Is Overclocking Safe and Worth It?

Overclocking is the cheapest way to increase the overall performance of your computer. Changing the clock speeds of the GPU and CPU can improve the performance of the CPU and GPU.

An increase in the overall performance means you will get much better frame rates for the AAA Title games that were previously having low FPS.

You can also run 3D Modeling, Designing and Rendering softwares like Autodesk Maya, Auto 3DS Max, Cinema 4D, Nuke, Blackmagic Fusion, V-Ray without any lags or glitches.

Although Overclocking is a great way to increase the CPU/GPU performance, there are some risks and dangers that come with the process. So, is it worth the risk?

In this article I’ll explain whether overclocking is safe and worth the risk.

What Is Overclocking?

Overclocking is a process to increase the clock speed or clock frequency of the CPU/GPU from its original clock speed by increasing the clock multiplier.

Clock Speed or Clock Frequency is the rate at which the CPU/GPU executes instructions per second. Every CPU/GPU has a Base Clock speed and a Turbo Clock speed.

Base clock speed is the rate at which the CPU/GPU executes instructions per second normally and Turbo clock speed is the maximum rate at which the CPU/GPU can execute instructions per second.

Example – Intel Core i7-5820K processor has a Base Clock Speed of 3.3 GHz and a Turbo Clock Speed of 3.6 GHz.

For all basic everyday tasks, this CPU runs normally at 3.3 GHz. But during heavy tasks like gaming, the CPU speed increases to 3.6 GHz. Turbo Clock speed is always higher than Base Clock speed.

Overclocking is increasing the clock speed of the CPU/GPU above the Turbo Clock Speed. Taking the example above, Overclocking the Intel Core i7-5820K can increase the clock speed above 3.6 GHz.

As overclocking increases the clock speed this means that the CPU/GPU can now execute more instruction per second and therefore there is an increase in the performance of the CPU/GPU.

Overclocking also increases the Voltage at which the CPU/GPU operates normally. It isn’t possible to overclock without increasing the voltage. This increase in operating voltage is known as Overvolting.

As the voltage of the CPU/GPU increases the power consumed by them also increases. This leads to an increase in the production of heat and an increase in the overall temperature of the computer.

Overclocking is also possible for the RAM and the Display.

In case of RAM, an increase in the clock speed increases the rate at which it reads and writes instructions. In case of Display, an increase in the clock speed increases the refresh rate.

Why Should You Overclock?

You should overclock your laptop to increase the performance of your computer. Overclocking your CPU/GPU can increase the performance by many folds.

If you’re a heavy gamer and love playing AAA title games then you can increase the FPS by overclocking the CPU and GPU. You can run these games on high graphics much smoother than before with the power of overclocking.

If you’re a 3D graphic designer or VFX designer then you can overclock your laptop and run these resource-intensive 3D rendering softwares without any lags or glitches.

If you need to edit videos in 4K quality. Editing 4K videos requires a lot of CPU power so overclocking can give you fast results.

If you’re in the game development space and use heavy softwares like Unity3D and UnReal Engine then overclocking can increase your overall performance and you can build games without worrying about any lags or glitches.

If you’re a tech enthusiast then you can test your tech skills by overclocking your computer. You can also overclock your computer to test the capabilities of the hardware installed.

Overclocking can increase the performance of the CPU/GPU by such a margin that it begins to perform like higher-end CPUs and GPUs.

You can increase the clock speed of an Intel Core i5 Processor to the clock speed of an Intel Core i7 processor. Similarly, you can increase the clock speed of a laptop Nvidia or AMD GPU to such an amount that it performs similarly to a desktop Nvidia or AMD GPU.

Pros Of Overclocking Your CPU/GPU

Overclocking your GPU/CPU has two major advantages. They are:

Better Performance With Same Hardware

This is the main reason why people overclock their computers. Overclocking increases the rate of execution of instructions which means that your computer can handle more tasks than before.

ram for gaming system

If you’re a gamer then overclocking can help you run AAA Title games on high graphics which you couldn’t run before. You will also notice an increase in FPS while playing these games. Your games will run without any lags or glitches.

You can also run heavy 3D Modeling and Rendering softwares without any lags. The tasks will be completed much faster and you can save a lot of time.

The increase in performance means you can enjoy memory and graphics intensive tasks without worrying about sudden crashing of your system and frequent lagging.

Save A Lot Of Money

Overclocking increases the performance of your computer without investing in expensive hardware. This will save you a lot of money.

If you want to increase the performance of your computer without following the Overclocking route then you have to invest a lot of money in upgrading your CPU, GPU, and RAM. All of these components cost a lot of money so you’ll have to shell out a lot of cash in order to achieve the same performance levels.

With Overclocking you can save that money because it doesn’t cost any expensive hardware to overclock your computer. You can get a cheap CPU or GPU and overclock it to perform like a higher-end CPU or GPU.

Cons Of Overclocking Your CPU/GPU

Although overclocking looks extremely beneficial it comes with a hefty price. Here are the major disadvantages of overclocking.

Overheating and High Temperatures

Increasing the clock speeds of CPU and GPU increases its Operating Voltage. This means they will now require more power and voltage to operate. This increase in power consumption leads to an increase in the production of heat and causes overheating.

