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Thread: Beginner's Guide To Overclocking

  1. #1
    Virtualbody1234's Avatar Forum Star BT Rep: +2
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    First Time Overclocking - The Guide, Beginner's Guide To Our Most Loved Sport
    Submitted by: peerzyboy

    This is a guide i have writen in M$ Word for the n00bies out there about overclocking, hopefully this will stop alot of useless and uneeded questions in HardwareWorld. Please Note: Read the whole guide before starting to overclock and i don't take any responsability if anything happens to your CPU or any other part of your computer.

    GREEN- Important or vital infomation about how to overclock.
    BLUE--- Infomation on helping you overclock or ways to help you overclock more sucessfully.


    There are lots of people out there that regard overclocking as something of a black art done by a clique of underground experts for little other reason other than one-upmanship. Overclocking modern PCs is a piece of cake and can be done with no prior experience and at little expense. Like a piece of cake though, allís well until you eat one slice too many.

    Risks and Principles

    Okay, so we there are risks involved, but so far I havenít covered exactly what overclocking is. Basically speaking, itís the practice of gaining superior speed and performance from your systemís core components to give your PC a power boast without needing new parts of much extra expense. By following the basic principles of this thread and a little trial and error thereís little to stop you turning your £60 CPU into a pseudo £200 CPU and the same can pretty much be said about your graphics card.

    Basics and Examples

    So how does it all work? Well, the buck pretty much stops at supply and demand. Component manufactures save millions of pounds by producing basically the same components and them tweaking and labelling them low, mid and high range products Ė graphics cards are a classic example. Take ATIís excellent Radeon range Ė an inexpensive 9600 card (starting at around £60) services gamers on a tighter budget. Their 9800 cards (starting at around £200) service the higher end of the same market. The difference? Not a great deal. Youíll find that many of these cards come off the very same production line and are Ďrestrictedí for the lower end of the market using mostly software tweaks via either the cards own BIOS or tweaking software. As this practice is carried out by component manufactures of a surprising array of parts in an everyday PC, thereís an awful lot of latent power begging to be exploited by simply unlocking its potential through a series of tweaks.

    Stock Speeds

    Of course, manufacturers guarantee their products to work to their pre-set speeds (known as stock speeds) so taking their product out of the warranted stock frequencies will void your receipt Ė your overclocking efforts are very much at your own risk and I suggest you ask an experienced overclocker for help.

    Small Steps

    Unfortunately, thereís no solid guarantee that your graphics card or CPU is as overclockable as the next manís, so itís important to take a steady approach to your efforts. Make your tweaks using one small step at a time and test your results every step of the way.

    The Scientist

    Itís important to approach overclocking in much the same way that a scientist would approach a volatile experiment. Youíve got to be meticulous and youíve got to err on the side of caution every step of the way Ė as for overclocking is concerned, patience is a real virtue. For example, when youíre increasing the clock frequencies of your CPU do so in very small increments so you can test the stability and temperature of your system as you go. Once youíve done an initial overclock, boot up and open your benchmarking software and Ďload testí your machine by running it in full to ensure your system doesnít hang or any unwanted side effects occur. Once your happy with everythingís ship shape, youíll be free to raise the bar and increase the clock frequency another increment. Continue in this vein until your machine starts to show the strain (crashing, glitches and bad temperatures) and drop back a couple of notches until the side effects subside.

    Lynx added on 26th Feb 2004 - 18:42
    Overclocking my cpu from 166MHz in small steps, it was stable to 182MHz, then violently unstable at 183MHz. However, it is totally stable again at 200MHz, with Vcore only increased (nominally) from 1.65V to 1.675V (it was 1.70V but I've cut that back now), although Asus Probe tells me Vcore varies between 1.696V and 1.712V, but that could simply be a faulty probe.

    I am guessing that, since 183MHz is halfway between 166MHz and 200MHz, something is switching over at this point. Whether this is in the processor or in the chipset I have no way of knowing. If I hadn't tried the "go for it" approach I would still be running at 182MHz base frequency.
    Cooling Down

    As you start getting to grips with overclocking and your efforts start paying off youíll likely come across a side effect that if left can stop you and your system in your tracks Ė heat. One of the biggest causes of crashing and genral instability, heat is the arch nemesis of overclockers. The bottom line is that the cooler inside the chassis, the more stable and capable your core components are. Iím not an expert in this but Iím sure if you ask someone like <span style='color:red'>Clocker or VirtualBody1234 they will be able to help you position your fans and more help on cooling.</span>


    Although we should be able to notice change in our system performance one overclocked, if weíre going to do things properly we really need to scientifically measure the performance of the PC before and after weíve tweaked it. Itís so much easier to judge change with tangible figures and percentages, especially when youíre experimenting with new settings hoping to find that all-important last ounce of latent power. Thankfully, thereís no shortage on the internet wit which to do just that, because there are so many, its possible to pick and choose the right benchmark for you, though three key areas really dictate this: the kind of overclocking you intend to do, the make up of your system, and the kind of applications you predominantly use. Part of the beauty of some of the most popular benchmarking software is the ability to take your results online to compare with thousands of other users with similar system set-ups as yourself.

