What is overclocking a processor

Overclocking / overclocking

Overclocking, in English overclocking, is a part of PC tuning and describes a process to increase the transmission or processing speed of clock-dependent components in a computer. As a rule, the clock rate is increased in order to operate the components involved above their nominal clock rate.

You can overclock the processor, the memory bus of the main memory and the graphics card. The greatest performance gain can be obtained by overclocking the processor. But, overclocking or overclocking falls into the area of ​​PC tinkering. This means that time savings through efficiency gains should not play a role. The time you invest cannot be regained with a faster computer.

If you want to overclock, you have to familiarize yourself with the functionality and interaction of the hardware components involved. Benefits, risks and side effects must be precisely determined.
When attempting overclocking, it must always be expected that system components will be damaged or destroyed. Therefore you should make a backup of your data before overclocking. It is even better to try overclocking on a fresh system.

Note: As a rule, a PC has to be 20 to 30 percent faster for the user to even notice a difference. Only in certain situations, for example when the line between smooth and jerky video playback is reached, will you notice slight differences in performance.

Overclock by increasing the system clock

Increasing the system clock is one of the oldest types of overclocking. However, it overclocks the chipset, the caches, the main memory, the system bus and all other system components that are dependent on the system bus. However, this only works if all the system components involved can be overclocked. The downside, the entire system is prone to instability.
Today's standard PC components are generally not suitable for overclocking by increasing the system clock. They are subject to the most exacting electrical values ​​in terms of clock frequency and voltage. In addition, many PC components are almost perfectly matched to one another. There is rarely any leeway for overclocking.

Overclocking the processor

After a CPU has been manufactured, it is tested for its maximum possible clock frequency. Only then is it classified accordingly. Due to the relatively high demand for slower processors (cheaper), it happens again and again that individual CPUs are marked as slow, although they could actually run much faster. This opens up scope for overclocking this processor. Unfortunately, you don't know exactly which processor can be overclocked by how much beforehand. More than one or two clock steps should rarely be possible.

Overclocking a processor means that it is running at a higher clock rate than the manufacturer intended.
In principle, however, anyone who overclocks a processor endangers the processor. It has been proven that the service life of overclocked processors is reduced.
Don't underestimate the time it takes to test your overclocked system. Nothing is more corrosive than when an overclocked processor causes trouble. Overclocked processors often ensure that power-saving technologies are overridden. Another problem is the additional power loss that occurs in the processor core when overclocking. This leads to a greater development of heat. That means you have to provide additional cooling. Which in turn leads to higher power consumption and noise generation. Attention, the PC power supply unit must be able to deliver more power.

Not every processor can be overclocked. The processor manufacturers AMD and Intel have certain models that are suitable for overclocking. There is no upper limit to the multiplier for these processor types. The multiplier indicates how much the processor clock is higher than the base clock.
The value of the multiplier determines how high a processor is clocked. Depending on its basic clock, which is fixed and cannot be changed. The multiplier can be set in the BIOS of a motherboard suitable for overclocking.

Overclocking the RAM (memory modules)

Overclocking memory is one of the toughest things to do. Because you have to make sure that the system works properly and stably afterwards. A memory error can lead to data loss and, in the worst case, destroy important operating system settings. Repairing such damage takes more time than the speed of overclocked memory would have allowed.

The following parameters make a memory module faster:

  • Transfer rate
  • Timings
  • Number of memory channels

The values ​​of memory modules that are suitable for overclocking are mostly outside the JEDEC specification. They have shorter latency times and allow higher frequencies, mostly only at higher operating voltages. This loads the memory controller of the CPU or chipset and influences many electrical parameters of the memory system. The higher the operating voltage, so does the power consumption, which is why you usually have to take care of additional cooling. Most motherboards, however, do not allow the voltage to be applied to the memory modules. There are special motherboards for overclockers for this purpose. It is important that the motherboard and BIOS have to deal with these memory modules. Otherwise, these memory modules only work with standard time parameters and offer no advantages over standard DIMMs.
Special memory modules are not necessary for overclocking. Ordinary memory chips are built into the sometimes extremely expensive overclocking memory modules. The colorful metal heat sinks, which are rather thin sheets of metal, conceal which chips have been installed. They are primarily used for decoration and marketing and not for cooling, as some believe.

The influence of fast memories on the working speed of a PC is usually overestimated. The advantage of overclocked memory is rather small. The increase in speed will only be felt in exceptional cases. Without the use of memory-intensive applications, overclocking the main memory is of no use. Only certain algorithms can benefit from faster working memory. This mostly includes scientific simulations.

In principle, you don't have to worry about the speed of the main memory as long as it is big enough. Upgrading with additional memory modules is a better way than overclocking the RAM. It is recommended to buy JEDEC-compliant standard DIMMs.

Overclocking the graphics card

Overclocking the graphics card is usually possible with additional tools or the graphics driver. Usually even very comfortably under Windows. As long as the power supply remains unchanged, nothing can happen. A miscalculation by the GPU leads at most to a display error that only has a short-term effect.
Nevertheless, caution is advised here as well. Overclocking the graphics card can only lead to display problems, but also to system crashes.

Notes at the end

There are many detailed instructions on the Internet under the term overclocking or overclocking. Occasionally one also finds frequency records, which one should not strive for, however. They can only be reached for a few seconds. And only with a low load and nitrogen or helium cooling. And yet there is always the risk of wrecking the processor or even the entire system.

Overclocking is dangerous for the processor, mostly for the entire computer system. Therefore, overclocking is only for hobbyists and professionals who know what they are doing. Overclocking usually means running the hardware outside of the specification. Damage caused by overclocking is not covered by the warranty or guarantee.

When overclocking you should take enough time to check the system for stability. For example, with computationally intensive programs, but also with the most frequently used software.

You can always find special overclocking products on the market. If you are interested, you should note that the hardware manufacturers earn more from the mostly brightly colored overclocking products than from the cheap mass-produced items. Therefore all kinds of vertigo are to be expected here. Unfortunately, that can hardly be proven.
If the motherboard manufacturers provide tools for overclocking, these should be used.

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The computer technology primer is a book about the basics of computer technology, processor technology, semiconductor memory, interfaces, data storage, drives and important hardware components.

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Everything you need to know about computer technology.

Computer technology primer

The computer technology primer is a book about the basics of computer technology, processor technology, semiconductor memory, interfaces, data storage, drives and important hardware components.

I want that!