard chipsets, Random Access Memory and video cards. The overclocking trend has grown tremendously in the last couple of years mainly due to the rising demand for better-performing computers. There are a couple of reasons why someone may want to overclock their computer. These include:
- Saving money — apart from the brand, the other important price determinant for a computer is the specs. Obviously, the higher the specs, the more expensive it will cost. If you are operating on a low budget, you can buy a computer with lower-end specs and then overclock the components.
- Increasing speed and performance — this is the main reason for overclocking computers. Since overclocking will make the computer work at a higher clock rate than the default settings, your computer will increase its performance.
- Using old components for new software — sometimes, new software has product specifications that your computer doesn’t support. Instead of buying a new computer, you can just overclock your old one.
- Hobby — yes, some people are just overclocking enthusiasts and do it for the sheer fun of it.
Can I overclock my CPU?
Yes, you can overclock your CPU. However, before you get started on overclocking, it is important to understand the risks. First of all, there is a limit to how much you can overclock a given computer. To borrow from the animal farm lingo, all processors are equal, but some are more equal than others.
Below are the top 9 factors to consider when clocking your computer to avoid messing it up.
Check for your CPU stability
Before you start overclocking, check to find out if your CPU is stable in overclock mode. Don’t worry; it is easy. With a free piece of software (Prime95), you can run this test in a jiffy. But that’s not all – you also need to check the temperature of your CPU to see if it can handle overclocking. The thing is, overclocking means adding more voltage to your components and that will inevitably lead to more heat. For a computer to function well in overclock mode, you will need to have a good cooler to ensure the CPU and other components do not overheat. Core Temp is an excellent piece of software for Intel, but if you have an AMD, Ryzen Master would be the most ideal. Other CPUs have their software for testing this like Corsair and NZXT.
Perform a stress test
Performing a stress test means benchmarking your CPU to see how hot it gets when it is running at 100%. For this, you need to run Prime95 and select the “just stress testing” option. On selecting this option, you will be prompted to choose the stress test you wish to perform. You can select “blend test” and then hit the enter key or click on Ok.
Check your BIOS
Let your prime95 software do its magic for around I0 minutes, and after the temperatures begin to stabilize, go into BIOS to check it too. To do this, go to your prime95 and select “Test” and then click on Stop. You can then restart your computer and go to BIOS settings. Getting into the BIOS requires the pressing of the delete key continuously as the computer powers on. However, some computers use F2 or another function key for this, you may want to check for the key that works for your brand. Once you have established the key that works for you, press it continuously as your PC boots until you see the BIOS blue screen.
Once you are in the BIOS setup, go to the Optimized CPU settings and change from the default settings to the highest optimized settings available. The exact figures will depend on your computer’s hardware. The manufactures usually set your CPU to perform at a limited potential, which makes it less efficient but a lot safer. As long as the other tests you performed earlier proved your hardware could handle overclocking, you shouldn’t worry about damaging your processor.
Use the auto-overclock
Another way to overclock the CPU is by using the “auto-overclock” feature in the BIOS setup. Because you may not be sure about the best figures to set for your CPU, you can let your motherboard do all the hard work for you. The overclocking menu in BIOS is named
or something of the sort, depending on your brand. Most manufacturers have different profiles that range from 4GHz to 4.8GHz. Again, this is a ballpark figure because the exact values will vary from one computer to the next.
When you give the motherboard the control on the best profile to use, it will access the limits of your computer, depending on the other components, and automatically select an ideal profile without any further input from you. While this is a convenient approach, especially for novice users, it might have the demerit of limiting you to the maximum 4.8GHz figure, even though it might be possible to push the processor further than that. If your computer is running on a Threadripper or AMD Ryzen processor, you can make these changes without going to the BIOS setup. All you need is to go into Ryzen Master and, under CPU temp readings, set the overclocking profile you want.
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Overclocking by manually changing the multiplier
If you are a tech-savvy user, you will probably prefer manual control of overclocking settings to maximize the output. To achieve this, you may want to tweak the CPU so that all cores will have a target of a number you desire to achieve. This is referred to as setting the multiplier. The multiplier will then work with the base clock frequency to produce the final GHz figure. With this method, you can easily overclock a CPU from 3GHz to 4GHz just by setting a multiplier value.
How much can I overclock my CPU safely?
Well, you can use the results of the stress test you did earlier to know how much your CPU can handle.
The max load test
Once you have determined your CPU multiplier ratio, you can set it and then exit the BOIS Remember to save the changes as you will be prompted by the BIOS before exiting. After powering up your computer in Windows under the Core Temp application to monitor the temp of your CPU. The next step is to open the Prime95, and then on the Options menu, navigate to “Torture Test” to see how the chip performs at the maximum load. You may also want to check its performance, using the “blend test” option. If your computer runs optimally for 5 minutes, you can start upping your multiplier until you achieve maximum load.
Overcoming the blue screen issue
Working with Vcore voltage is the first step in overcoming blue screen issues. To do this, you will need to go back to the BIOS settings and then look for the CPU Vcore voltage mode option. Once you locate it, set it to “fixed.” The best values for Vcore fixed settings vary depending on your hardware, it might be a good idea to check forums to see what other users with your exact hardware are recommending.
A good way to guesstimate is to keep increasing the voltage by a 0.01-volt value. Each time you increase the value, test to see if your computer boots correctly and then do a stress test to see if it is stable. Keep doing this until you identify the maximum level at which your computer will run efficiently. After testing this for a while, you might increase the voltage values by a larger figure, say 0.1 or even 0.5. The importance of starting with the smaller values is to first of all test and see how your CPU handles the increase in the Vcore voltage. The goal of this test is to get to a point where you can’t reach a higher frequency, irrespective of how small the frequency you add. Once you reach this point, just dial back to the last known stable value, and if you are not sure, reverse engineer the process by subtracting 0.1GHz until your Vcore voltage drops to a stable value. You can then maintain your values here because you have achieved the optimal settings.
Even after achieving the optimal settings, continue benchmarking for as long as possible to ensure you get the most stable overclock point. This could be a day-long process, but if you are not too patient, you should do it for at least a couple of hours. Once you have finished the benchmarking, you can sit back, relax, and enjoy your computer at maximum speed and performance without worrying about ruining any of its components.
Is it safe to overclock CPU?
There are some risks involved in overclocking, but as long as you do it the right way, overclocking is very safe. Even though some manufacturers might advise against overclocking computers, some critics believe that the main reason computer companies advise against overclocking their computers is because it will reduce their sales. The rule of thumb is to benchmark your PC until you are sure you have found the perfect settings for your machine.
Overclocking is revolutionizing the computer industry. How fast a computer operates is no longer determined by the number of GHz on the processor label. Even though speed is the main reason why newer models of computers cost more, it is now possible to achieve those same impressive speeds without having to spend a fortune, thanks to overclocking. This changes the landscape in various industries that need fast computers, ranging from gaming to cryptocurrency mining rigs.
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