Overclocking Desktop Computer & Software Tools
Overclocking can increase the performance of your computer at no extra cost and many modern motherboards will allow you to overclock via the CMOS setup page. For general computer use such as browsing the web, email, and word processing you will not get any real benefit from overclocking but the increase in performance will benefit photo-editing, video-editing, and gaming. However, you will probably get a much better performance increase for gaming if you add a more powerful graphics card or overclock your existing graphics card.
It should be stated that overclocking could damage or shorten the life of your computer's CPU, motherboard or RAM and invalidate your warranty. You should only attempt it if you are confident and aware of the risks.
Can i overclock my Desktop Computer?
Most store bought computers are not able to be overclocked and a quick look on the CMOS Setup page will indicate if there are any overclocking options. If you have bought a motherboard manufactured by ASUS, or Gigabyte etc then they usually support overclocking.
Many new motherboards have the ability to overclock your computer by increasing the Base Clock Rate, increasing the CPU Multiplier, and raising the CPU Core Voltage. The CPU must be an unlocked version to be able to change the CPU Multiplier. Unlocked versions of Intel CPU include the 'K-series' and 'Extreme Edition', while AMD has the 'Black Edition' CPUs which are designed to be overclocked. If you have a locked CPU then you may still be able to overclock by increasing the Base Clock Rate but this will only achieve a modest performance increase. The Base Clock Rate and CPU Multiplier as well as other settings can be changed via the CMOS Setup page. How you overclock your computer and the terminology used will vary slightly depending on the type of motherboard, chipset, and CPU used and if you have an AMD or Intel processor.
Useful software tools for overclocking
You will need a benchmark program so that you can monitor the increase in performance of your computer. CPU-Z is a very handy little program to confirm your CPU and RAM details. Temperature monitoring software will be required so you can monitor how hot the CPU gets and whether you will require additional cooling inside the computer. A Stress testing program will give your computer a thorough workout which will confirm that your computer is stable and unlikely to keep crashing.
Benchmark your Computer.
Before overclocking you will want to benchmark the overall performance of your Computer. This will give you a performance score which you can compare when you have overclocked your computer.
A few common benchmark programs include 'PCMark'
, and 'Sisoftware'
. PCMark 7 Basic Edition is free to use and works with Windows 7 and Windows 8 and is a 300MB download. Novabench is completely free benchmark software (You can donate money if you use this program
), is a 12MB download and works very fast. Sisoftware Lite is free to use, a 64MB download, and allows you to test individual components if required. All these programs will test the overall performance of your computer's components such as the CPU, RAM, Storage device, and Graphics and give you an overall performance score.
Another excellent and invaluable program is CPU-Z which will give you detailed information on your CPU (Core speed, Multiplier, Bus speed, Rated FSB, and Cache sizes), Memory (Type, Size, Frequency, and Timings), as well as details of the motherboard, and graphics. This small utility is free and available at www.cpuid.com/softwares/cpu-z.html
Temperature monitoring software.
When overclocking your computer you will need to regularly monitor the temperature of the CPU cores. Increasing the CPU Core Voltage will certainly increase the heat generated by the CPU.
Popular Temperature monitoring software include 'HWMonitor'
, 'Core Temp'
, 'Real Temp'
, and 'Speedfan'
Stress testing software.
You will need to run Stress testing software everytime you overclock you computer by increasing the Base Clock Rate, increasing the CPU Multiplier, or raising the CPU Core Voltage. This software will make your computer and particularly the CPU work very hard which will generate a lot of heat and will show you if your computer is still stable after being overclocked.
Stress testing software include the popular 'Prime95'
progam which is designed to find Mersenne prime numbers to give your CPU a real workout. Another Stress testing program includes 'OCCT'
(Overclock Checking Tool
) which is also designed to check a computer's stability after overclocking.
System Memory (RAM) testing software.
The best memory testing program is 'MemTest86+'
which you burn to a Compact Disk or a memory stick and then boot your computer to this media and it will show up any problems.