Any cheap (or in this case, free) boost to performance that doesn’t push the limits of a PC is always welcome. If you could give your hardware a jolt at no extra cost by overclocking, why wouldn’t you? Overclocking is a system-wide boost that improves performance across the board.
Overclocking is questionable if you spend extra money just to do it. Some people enjoy overclocking as a hobby because they enjoy seeing how much extra performance they can get out of their hardware by playing around with the settings. However, the marginal improvement in performance achieved in this manner is rarely noticeable. While some may view tinkering with their computer’s clock speed and voltage as a waste of time, others enjoy the challenge and the resulting performance boost.
The answer to the question of whether or not to overclock depends on the specifics of the situation, the hardware, and the intended use.
What is overclocking?
Clock speed is what specifies how quickly various computer processor chips operate. Your computer will perform more quickly if its central processing unit (CPU) has a higher clock speed.
However, every type of processor, including those with varying clock rates, is produced in the same factory. Companies don’t “throttle down” or slow down defective chips until after they’ve been built, tested for flaws, and culled.
Because of their design, even the slower chips can theoretically operate at higher speeds if necessary. Overclocking is used in this situation.
By using overclocking, you can bypass the throttling and use the full processing power of the chip, just as if it were a less flawed model.
The “multiplier,” which can be altered in the UEFI or BIOS settings, will increase the clock speed of the processor, achieving this goal.
The pros and cons of overclocking
Many people who regularly use resource-intensive software find that overclocking their CPUs is the best solution. Software of this type can be found in the graphic design, 3D modeling, and other related fields. When done correctly, it’s a free way to boost your computer’s performance.
People frequently discuss the ease with which their computers can be overclocked when discussing the construction of computers or the purchase of graphics cards. If you’re looking to save money without sacrificing performance, purchasing a graphics card that can be overclocked is a good option to consider.
Some research has shown that overclocking isn’t as beneficial as it once was in recent years. Overclocking is largely ineffective on modern CPUs because of how fast they already are. Additionally, if the rest of your computer isn’t up to speed, then increasing your processor’s performance is for naught. To put it another way, this is a case of bottlenecking. ”
If, for instance, your HDD is lagging behind the rest of your system, no amount of CPU overclocking will help. Similarly, overclocking the CPU won’t benefit programs that rely on the graphics card more than the CPU.
There is always a chance of something going wrong when overclocking. Companies don’t slow down chips for no reason; if a chip is defective, running it at full speed can cause your computer to malfunction.
If you overclock your computer too much, you risk experiencing instability, program crashes, and even the dreaded Blue Screen of Death. Data loss and frustration are potential outcomes of frequent crashes. Overclocking can cause permanent damage to your CPU or graphics card in some cases.
Overclocking can improve performance, but the gains are often small compared to the potential dangers.
Is Overclocking Necessary?
Put simply, context is everything. Present-day consumer PCs are more potent than ever before, with components built to withstand the rigors of intensive applications like high-end gaming, rendering, or video editing.
Dedicated graphics processing units (GPUs) and modern central processing units (CPUs) in today’s PCs mean they can handle most tasks with ease. As a result, overclocking offers negligible benefits for gaming purposes alone.
You can still get a few FPS boost from increasing the GPU clock, but it won’t be noticeable. Sure, overclocking could help you keep things running smoothly, but modern gaming PCs don’t really need the extra boost.
When Overclocking Comes Into Its Element
On machines with components that are getting on in years, overclocking can yield noticeable benefits. It’s not that they have to be ancient, but rather, they’re the ones that have been rendered unnecessary by the advent of newer, more potent technology.
In this case, increasing the CPU or GPU’s performance by even a small amount can make the difference between a “choppy” game and a “playable” one.
These advantages, however, are highly context-dependent; as our name, “GamingScan,” suggests, our primary interest lies in video games. The advantages of overclocking may be substantial or largely cosmetic, depending on the specific game.
Overclocking the proper component can indeed provide a discernible boost in performance, and games can be CPU centric or GPU centric.
