Overclocking a PC is when a user increases a component’s clock rate by running it at a higher speed than it is designed to run. This is typically done with CPU’s and GPU’s (the computer’s processor and graphics card, respectively). However, other components can be overclocked as well.
Focusing on CPU and GPU overclocking, think of it this way: while the factory set in your computer is designed to offer certain maximum frame rates and processing speeds(as well as other operations per second), overclocking a component means that you can squeeze more performance out of your computer.
Overclocking a CPU, for example, will increase your computer’s speed by means of setting a higher clock rate or multiplier in the BIOS of the computer, which means it can perform more of those operations per second than designed. If your computer is kept cool, this can be accomplished without overheating.
Overclocking a GPU can mean achieving more frame rates out of the graphics, which many gamers achieve to get the best display resolution and lag-free gameplay possible.
If you want to overclock your CPU or GPU (processor or graphics), you must first know whether you could and should do so. Many computer motherboards and Intel CPU’s ship with multipliers that are locked–meaning, you are prevented from messing about with their values and thus, preventing overclocking. Intel does, however, sell CPU’s of the “Extreme Edition,” which offer unlocked multipliers, which are targeted at gamers and other tech lovers who want to overclock their PC’s whenever they want to squeeze every drop of performance out of their setup as possible.
In most instances, overclocking is not necessary for the common PC user or even those who work on their PC’s a lot. Most computers, even laptops, now have become powerful enough that you would not even notice the difference after the work is done and your PC is overclocked. However, for some, such as gamers, they either may not have the money to upgrade component parts just yet, or just want to pump out all of the power they can.
To overclock your PC, there are different steps to take depending on each CPU and BIOS options offered in each PC. However, the basics are similar:
The most important part of overclocking component parts such as your CPU or GPU, is ensuring that your PC has the proper cooling. By speeding up your CPU, for example, you are speeding up the processing power–this generates more heat than the fans can handle, since the fans are programmed for the previous speeds. An aftermarket heat sink and fan can blow the hotter air away. Air flow is extremely important to overclocking–if your computer can’t handle the heat, then you may damage your computer and overclocking will have been a huge mistake. Some hardcore overclocking users use water-cooling systems, which use coolants inside tubes running through and around the computer. This is a more efficient method, but the average overclocker does not typically invest the money for this set up.
You will, of course, have to overclock in the BIOS. You should only overclock your computer if you know or have learned how to do it. You first must get into your PC’s BIOS and increase the CPU clock rate or the voltage. Take it a little at a time. Increase it by a small amount and then reboot your computer–see if your PC is stable. Make sure the cooling is efficient and simulate heavy computer usage to see if your PC can handle it. Do this bit by bit until you notice the heating is not keeping up or your PC becomes unstable. Then, drop it back down to the last stable level.
Remember, if you over-do the overclocking, your PC can become unstable. The purpose of overclocking is to make your computer better–more efficient, faster, better frame rates, etc… if you overheat it or overclock your CPU all at once in large amounts, you can do some damage.
If you are interesting in overclocking your PC, be sure to check out guides for your specific CPU first and do your research before attempting it.