What Are the Pros and Cons of Overclocking a Laptop?

G. Wiesen

Overclocking a laptop, which is a method by which processors in a computer are set to run faster than normal, provides increased performance but can quickly overheat a system. Laptops offer fast and easy access to the Internet, though they can be difficult to use for gaming and similar applications. Overclocking a laptop, usually the graphics processor within it, can improve performance and allow a machine to run more demanding software. Doing this produces additional heat, however, which can be difficult to vent from a laptop and may potentially damage other computer hardware within the case.

Overclocking a laptop may void its warranty.
Overclocking a laptop may void its warranty.

The process of overclocking a laptop typically includes the use of software on the computer to alter the way in which one or more processors in it run. Basically, a processor is an internal clock that sends out a pulse that sets the pace at which everything else in the computer operates. A Graphics Processing Unit (GPU) is a component that serves a similar function but deals specifically with the rendering and display of graphics on a computer, assisting the Central Processing Unit (CPU).

Overlocking a laptop may allow more demanding software to be played.
Overlocking a laptop may allow more demanding software to be played.

Overclocking a laptop increases the speed at which the CPU or GPU in a computer send out this pulse. This effectively speeds up all other processes and applications on that machine, allowing it to run faster than at normal settings. Someone overclocking a laptop might specifically increase the speed of the GPU to allow the computer to better run programs like computer games.

This is an effective way to boost performance on a computer, but it also produces a great deal of heat. After overclocking a laptop, the GPU runs faster, which means it generates more heat than it did under standard, factory settings. In a desktop computer, there are many ways to improve cooling, such as the addition of fans or use of a liquid-cooling system. Laptop computers, however, are a small, enclosed system and have far fewer cooling options.

Overclocking a laptop without making allowances for this increased heat can quickly lead to damage of the GPU or other internal components. The internal heat of a laptop can quickly double after being overclocked. There are cooling stands and mats that can be used with a laptop to combat some of this increased heat, and some people even make holes in the computer case and perform other modifications to improve cooling. Overclocking a laptop can also void any warranty that the computer's manufacturer may offer, especially for damage caused by overheating.

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