However, unlike a central processing unit (CPU), overclocking a graphics processing unit (GPU) does not grant you an additional performance boost. The end result is significantly more a function of trial and error.
Different GPUs have different responses to overclocking because of the way they function, specifically the way the chipset and the VRAM coordinate their communications.
Overclocking also increases the risk of bottlenecking, in which one component’s performance limitations slow down the other. If there is a bottleneck, the only solution is to replace the slow part with a faster one. Although bottlenecking isn’t a major issue at the moment, it’s still something to keep in mind.
When deciding whether or not to overclock, factors such as the games being played, the hardware itself, and the availability of budget for upgrading older components are taken into account.
How to overclock your processor
Overclocking a computer requires first determining if the processor can be overclocked.
Overclockable Intel Core processors are denoted by the addition of a “K” or a “X” to their model numbers. The Intel Core i9-10900K, but not the Core i9-10900F, is capable of being overclocked.
The good news is that any AMD “Ryzen” CPU is capable of being overclocked.
Make sure your computer has sufficient cooling mechanisms as well. A powerful heatsink and powerful fans are required for your central processing unit. To handle the additional heat from your faster CPU, you may want to install a liquid cooling system.
If you want to run your CPU at a higher clock speed, you’ll need to improve its cooling.
To overclock the CPU, restart the computer and access the UEFI or BIOS setup menu. Overclocking controls can be found on the startup screen, but their location varies widely depending on the manufacturer.
Improving the multiplier by a small amount, restarting the machine, and testing it out is a good idea. The desired clock speed can be achieved by gradually increasing the clock speed.
Spend a few hours “stress testing” the computer whenever the clock speed is increased. As a precaution against hardware failure, you can use Prime95 or another similar program to stress test your computer under maximum load.
If your computer freezes, displays the Blue Screen of Death, or refuses to launch programs, you can reset the clock speed in the UEFI or BIOS settings.
Overclocking is a mysterious art, shrouded in tales of fried CPUs from trying to achieve unrealistically high clock speeds with inadequate cooling.
These cautionary tales show the worst-case scenario of what can happen if you overclock in an unplanned and careless manner, but they are not representative of the typical overclocking experience.
There is always some degree of danger when attempting to use components beyond their safe factory settings. While this may sound safe, in practice, manufacturers can be overly cautious.
After all, they need to factor in the possibility of being on the receiving end of unfiltered animosity from throngs of irate customers who have had to replace an expensive CPU or GPU due to overheating. Because of this, manufacturers are cautious when setting these limits to account for normal, everyday use.
In practice, it’s safe to overclock components, especially the central processing unit (CPU) and graphics processing unit (GPU).
Overclocking can be done safely and with great satisfaction by anyone who applies the usual precautions, uses common sense, and learns the limits of their hardware.
In conclusion, the threat is frequently exaggerated but must not be disregarded.
Don’t be discouraged by the thought that you might have permanently damaged your computer because you were a little too adventurous with the clock speeds. After all, computers and parts should have a safety feature to prevent that from happening. If your computer’s temperature rises too high, the motherboard should warn you; otherwise, the machine is more likely to simply crash and restart than to overheat and catch fire.
8 Best Overclocking Software
1. MSI Afterburner
Afterburner, created by MSI, is free software widely regarded as the best GPU overclocking software. Using Afterburner, you can find out crucial information like the core voltage, the core temperature limit, the core clock, and the memory clock. Controlling fan speeds and benchmarking functions are additional features. In addition to capturing gameplay footage, MSI Afterburner can also record in-game audio.
The fact that it works with all brands of graphics cards is the program’s greatest strength. MSI Afterburner provides a suite of tools that allows for greater control over your graphics card’s configuration. It will aid in locating the sweet spot between comfort and productivity.
The newest version of MSI Afterburner has an Overclock scanner. It’s an ingeniously programmed function that can figure out what overclocking levels will keep your graphics card running smoothly.
