Overclocking: Explained 9 replies

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Revenge VIP Member

Shizzle my nizzle

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28th July 2004

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#1 13 years ago

Overclocking. A dark art? Or something any of us can dabble with? It's six of one and a half dozen of the other, really. This article is designed to demystify the process, show you how, and help you work out whether you should... or shouldn't. But first up, let's talk about why you might overclock. The simple answer is to squeeze more speed out of your existing hardware. A less talked-about reason, but still a pertinent one, is essentially that is gives you bragging rights. Like any form of technical twaddling, it's the rewarding process, which you can be proud of. How many forum-posts have you seen with people's specs in the sig-bar saying something like "P4 2.8GHz @ 3.2GHz?" But we'll put the feel-good factor aside for the moment, and first concentrate on the physical gains to be had. While it's often talked of in hushed tones, there are few real myths about overclocking. All the obvious stuff you already suspect is true - that it stresses your components; that it can make your system unstable; that you can fry your CPU; that it involves BIOS and motherboard tweaks. It requires caution, but if you are cafeful and take it slowly, you can spot when your components are struggling, and throttle back your overclocking before you cause any damage. Likewise, motherboards and BIOS alterations are nothing to be afraid of. You simply need to know what you're doing, and how to reset your system to defaul settings if it starts falling over. But before you embark on an overclocking project, run through this three-point checklist, and work out whether you can, and indeed should continue with tbe procedure: 1. Do I need to overclock? Well, do you? If you're packing a fat rig with an FX-53 CPU and a Radeon X800, what's the point? Your PC will play the most technically challenging games in the world, so it hardly seems worth it. For those with slower systems, it's more of a consideration. However, unless you're using some powerful cooling solutions (more on this shortly) you're never going to get that much extra performance. You have to start spending a lot of money, or put up with a fan-packed and therefor very noisy computer, before you'll start seeing serious gains. 2. Can I overclock? Certain hardware is locked, and simply cannot be tinkered with. This includes many shop-bought systems, such as those provided by Dell and other manufacturers. It also includes certain processor types - such as the Athlon XP Barton core and certain flavours of P4 CPU. Quote your system specs on overclocking forums (or on this forum) to find out whether your bits and bobs can actually be made to run faster. 3. Have I got enough cooling? Overclocking components without upgrading from stock cooling solutions is bad juju. Overclocking involves forcing components to run faster, and pumping higher voltages into them to fuel the enhanced activity. As components run faster, and more current passes through, they get hotter. Heat causes resistance, performance then drops, processing errors occur and you risk burning out your components. The net result is that without extra cooling, you simply won't see any appreciable performance gains, and you run higher risks. If you are still considering overclocking, there's one more piece of knowledge that is absolutely essencial. Read your motherboard manual to find out where the "clear CMOS settings" jumper-switch resides. When your PC reaches it's limits, it may crash and not reboot properly. This is because it's trying to boot up with BIOS settings that it can't handle. Clearing the CMOS (Complementary Metal Oxide Semiconductor - basically the memory where the BIOS settings are recorded) puts all your settings back to the system-friendly factory defaults. RAM overclocking is also performed in BIOS. Basically, the speed your RAM runs at is dictated by its set ratio to the front-side bus (FSB) speed of your system. So, if you have an FSB of 200MHz and your memory ratio is set at 1:1, then your RAM will be running at 200MHz. Set this ratio to 5:6 however, and it'll be running at 240MHz. Once again, your BIOS memory ratio settings should be changed in incrementsm and the RAM voltages should be incrementally increased to cover the extra work the memory is doing. And every time you make a change, boot your system fully and let it run to see if it's stable. There are various tweak-tools on offer which you can use to overclock your 3D card in Windows. For ATI I recommend ATITool and Rivatuner works well with both ATI and nVidia cards. The bits of your 3D card that should be speeded up are the GPU (graphics processing unit - your 3D card's CPU) and your card's onboard RAM. These you can tweak using aforementioned tools - bit again, only tweak them in small increments. You'll soon know if the card's starting to struggle, as artefacts will appear on the screen - errant pixels, polygons, and other flickering weirdness. If this happens, immediately throttle back to a stable setting, and don't attempt to climb higher again - your card doesn't like it. A final word... If you've overclocked and your system is stable, then great. But are you happy with the results? If there are noticeable gains in performance, then brilliant. If there aren't, then you may as well throttle back to your system defaults, as it'll cause less stress in the long term. Benchmarking with Aquamark and 3Dmark is useful, as it demonstrates your gains in numerical terms, but in the end, it's perception that counts. For those who want massive overclocking, you're looking at some seriously expensive kit, like Vapocholl refrigerant systems - they run to about £600 a pop but can cool to sub-zero temperatures. How much you can do really depends on how much you spend. By Al Bickham, taken from January 2005 Edition of UK PCGamer - www.pcgamer.co.uk Water Cooling: attachment.php?attachmentid=24771&stc=1