    3D Mark or PC Mark

    So letís get down to specifics. Arguably the best benchmarking software comes for FutureMark. Their biggest three applications are PC Mark (perfect benchmark if you use your PC for business or office type software), 3D Mark 2003 (perfect for scoring gaming PCís with a modern DirectX 9 graphics card) and 3D Mark 2001 SE (which again is for gaming PCís, though ones with older DirectX 8 graphics cards).

    CPU Overclocking

    Itís time to get down to the nitty gritty of overclocking your CPU, the bulk of which takes place in the BIOS. This tiny operating system is built into your motherboard and governs the hardware in your machine and can be basically described as the ignition that gets your PC up and running. As your PC boots up, the BIOS completes three main tasks. A Power On Self Test (POST) which checks to see all the required hardware is present and correct, it then looks for any other BIOSs (like ones found on graphics cards) and initiated them, and finally starts the boot sequence at which time Windows/Linux kicks in. The beauty of the BIOS is that it allowed users to manually configure their hardware Ė something youíre going to do with our CPU to obtain a faster clock speed. Once youíre into your BIOS (usually pushing the Del {Delete} or F1 button while the system performs the memory test will get you in) youíll need to scroll to the screen titled ĎAdvanced Chipset featuresí. The main items of interest for us here are the CPU external frequency (otherwise known as the front side bus or FSB for short) and CPU frequency multiplier (otherwise known as the multiplier). Multiplying these two figures together tells you what our clock speed will be once you re-boot. As an example, if the FBS 166 and the multiplier at 12.5, the maths tells us (166 x 12.5) that the clock speed is set at 2075MHz. By changing these figures you can in turn change the clock speed of your CPU thus overclocking it to run faster. As far as your CPU and motherboard are concerned, the safest way to overclock your CPU is to raise the multiplier figure by the smallest increment possible. In the example shown above if the multiplier was raised to 13 and the FSB left alone at 166MHz the new speed would be 2158MHz Ė an increase of 83MHz. Save your new settings and exit the BIOS to see if your system starts Ė if everythingís okay once youíve testing it thoroughly, youíve successfully overclocked your CPU.

    Clocker added this on 26 February 2004 - 18:56
    After you hit the wall with the frequency increases, then an extra shot of voltage is called for. Continue with the FSB increase until you BSOD again. Now is the time to really pay attention to temps, as even a small increase in voltage will cause the temps to rise. Some motherboards will also allow you to increase the voltage to the RAM which may help as you go higher. Repeat the process as far as you dare....
    This process can be quite dangerous to your components so as clocker suggest only push your parts as far as you think they will go, as you could do alot damage to your processor.

    Bad Intel

    Unfortunately, if youíre using an Intel CPU this method of overclocking is out of your reach Ė there is no way of altering the multiplier on their chips (the option in the BIOS will be greyed out). Should you have an AMD Athlon XP however, youíre in luck, these chips can be unlocked.

    Abu_has_the_power added this on 26 February 2004 - 03:14
    Intel&#39;s processors overclock just as well as AMD&#39;s do. For example, compare the scores i get from PC performance benchmarks and the scores that Bigdawgfoxx get&#39;s, AMD chips overclock very well, but they don&#39;t reach as high as intel CPU&#39;s do.
    This shows that there are ways around Intel&#39;s chips being locked so ask some of the members who use Intel chips and im sure they will be able to help you more than I can because i use an AMD.

    Overclocking By FSB

    Using the multiplier alone to overclock will only get you so far. To really unlock the potential of your CPU you will need to adjust the FSB Ė this is also the only route open to the Pentium processor family, but for AMD users the ideal clock speed is created by adjusting the multiplier and FSB in tandem. If your lucky enough to have a motherboard that allows you to adjust the FSB in single digit increments then youíre in luck. Start off by increasing your FSB by one Ė going back to the example, if you set it to 167 with a multiplier of 12.5 your new clock speed will be 2083. Not a mega improvement, but an overclock nevertheless. As long as your system runs stable upon booting, continue to raise the bar using small increments, as always. As you might see from the BIOS screen, itís not just the CPU thatís affected by altering the FSB. Your AGP, PCI, and RAM are all inter-linked to this figure and are all directly affected Ė especially your RAM. Should your machine refuse to boot or start to become unstable when you reach a certain point, it could be that your RAM is the problem and not your CPU at all.