The OC scanner’s graphical data will also offer additional testing possibilities. Data from OC scanners can be profiled and saved for later use. In addition, you can load your profile whenever you like by resetting it to its factory settings.
Learn how to get started with MSI Afterburner’s OC scanner.
- Operating Systems Windows XP, Windows Vista, and Windows 7 (both 32-bit and 64-bit editions).
- GeForce 6 series GPU with Forceware 96 or later drivers from NVIDIA.
- Use of AMD Catalyst 9.3 or later drivers with an AMD RADEON HD 2000 or later graphics processor is required.
2. EVGA Precision X1
The latest and greatest version of EVGA’s overclocking software is EVGA Precision X1. Only graphics cards manufactured by NVIDIA can use this program. It’s designed with a user-friendly interface to make overclocking easier, even for novices. Only GeForce RTX cards can be used in a Precision X1. However, at the same time, the developers are hard at work on a new update that will support GTX cards.
The interface of this program is straightforward and easy to understand. Temperature, CPU speed, and battery life are just some of the key metrics displayed. Up to 10 different profiles with their own set of shortcut keys can be stored in the profiling section. LED synchronization and NV Link bridge support for other EVGA RGB devices are also included.
The OC scanner in Precision X1 is a state-of-the-art stress testing tool with a variety of customizable settings and testing configurations. When used in conjunction with the OC scanner, your graphics card’s full potential can be unlocked. As a result of these features, Precision X1 is undoubtedly the most effective overclocking program for NVIDIA graphics cards.
- Microsoft Windows 8 and 10 (64-bit only)
- RTX, GTX 16, and GTX 10 series graphics cards from NVIDIA.
3. Intel Extreme Tuning Utility (XTU) – Best CPU Overclocking Software For Intel
The XTU overclocking utility was created by Intel specifically for use with Intel processors. A stress test function is included in the program to help users locate a safe overclocking zone. While overclocking by hand can take some time, this program makes the process much easier.
Not all CPUs are compatible with XTU because of technical restrictions. Find out if your CPU supports XTU here. You’ll find the section of its website that reads “the download is valid for the products listed below” if you scroll down.
The software’s interface talks straight to the motherboard’s BIOS, so overclocking can be done without a reboot. The software’s interface is simpler and more straightforward than that of a standard BIOS. This software does more than just optimize processors; it also boosts the efficiency of Intel Extreme Memory.
- Only 64-bit builds of Windows 10 are supported.
4. AMD Ryzen Master – Best CPU Overclocking Software For AMD
AMD has developed Ryzen Master as an alternative to Intel’s XTU. The AMD Ryzen Master only works with the most recent Ryzen processors. The factory unlock on Ryzen processors allows for extreme overclocking. Ryzen Master is just a means to an end, however. It’s the top program for overclocking Ryzen CPUs.
The overclocking features of this utility program can be displayed in either a basic or an advanced mode, depending on the user’s level of expertise. You can adjust overclocking levels and monitor critical system information like CPU temperature, clock speed, and voltages from this primary display.
There are three overclocking modes available in Ryzen Master: Default, Auto, and Manual. The Ryzen integrated graphics can be overclocked, too, for a more responsive gaming experience. You can create and store multiple profiles to optimize the system for specific games, apps, or user preferences. Click here for further information:here.
- Operating Systems: Windows 8.1, 10, (both 32-bit and 64-bit)
- All AM4 socket X370, B350, and X300 chipsets with Ryzen central processing units.
- Computer processors based on AMD’s Ryzen Threadripper architecture, using the TR4 socket and X399 chipset on the motherboard.
5. SAPPHIRE TriXX
Sapphire’s TriXX is a freeware utility program specifically designed to increase the clock speed of Radeon graphics cards. In terms of video cards, it is compatible with both SAPPHIRE and AMD. It’s a straightforward black-and-white interface that shows your PC’s settings in real time.
GPU clock, voltage, and memory clock can all be adjusted freely. The software also tells you how your changes will affect the reliability of the system. You’re allowed to save up to five separate user profiles.
