Sanjeev Nanda tips on How to Overclock your PC

8 Jul

Sanjeev Nanda how to guides

Overclocking is an Art and if mastered an addiction

Overclocking today could be considered very common. PC retailers are beginning to give you the means to overclock your computer very easily, and some are even doing it for you. Now that overclocking is everywhere, I’m attempting to take it a step further and become a master overclocker. So, here’s what I’ve learned along the way…But before I begin here are some reasons you shouldn’t try overclocking your PC.

Reasons to not Overclock

  • Protection – Warranties are voided on almost all CPUs, and some motherboards as well.
  • Stress – More Stress on the CPU (and on all devices if you increase the FSB)
  • Heat – More Heat Generation from CPU (and RAM if you increase the FSB)
  • Sensitivity – The heat sensitivity of your system will be greatly affected. If you o/c in the winter and summer comes around, you might be forced to reduce your speeds because your system cannot work stably with the large change in ambient temperature.
  • Efficiency – Increasing your CPU speed with overclocking doesn’t increase its efficiency at processing data.
  • Hassle? – Some people get fed up with having to constantly adjust their system for stability. Other, however, find this the most intriguing and education part of overclocking, so it’s your call.

Now that you have mustered the guts to overclock your PC, here are some reasons why you should overclock.

Reasons for Overclocking

  • Speed – Your CPU will perform more operations per second (and your RAM if you increase the FSB)
  • Cash – Who needs to buy a “pricey” 1900+ when you can get a 1600+ for half the price and overclock it to the same speed?!
  • Troubleshooting – an Overclocker MUST know what is going on in their system, because if he doesn’t, he’ll have an unstable system. Being able to overclock successfully will educate a person on vast areas. Everything from CPU temperatures, to BIOS updates, to OS drivers, to motherboard jumpers. This knowledge is invaluable.

SAFETY PROCEDURES

Know what you have :

You should know everything about your system – motherboard, CPU, heatsink/fan, RAM, operating system, video card, and all add-on devices you have.

Understand what you are doing :

The term “Overclocking” is actually very general. There are several ways to overclock a CPU and other components. Please read MORE than what I am about to provide here, the intricacies of these components can span pages… While overclocking, you will change several or possibly ALL of the following:

  • Front Side Bus (FSB) – This is how fast your motherboard chipset communicates with your CPU, and is also one of the two factors that determine overall CPU speed in MHz.
  • CPU Clock Multiplier – This is a unit less value, who’s value increases or decreases in 0.5 increments (such as 10.0, 10.5, 11.0, etc) This value only affects the CPU, and is the other determining factor in overall CPU speed in MHz, when multiplied together with the FSB.
  • CPU Core Voltage (Vcore) – This is the amount of voltage your motherboard will stream to your CPU. An INCREASE in voltage will ensure that your CPU will cleanly pass data, and will prevent data corruption when your CPU is running at higher than stock speeds. An increase in Vcore will also increase your CPU’s core temperature. Find out what your specific CPUs voltage is, because not all CPUs use the same voltage. Look at www.amd.com or www.intel.com
  • RAM Voltage (Vio) – This is the amount of voltage your motherboard will stream to your RAM modules. Similar to Vcore, it ensures stability at higher speeds, although you will only need to increase this value at high FSB speeds, not high Clock Multiplier settings.

Once again, a reminder to please go out and find more resources on all and MORE data regarding what exactly happens when you “overclock”. That term is not specific in the least.

Don’t Rush :

The best thing you can do when overclocking is to not rush. Rushing will most likely lead to failure, which leads to aggravation. And there’s definitely a possibility of killing your CPU, motherboard, RAM, etc. if you rush.

TEMPS, TEMPS, TEMPS:

Any overclocker will know how well his heatsink removes heat from his CPU, and he will measure this using the temperature sensors that almost all motherboards include. Using either the BIOS or other software (such as Motherboard Monitor for Windows) will provide you with real time temperature values. Do some research to find out the acceptable temperature values for your CPU. I can tell you that all AMD Athlon and Duron CPUs should ABSOLUTELY and WITHOUT QUESTION be under 70C. If you are overclocking, you will require a much lower temperature. The reference point I usually recommend to overclockers is 60C at full load. Please note, that by “full load” I am suggesting a CPU intensive test. The best one I’ve seen is Sandra 2002’s Burn In Test. Run 50 passes of the two CPU benchmarks using Sandra’s Burn In function, then check your CPU temperature. If you are under 60C, you are safe. You can find Sandra at www.download.com.

Check Everything:

My last safety suggestion would be to always take your time… make sure your heatsink is installed properly on your CPU and make sure you used a thin, even layer of thermal compound. Make sure your heatsink was perfectly clean before installation. Make sure all your fans in your case and on your heatsink work properly. Make sure your RAM and all PCI devices are snugly in your board. Make sure all cables on the back of your PC are snug.

Increasing the FSB will affect the CPU and also nearly all devices in your system. This is both good and bad, because in a stable system, while all devices will benefit from a slight boost, this also means all devices are stressed more than usual.

