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What Are the Basics of Overclocking for Beginners?

Nya Bruce
Nya Bruce

Overclocking is a technique by which computer users increase the operating speed of their Graphics Processing Unit (GPU), Random Access Memory (RAM) or Central Processing Unit (CPU) beyond what it was originally intended to run at. Aside from the technical skill required, there are other basic issues concerning overclocking for beginners to become familiar with. This includes the potential benefits, associated hazards, and understanding when overclocking is the best option for increasing a computer's performance.

The primary benefit of overclocking for beginners and experts alike is the increase in performance that it provides. A computer with an older operating system may be unable to handle the latest version; in this case, the increase in computer speed can make an obsolete system useful again. This can save a user money by postponing the need to buy a completely new system.

A high quality heat sink is often needed for overclocking.
A high quality heat sink is often needed for overclocking.

There are some caveats regarding overclocking for beginners to heed before embarking on this hobby. Overclocking requires a certain level of expertise, starting with knowing how to tinker with a motherboard's Basic Input/Output System (BIOS). It is also important to know when overclocking is useful and when other approaches should be taken instead.

To overclock a system it is necessary to go into the computer motherboard's BIOS to increase the CPU's clock rate and to also adjust its voltage rates. Changing a CPU's voltage settings can be hazardous as it can irreparably damage a system if done incorrectly. When increasing a CPU's speed it may also be necessary to increase the system's RAM speed. RAM chips also have clock and voltage rates that may need adjusting, and may also involve some risk. GPUs, or video cards, can be overclocked using software.

Beginners should also consider the utility of overclocking. For people who use their computer for basic purposes, such as work or casual surfing of the Internet, overclocking is generally useless. Overclocking typically benefits computer gaming enthusiasts and video editing professionals the most, if the RAM speed increase is high enough. Sometimes, it is more effective to increase a computer's RAM, or to buy a more powerful CPU or video card.

One of the most important things about overclocking for beginners to know is that there are certain dangers associated with attempting to speed up a computer. Overclocking can not only void the warranty of the affected computer component, but also the entire computer system. In addition, there is an increased risk of prematurely burning out a number of computer components, including the GPU, CPU and RAM chips. Stability issues may also arise, most typically in the form of corrupted or lost data.

Overclocking typically uses more energy and increases the amount of heat generated by the speed-boosted component. As a result, this is likely to shorten its lifespan. To prevent this, an overclocked Personal Computer (PC) will sometimes need expensive improvements to its cooling system. This can be in the form of a higher quality heat sink, or a water-based cooling systems that draws the generated heat away from the computer.

Instability is another problem that users have to watch out for. An overclocked computer may start to process information incorrectly, leading to mysterious malfunctions, such as graphics glitches, system crashes or garbled data. Users who overclock their PCs should periodically run stress test software on their operating systems to detect any potential data corruption issues.

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    • A high quality heat sink is often needed for overclocking.
      By: Luminis
      A high quality heat sink is often needed for overclocking.