Know the precise definition of overclocking. "Overclocking is the process of forcing a computer component to run at a higher clock rate (the fundamental rate in cycles per second, measured in hertz, at which a computer performs its most basic operations such as adding two numbers or transferring a value from one processor register to another) than designed or designated by the manufacturer".

What Does Overclocking Do?

Overclocking a computer's processor or memory causes it to go faster than its factory rated speed. A processor rated at 2.4GHz might be overclocked to 2.5GHz or 2.6GHz, while memory rated at 200MHz might be pushed to 220MHz or higher. The extra speed results in more work being done by the processor and/or memory in a given time period, increasing the overall computing performance of the PC.

Can Overclocking Damage Computer Hardware?

Yes, but it's typically unlikely. Generally speaking, when computer hardware is pushed beyond its limits, it will lock up, crash or show other obvious errors long before it gets to the point where the processor or memory might be permanently damaged. The exception to this is if extreme voltages are used when attempting to overclock, but since most motherboards do not support extremely high voltages, and neither does this guide, it's not likely to be an issue.

For older processors, heat is also a factor worth keeping a close eye on. Modern processors have thermal sensors which will slow down or shut off the PC, but older CPUs do not necessarily feature these safety devices.

The Purpose of Overclocking

The most obvious reason to overclock a computer system is to squeeze some additional performance out of it at little or no cost. Overclocking the processor and system memory can significantly boost game performance, benchmark scores and even simple desktop tasks. Since almost every modern processor and memory module is overclockable to at least a slight degree, there are few reasons not to attempt it.

Technical Terms Used:

FSB (FrontSide Bus): The data bus that carries information from the processor to the main memory and the rest of the system. A processor's internal multiplier multiplied the FSB speed of the system = that processor's speed in MHz or GHz.
Increasing the clock speed of the FSB (and thus the speed of the memory and the processor as well) is the most common and effective way of overclocking a modern computer.

Internal Multiplier: The ratio of a given processor's speed (in MHz or GHz) as compared to the FSB (Frontside Bus) speed of the computer system it is installed in. A processor with an internal multiplier of 16x installed in a system with a FSB of 200MHz would run at 3.2GHz internally, since 16 x 200MHz = 3.2GHz. Most modern processors are 'multiplier locked' to some degree, meaning that their internal multiplier cannot be changed (or at least increased). This in turn means that increasing the FSB speed of a system is the only way to overclock the processor.

Stock Speed: The default or factory speed settings of computer hardware like the processor, memory and motherboard. With the processor, stock speed refers to the clock speed in MHz or GHz of the processor. With the memory, stock speed refers to the highest standard memory speed that the memory module is rated for (PC3200 DDR memory has a stock speed of 200MHz, for example). In the case of the motherboard, stock speed refers to the default speed at which the processor and memory work together, the FSB speed.

Core/Memory/Chipset Voltage: These three voltage values represent the amount of electrical power being fed to the respective components. When a processor, memory or motherboard is made to run faster due to overclocking, more voltage may be required in order for that component to run stably. With this in mind, voltage adjustment is one of the most important principles of overclocking.

If an overclocked computer becomes unstable, increasing one or more of these voltage settings by a very small amount (0.05V to 0.1V) can often mean the difference between an unbootable system and a stable overclocked one. That being said, it is important to make some distinctions with respect to voltage adjustments; more voltage does not necessarily mean faster speeds, rather minor increases can help improve stability. Computer circuits are designed to operate within very specific electrical ranges, and drastically increasing the electricity being supplied to a chipset will raise temperatures, and potentially damage it.

Understand that not all computers can be overclocked. For one, laptops are pretty much out of the question. Also, any OEM (original equipment manufacturer) computer, such as a Dell, HP or E-machine, will be more difficult to overclock, so your best bet for overclocking is to purchase or build a custom system, but keep in mind that some motherboards can't be used to overclock.


You need a good cooling system for serious overclocking.

This may void your computer's warranty, depending upon the manufacturer.

Overclocking your hardware too much can damage or break your hardware.

Overclocking with voltage increases will shorten the life of your hardware.

Most of the computers made by Dell (with the exception of the XPS line) , HP, Gateway, Acer, Apple, etc, cannot be overclocked because the option of changing the FSB and CPU voltages is not available in the bios.


Sunny April 28, 2011 at 2:57 PM  

Now tell us how to overclock a machine.

Sapan April 29, 2011 at 12:12 AM  

Overclocking is done using bios and also their are many utilities available for the same. The components which natively supports overclocking are provided with their bundled software , as you will see in case of high end graphics card also if you talk of serious overclocking it can be done mostly on high end pcs. Hope it helped you

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