Over clock your components- Steroids for your PC…

Here is something special for you guys, something you can do to push your PC to the limits… Something that involves interacting with your motherboard on a very low level to ultimately wake up the demon within your PC. Yes, it is over clocking.

Over clocking: It is the process of pushing the clock frequencies of core components of your system beyond their defaults to increase the overall performance of your system. This basically means your 2.4 GHz system can run at, say, 3.0 GHz !! Components like processor, RAM, motherboard chipset and graphic cards can be over clocked. While graphic cards can be over clocked in windows interface, over clocking other components require you to dive into your system BIOS.

Word of caution: Though this may sound really fun, haste to squeeze max can be hazardous. Pushing your PC too much or carelessly can drive it insane, unstable and can even fry your components!

Basics: The attributes we are going to tweak are clock speed, core voltage etc.

The speed with which your PC runs is a product of clock speed and the multiplier. E.g., a system with bus speed 133 MHz and a multiplier of 23 is given by-

133 x 23 = 3.06 GHz

Basically the multiplier is constant, thus the clock speed of processor can be increased a little, say 144 MHz, making the resultant speed equal to 3.3 GHz .

Similarly the BUS speeds of Ram can be increased to perform at par with the increased processor speeds.

Prerequisites: Since over clocking makes your core components run above rated speeds, they tend to heat up, hence, sufficient provisions for cooling should be made. These include extra fans, bigger heat sinks and proper ventilation.

The heat from surface of processor is picked up and exhausted by CPU cooler with a heat sink. For better heat removal, a special thermal heat sink compound can be applied between cooler and processor top. Varieties from Cooler master and arctic silver are available in the market.

Some software that are required during our ordeal are-

  • Z-CPU : This nasty little tool can be used to find the details of your CPU’s clock speed, core speed, rated FSB, multiplier etc. Useful to see results of your tweaking.
  • HW monitor : This tool gives information regarding core temperature, HDD and chassis temperatures and speeds of CPU cooler fan and chassis fans. Useful to test how temperatures are after over clocking.
  • CPU burn : This tool can be used to put your system on extreme limits of load and monitor system stability and temperatures using HW monitor.

This cycle of monitoring should be repeated after every shot of over clocking. Speed is of course bound to increase, temperatures and stability are the criterion for success.

Before we start tweaking the clock speeds, we need to understand the limits to which our PC can be over clocked and remains stable. This is done by trail and error method. Start by small changes in core clock speed. Do not make more that 10% change in clock speed and make sure not to exceed the core processor voltage more than 1.45 V . Follow this procedure-

1. 1. See parameters like clock speed and multiplier to estimate required boost in clock speed to bring about expected increase in core speed. Also see temperatures and analyse if sufficient cooling is provided. High temperatures, noise of CPU cooler even before over clocking means better you fix your PC rather than over clock it.

( In HW monitor, there will be a list of temperatures shown, the one showing the highest temperature consistently is your processor’s temperature sensors reading. Similarly, in case of fan speeds, the one higher than others is the one of you CPU cooler)

  1. Get into BIOS and change the clock speed of processor; preferably less than 10% change  to be on safe side, rated FSB increases on its own proportionally. Boot up (start windows I mean) and use Z-CPU to check the increased speed. Also check idle temperatures, fan speeds and then note them again running CPU burn. If there are signs of instability, increase the core voltage a little bit but never exceed 1.45 Volts . Re-analyse your system repeating the above procedure.
  1. Following the above two steps repeatedly, reach a speed where the system is stable and doesn’t lose its cool either.

Though I don’t run my PC over clocked ( 3.06 GHz naturally, what more ?!), I juiced the max out of it to demonstrate over clocking and assure you comfort while you do it. Here under is the analysis I made…

Instead of going for the kill in a single hit, I performed over clocking in steps, increasing clock speed cautiously. Under normal conditions on no-load, my PC was cool and composed. On analyzing using Z-CPU, I found my core clock speed to be 133 MHz, which let me decide how much I should increase it to get desired effects.

I increased it to 144 MHz first, making my core speed 3.3 GHz. I booted up and saw my windows stable. Sensing more scope, I restarted, entered BIOS and increased my clock speed to 155 MHz, which made my core speed 3.6 GHz . I started windows to see it stable on no-load. I sensed increased temperatures and fan speeds, obvious to heating taking place. To vigorously check stability, I loaded it with CPU burn and saw it to respond satisfactorily. Temperatures rose further on load. Thanks to rear chassis fan and another one opposite to processor cooler, disposing the heat wasn’t an issue.

Having come this far, why not give it a bigger push! I rebooted and clocked the core to 170 MHz, hoping to push it to verge of instability. On booting windows, I found my PC quite hot running at no-load on 3.9 GHz, more than 20% faster!! On putting load by CPU burn, it turned out that my processor got hotter than Angelina Jolie, and my fans began making loud noise, unable to bear her heat!! At 55 degrees and fans running at more than twice the normal speed, I called the limit. I would rather run it at 3.3 GHz or 3.6 GHz, depending on cooling I can arrange.

Note: To get into BIOS, restart your PC and strike F10 while it reboots or see the instructions on screen to enter BIOS settings or Advance settings. After you get into BIOS, see for advanced settings or any option related to clock speeds. Browse your way through, its just GUI with a different old fashioned look. Normally you will not end up provoking a disaster, even if you feel you messed up, you can restore defaults by a single click.

After over clocking if there arises an event that system turns unstable, just restore defaults and blame your luck! Apart from over clocking, BIOS can be used to tweak some other performance options. Will speak to you about that in next post….

CPU clock speed..  before and after...

CPU clock speed.. before and after...