metal_militia

Killing is my business...

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29th November 2004

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#2 13 years ago

Scrolling sideways nono.gif If you reformat the article slightly it will be alot nicer to read. Anyway, overclocking: I had a pretty intersting OCing experience recently. I had just got my 2500+ barton processor up to 2.2ghz (PR 3200) but in the process i had to stick the memory and CPU voltages up to 2.75 and 1.70 respectivly. Anywhoo, i finally got everything going nice and smooth and more importantly stable, temps where lookin' good and i was set to get some testing done. Loaded up HL2DM, turned on netgraph.. "hmm nice FPS. Job well d..." *BANG* "FUCK!". *pull side off case* *Spend 10 mins smelling various components trying to work out which one was the culprit* Turns out the PSU could not handle the increased ammount of current it was supposed to be provideing and some capicitors had exploded taking a rather large fuse with em' bah, oh well, i should have known better to trust a generic, unbranded, PSU. madx.gif But let this be a lesson to any would be overclockers. Make sure your PSU is decent and not overheating before you try any large overclocks. Speedfan can help you decide if it is good enough by displaying power usage of each 'rail'. I believe its best to keep +/- 12 at about 11.5v something like that. But 12v - 12.5v ish should be fine.




Revenge VIP Member

Shizzle my nizzle

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#3 13 years ago

By the time I thought of adding a smaller version of the image my 30 minute editing time was up.




Pethegreat VIP Member

Lord of the Peach

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19th April 2004

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#4 13 years ago

I think you can still edit it.

Nice job there. I need some biggers fans but I'm not allowed to mess with my comp and I'm low on cash.

Hey metal...did you fix your PSU or did you have to buy a new one. You could have stuck a circut breaker in there so if it would blow then you can reset it:D




Nemmerle Forum Mod

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26th May 2003

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#5 13 years ago
metal_militiaScrolling sideways nono.gif If you reformat the article slightly it will be alot nicer to read.

:uhh: I see no side scrolling attachment.php?attachmentid=24780&stc=1




Revenge VIP Member

Shizzle my nizzle

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#6 13 years ago

Thats because you probably have a big ass monitor and/or a massive resolution on.




C38368

...burning angel wings to dust

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14th February 2004

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#7 13 years ago

Meh... the author's heart was in the right place, but he's barely scratched the surface. But at least he knows about CMOS jumpers :)

Once more, I stress the absolute need for a quality PSU when overclocking. I also recommend making yourself known in overclocker's forums--there's a bunch out there to be found, and most are [more or less] helpful.




Mr.Nitro

Quality not Quantity

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30th November 2004

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#8 13 years ago

Nicely said reven.....as said before you need a good psu,and that doesn't mean just because it said 600w on the box that it is good you pay for what you get.....£50 400w psu is better than a £20 600w psu but i digress the real point is the key to overclocking is cooling,good heatsink and fan plus silver heatsink compound is a must.




Revenge VIP Member

Shizzle my nizzle

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#9 13 years ago

Well the better quality the PSU, the more accurate the actual voltages being supplied are compared to the theorectical voltages.




lord saber

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10th January 2005

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#10 13 years ago
metal_militiaScrolling sideways nono.gif If you reformat the article slightly it will be alot nicer to read.

Best thing to do next time instead of the side scroll is copy and paste it in a program like Microsoft Office Word, or whatever, and it will come out cool... Anyway, that's what I did... the side to side scrolling got annoying. (I'm impatient I suppose :p) -lord saber