How To Overclock Your CPU
Overclocking anything can sometimes be scary for someone who doesn't know how as you don't want to ruin your expensive component but it’s relatively simple to follow the steps and It’s been made easier by manufacturers over the years.
Overclocking a CPU is simply the process of increasing the clock speed that the CPU operates at. Overclocking the CPU can give your computer a performance boost but there are some risks involved, so in this article we will see if it’s worth it and importantly how to do it!
Overclocking any component has its risks and overclocking a CPU is no different. When you increase the clock speed and voltage of your CPU it can raise the heat output by the component. Computer processing units can handle some pretty high heats before running into trouble which you would certainly notice with dips in performance.
Heat is a major threat to a CPU if it’s constantly running above 85 degrees but with a decent fan or hydro cooler this can be avoided, just make sure you don’t use the stock cooler that comes with the chip on there. Don't worry if your CPU hits a high temperature as mentioned they can handle some heat but investing in an aftermarket cooler is a wise choice.
The lifespan of the product will be shortened as it’s running faster than it was meant to but some chips are designed with overclocking in mind. Even these CPUs that take overclocking have a limit so it's best to see the maximum voltage they can go up to before you begin as trial and error could lead to frying the chip.
As long as you are aware of the CPUs limitations and have adequate cooling then you should be good to go!
Overclocking the CPU can help squeeze a little extra juice out which can help performance across gaming, media editing and general tasks with no extra cost. Overclocking can sometimes be a great option for anyone looking to upgrade but who is unable to afford it or for someone who is waiting for a newer generation CPU.
Things to consider
- As mentioned above, overclocking can damage your CPU and you should only consider doing this if you are ok with potentially harming your component. Being sensible with your overclock shouldn’t damage it but this is the main risk you would have to be willing to take.
- If you are looking to increase your framerate in games then you should maybe consider overclocking your graphics card which you can read here.(insert link).
- Overclocking a CPU in a desktop computer isn't too much of an issue thanks to airflow and cooling but avoid doing this in a laptop unless it explicitly expresses it can handle it as they will generally overheat.
- A lot of motherboards are designed for overclocking and will allow you to do it easily in the BIOS, just check your user manual to make sure.
- Certain CPUs are designed for overclocking so keep an eye out and double check to see if yours is one of them. For example the i7 8700 is also available to overclock however it is called the i7 8700k.
If you want to benchmark or properly stress test your overclocking then you may need to download a few tools before you begin. These tools will test the performance of your CPU and allow you to keep note of those results over time.
- CPU-Z - Downloading this tool will allow you to monitor your clock speed and voltage on your CPU. You can use this mainly to keep track of how your CPU is doing and if your changes are having an effect.
- Prime95 - If you are looking to perform stress tests you can use Prime95 to perform tests over a long period and benchmark the performance.
- HWiNFO - This tool is actually quite useful and can help you monitor your components but more importantly it will allow you to check your temperatures which is going to be crucial when overclocking.
If you are going to monitor the performance or benchmark your new overclocked system then you should take a base benchmark first to compare your results to.
Increasing the base clock
- Most changes will take place in the BIOS so your computer will require a reboot. When the computer is restarting you can hold or press the ‘delete’ key to access your BIOS. Each BIOS varies depending on the motherboard manufacturers so look out for labels while navigating through.
- Open the Frequency settings page which can sometimes be called ‘frequency control’, ‘voltage control’ or ‘overclocking’. In here you can adjust the CPU clock speed and voltage.
- It's important to lower the memory bus speed in your settings next as when you are overclocking errors can be caused by the memory. You want this setting to be on its lowest.
- Increase your base clock (front side bus) speed by 10%. Most processors can handle this slight increase of change without any fuss so give it a 10% bump and see how it does in your stress test application.
- Increase your base clock until the system becomes unstable. Increase the amount in increments of 5-10MHz until you find the optimum clock speed for your system. To be safe, run a benchmark with every adjustment you make until you notice if things start to go unstable.
Increasing the multiplier
- Firstly lower the base clock a small amount. You want to do this before you increase the multiplier because this way can produce more stable results in the long run and makes it more precise. Keep in mind a lower base clock with a higher multiplier gives you a more stable system, however a higher base clock and a lower multiplier will give you better performance so find a balance.
- Now you base clock has been lowered its time to start cranking up the multiplier in increments of 0.5. The multiplier can sometimes be called CPU clock ratio depending on your motherboard and is usually set to auto. You will want to run your benchmark program and check how the system is running and assuming everything is ok repeat this process. Make sure after each change at this stage to keep monitoring temperatures.
Increasing the voltage
- Raise the CPU voltage but only in increments of 0.025, If you increase the voltage too much you run the risk of damaging your CPU. Run a stress test and check to see if your voltage increase has stabilized your system from the previous steps. If stable check your temps are also at a decent level. If the system remains unstable then try lowering the base clock or multiplier.
- Repeat the above step until the max voltage and temperature is reached at which point you will have reached the limits of your components.
- Now you can raise your memory speeds back to what they were before but do this slowly in stages while stress testing all the way to be safe. Bare in mind they may not go all the way back to what they were before.