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Introduction to Overclocking Guide for Beginners E-mail
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Written by Vito Cassisi   
Thursday, 13 March 2008
Table of Contents: Page Index
Introduction to Overclocking Guide for Beginners
Why should I overclock?
Overclocking Theory: Intel
Overclocking Theory: AMD
The Technique Behind DDR RAM
DDR RAM Overclock Details
Pushing it Further - Voltage Increase
Overclocking - Practical
Overclocking the CPU and RAM
Overclocking via BIOS Part 1
Overclocking via BIOS Part 2
Overclocking via BIOS Part 3
Benchmarking and Final Word

Introduction to Overclocking

Overclocking is the technique used to increase the speed of a device beyond stock. ‘Stock' is the name given to the default specifications of a device. Once you have altered the device it is no longer considered stock unless it is returned to its initial specifications. Overclocking describes the alteration of clock speed above stock (hence the name overclocking) of any given device, usually RAM and CPUs, but also other components such as GPUs and PCI busses. When a devices clock speed is decreased from stock (or from an overclock), it is called underclocking.

WARNING: It is human nature to blame someone else if something goes wrong. This is where I warn you, the reader of this article, that neither the author nor this website recommend that you overclock your computer hardware. This article explains how the author conducted these experiments on his own property. Benchmarkreviews.com and the author of this article will not be responsible for damages or injury resulting from experiments you choose to conduct on your own property. If you read beyond this point, you are accepting responsibility for your own actions and hold the Benchmark Reviews website and the staff of benchmarkreviews.com harmless.

NOTE: Not all hardware can be overclocked. Research the components you wish to overclock using a search engine such as Google, and check if they are capable of being overclocked. Searching the model number of your motherboard along with "overclock" should help you determine whether the system is capable. If in doubt, ask here.

Dangers of Overclocking

Overclocking is safe. There, I said it. I will not attempt to scare you away from overclocking. I believe that if you learn properly you can overclock without trouble, as long as you know your limits. This tutorial explains how to determine these limits. I am not liable if you damage anything by following this tutorial. Overclock at your own risk. Please note that overclocking can decrease the lifespan of your components. You are welcome to ask me any questions here.

Overclocking and Warranty

Before you leap into the world of overclocking, check that you aren't voiding your warranty. Most devices will forfeit your warranty when overclocking is performed, so the main rule of thumb is to not overclock anything you cannot afford to replace. Even though overclocking is fairly safe to perform, it is not very smart to risk breaking something if you cannot replace it.

What Determines CPU Performance?

The performance of a CPU is determined by its frequency (or clock speed), architecture and cache.
The architecture of CPUs is constantly evolving, and with this we get faster processors that run cooler and more efficiently. Multiple core CPUs are a prime example of architecture improvement. Two or more cores allow data to be processed more efficiently therefore increasing performance, sometimes even with smaller clock speeds. The performance difference between single and multiple core CPUs is dependent on the software and OS you are running. With overclocking we can't change architecture because it is a physical component. The only way to alter architecture is to buy a new CPU altogether.

Clock speed is the rate in which data is processed. It is common for people to get confused with this idea and assume that a bigger clock speed CPU runs faster than a lower clocked CPU. This is not necessarily true, especially when there is a major architecture difference. An interesting comparison of CPUs at the same clock speed but with different architectures can be found here.

If you were to compare two identical CPU models, each with different clock speeds, the higher clocked CPU would be the faster processor.



 

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