How To Overclock Your New PC

5/19/2012 9:15:52 AM

Now you have a new PC, should you overclock it and what kind of results can you expect with good cooling?

Most processors, be they ADM or Intel, have a good degree of extra headroom that can be unlocked by overclocking. In order to overclock your system, you’ll need a motherboard that provides the necessary features and suitably robust voltage regulation hardware, and in the case of the new Socket 1155 Intel chips, a K-edition processor.

Description: How To Overclock Your New PC ?

How To Overclock Your New PC ?

The clock speed on any processor is determinate by the relationship between the base clock frequency and the multiplier. In simple terms, a CPU’s frequency is calculated by multiplying the base frequency and the multiplier together. To increase the CPU frequency, we therefore simply have to increase the base frequency, the multiplier, or a combination of the two. Although there are now motherboard-specific applications that can overclock from within Windows, most of the ground work is still done within your motherboard’s BIOS or UEFI setup menus. Not all chips allow you to change both the base frequency and the multiplier, restricting you to either one or the other. On most Intel Sandy Bridge CPUs, both are effectively locked, making overcloking impossible. This means the days of taking an entry-level Intel chip and coming away with high-end performance have finally come to an end.

Description: Core temp 1.0

Different chips have different overclocking headroom, but usually you can unclock a decent amount of extra performance. Provided you have decent cooling, your chip will normally run out of steam long before it gets too hot, meaning you can unlock extra headroom by injecting some extra voltage. When we overclock a CPU, the amount of power required for it to maintain a steady and stable stream of information also increases, so by feeding a chip a higher voltage we unlock extra clock speed, albeit with a corresponding increase in head output. Different chips have different ceilings or voltage, which you should not exceed, but as a rule you should not increase the voltage of your processor by more than 10% without some serious extra cooling. Rather than relying on your motherboard to tell you how much voltage your chip is using by default, check this reading when under load in Windows by using CPU-Z, a free piece of software downloadable from Take  a recording of this and you can then gauge how much extra voltage you can safely feed your chip when shooting for the highest stable clock speed.

Description: CPU-Z

When overclocking, it’s invariably better to shoot for small incremental increases and test for stability as you go rather than trying for a huge increase in speed straight off the bat. Only ever overclock on a system where you have critical data backed up, because a processor that isn’t operating with full stability can result in corrupted data.

Regardless of your CPU architecture, the same tools are needed when overclocking. First of all, you need a program to monitor your CPU’s temperature, our favorite of which is CoreTamp. Secondly, you will need an application that can show the real-time clock speed and voltage – the aforementioned CPU-Z. Finally, you need a piece of software that can stress the CPU at 100% load while checking for computation errors. One of the most effective programs for this very purpose is Prime 95, a number crunching application that stresses the CPU by calculating very large prime numbers. The results are then compared to a record known to be correct and any discrepancy is reported as a failure. Prime 95 is particularly useful, because it has a buit-in torture test that will put all available threads to 100% utilisation.

Description: Prime 95

Overclocking AMD Chips: FM1

Socket FM1 chips are multiplier-locked with the exception of the Black Edition A6 and A8 variants. Fortunately, we can still overclock these processors by raising the base frequency with the BIOS. The stock base frequency is 100MHz, which good motherboards will allow you to increase to 150MHz or more. This increase will normally allow you to hit the ceiling of these chips’ capabilities, which seems to be between 3.5 and 3.9GHz depending on the quality of your sample. You should treat a voltage of 1.5V or so as an absolute maximum without extremely elaborate cooling.

If you have a Black Edition chip, you can make a life a lot easier by simply adjusting the multiplier to the maximum at which it remains stable. You can then fine tune your setup to squeeze out those final few megahertz by upping the base multiplier at the same time.

Overclocking AMD Chips: AM3+

Description: ADM Fusion – Family of APUs

ADM Fusion – Family of APUs

All the Bulldozer FX chips currently available are Black Editions, meaning you simply need to concentrate on the CPU voltage and the multiplier. As with Socket FM1, you can also fine tune your results with an increase of the base clock. Unlike socket FM1 chips, you are likely to hit a thermal boundary before you exhaust the capabilities of the chips. Most Bulldozer chips top out at around 4.5-4.8HHz, putting them within shooting distance of the speeds obtainable by Socket 1155 Intel chips. They run a lot hotter, however, so you’ll need a very effective air cooler or water cooling to unlock the best from these chips. We had our best results at an actual voltage of between 1.4 and 1.45V for these processors.

Overclocking Intel Chips: 1155

Only K-edition chips can be significantly overclocked from the second-generation Core i3, i5, i7 chips. Currently, this means you will need a Core i5 2500K, an i7 2600K or an i7 2700K, otherwise you’re locked at your processor’s default frequency (or within a couple of multiplier increments of it for turbo-technology-equipped non-K edition Core i3 or Core i5 processors). By internalising the clock generator to the 6 series chipset, the previously adjustable base clock is now under Intel’s direct control and has been locked down, meaning we’re fully reliant on adjustable multipliers. Fortunately, the K-edition chips are mighty, if expensive, with many capable of speeds between 4.6 and 5.0GHz depending on the quality of the chip. A ,aximum voltage of 1.45V should be adhered to when overclocking these chips, and you’ll find the i7 variants run hotter than their ị brethren.

Overclocking Intel Chips: 2011

Description: Intel core i7

Intel core i7

Intel’s current Socket 2011 line-up consists of only three processors, two of which are six-cored K-edition variants. These are unlocked like their Socket 1155 relatives. The third and final chip is a quad-core non-K edition, which is what Intel calls ‘partially unlocked’, and can therefore only be overclocked by a couple of multiplier increments, as with other second-generation Core i5 and i7 chips. The six-cored chips run very hot indeed and therefore need serious cooling to maximise their potential, as with ADM’s eight-cored Bulldozer. Assuming you have this, you can expect to max out at around 4.6 – 4.7GHz with a peak voltage of around 1.45V.

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