Overclocking has been around for decades. Overclocking is a gamer’s dream come true – push your computer to the limit to maximize performance and generate better frame rates for better displays. The most common way to overclock has always been to enter the BIOS, set up new frequency and bandwidth parameters, and voila, you have a more powerful machine.


Why should I overclock?


Simple – it makes the computer’s process speed more powerful in every way. The “clock cycle” in the computer is made faster, and more instructions can be sent at a single moment. The threads of the processor increase in refresh rate, the GPU memory travels more quickly, and transistors push more information into themselves.


However, overclocking comes at a price. Increasing speed will never be free – the computer will take more wattage into its system. This will put greater strain to the central processor, the video card, and the RAM. Mean Time Before Failure will decrease; the lifespan of your hardware will fall.


Overclocking also has its opposite – Downclocking (or Underclocking). When the computer is underclocked, it runs at slower frequencies, and thus generates less heat. This however means that the information that passes through the device would be processed much slower.


How do I overclock?


Now that we know why exactly we should overclock and the consequences of it, how exactly do we do it? Overclocking can either be done via the BIOS, or otherwise through software that can be run after booting the system.


In this article, we’ll be using the BIOS instead of software, with a GIGABYTE™ Z170 motherboard as an example, and we will only tackle the CPU and not the graphics card.


1. Starting up BIOS


Entering the BIOS can be done most easily by holding the device boot button upon startup. This will raise a dialog box wherein the user may choose which device (USB Flash Drive, CD-ROM, HDD, etc.) has their preferred boot system. Afterwards, instructions will show what next to do to enter BIOS.


The default of this in our GIGABYTE™ motherboard is F12.


2. Setting up CPU Frequency


This is the easiest thing to consider, and by far the most important. The CPU Clock Frequency, or CPU Clock Rate, is how fast the clock cycles run through the CPU. To overclock the CPU, its clock rate needs to increase. This means more clock cycles per second, and thus greater instructions done.


One must take caution, however. The CPU clock rate must stay within acceptable levels. Research must be done by the user as to the maximum possible clock rating the CPU can give. If the CPU is overclocked past its ability, the computer will fail to boot. It will not start at all.
The CPU clock rate can also be decreased. Going into underclock means decreasing CPU frequency, making the computer slower while lowering its temperature.


3. Checking Memory statistics


Memory can also be messed with in the BIOS, at least in the BIOS of GIGABYTE™ motherboards. Considering that the computer would not run without memory, this is only normal.


The memory frequency of the RAM shows how much data passes at a time. Increasing memory frequency allows for more information bandwidth. However, as always, heat will increase, and thus, this will lower the MTBF of the RAM. Remember the balance of it.


4. Checking the PC’s cooling


Of course, since heat is a problem here, the information on how to increase CPU fan speed, the cooling of the heat sink, and the system fans’ speeds themselves are tantamount to the safety of the computer. The CPU could fail, fuses might break, or worse, fires may start.


For example, in the GIGABYTE™ motherboard we’ve been using as an example, fan speeds can be increased to a maximum of 2.5x the speed of a normal fan. Minimum is 0.75x in speed. The system fan speed can be controlled, and so can the heat sink fan’s speed.


5. Checking Computer Health


With all of those checked, the statistics of the computer when functioning should be taken into account.


It is best to add a system speaker inside the PC case, to make things best for testing. This will beep during certain cues, such as when the computer stops, the fans stop, or temperature reaches a certain threshold.


In our GIGABYTE™ motherboard, for example, at overclock, the system can go past 90 degrees Celsius (and the speaker beeps), while in underclock, it can reach a thorough maximum of 30 degrees. That’s almost three times the heat.


We hope you choose to overclock or underclock wisely. Remember, a computer has limits.


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