Is Overclocking CPU Worth It?

Overclocking is a popular way to get more performance out of your components, it allows the user to get more out of what they’ve paid for. A lot of users will stay away from overclocking because they fear that they will damage their components, after all you’re pushing your CPU past its rated limits.

There is a big misconception about overclocking being unsafe when in fact it can cause no harm to your system. Overclocking is perfectly safe, all you’re doing is changing the clock speed modifier, and the worst that can happen is system instability. It’s when you try to fix the system instability by increasing the voltage that bad things can happen.

Answer: If you’ve purchased an overclockable CPU such as an Intel “K” variant, then overclocking is worth it as it’s an easy way to get additional performance out of your processor. AMD and Intel processors can overclock pretty easily through the BIOS, and sometimes you do not need to change the voltage, so it’s perfectly safe.

Overclocking Is Great For Games

When gaming, the playability heavily depends on the number of frames per second being generated, and if it’s under a certain number, then a game can be unplayable. Since the graphics card is often limited by how fast the CPU can run, overclocking your CPU can ease this limit allowing for more FPS to be generated.

Sometimes a small overclock can push your frame rate past 60FPS which is enough for smooth gameplay. Most of the time, overclocking your CPU will result in higher frame rates as games are coded in such a way that they heavily benefit from single-core performance. Modify the CPU clock speed modifier through the BIOS until you hit a point of instability, basically see how your CPU can go without increasing the voltage.

If you’ve purchased an Intel “K” variant processor, or an overclockable AMD processor, if you have sufficient cooling, then we do recommend overclocking as long as you don’t rush and apply crazy voltages. You can easily overclock your Intel processor through the BIOS, and it’s recommended this way instead of OS overclocking as you have more control over the voltages.

Overclocking Can Be Safe

CPU overclocking is a great way to boost your performance in every area, it doesn’t just work with gaming. It boosts single-core and multi-core performance, and overclocking can be safe as long as you’re not modifying the voltages. Slowing the CPU clock modifier shouldn’t cause any harm, always remember to stress test your CPU to ensure the system runs stable.

Where overclocking becomes unstable is when you’re applying high clock speed modifiers that your CPU becomes unstable. To fix this instability, you need to increase the voltage and apply more juice to keep the CPU stable, doing this will reduce the lifespan of your CPU. Most of the time, if you have decent cooling and thermal headroom, then voltage increases will not be necessary.

Nearly all AMD CPUs are overclockable out of the box, and only the “K” series of Intel processors are overclockable. The K means the CPU is unlocked and ready for overclocking. Most of the time, there should be some wiggle room for extra GHz without voltage increases with these types of CPUs, that’s why they sell them.

How Does CPU Overclocking Work

CPU overclocking works by increasing the number of times the CPU cycles per second, so if you increase the clock speed by 200MHz, then the CPU will cycle an extra 200million times a second. Increasing the CPU modifier is what increases the clock speed, if the base modifier is x37 and the external clock is 100MHz, then the clock speed will be 3.7GHz.

Changing the base modifier by adding an extra 300MHz will result in a clock speed of 4GHz, this is how CPU overclocking works. Sometimes increasing the modifier too much will cause the system to become unstable and result in frequent crashes, this is where increasing the voltages is necessary to keep it stable. Increasing the voltage usually reduces the lifespan and increases heat, so a good cooling solution is necessary.

The base voltage of the CPU could be around 1.25V, this is the stable voltage that is verified by the manufacturer. Not changing this value will not result in any lifespan changes of the CPU thus not causing damage. Sometimes, when you increase the clock speed too much, you may have to increase the voltage a little, you may have to increase it to 1.4v for a stable overclock.

Meet The Requirements Before Overclocking

The requirements for overclocking are quite simple, you need a decent motherboard with decent voltage regulator modules if you’re going to be modifying the voltages. VRM of voltage regulator modules are located on the motherboard, and bad VRMs result in poor performance, poor overclocking potential, and instability under certain loads. Picking up a good motherboard is the first step of overclocking.

Sufficient cooling is the next step for overclocking, having a bad CPU cooler is bad enough as CPUs can run pretty hot under load, so if you’re overclocking you’re going to need a beefier solution. A bad CPU cooler will not dissipate heat enough thus causing the CPU to throttle, and even worse cause shutdowns if it gets too hot. Also, it’s important to have sufficient airflow so you can effectively dissipate heat.

Finally and the most important step is having a processor that can actually overclock, most AMD processors come with the ability to overclock so there’s no need to worry about that. But Intel processors are not all overclock enabled, only the Intel processors denoted with a “K” at the end allow for overclocks. This includes other variants such as “KS” & “KF”. Also, having a decent power supply can help, as some overclocks require more juice.

Conclusion

The verdict is that overclocking is perfectly safe, and can result in huge performance games, so we recommend it if you meet the requirements. Overclocking is not always a bad thing, especially when you do not have to increase the voltages, and if you have decent cooling, your CPU should run perfectly fine even with slight voltage increases.