By: Vincent Fraser and Jerry Hernandez

Computer overclocking can be extremely useful when a computer needs an extra boost in performance.  Overclocking involves the process of unlocking and gaining access to a specific component in order to accelerate or decelerate the voltage directed to certain areas of the computer (and to open up other settings as well).  This process pushes the Central Processing Unit to work past its designated safe limits to obtain higher grade speeds, and to give the computer a greater push in performance.  Overclocking will always involve some sort of risk, no matter the computer.  If the

Central Processing Unit is pushed past the factory’s default performance, the new settings have the ability to damage the computer if the voltage is too high for the motherboard to handle, or  if the heat is too high for the cooling system to handle.  When the voltage is pushed too high, the older or lower quality motherboards will degrade from the higher electric currents, ultimately causing them to short out.  In addition, based on the probability of an electricity overload occurring on the motherboard, there would also be a problem with heat due to the processor working harder to get out the extra performance.

In order to combat the heat, more advanced overclocks include new cooling systems that are essential to keeping the computer cool.  Assuming that the overclock is more advanced, the overclocked system will be squeezing out every bit of processing power which, in this case, the stock computer fans would no longer have the ability to regulate the high temperatures that the processor is producing.  An easy solution for this problem would be upgrading the current cooling system, or installing more of it to help regulate the temperatures.  A common upgrade from the stock air cooling would be liquid cooling- however- though this type of cooling is more efficient than air, it is more expensive.

How is an overclock achieved?  Overclocking can be done in a series of two ways, which would include the computer BIOS or software.  The BIOS is basically the controller for the motherboard, which allows boot orders to be changed, along with some other advanced options.  This way of overclocking is unfortunately not available to everyone, due to every model of motherboard being different from the last.  Some models of motherboards do not support processor overclocking, while others do in the BIOS Menu.  If the model of the motherboard does not support overclocking, the process can still be done using computer software to actively monitor temperatures of the CPU, while at the same time allowing the overclocking to be completed.

Not only can the computer’s CPU be overclocked, but the GPU (Graphics Card) and the memory may also be as well.  For the graphics card, software must be used in order to effectively obtain an overclock.  Be aware that a failed overclock can not only destroy the computer, but can also slow it down.

Most software used for overclocking has been written for the Windows Operating System with a small amount of software available for the Mac.  Sadly, Linux does not seem to have any decent software to support it.  When it comes to overclocking, the brand and models are important to check, especially when making sure that the overclocking software supports the model of the CPU or GPU.  Many manufacturers do support overclocking by providing software to certain models of their CPUs, but if they do not, there are also 3rd party softwares that work as substitutes. For the CPUs, software such as CPUZ, AMD Overdrive, Intel Desktop Control Center, and many more, will do the job when it comes to overclocking.  As for graphics cards, there is much more support for software, with one of the popular being MSI Afterburner.

In general, overclocking is not much of a difficult process.  It simply requires time and research to make sure that mistakes will not be made if overclocking is carried out.  Keep in mind that a failed overclock can severely damage all of a computer’s components, especially if the temperature or the voltage rises too high above acceptable levels.  Because overclocking is done by using software, there are many widely available tools on the Internet the various different operating systems that can assist in helping CPUs, GPUs, and also RAM.


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