Its ability to adjust colors is the program’s main selling point. Through TriXX, you can manually or automatically switch between a wide variety of LED settings. In addition, it gives you a choice between two overclocking settings.
- Strengthening Performance via Enhanced Power Mode
- Stealth Mode: A Better Way to Save Power Without Sacrificing Performance in Video Games
- Compatible only with the NITRO RX 5000.
6. ASUS GPU Tweak II
ASUS GPU Tweak II has been updated with many new features. Among its new display interface options is an OC scanner for hands-free overclocking. However, the most recent drivers are required and it is only compatible with ASUS graphics cards.
The Simple and Professional user interfaces are designed to meet the needs of both inexperienced and seasoned computer users. It has a special gaming booster function that terminates background tasks.
As a result, it has a lot of power, which is great for gaming. This function will ask for your input regarding the management of graphical effects, operating system functions, and RAM defragmentation.
The user interface of this overclocking program is minimalistic, featuring a black and red color scheme. There are three different modes available in ASUS GPU Tweak II.
- The gaming mode is the default for extended gaming sessions.
- Overclocking – Increasing the clock speed of a computer to its maximum for greater performance in graphically intensive games.
- Listen to music or watch a movie without being disturbed by loud fan noise.
- 32-bit and 64-bit editions of Windows 7, 8, and 10
- Graphics Processing Unit (GPU) from AMD’s 7000-series or later
- GPUs from NVIDIA’s 600-series and up
7. ATI Tray tools
This utility was made specifically for ATI Radeon Cards, and it allows you to increase the clock speed of your ATI graphics card. ATI Tray tools include temperature control and Fan Control, despite having a less user-friendly interface than the aforementioned overclocking software. In addition, it offers a 3D output for testing for Artifacts and locating the optimal overclocking settings for your graphics card.
One or more user profiles can be created and then saved as individual shortcuts. This is especially useful for resource-intensive games, as it allows for instant overclocking to meet software or user needs. The VRAM can be overclocked with the help of ATI Tray Tools.
Although it doesn’t take up much space, this program needs the most recent drivers. In addition to being able to operate in more than 20 different languages, this program also includes shortcuts for quickly snapping screenshots directly from the on-screen display.
- All versions of Windows from XP to 2008 are supported.
8. DRAM Calculator for Ryzen – Best Ram Overclocking Software
RAM overclocking software is what DRAM calculator for Ryzen is all about. It facilitates memory overclocking on AMD Ryzen systems. The optimal setting for overclocking RAM is determined by this tool and communicated to the user. The lack of an automatic overclocking function is a major drawback. However, by exploring various calculation modes, the best overclocking value can be determined.
Safe, Fast, and Extreme are the three modes available to you. After learning the values for each mode, you’ll need to manually enter them into the system’s BIOS. In order for these values to affect your RAM frequency, you will need to enter them in the BIOS settings after a system reboot.
Changing from SAFE to EXTREME or FAST mode requires a reboot and an input into BIOS settings every time. After you’ve entered these values, you should verify their consistency using MEMbench.
- This product is only compatible with the first, second, and third generation of Ryzen and Zen processors.
As long as you exercise caution, there’s no harm in giving overclocking a shot if you’re curious about it and your hardware allows for it. Don’t forget that not all CPUs and motherboard chipsets permit overclocking.
To add insult to injury, stock CPU coolers are rarely that good, and not all GPU coolers are created equal, so you’ll need a good cooler if you want to get any real results from overclocking. Plus, even just one or two case-mounted coolers can make a big difference in terms of airflow, so it’s always a good idea to have them if you can.
Last but not least, as we’ve mentioned in the article, the actual performance benefits (in terms of FPS or other game-related metrics) will be minimal; however, investing in better cooling could be an excellent way to squeeze some more life out of dated components; it would undoubtedly be a cheaper short-term solution if you’re pinching pennies and can’t quite afford an upgrade just yet.
You can’t find out unless you give it a shot. Read up on some how-tos and enter the fray prepared and risk-free!