Saturday, 29 May 2010

Overclocking my PC

There's not really such thing as a "cool overclocking picture", so we'll settle for a photo of me actually overclocking.

It's getting around that time again where I start thinking that my PC is underpowered.

I'm using hardware that's around 3 years old, although with the PS3 and the Xbox 360 being the driving force in the gaming community, most games don't really push my aging hardware that much (seeing as the two consoles are made with hardware older than mine).

Still, I feel like I could do better with what I've got . . . which means overclocking.

Overclocking is the process of making your computer hardware run faster than it's intended. The pros of this are obviously a higher level of performance (computer performance is commonly measured in calculations per second). The cons are that the computer may need more power, create more heat and on top of that, its components will wear out quicker. I'm at a stage where I have no problems with my components wearing out quicker . . . they've lasted three years already.

Overclocking involves tweaking very low level settings in your computer . . . usually in your motherboard's BIOS (Basic Input Output System), which is like a set of instructions that work at the very lowest level of your computer hardware analogous to the parts of your brain that control your heart rate and the functioning of your organs etc.

I don't want to go into too much detail, but overclocking is a matter of using the bios to increase the speed of all the underlying timing elements of a computer. You may ask: "If you can just speed up your computer that simply, then why doesn't everyone do it?".

I guess the answer is . . . unless you know what a Front Side Bus is, and what voltage your CPU can safely run at . . . as well as the thermal implications of increasing the voltage of your CPU and RAM, you're probably going to end up with a very expensive door stop. On top of that, it involves patience and proper testing. Upping a value a small amount and then running your computer through hours of stress testing. Trying to figure out whether its your RAM or CPU or North Bridge that's the current limiting factor and which one might need tweaking. Slightly painstaking, but for some people, it's quite an enjoyable and rewarding process.

I've had a bit of fun over the last couple of days speeding up my processor. I managed to get my Core 2 Duo e6750 from its stock 2.66GHz up to 3.6GHz, with minimal voltage increase. On the side, I pumped my RAM from 800MHz up to 950MHz. This kind of increase, especially in the CPU, is actually worth a lot in dollar value, because CPUs that are that much faster are priced exponentially higher. Having said that . . . it's not stable yet and is only holding well because it's the middle of winter and I also added an aftermarket heatsink and fan to my CPU. I've been running it through 6-8 hour stress tests and it hasn't passed them all 100% yet, so we'll see how it goes . . .


  1. Hey man I have a 6 year old laptop that I have to prop up with a piece of wood so it won't overheat. Do you recommend overclocking?

  2. Do it man . . . The worst thing that can happen is you get some incentive to actually replace your broken old laptop :P