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Thursday, September 3, 2009

Basic Processor Overclocking Guidelines

This tutorial was initially made by my friend, Caesar. He is quite good at tinkering computer hardware. He learned overclocking by joining various overclocking forums on the internet, reading through PC magazines, and of course, self-experimenting his very own old-but-good-enough PC.

So I thought of sharing this tutorial to all of you guys who are interested in overclocking.

Please note that I will only cover the basic guidelines for Processor overclocking. In case you find some difficult terms, I've already provided a simple glossary at the end of this guideline to help you.

So, let's start reading! (^_^)

Here are the steps:

1. Make sure you're not using a laptop/notebook or branded OEM PC.

2. Make sure you're not using a laptop/notebook or branded OEM PC.

3. Make sure you're not using a laptop/notebook or branded OEM PC, now you can continue reading...

Please keep in mind that OVERCLOCKING WILL VOID YOUR WARRANTY! Now that you understand the risk, you may continue reading...

Laptop / Notebook and Branded OEM PCs are not able to be overclocked because they usually have limited BIOS options and the hardware are less durable than self-built PCs. Though some companies claimed their products can be overclocked, it is still not recommended, because the warranty is usually not valid anymore if the damage is caused by overclocking.


  • Please collect detailed technical information of your hardware as much as possible to know the limit of your hardware.
  • Make sure you got a stable electric supply to your PC
  • Please use "pure power" power supply unit
  • Make sure you got a decent CPU Cooling Unit, good quality thermal paste, and smooth case airflow
  • Please download CPU-Z. This software would give you detailed information on your processor's settings such as the processor's voltage, clock speed frequency, 12V rail, etc.
  • Please download SpeedFan. This software is used to help you monitors your processor's and overall system's temperature.
  • Please download Orthos. This software is used to test how stable your overclock settings.
  • Please go find and get a hold on your motherboard user manual, IT'S IMPORTANT!
  • Please re-read the text from the beginning, I'm serious... Now let's move on to the next part of this guide...
There two ways in overclocking your processor:

1. BIOS based overclocking. In BIOS based overclocking, you "only" need to fine tune the settings of various variables of your processor in the BIOS' menu.

- Higher overclocking possibilities.

- Extreme risk of damaging your hardware for inexperienced users.
- Higher difficulties in the overclocking process itself.
- Will void your warranty.

2. Software based overclocking. In software based overclocking, you can easily and safely overclock your processor with the help of various software. Some of today's hardware manufacturer may include their very own version of overclocking software to help inexperienced user in overclocking their hardware.
Since each manufacturers come up with different software, the method to overclock the hardware was different too.
For you who used older hardware that didn't have that kind of software, you can use ClockGen (you can download it here) to help you in overclocking your processor.

- Safer and easier way to overclock your hardware.

- Limited overclocking possibilities.
- Will still void your warranty.

Please note that I will only cover the BIOS based overclocking method. Why? Because as I already mentioned above, Software based overclocking (especially those that use software included with the hardware you purchased) is different from each other.
While for those who use ClockGen, you will "only" need to "play" with the sliders that control the clock speed frequency of your processor's clock speed frequency.

Here are the steps for BIOS based overclocking:

1. Getting into the BIOS and getting familiar with it:
  • To get into the BIOS screen menu, press Del button on your keyboard before your PC load the OS. (NOTE: Some BIOS would need different keyboard's key to access the BIOS screen menu, please read the manual of your motherboard)
  • Now that you're in the BIOS screen menu, please take your time to explore and getting familiar with the various settings' options there. PLEASE DO NOT CHANGE ANY SETTINGS FIRST!
2. Finding the Options and Tuning it:
  • After you explore the BIOS screen menu, please select the options that contain the settings of your processor's clock speed frequency and processor's voltage. Since there are various different BIOS manufacturers, the name of the mentioned option may different from each other, so please refer to your motherboard user manual.
  • When you finally found the option to control the processor's clock speed frequency and processor's voltage, we'll first "play" around a bit with the processor's clock speed frequency.
  • Increase only your processor's clock speed frequency first with 2% increment.
  • Save the settings you just changed, reboot the PC, and load your OS.
  • If your OS loaded perfectly, try to run some "heavy" applications (video/audio converters, Photoshop, video/audio editors, etc) or games (not the games built-in from your OS, Flash-based games, or mini games from Gamehouse, PlayFish, etc).
  • If all of those applications and games run just fine, then we may go back to the first step on this part of "Finding the Options and tuning it"
  • Keep increasing the increment of your processor's clock speed frequency, until you finally can't load up your OS or until you got problems while running those "heavy" applications and games.
  • To return to the BIOS menu after the failure, first turn off your PC (by pressing and holding the power button down) and clear the CMOS (please refer to your motherboard user manual on how to reset the CMOS).
  • Since all of your previously changed settings are now reverted to default, try to set all of the settings to last point where your overclocked system works perfectly.
  • Now we're getting more serious. It's time to play with the voltage of your processor! Let's increase your processor core voltage by 2.5V at a time while still using the same processor's clock speed frequency settings.
  • Then repeat steps 4 and 5 again, until you finally can't load up your OS or until you got problems while running those "heavy" applications and games.
  • If all of those applications and games run just fine, you can increase the increment of your processor's clock speed frequency again. If it fails, go back to step 8 and 9, and try to increase the processor's core voltage by another 2.5V at a time with the same processor's clock speed frequency settings.
  • When you tune the processor's core voltage, it is necessary for you to load up your OS and run Orthos for at least 3 hours non-stop (for more serious overclocking and to find a rock-solid overclocking settings, run Orthos for a whole week non-stop. No, I'm not joking).
  • If you got an error or your system stop responding, try to reduce the processor's clock speed frequency along with the processor's core voltage.
  • Keep running the Orthos until you found the perfectly stable overclock settings.
Those are the basics of processor's overclocking. All you need to do is to increase the processor's clock speed frequency. Once the system fails, increase the processor's core voltage. Again, increase the processor's clock speed frequency. Keep repeating those steps, until you feel satisfied with the speed improvement you've gained and have a rock-solid overclocking performance.


