How To Overclock Your CPU For Extra Gaming Power

How to overclock your CPU
How to overclock your CPU Amazon

If you want to gain extra gaming power, overclocking your CPU is an effective and cheap way to go. Even if you are a tech newbie, CPU overclocking isn’t particularly risky or difficult, despite what you may think. There are no clock crystals to solder or hardware jumpers to set, unlike the old days. You won’t even need to open the case or touch your motherboard at all. Nowadays, everything is handled by desktop software or startup-screen BIOS settings.

Today overclocking has become very common so most motherboards come with some automatic speed boosting options that can help you with all the details. These automatic tuners are easy to use and perform stable overclocks. However, by learning the manual method you can achieve better results.

Desktop CPU performance is measured in clock speed and design efficiency. Design efficiency is derived from the architecture itself, describing how much potential work a CPU can do during a clock tick. In order to change this, the only option is to upgrade to a more efficient, newer processor design.

The clock speed is measured in MHz and GHz and represents the rate that instructions are executed by the processor. This parameter can be adjusted far beyond the default CPU speed. For instance, Intel’s latest Kaby Lake processors and Coffee Lake CPUs can be overclocked up to around 5 GHz. For gamers, in case that the CPU is the bottleneck, a faster clock speed can result in faster frame rates.

Increasing the voltage and processor's clock speed increases generated heat. In order to avoid risks to burn your CPU or damage it over time, you have to keep it below 185 degrees Fahrenheit at all times. You'll need a good cooling solution in order to do that. This can be either a liquid cooler or just a quality air cooler.

In order to be able to perform overclocking, you need a motherboard and a CPU that support this. For Intel, look for a motherboard with the ‘Z’ chipset and a CPU with the ‘K’ designation. Be aware that 'Intel Turbo Boost' doesn't necessarily mean that the CPU is unlocked and you can perform manual overclocking. For AMD, all Ryzen processors come unlocked for overclocking.

You can also use Windows software for overclocking, such as Intel's Extreme Tuning Utility. A more direct approach is to adjust the clock multiplier in your PC’s BIOS. During your computer’s boot sequence, you can access BIOS settings by pressing Del or F2.

Look in your BIOS for the ratio multiplier and base clock values. On a modern processor the ratio multiplier usually has a value around 30x-50x. In order to determine the maximum processor speed, this ratio multiplier number is applied to the base clock. For instance, a CPU with a 40x multiplier and a 100 MHz base clock will run at 4 GHz.

In order to reach the full potential of an unlocked processor you’ll have to increase the ratio gradually from the default to a value between 40x-50x. This will result in an overclocked speed of 4-5 GHz. The multiplier adjustment isolates overclocking to just the CPU. It requires less troubleshooting and it can deliver more speed than a boost of the base clock.

The basic technique of manual overclocking is to rise up the multiplier ratio by small increments of 1x at a time, then run stress test benchmarks after each increment. You can do this until the temperatures get too high or the system starts crashing. Turn the overclocking back down at that point by small increments until your system is stable again. This way you can find your CPU’s maximum overclock.

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