Over-clocking – A Tempting Offer


 

Over-Clocking… the beginning

Now, I don’t pretend for a minute to be an expert in over-clocking a computer. To the contrary, I am a newbie. I have made a few feeble attempts in order to not only experiment but to learn and, hopefully, get some benefit from the endeavor.

The reason for my trepidation is because I own a small wallet. I can’t afford to pay for new hardware willy-nilly. That’s just the way it is, and for many of you, that may be the case. That brings me to a main point regarding over-clocking your hardware…

Over-clocking your computer is a tempting offer. After all, you have the possibility of getting something for nothing. What could be better…

Costs

If you can’t afford it, don’t do it. The risk you take may not be worth the end results. In the effort of  trying to over-clock your CPU/GPU/RAM to gain some free speed increases, you are taking a very real risk of “burning” it all up. With that stated, I will continue my dissertation.

Benefits

The gains may be substantial. Granted, you risk burning up some hardware, but you may get lucky and get a lot of free benefits in the way of speed. As always  the choice, and risk, is yours. Are you a gambler?

The best approach is with very small steps. If you get impatient when over-clocking, you will probably fail. Be prepared to spend a lot of time fine-tuning your system when following this practice.


Reasons

I had many reasons to try this out. One, of course, was to speed up my computer. Another good reason I had was to get more bang for the buck without spending more cash. Regardless of your personal reasons, here are my results and some examples of the tools I used during my learning process.

First, I must mention that I never intended to vie with the “big guys”. If you really want to know about over-clocking extremes, with liquid nitrogen and such, then you probably want to check out the following:

These are only the beginning. If you are truly set on over-clocking, then you have a long road ahead of you. There is much to learn.

Basics

  • CPU – Central Processing Unit: This is the basic chip you have in your computer and there are ways to over-clock it
  • GPU – Graphics Processing Unit: This is the graphics card you have installed in your computer. In here exists many ways to speed things up if you’re into gaming and other 3D options.
  • RAM – Random Access Memory: I find that this is a lesser option, but it certainly has advantages when you’ve over-clocked the previous two first.

An Example

I play a game called Galactic Civilizations II. Ya, ya, I know. It is ancient. But I can’t help myself. After I installed this game I noticed a lot of glitches in the video presentation. Stuttering while scrolling, blinking images, and so on.

Now, I have a pretty fast machine and I thought this just shouldn’t be happening to me. I have an AMD HD 7770 graphics card installed and decided to over-clock it a tad. Stock, the Core Clock is set to 1000Mhz and the Memory Clock is set to 1125Mhz. I thought I’d bump that up a bit.


I changed the Memory Clock to 1300 and, lo and behold, the glitches went away. Perfectly smooth graphics soothed my senses henceforth. And it didn’t cost me a dime. In fact, the temperature of the graphics card didn’t rise but a couple of degrees.

This is the real-world advantage of over-clocking your hardware.

Tools I Use

Graphics

MSI Afterburner

MSI Afterburner is one of the best over-clocking tools out there. Even though it is MSI branded, it works well with any other graphics card that I have experience with.

RIVA Tuner

RIVA Tuner is one that I have not had that much experience with but judging from its strong following, I would say it’s a source you can trust.

CPU

I’ve been an avid AMD user for many years now so my experience with Intel-specific software is limited. All I can say is that AMD OverDrive is my software of choice for over-clocking an AMD chip. I can only assume that Intel has its own branded over-clocking software.

RAM

The only way I know to satisfactorily over-clock your memory is to do it manually. I always tweak the RAM settings from within BIOS. There may be software out there that purports to handle this for you. I haven’t looked it up and I don’t know what to suggest in that regard.

Heat – The Biggest Enemy

If you can achieve your needed over-clocks without increasing the voltage sent to your hardware, then that is the way to go. And the place to stop.

If you have to increase your voltages to maintain your over-clocks, then it’s time to consider some serious wallet time. As soon as you increase the voltage, you increase the temperature. When you increase the temperature, you increase the possibility of damage to your hardware. Heat is the single-most threatening enemy of electronic components. Avoid it at all costs, unless you’ve got some money to spend on new parts.

Conclusions

I’ve had a lot of positive experiences over-clocking my computer. I have also read about people that have fried their computers doing exactly the same things that I have done.

If you’re a gamer, then focus on the GPU. If you need faster computational skills, then concentrate on the CPU. If you need faster RAM, then think about that. There are many decisions to be made and it is your unique situation that will mandate the choices.

You can never be 100% certain when attempting an over-clock. Each piece of hardware is unique unto itself.

All I can say is do it in tiny steps. 5Mhz at a time. Take note of everything you do. Maintain a record of your changes and results. And, when all is said and done, decide when you, and your computer, have had enough.

Richard

Image Source: Galeon

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About the Author

Richard Pedersen

Richard received his first computer, a C-64, in 1982 as a gift and began dabbling in BASIC. He was hooked! His love for computing has led him from the old “XT” boxes to the more modern fare and from clunky 10MB hard drives to smooth and fast modern day SSD drives. He has run BBS services, Fido mail, and even operated his own computer repair business.

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