Increasing the CPU Clock Multiplier will only affect the CPU. What MOST overclockers do is increase the FSB and leave the clock multiplier alone. What the HARDCORE overclockers do is lower the multiplier first and then MAX OUT the FSB.

There is no reason you should ever LOWER the FSB from stock speeds, unless you’re in an emergency of some kind. It will NOT help in overclocking.

A WORD OF CAUTION ABOUT TEMPERATURES

If you computer ever runs too hot, stop overclocking, back off a bit on your FSB and voltage, and leave it there (make sure that it is stable using prime 95 and memtest) Make sure you do not run 65+C, or you run the risk of damaging something. Keeping it under 60C at full load is always good practice. In addition, I recommend that you get a good heatsink and fan before you even start to overclock. Keeping your CPU at acceptable temperatures is very important.

Your First Error
Once you get that dreaded error (and yes, your heart may sink, that’s ok), you need to increase voltage. Go by the smallest increment possible and run Prime 95 again. If you are able to pass this time, continue upping the FSB and voltage until you reach a 5% or so increase in voltage. If you cannot pass, then increase the voltage a little more (one more increment) and try again. Like I stated before, only increase your voltage by about 5%. Once you hit that voltage, stop. When you think you have found your best overclock, run Prime 95 for several hours (preferably overnight or for a day) to make sure that your computer is stable. If it returns an error, then you should back off your FSB by about 5MHz or so and try again. This process is very time consuming, but you want to ensure you are running a stable computer.

Are You Done?
Now what? Have you hit your maximum overclock? The answer is most likely, no. There are several little tweaks you can use to increase your overall clock speed. First, find out what is limiting your overclock. This can often be the CPU, motherboard, or RAM. To find out if it is your RAM, run memtest. If that returns no errors, then it is likely the CPU. If memtest does return errors, then it is likely either the motherboard or RAM. Try to increase the RAM voltage and see if you can get memtest to return no errors. If this does not help, then it could still be the RAM or motherboard. Sometimes, if your power supply is weak, that can actually limit your overclock. Your voltages should be within 5% of their nominal value. If you are overclocking, I would recommend a 400+ watt power supply from Antec, Enermax, or OCZ, but there are many brands out there and many threads here at guru on this topic, so search for one of those threads and see if you can’t find a power supply well suited or you. Generally, I would look for 25A+ on the 12V line (that’s 25 or more amps on the 12 volt line).

Are You Done Yet?
Still aren’t running stable? Try reducing your multiplier. Increasing your FSB is the most important factor in gaining real world performance. So, reducing the multiplier and increasing the FSB is a great way to get more performance. However, your motherboard or RAM will limit you here. For instance, you can run 10×220 to get 2.2GHz or 11×200 to get that. The 10×220 will run faster than 11×200 even though the processors run at the same frequency. Keep in mind that RAM or motherboard will be a limiting factor here, as long as you know that your CPU can run at whatever frequency you are running. Take for instance the 11×200. I know my computer can run that, but if it can’t run 10×220, I know either my RAM or my motherboard is holding me back. Try increasing your RAM voltage by few notches to see if you can achieve a stable overclock.

So, you’ve increased your RAM voltage and still can’t get it running stable. Now is it game over? No, not quite. You can try and loosen up your memory timings. You will see these values as something like 2-2-2-5 or 2-3-3-6 or 2.5-3-3-7 or 3-4-4-8, or something similar to that in your BIOS. Generally, I would leave these alone because increasing your timings can actually result in worse performance, even though you may be able to increase your FSB. As an example with my computer, running 200 MHz at 2-3-3-7 gave me 1423MB/s of throughput. Running 2.5-3-3-7 at 213 gave me 1486MB/s. As you can see, for 13 more MHz, I gained almost nothing (and you certainly won’t notice a performance gain from that). Running 2-3-3-11 at 200MHz gave me 1373MB/s. Finally, running 2.5-3-3-7 at 200MHz gives me 1398MB/s of throughput. So keep in mind that relaxing memory timings is not always the best idea. This option is more geared towards advanced and seasoned overclockers, so just leave this alone for now until you get more experience. The only reason I am sharing this is just to let you know it exists.

Ways to Spend Money to Get More Clocks
Now that you have overclocked, you are wondering if you can push it farther, yes? Well, the answer is, of course! However, that may require some money. Purchasing components that are known to overclock well is always helpful. So buying new RAM, a motherboard, or processor that is known to be able to achieve high speeds will likely allow you to overclock farther. Also, if you were limited by temperature (reaching 55 – 60C or so), you can invest in a new high performance heatsink or water cooling. This will cool your processor down more so you can increase your voltage. Also, something that is equally as important as your heatsink and fan is your case cooling. If you can, get more case fans to lower the temperature inside your case. This will result in your processor running cooler. This is very important. Like I said, the things mentioned in this paragraph will require you to spend money. If you are not that serious, then I would recommend you don’t really buy anything. However, if you enjoy this, and you want to get into it more, then by all means, help boost the global economy and buy more stuff.

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