How to Safely Overclock Your CPU, GPU

edited November 2023 in PC Tech

Whether you are a hardcore power user who regularly engages in creating overclocked PCs or are interested in trying it for the first time, the process can provide notable increases in processing power, graphics performance, and core clock speed. If this process is done improperly, you could end up causing irreparable damage to your PC and if successful, your will need to replace your components soon than their average lifespan. If you are prepared to undergo the process of learning how to overclock CPU (central processing unit) and GPU (graphics processing unit), you can truly get the most out of your hardware components. 

Overclocking Can Really Boost your PC, but it Comes with Risks and Expenses 

For those who are unfamiliar with the process beyond its name, overclocking refers to manipulating your PC’s performance by effectively forcing your CPU and GPU to consistently deliver the uppermost limits of their capabilities, which essentially lets up upgrade your PC without having to spend more money.  

It must be noted that not every CPU is capable of being overclocked, and successfully overlocked components are then subjected to dame from increased voltage and excessive heat, making them more likely to fail in the short term. This degradation and stress can be mitigated with the addition of products such as thermal paste. Even with the use of additional measure to improve the efficiency of overclocked components, said components will be constantly pushed beyond normal limitations and will have to be replaced more often. 

Should you be horrified at the thought of putting paste into your PC, you should know that thermal paste is commonly used as a means of sealing gaps in the metal between hardware components to maximize thermal energy transfer to the heatsink. Since there are several kinds of thermal paste including those made from materials on ceramic, carbon, graphite, liquid metal, and silicone, you should use paste made largely from metals such as gold, silver, and copper to overclock your PC. 

Take extreme care when applying any liquid metals to the interior of your PC as any excess materials which are poor placed can result in bricking your PC by causing an electrical short between vital components. You should not use any amount of thermal paste larger than a pea to prevent this from occurring. Given that the process of applying thermal paste requires you to exert excellent manual dexterity while also maintaining a fastidiously clean working environment, you should do so only if you feel you can do so successfully. 

Since the introduction of any outside particles could make applying thermal paste a waste of time, it is highly advisable to only apply thermal paste with the supplied applicator tool known as a “spudger” tool to interact with your CPU. If you end up leaving even one fingerprint when applying thermal paste, it could be an extremely expensive mistake, so make sure to back up all your important data before proceeding. 

Between CPU and GPU, the Latter is Easier to Overclock, but Both are Best 

While it is clear that overclocking your CPU and overclocking your GPU will produce the best possible performance, it is much easier and simpler to overclock the latter piece of hardware. Believe it or not, there are several reliable, no cost software options that will take care of the heavy lifting when learning how to overclock GPU such as EVGA Precision X1 and MSI Afterburner. While this may not provide the same result compared to taking the time to manually adjust your graphics setting, both EVGA Precision X1 and MSI Afterburner offer users the undeniable convenience of providing a one-click method to scan your GPU and provide a reasonable level of overclocking. If you decide to use a tool to overclock your GPU, you should ensure that you use a trusted tool like the ones above. 

The first step of how to overclock your CPU involves determining its core temperature since overclocking leads to much greater heat being generated by the hardware. By measuring the difference in temperature before and after overclocking, you can take appropriate steps to improve the PC’s cooling. You can determine the temperature by either using a third-party app or by using your PC’s BIOS (basic input/output system) menu. 

To determine whether you PC is capable of being overclocked, you must subject it to a stress test over the course of several hours to determine whether it can handle the increased workload. After downloading a free stress testing tool like HeavyLoad, you should allow the software to work for at least a couple of hours while simultaneously monitoring temperatures to ensure everything is working correctly. 

Another crucial step is establishing a benchmark for your CPU to accurately determine whether its performance is improved. When using a benchmark tool such as Geekbench 5, you will also need to monitor temperatures for stress testing, but the main goal is to compare their overall scores before and after. 

To make any effective overclocking changes, you will need to access your PCs BIOS menu which may vary depending on the model of computer. Once you gain access, you should locate settings which may feature text such as Overclocking, OC, and Advanced CPU Core Settings. You will have the option to either use automatic overclocking features present on your PC or to make manual adjustments. 

The final step is the most risky to your PC as you increase both the amount of power available to your CPU as well as boosting the multiplier for individual cores. This process of experimentation to determine the maximum amount of overclock the system can handle without losing stability, so make sure you have an appropriate level of cooling and ventilation as you proceed. 

Overclocking your CPU and GPU can seem intimidating to novice PC users, but is can be a cost effective means of getting the most out of your existing components. Ensure that your PC and individual components are capable of being overclocked to avoid potential damages and wasted time. 

About Dan Martin: Daniel Martin is a technology researcher and writer with more than a decade of experience. He is a professional librarian and an experienced tech teacher, writer and blogger. Specializing in technology, Dan has taught courses in technology and writing at the college level, developed web pages for businesses and higher educational institutions, written on tech topics for leading national publications and created numerous how-to guides.



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