You may have heard of the overclocking term before, but never really looked into it, thinking that it is too complicated or risky. Well, it can be a complicated topic if you get into every minute detail, and it does have some risks involved, but that does not mean that you should completely shy away from it. In basic terms, overclocking is the act of running your system's components at settings that are faster than the manufacturer originally intended.
Overclocking can apply to various system components, such as graphics, for example, but it most commonly refers to the CPU, and that is what will be the main focus of this tutorial.
When you overclock your CPU, you are tweaking its settings to run at higher speeds than those that are officially listed. Let's say you have a 2.66GHz Intel Core i5-750 processor. Overclocking it would mean that you are adjusting it to run at a speed faster than 2.66GHz. This may seem taboo and dangerous, but it is not, if done properly. Manufacturers tend to list processors' standard speeds at numbers that are much lower than they are capable of achieving, so you actually have some leeway in your overclocking efforts.
Overclocking is not necessarily new and innovative, as it has been around for some time. Its presence has seemed to increase, however, as many mainstream computer users look for ways to get better performance out of their systems without spending a lot of money. If you think about it, overclocking is a very inviting concept, as it allows you to take your standard, possibly budget priced system and turn it into something more powerful. This tutorial will try to make such a scenario a reality through moderate overclocking, since stability is just as important as speed. Remember, there are risks involved, and they will be discussed later on. Keep that in mind before you attempt to overclock your CPU.
Is overclocking necessary?
The way in which you use your computer determines whether or not overclocking is worth the effort. Overclocking the CPU is probably best served for users that frequently engage in multi-threaded applications on their computer. For example, if you work with photo editing a lot, you could see a noticeable difference with an overclocked CPU.
Gamers should also see a boost in performance after overclocking, although it may not be that significant. If you are really into gaming and looking to boost performance in that realm, you may want to look into upgrading your graphics hardware. Still, if you are dead set on overclocking out of curiosity, you will likely achieve some amped up gaming performance.
Now, if you are a casual PC user, overclocking is likely something you should stray from. Common daily tasks like checking email, internet browsing, instant messaging, etc. will not benefit much from overclocking. In other words, the risk does not match the potential reward.
If you have a Netbook or a laptop, you should refrain from overclocking, even if the potential to do so somehow exists. You do not want these devices to run any hotter than they already do. Also, if you have an Acer, Dell, Gateway, HP, or similar PC you may not have the option to overclock. Many retail processors are locked and prevent you from tweaking their settings. This is one reason why many people searching for better performance prefer to build custom PCs that allow for overclocking. Your motherboard and CPU are major determinants when it comes to the ability to overclock, and retail configurations restrict your choices.
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