The increased heat increases the temperature of the CPU/GPU to very high levels. An overclocked system also heats up faster than a non-overclocked system.

It is of utmost importance that your computer has a good cooling system to get rid of the excess heat produced. If your cooling system isn’t good enough then there is a risk of damage to the internal components.

The high temperatures can also cause Thermal throttling where the performance of the CPU/GPU gets reduced until the temperature falls back to normal. Your system may even crash due to high temperatures.

cpu throttling
CPU Throttling in Intel Core i5-3210M processor

It can also damage the internal components of the computer and in severe cases, these components can catch fire.

It is very important to overclock your CPU/GPU within the optimum temperature of their operation.

Reduced Lifespan of CPU, GPU, Battery and Laptop

Operating the CPU/GPU at higher clock speeds than normal consumes more power and produces more heat. The increased heat can damage the components slowly and reduces the overall lifetime of both the internal components and the computer as a whole.

Every CPU/GPU has a range of clock speeds where the performance remains stable. Increasing the clock speed beyond that causes instability of the system. Unstable systems don’t last for long and you will find that the lifespan of your system has reduced.

At the end you may end up paying a lot more money to replace the hardware or a buy a new computer.

Therefore it is important that you find a perfect balance between the clock speed and the temperature so that your system shows stable performance.

Risks Associated With Overclocking

Overclocking when not done properly can make your system unstable. An unstable system can pose serious problems. Some of the main risks associated with Overclocking are:

(A) Frequent Program and System Crashes. You will suddenly see your opened windows and programs closing without any reason.

(B) Thermal Throttling of CPU/GPU. Overclocking increases the temperature of the CPU/GPU and to compensate for it the performance of the CPU/GPU reduces until the temperature goes back to normal.

(C) Unexpected Shutdowns. An improperly overclocked system can shut down suddenly.

(D) Damage to internal components. An increase in the temperature poses serious danger to the internal components of the system. In extreme cases, these components can even catch fire.

(E) Your system may not boot up. In some cases, your system may not start up because the voltage isn’t high enough for the CPU to operate.

Softwares For Overclocking Your CPU/GPU

Overclocking can be done using certain utility softwares or using the BIOS. I recommend my users to follow the software route because it is much easier and safer than doing it through the BIOS.

Apart from overclocking these utility softwares can also be used to monitor the CPU/GPU temperatures, monitor the voltage levels, underclocking and undervolting.

Here is a list of utility softwares to overclock your CPU/GPU.

(A) Intel Extreme Tuning Utility.

(B) AMD Ryzen Master

(C) AMD Overdrive

(D) EVGA Precision X

(E) CPU Tweaker

(F) Sapphire Trixx Utility

(G) MSI AfterBurner

(H) CPU-Z and GPU-Z

You can easily find tutorials on using these softwares on YouTube. Just follow the tutorials step by step and don’t try anything on your own.

msi afterburner

Is Overclocking Worth It?

Overclocking may or may not be worth it and it totally depends on your situation. Let me put up a few situations for you to understand whether it’s worth it or not.

If you’re a heavy gamer and want to increase the FPS while playing AAA title games then overclocking is totally worth it for you. You don’t need to spend money on upgrading the RAM, CPU, and GPU. You also don’t have to spend money on External GPUs.

You’re in the 3D graphic designing, 3D Modeling or VFX Designing space then it’s totally worth it. You will see no lags and while running these softwares and you will end up saving a lot of time.

You’re in the game development space and need to use heavy resource-intensive softwares like unity3D and UnReal Engine.

You’re a YouTuber or Video Editor who does 4K quality video editing. Overclocking can increase the speed of video editing and you won’t find any lags.

If you want desktop-level performance from your laptop without investing in expensive hardware then overclocking is totally worth it for you.

Overclocking is not worth it if you use your laptop for everyday tasks like browsing the internet, watching movies, writing articles, creating presentations, coding, etc.

For these tasks, you’re better off running your CPU and GPU at the base clock rate because they don’t require a lot of memory and CPU/GPU power.

Is Overclocking Safe?

Overclocking is perfectly safe if you follow all the correct procedures step by step. You shouldn’t do something on your own without getting the proper knowledge and technique.

The key to overclocking is finding a perfect balance between clock speeds of the CPU/GPU and the temperatures they achieve.

You have to closely monitor the temperature levels while slowly increasing the clock speeds. The maximum optimum temperature of CPUs and GPUs is around 80 degrees Celsius when used heavily. You have to find the highest clock speed for which the temperature remains below 80 degrees Celsius under heavy use.

If you cross the optimum temperature level limit then you will end up damaging your CPU/GPU which can cause thermal throttling and other heavy damage.

You should see tutorials on YouTube or follow guides from forums like Reddit or Tom’s Hardware. Forums are a great place to find guides on overclocking your specific CPU and GPU models.

Conclusion

Overclocking can definitely increase the performance of your computer but it also carries a risk with it.

If high performance is a necessity for you without investing money on hardware and you’re okay with the associated risks then you should definitely overclock your computer.

If you use your computer for simple everyday tasks and don’t need any performance gains then you definitely don’t need to overclock your computer.

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