    Graphics Card Overclocking

    Overclocking doesnít stop with the CPU Ė pretty much every component in your PC can be tweaked. Because games are so close to so many of our hearts, the graphic card is the new most obvious tweak Ė getting those games running faster and smoother than ever before is easier than overclocking the CPU, thanks to a couple of handy bits of software free for download. If your using a NVIDIA based card, PowerStrip is your best option. You can tweak a bewildering away of options to eke every last drop of performance from your card. If its fast clock speeds youíre after you can raise the core clock and memory speed too Ė though itís wise to err on the side of caution. Though it works fine with ATI&#39;s Radeon range, River Tuner is generally a better recommendation. However recently I have seen a piece of software by the name of ATI tool on Suprnova, I havenít tried it out because I have a NVIDIA card but if someone has PM with your results and Iíll add them.

    Getting The RAM Right

    Given the close-knit connection between the CPU FSB and your RAMís clock frequency, itís vital to ensure your RAM is up to the job or you could easily work it into the ground. First you need to ascertain what type of RAM is in your machine, the FSB your CPUís designed to run at and the RAM speed your motherboard supports. Using an AMD system as an example, letís say the CPU runs with a FSB of 333 (displayed in the BIOS as 166MHz). The obvious choice for RAM on this system is also 333 (known as PC2700 DDR), but as youíre going to be keen to increase the FSB (and the motherboard supports it) I use a stick of PC3200 DDR RAM (that runs at 400MHz). This way I am free to overclock the CPU FSB to the hilt, without worry about my RAM not being able to stand the pressure. Like most things in life, with RAM you get what you pay for. Brand names like Kingston, Crucial and Samsung are much more likely to take the pressure of overclocking in their stride while cheap unbranded RAM can be a bit of a performance lottery. While top of the range performance RAM can be brought with heat spreading passive cooling already attached, itís possible to do it yourself using tiny little heat sinks that attach to memory modules using sticky thermal pads. These can be brought from most online computer stores with overclocking sections, though even PC World has started to stock them of late. They really help to dissipate the heat when youíre pushing your RAM to the limit, and cost little more than a fiver Ė a worthy investment and a great way to increase stability of your system.

    Stay Cool

    As I mentioned earlier on heat is a major problem where overclocking is concerned. Excessive heat is something you want to avoid at all costs and it can be done using a little forward thinking, preparation and a little cash. Firstly, itís wise to check your system temperature regularly. You can do this via the BIOS or using Windows software Ė usually supplied with your motherboard. Knowing the sort of temperature your system maintains when idle (and not overclocked) will give you an idea of an acceptable component temperature level. Keeping it as close to this as possible when overclocked is important because you know your machine is stable at this temperature. The same should be done with a load test. Knowing the maximum temperature of your CPY when working really hard is as important as knowing the idle temperature. The first and most obvious task is to ensure your CPU cooler and heat-sink is up to the job. Though it might sufficiently cool your CPU at stock speeds, if youíre unsure if it can handle high spec CPUs Iíd advise you to buy a new one and be better safe than sorry. Good quality coolers will state the maximum spec CPU it supports Ė as long as your CPU is well within the limit youíll be okay. Coolers arenít going to break the bank either; a good one can be picked up for only £15. Case fans are also important, though positioning is often the key to success (properly best to ask someone like Clocker about this).

    Checking Temps

    To check your temps outside of the BIOS your going to need a program like MotherBoard Monitor or Speed Fan. These programs support hundreds of motherboard so its bound to support your one as long as its quite new, and they will read everything from temps, to fan speeds, to power usage.

    Hope This helped all you budding overclockers.


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  3. Guides and Tutorials   -   #2

    New to overclocking and I will be starting to Oc My system soon. Sure I'll be refering to this over that time.

    Thanks for taking the time.

    Intel 530 3.0Ghz, 2GB Kingston DDR400Mhz Ram, Abit uGuru AG8-V Mobo,
    Silerstone Nitrogon NT06 Heatpipe w 120mm fan, OCZ Modstream 520w Powersupply,VisionTek X850XT Video Card

  4. Guides and Tutorials   -   #3
    kukula1's Avatar Lucifer is Here BT Rep: +20BT Rep +20BT Rep +20BT Rep +20
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    on dual core it's the same proccess ?

    i know there's overclocking on the new core 2 due cpus.

  5. Guides and Tutorials   -   #4
    i will never overclock
    too dangerous

  6. Guides and Tutorials   -   #5
    never overclock your cpu unless you have a cheap slow one.

  7. Guides and Tutorials   -   #6
    Poster BT Rep: +11BT Rep +11BT Rep +11
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    thanks for the awesome guide

  8. Guides and Tutorials   -   #7
    Poster BT Rep: +25BT Rep +25BT Rep +25BT Rep +25BT Rep +25
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    thanks for this great guide

  9. Guides and Tutorials   -   #8
    mbucari1's Avatar Poster BT Rep: +35BT Rep +35BT Rep +35BT Rep +35BT Rep +35BT Rep +35BT Rep +35
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    I overclocked my e6600 core 2 dou. Works great! I now have surpassed the performance of the e6700 w/o $200 extra

  10. Guides and Tutorials   -   #9
    Thanks for this great guide

  11. Guides and Tutorials   -   #10

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