Overclocking is a term that means to speed up the performance of a computer by increasing the component’s clock speed, therefore increasing the speed at which that component operates. Effectively, an overclocked computer should be able to perform more operations in a shorter time span. It’s possible to overclock both the CPU and the RAM. If you’ve ever wondered if there was a way to push your computer's performance beyond its factory settings, then the answer might just be overclocking. The real question regarding the process is should it be done and is it beneficial? We’ll answer this and more below.
How to overclock a CPU
First, the most important thing to find out is if the CPU is even overclockable in the first place. Start by researching the CPU model to find out if every component in the motherboard can be overclocked. If you learn that it is possible, the next step is to stress test the CPU. This is to ensure that the CPU is stable with the current clock speed. If the CPU is stable, accessing the BIOS is the next step. When accessing the CPU's BIOS, settings to set the overclocking to automatic or manual should appear. The final step to overclocking a CPU is by playing with the multiplier. When altering the multiplier of the CPU, it is best to do this gradually as it is easier to gauge what new clock speed the CPU will be able to handle.
When talking about overclocking RAM, the process is similar, but not entirely the same. To find out more about the process of overclocking RAM as well as the benefits that that can provide, read How To Overclock RAM.
The pros of overclocking
Improved overall performance
Let's start with the obvious pro of overclocking: the improved overall performance of the computer. This is the main reason to overclock their computer. As games and other professional software become more demanding, they can start to take a toll on older hardware. Even with newer hardware, it can be beneficial to overclock since this can help process more challenging software a little more smoothly.
New life for older computers
Overclocking can significantly enhance the performance of older computers. These computers often demonstrate more noticeable improvements compared to newer PCs when overclocked. This is because older computers, which typically have less powerful components, have more room for performance gains. In contrast, newer PCs already possess more advanced, powerful components, limiting the extent of improvement overclocking can offer.
Better gaming experience
Improved frames per second is another bonus of overclocking, which in turn can give you a much smoother experience when gaming. Regardless of most of the calculations happening through the graphics card of the PC, the overall improvement of the speed of processing due to overclocking will still be noticeable and can make your gaming experience more fun.
Cons of overclocking
With all these benefits to overclocking, there are also a couple of possible downsides to going through with this process.
When pushing your PC to the limit to help speed up its performance, overheating can become more of an issue. Naturally, the PC would now be expected to do more than what was expected with its original factory settings, which means you’ll need a more robust cooling system. A CPU's usual temperature is between 104–149°F (40–65°C) when performing at a normal workload. While running intensive apps or gaming, your CPU may increase to 158–176°F (70–80°C). If your computer is exceeding these temperatures, it would be beneficial to research how to cool down your PC or laptop.
Overclocking can put additional stress on a computer, potentially leading to overheating. While newer hardware might be designed to mitigate overheating, it can still strain other components in the computer. This increased strain can reduce the lifespan of these components, potentially leading to higher costs over time due to the need for replacements or repairs.
Possible void in warranty
By overclocking of your computer's RAM, you might end up voiding the warranty. It's imperative to take a proactive approach by thoroughly examining the terms of not just your computer's warranty, but the warranties of your components, such as memory and storage products. Paying careful attention to the fine print is paramount, as manufacturers often include specific clauses regarding modifications and overclocking activities. Being aware of these details beforehand can save you from any surprises and help you make informed decisions about pushing the performance boundaries of your computer.
Should I overclock my CPU?
The best way to answer this question is to weigh what you want to get out of your computer with what you use your computer for. If you’re still using an older computer that might be struggling to keep up with the apps and complex workloads you are running, overclocking might just be the answer. With the improved clock speed and performance, you’ll achieve by overclocking, it can be a tempting option.
It is possible to get similar results through other means, though. If you are after faster storage and a more general upgrade of your current computer, then a new SSD might be a better choice for you. Take a look at all of the SSDs we have to offer to see which one is right for your computing needs.