If you already know what is overclocking, then you realize there are many benefits to it. Even if you don’t, they’ll become apparent rather quickly. Once you cross every overclocking requirement off the list, like having a motherboard that supports it and an appropriate CPU or GPU, there are only a few steps to do in preparation. All that’s required is either a BIOS update or an overclocking and stress testing software for RAM, CPU, and/or GPU so you can find their limit. But why overclock, and thus spend time, effort, finances, and possibly, nerves?
What are the Reasons to Overclock?
There are many reasons why you should be overclocking your hardware. Even though it is not a necessity, and should be done with caution, overclocking your hardware can be very beneficial or the performance of your PC. Here are 8 overclocking facts that can motivate you to do it.
1. Overclocking is free!
Well, assuming you already have a PC capable of overclocking. And you might not even know you do! A lot of people purchase prebuilt PCs or build overclocking-capable computers but never get around to doing it. The point is, overclocking gives you bonus computer performance without any additional cost.
You might not make a large jump in frequency or double performance, so it doesn’t feel justified. But it’s quick, easy, and once again, free of charge. So if you’re unsure what are the reasons to overclock – there’s your answer. You have nothing to lose and everything to gain.
2. To increase performance in video games
Video games greatly benefit from overclocking, especially from a combination of CPU and GPU overclocking. Online games can benefit more from boosting a CPU core multiplier while offline games only rely on GPU power. Your experience playing both types of games is largely based on the number of frames per second (FPS) which rises by overclocking.
Doing so can also balance things out and reduce or remove a hardware bottleneck. Overclocking also improves frame time, which can get rid of shutters or freezes if the hardware was struggling previously. Some gamers who were on the edge can comfortably cut down the FPS number in favor of kicking things up a notch to a prettier (and more hardware-demanding) graphical setting.
3. To edit videos or photos or create 3D models
You can use one of the symbols of modern technology, a computer, for many reasons other than having fun. Overclocking a CPU and GPU on low-tier and mid-range computers can have a significant impact on the image and video editing, as well as previewing and rendering 3D models in real-time. You can apply more effects and transitions, and preview the result in larger resolution and with more FPS.
The overall experience will be much smoother if your computer was having trouble with stuttering and freezing before overclocking. You shouldn’t be surprised if the animations of zooming in and out and scrolling go from choppy to buttery smooth. If you also increased RAM frequency, tightened timings, and achieved stability, you can multitask better e.g. run more programs at once.
Something that affects low-spec and top-of-the-line computers equally is video rendering and video transcoding from one format to another. Both of the aforementioned computer classes will see a significant reduction in time for completing these tasks.
4. To do complex calculations (and GPU/CPU mining)
Those who work in science greatly benefit from extracting every ounce of power from their PC, since it allows them to run very complex calculations over and over. Over time, every saved second adds up. You can even overclock your computer, then lend its power to some of the community-driven efforts, such as finding cures for various diseases, if you’re feeling charitable.
You don’t need to have a good heart, however. Remember the first entry in our article about 10 modern technologies in banking – blockchain technology? By using your computer’s resources, you can mine for fractions or whole cryptocurrencies, and thus amass virtual wealth you can later convert into a regular currency.
5. Overclocking can save you money
If your computer isn’t performing as you’d expect, your first thought is to do a hardware upgrade. Try overclocking first! You might gain a satisfactory boost in performance, realize there’s no need, and thus delay or cancel a planned hardware upgrade. If you see potential, you can purchase a thermal paste or pad, and a quality air or water cooler instead.
Many people are surprised when we tell them there might be no need to purchase a gaming monitor either. Simply go to your GPU control panel, and overclock the refresh rate slightly. Chances are, you can make a small jump, such as from 60 Hz to 75 Hz. Although this can technically reduce the screen lifespan, if stable, it might be years before you notice any negative effects.
6. You might have won the chip lottery
Two people overclocking identical models of a CPU and GPU can see very different results. This is popularly called “chip lottery” or “silicon lottery” since chips are manufactured in yields, and can have vastly different overclocking capabilities. It’s all based on luck, normally. However, there’s a “SiliconLottery” website that collects powerful samples and sells them at a higher price for customers that want the cream of the crop.
7. Because it’s (mostly) safe
Don’t let horror stories scare you. As long as you take a gradual approach and overclock in moderation, nothing will happen. In the worst-case scenario, you’ll experience instability during intensive tasks or get a blue screen of death and your PC will restart. Even if it doesn’t start after a crash, you can physically remove a CMOS jumper pin or the battery itself, and BIOS settings will be restored to default.
8. Overclocking is thrilling
Look at the number of forum posts, comments, and videos of people exchanging information. Once you get past the initial fear, altering the core multiplier, core voltage, base clock, power limit, frequency, timings, and running numerous stress tests to find the upper limit is addictive. And let’s not even get into seeking the best heat-power consumption-power output balance.
Dealing with Heat – Bane of Overclocking
Overheating is the main hindrance to overclocking the computer. High-speed computers of late already generate tons of heat. This issue gets worse when a computer system is overclocked. Anyone who intends to overclock their computer should be aware of the need for highly efficient cooling solutions.
The most popular method of cooling a computer system is via basic air cooling, which includes CPU heatsinks and fans, memory heat spreaders, video card fans, and case with fans. The effectiveness of air cooling depends on proper airflow and the use of appropriate heat-conducting metals. Extra case fans draw air into the system, and large copper heatsinks tend to boost cooling performance brilliantly at a low cost.
Liquid cooling and phase change cooling are superior alternatives to air cooling. These systems are definitely far more costly and complicated than typical air cooling options, but they offer better heat dissipation performance and typically make far less noise. The performance of well-built systems can enable overclockers to push their hardware to its limits, but the cost may wind up being more than the CPU cost. Just hope there’s no liquid leakage; that’s a painful issue you might want to avoid.