Tuesday, December 20, 2011

The joys or pains of overclocking your cpu

Some times a good procedure for boosting a clients PC performance is something called over clocking.  Basically you increase the speed at which the computer CPU or Central Processing Unit operates or "thinks". Not all CPUs can be overclocked and the method for doing it varies from computer to computer based on manufactures and what not. Now this article isn't going to tell you how to do it because quite frankly I don't believe I can describe it adequately enough for you to be able to do it with out problems. Over clocking can be one of those things that permanently damages your computer resulting in having to replace parts or more likely just get a new computer all together. If some thing goes wrong in an overclocking endeavour then there is a very real possibility that not even the most skilled computer repair guru can help your poor machine.

Still it is a viable and free way to increase your systems processing power.
To be honest I am not all that versed with the ins and outs of it myself which is why i rarely will do it for a client if at all. Though try as I might if I am genuinely unable to increase performance for a person or company whose budget simply cant afford a faster new computer then I very well may consider it.

Well lets break it down shall we?

Overclocking in a nut shell is this. You have a computer with lets say an Intel processor such as an Intel Celeron(Intel is the manufacture and Celeron is the specific type of CPU it is). You may have already figured out what your processor speed is, measured in either MHZ or GHZ by right-clicking on your "my computer" icon in windows and clicking on properties and then up comes some system information including the CPU speed. And then lets say your CPU speed is in fact 2.00 GHZ or maybe even 2.93 GHZ (those are typical Celeron speeds). Overclocking will allow you to increase the speed from lets say 2.00 GHZ to 2.60 GHZ effectively adding an over 25% speed increase. Or from 2.93 GHZ to 3.20 or maybe even 3.40.

That's a basic break down of what is achieved during over clocking. Oh on a side note. If you have a CPU that is 2.00GHZ that means it can preform a theoretical 2 billion actions per second. So clearly the higher the number the better off you are.

There are a few more things to mention regarding over clocking as well. When it comes to an Intel CPU, Intel largely supports overclocking on alot of their processors. But in order to make a rather noticeable performance increase with an Intel CPU one must also be able to increase the FSB or "Front Side Bus" speed of the RAM (memory sticks) as well. Basically you increase the speed at which the CPU and memory talk to each other. So when considering overclocking your Intel CPU I advise also looking up in EXTENSIVE detail about the FSB and RAM overclocking/speed increase etc.

AMD is another manufacturer of CPUs. AMD's CPU speeds are measured a bit differently from an Intel CPU. When you look at the specs for an AMD processor in your my computer properties of windows, you would expect to see a lower number of GHZ speed compared to an Intel. For example with an Intel you may expect to see 3.40 GHZ. Whereas with the AMD you could expect the same amount of performance with a number like 2.4 GHZ. AMD CPU's are notorious for being just incredible CPU's for gaming. Whereas Intel CPU's are better suited for multi tasking application or running alot of programs lets say. These days if you are not a gamer I would recommend an Intel Pentium 4 processor. But if you are a gamer Then AMD CPU's are noted for the gaming world.

Any way. The way one attempts to overclock a CPU or change memory settings is in the motherboard BIOS. If you don't know what the BIOS is then please refer to a previous article on this blog which may discuss about it or else don't worry about it. The BIOS is the master control center for your computer. If you change a setting in your windows operating system, then the worst that can happen is that windows no longer starts (more or less easy to handle) Whereas if you make a change in the system BIOS you could literally fry your entire computer. Maybe now you can see why overclocking can be dangerous. When inside the BIOS you cant just go around changing any random setting or number that you may think is appropriate. IF you do know where to find the control option for adjusting your cpu's clock speed/frequency, and are tempted to adjust it then you must do so in small increments only. For example some BIOS will only allow the increase in the "frequency multiplier" by around 20x which means when you overclock the CPU you can increase the multiplier by up to 20 times. So if your CPU clock is set at 100 then the option may only go to 120. That is more than enough to get about 300-600 MHZ speed increase depending on your CPU type. But you don't just want to jump into the highest setting. Your computer may not even start up if you do. As I said before take it in small increments and save your settings and restart your computer. If windows starts up then so far so good. If windows does not start and your computer keeps shutting down then your CPU is running too hot and you must change your settings back before you melt your CPU!

Yes I said hot and melt. When you force the CPU to work faster by overclocking the whole thing heats up quite a bit. I overclocked a clients computer the other day and it lasted about 4 days running just fine but I suppose it couldn't do it anymore and decided to die. I had to then walk the poor client over the phone on restoring BIOS default settings...I was very unhappy.

One last thing about AMD CPU's and overclocking. Only recently with the introduction of the Venice type processor did AMD support overclocking at all (Not entirely sure if that's accurate). but if you can manage to overclock your AMD CPU then it should be noted that you probably do not need to change any settings with the RAM or FSB since AMD CPU's are already fully optimized to have better handling with that than an Intel.

THAT IS ALL I believe I have covered enough material to educate you enough on some of the dangers and basic operations and principles of overclocking.

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