The Science of Overclocking


When you buy a computer’s processor, that processor’s core speed is usually preset at a certain level. But for many PC enthusiasts, the preset core speed will not stop them from determining the upper limits of a processor’s capabilities so they overclock these processors.Overclocking is a process in which a processor’s stated speed is pushed to its upper limits is a way for PC enthusiasts to exploit and get more speed from their existing PC components, most frequently the processor. For example, an AMD AthlonXP 2500+, a processor that was quite famous for its high overclockability, has been tweaked by many enthusiasts and after overclocking its frequencies was able to make it run up to a speed that is similar to an AthlonXP 2800+. That is a decent bump in speed that does not require buying anything else.

This concept of buying a processor and then bumping up its performance to approximate the speeds of more expensive variants is the reason why overclocking is very popular. In fact, there are small groups of PC “geeks” that make it some sort of bragging rights to be able to increase the speed of a computer part (say a processor) to its most upper limit and past the previously recorded overclocked speed.

But before you do it though, be aware that overclocking, although it sounds like fun, has its own dangers. First of all, overclocking a computer part basically voids its warranty. So if something happens to the particular part then you can’t have it replaced even if it is still under warranty. Which leads me to my second warning. Overclocked computer parts run significantly hotter than when it is running at stock speeds. Overheated parts can cause crashes and even general system failures.

1 thought on “The Science of Overclocking”

  1. Nice overview of what overclocking is, but what about maybe actually going into the process of how it is done?
    The AthlonXP 2500+ was only a mediocre example of a known overclocker. AMD CPUs don’t have a great track record for overclocking compared to Intel CPUs. A few good examples of excellent overclockers are:
    Celeron 300A – PentiumII 300 SL4YK – Pentium III 733 coppermine – Pentium4 1.6A – Pentium4 2.4B and the latest Pentium4 3.0 E0 stepping.
    Perhaps a quick overview of different cooling techniques would help as well, like water cooling, thermoelectric cooling, and phase change cooling.

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