technical components have rated speeds i.e. speeds at which the
manufacturer states they are designed to run. Processors have
GHz ratings, motherboards may have maximum FSB (Front Side Bus)
ratings, and RAM may have MHz ratings.
use a variety of methods to make those components run at speeds
faster than they were originally intended. Some of it is done as easily as
by changing jumpers on your motherboard or making
changes to the BIOS/CMOS. Some overclocking is more involved and
requires physical modification to the product. Sometimes it can be
done by overclocking software or overclocking utilities. However, it's not
just a matter of making a part run faster, it's a matter of getting it
to run faster without affecting the stability of the PC.
a part has been overclocked it's then a matter of testing to see
if the whole computer is stable. Booting the PC into Windows and having it crash
all over the place is an obvious hint that not all is well. It
sometimes takes many hours of time before you can tell if a
component is stable at the overclocked speed.
the difference between overclocking and optimising?
and tweaking involve making changes within the warranty
conditions. Over-clocking is generally frowned upon by
manufacturers of components for obvious reasons as over-clocking
frequently damages product beyond repair. Some manufacturers allow
minor over-clocking and, in fact, provide you with the
information/tools telling you how you can over-clock their product.
These are usually quite tame over-clocking facilities and they will
allow you to go only as far as that manufacturer believes is safe
for you to over-clock their product i.e. they'd like you to feel
that you have achieved some extra speed at no additional cost :-)
- as the name suggests - involves getting more performance out of
your PC. Optmising though does require a higher level of
knowledge and expertise if you want to achieve best results. It
involves knowing everything about the hardware and software you
are working with, from all those obscure BIOS settings, to every
line of the Windows registry, to every driver released for every
components, every version of DirectX, Intel Application
Accelerator and all the various other programs, patches, switches,
service packs and updates you can use with a given PC. You need to
know how are the parts and software interact with each other, what
the "poison" combinations are, which configuration is
likely to affect which component adversely... and a lot of
other information that can only be gained by a great deal of
experimentation, trials, testing, benchmarking and analysing.
Optimising does not affect your warranty.
main reasons we believe that people overclock are (in order of
The "My PC is faster than yours" brigade: Usually young
people fighting for bragging rights. It's common for an individual
to spend several days overclocking and running benchmarks on his
graphics card in order to gain a fraction of 1% in extra
performance so he can boast online to friends and foes about his
benchmark score ...or the number of frames per second he's getting
in his favourite game.
The "I'm entitled to more performance for my money"
mentality: Manufacturers, like Intel, often underclock
products. Processors, for example, may be sold with different
rated speeds even though they were all made on the same day, the
same die, and to the same specs. When they come off the
manufacturing line the units that fail quality tests for faster
speeds are then tested at lower speeds. When they are found to be
stable at a certain speed they are marked down and sold as
processors rated to that lower speed. Anybody who believes that
this marking down is purely a marketing gimmick to create product
differences may pay less for a lower spec 8 GHz (fictional number)
processor and attempt to overclock it to the more expensive 10 GHz
Cheats: Companies competing for business have been known to
artificially inflate the performance of PCs they've manufactured
to gain an unfair advantage over their competitors in reviews.
Fortunately, this is not seen often but you'd be surprised at how
this cheating is not limited to small town or fly-by-night
merchants. Big names like ATI and nVidia have been very publicly
accused of cheating in the mainstream IT press.
Idiots: Heard about the gizmo that could convert black and white
TVs to coloured TVs? There are plenty of the modern day
equivalents around. And there are always suckers who'll pay £10
for a widget that will make their £80 processor run (supposedly)
as fast as an £800 one.
Work related - The PC engineer or technician doing research work:
The extent to which a product can be stretched sometimes does
predict it's long term stability running at rated speed.
parts can generally be overclocked?
(processors), motherboards, and video cards are the most common
targets. AMD CPU overclocking is probably the most discussed
on the internet. Overclocking AMD Athlon processors is considered
by many to be a kind of entry point to more dangerous overclocking.
Overclocking the video card seems to also be very popular
(particularly among the gaming community)
do you overclock a PC?
are numerous sites covering the "hobby" of overclocking.
overclocking section and whole sites like Extreme
Overclocking devoted to little else.
are the risks of overclocking?
could blow yourself up :-) That doesn't happen a lot but
overclocking components does cause them to generate more heat. If
adequate extra heat dissipation hasn't been factored in the part
could burn out. It's not impossible for PCs to catch fire, then
all you need is a curtain in close proximity.... ;-)
main risk you need to worry about though is the warranty.
Overclocking often ruins products. Even if it doesn't ruin the
component it will definitely lower it's life expectancy.
Manufacturers have very clever ways of examining a burnt out
product and deducing what caused the problem. And they won't
compensate you with a replacement part if they suspect that you
ran their product beyond it's rated capacity/speed. And the part may not
burn out immediately, it may happen in weeks or months.
not. Overclocking in most cases is just juvenile, silly and a
waste of time. And don't bother writing in to tell us that
overclocking roolz. You
won't get a reply :-)
you provide an overclocking service?
have the UK's top experts optimising our PCs. That is why we have
an enviable track record for performance computers. (This
is what some of the experts have said).
leave the overclocking to the boy racers and we'll continue to
product the optmised performance PCs that we are so famous for.
The fact that they also beat overclocked machines by a wide margin
provides us with immense satisfaction and results in you, the
customer, having more performance for a lot less money. It also
results in you not losing any of your warranty rights (as happens
with overclocked parts).
to the PCs that don't ever need overclocking to run fast >>