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The Plum Foolishness of High Overclocking

Updated on August 16, 2008
Why not OC your system? Then you can cook an egg on your CPU!
Why not OC your system? Then you can cook an egg on your CPU!
 

Overclocking is the process of changing the basic operating settings of a personal computer component to run at a faster clock rate than it was originally specified by the manufacturer. This is a practice that is usually implemented by personal computer enthusiasts in order to maximize the performance of their PCs. Although some overclockers utilize lower-end PC components which they then proceed to overclock to faster speeds in order to achieve similar performance to more expensive parts, most overclockers are engaged in the speeding up of higher-end computer components to reach levels of performance that lie well beyond the recommended factory settings.

Overclocking is essentially implemented through a manipulation of the CPU multiplier and the motherboard's front side bus (FSB) settings until the maximum operating frequency is reached and the computer remains bootable, stable, and fully operational. While at first this process seems quite akin to automotive hotrodding, computer overclocking varies significantly from hopping up a car engine. There are a plethora of electrical and physical characteristics of computing systems to take into consideration and the balancing of these various factors significantly complicates the process of maximizing performance. The multiple and complex characteristics that must be juggled to achieve high overclocks include manipulation of CPU multipliers, bus dividers, voltages, thermal loads, cooling techniques and various other odds and ends.

The net advantages of high overclocking are effectively quite minimal. The vast majority of everyday office type applications are not computationally-intense, thus will see very little if any noticeable benefit from an overclocked CPU. For example, adding another 1GB of RAM to a 1GB Vista PC will speed up most functions in an Office Suite to a far greater degree than overclocking the CPU to its limits. In huge resource hogs such as image manipulation software, RAM is also usually more critical than maximum CPU speed.

Gamers are usually inclined to overclock but even in those environments the increase in performance is difficult to discern. Most people will not be able to tell the difference when the frames per second rate is increased by 10%, and that task requires the processor to be significantly overclocked.

The disadvantages of high overclocking are countless. Overclockers not only void their warranties, but increase voltages and heat to such an extent that the lifespan of the part can be reduced by 90% or more. Excessive voltage can also cause immediate failure of the component and can even lead to the system igniting!

Even some experienced overclockers are not directly aware that increasing the operating frequency of a part will increase its heat output in a linear fashion while increasing its voltage increases thermal output quadratically! To compensate for this excessive heat output, expensive liquid or phase cooling systems have to be provided and unless meticulously installed and maintained, these systems can fail and fry the CPU. Negative impact on a computer system is not limited to maximized settings, as instability can crop up and cause irrecoverable data corruption and loss even when implementing lighter overclocking settings.

Overclocking finds its only real validity in street cred boasting. It is generally a juvenile and sophomoric activity which damages valuable electronic components to derive no clear, practical benefit.

 

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    • PB_Smith profile image

      PB_Smith 

      8 years ago from Southern California

      Hal, NO CPU's come with an overclocking utility, it's the motherboard that come with OC utilities. As mentioned before Intel and AMD go by thermal and wattage specs to determine warranty staus and danger to the CPU.

    • Hal Licino profile imageAUTHOR

      Hal Licino 

      9 years ago from Toronto

      You OCers bore me with your INCAPACITY TO READ. What in that sentence do you not understand? If I buy an XYZ processor and it comes with the XYZ OC utility which allows me to go from the standard clock of 350 GHz to 362.47 GHz without voiding the warranty, then it is a FACTORY PARAMETER. If you go to 362.48 GHz, then it's HIGH OC.

      DUH, DUDE!

    • profile image

      Zane 

      9 years ago

      "Please note that I am firmly against HIGH overclocking well beyond manufacturers' specs. In cases where a manufacturer actually supplies a utility for overclocking, then it is definitely WITHIN the specs!"

      Scary stuff Hal....scary stuff!

      Please define 'High' Overclocking and EXACTLY what manufacturer specifications are you exceeding.

      Using arbitrary terms in a futile attempt to make a point seems to be the order of the day at this site.

      I am moving on to the land of the rational.

    • Hal Licino profile imageAUTHOR

      Hal Licino 

      9 years ago from Toronto

      K0BALT, I can't publish your comment because you got lewd. However, read my last post again. It's rather obvious you are experiencing reading comprehension difficulties. Have you tried Sylvan? :)

    • Hal Licino profile imageAUTHOR

      Hal Licino 

      10 years ago from Toronto

      Please note that I am firmly against HIGH overclocking well beyond manufacturers' specs. In cases where a manufacturer actually supplies a utility for overclocking, then it is definitely WITHIN the specs!

    • Hal Licino profile imageAUTHOR

      Hal Licino 

      10 years ago from Toronto

      The only thing you nullified was my patience. High overclocking is MORONIC! Just like LAPPING! Thank you.

    • profile image

      Lattyware 

      10 years ago

      And what part of my post where I nullified all of your qualms with Overclocking did you not get?

      You are the ignorant one, my friend.

    • Hal Licino profile imageAUTHOR

      Hal Licino 

      10 years ago from Toronto

      Geez, what part of "Overclocking is the process of changing the basic operating settings of a personal computer component to run at a faster clock rate than it was originally specified by the manufacturer" do you not understand? You and your friends on my other PC Hubs are making a spectacle of your ignorance. May I suggest taking a "Reading For Comprehension" course?

    • profile image

      Lattyware 

      10 years ago

      More ignorant nonsense.

      Overclocking, does not, in fact void a warenty at all. Unless you go outside the reccomended maximum voltage for a CPU (1.375v for most of the Intel 45nm processors currently availible) your warenty is still 100% valid. And most overclockers would not go over that line, as yes, it can degrade the lifespan.

      However, while keeping within that limit, and not reducing the life span of my CPU, I have overclocked my E7200 to 3.8GHz. That's a large overclock that makes a big difference when performing intensive tasks. It's also significantly faster than an E8600, which retails at £100 more than the E7200. Not worthwhile, you say?

      CPUs no longer get fried these days, they have thermal shutoffs and will automatically stop before they get damaged by heat.

      Not to mention any overclocker worth his/her salt will make sure their overclock is stable before using the PC at that frequency.

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