- Do this overclocking procedures at your own risk! I will not be liable to any damages resulted because of the overclocking process!

- Remember, these overclocking procedures will ultimately void your warranty!

- Please keep in mind that different PC setup will result in different overclocking possibilities and results.

- Please always refer to your hardware's user manual as it provides essential information that can be useful in this overclocking procedure.

- Please collect detailed technical information of your hardware as much as possible to know the limit of your hardware.

- Please do not overclock your PC for daily usage or run them 24/7.


* Overclocking : a method used to force the hardware (which being overclocked) to perform higher than the manufacturers' specification.

* PC :
Personal Computer, a desktop form personal computer.

* OEM : Original Equipment Manufacturer, the original manufacturer of a component for a product, which may be resold by another company.

* Pure Power Power Supply Unit : a Power Supply Unit that has the exact wattage as mentioned on it's specification. Example: a power supply unit claims to have 550W of power, if its not a pure power ones, it would probably produce only 350W to 400W of power since the rest of the wattage was converted into heat. While, a pure power power supply unit will have the same exact amount of wattage which is 550W.

* CPU : Central Processing Unit, is the "big box" part of your PC, where all hardware (processor, RAM, VGA Card, etc are installed).

* Thermal Paste : a substance that similar like toothpaste used to transfer heat from your processor surface to your processor cooler.

* Airflow : the condition when a current of air is moving through.

* BIOS : Basic Input/Output System. A basic text based user interface to control and access your installed hardware.

* Clock Speed Frequency : the speed of your processor (in MHz) before it was multiplied by the processor's multiplier. Example: I have the Intel Pentium 4 2.4C HT. Its default core speed is 2.40GHz. This processor has 12 multipliers, so 2.40GHz divided by 12 is 200MHz. That 200MHz is the processor's clock speed frequency.

* Voltage :
the amount of electricity given to specific part of hardware in order to make the mentioned hardware works.

* OS :
Operating System. A GUI based system where you can use various programs and games, performs various tasks, transfers data, etc conveniently.

* GUI : Graphical User Interface. A method of interface that combines graphics and texts to help the users interact with the system/program.

* CMOS :
Complementary Metal–Oxide–Semiconductor, is an integrated electronic circuit that controls all components of the motherboard.

That's the end of the processor overclocking guideline, hope it could be useful for you.

Caesar's PC Specification (Overclocked):

o Processor : Intel Pentium IV 2.4C 2.4GHz Hyper-Threading Socket mPGA 478, L2 Cache 512KB, Instructions Set MMX, SSE, SSE2, Multipliers 12X, Codename Northwood. Running at 3.3GHz
o Motherboard : Asus P4P800 Ai Series, Northbridge Chipset: Intel i865P, Southbridge Chipset: Intel ICH5, AMI Award BIOS Version 1021.006, FSB 1.1GHz
o RAMs : Kingston DDR1 PC-3200 1GB (4 X 256MB) Dual-Channel, Clock Timing (SPD)
o VGA Card : GeCube ATI Radeon X1650Pro 256MB AGP 8X 128-bit, Core Clock 650MHz, Memory Clock 420MHz
o Gigabyte 3d Rocket Cooler II CPU Cooler (fans running @ 3.000rpm) with Zalman ZM-STG1 Ceramic Compound Thermal Paste
o Thermaltake Pure Copper RAM Modules Heat-Spreader
o Corsair CrossXFlow Dominator RAM Modules Memory Fan (triple fan)
o Thermaltake Cable Sleeving Kit
o Creative SoundBlaster Audigy with EAX Technology
o 1 Seagate 160GB and 1 Seagate 120GB SATA Harddisk Drive
o Asus DVD-RW Drive and LG CD-RW Drive
o Raidmax Smilodon PC Case Mid-Tower

Now he's using an ECS Photon PF1 Motherboard, 1.5GB of RAM, and default setting of BIOS.

List of Damaged Hardware During My Overclocking Experiments:
o Asus P4P800 Ai Series (Burnt the RAM Slots and Northbridge Chipset)
o Asus ATI Radeon 9200SE AGP8X 128MB 64-bit (BIOS Flashing Failure)
o Simbadda 450Watt Power Supply Unit (Burnt the transformer)
o Seagate Barracuda 40GB PATA Harddisk Drive (Drives overheated)

To see Caesar's CPU-Z overclocking validation, click here

Thanks for reading! Please leave your comments and critics!

source: Caesar's note on facebook.

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