This is how you overclock your PC thoughtfully


Illustration of an RTX A5000 design card from Nvidia, which should now be (temporarily) overclockable.

In previous articles we have seen how you can monitor the processor usage of your PC system-wide and per application and how this can also be adjusted (for the CPU). In this article we take the optimizations a long way, right to the heart of the processors. You immediately realize that we are talking about ‘overclocking’.

It seems a bit paradoxical, but in this article about overclocking, the actual overclocking process is not even discussed very extensively. This is for two reasons. To begin with, unfortunately, we cannot provide a straightforward step-by-step plan, because the exact procedure also depends on the tool used and on your motherboard and processors. Furthermore, you can best see overclocking as part of a five-step process: collecting information, stress testing, benchmarking, overclocking and checking. We do not think it wise to focus here only on the fourth part.

What exactly do you mean by ‘overclocking’? You should know that every processor has a certain clock speed, expressed in hertz. This indicates how many times per second an instruction is executed by the processor. Modern processors operate at billions of clock cycles per second (GHz). Although you cannot increase the number of instructions per cycle, you can increase the frequency of the cycles. So overclocking is essentially increasing the clock speed of your processor, which can lead to better performance. All in all, it is therefore quite a delicate intervention and that is precisely why it should also be part of a well-considered approach: in the five steps mentioned.

Getting information

Logically, you first need to know exactly which motherboard and processor(s) you have. The System Information app (press Windows key+R and feed msinfo32 off) gives you a quick overview with static information, but there are more thorough tools.

For your CPU you can use the popular Deploy CPU-Z. Here you can read on the tab CPU detailed information including the real-time values ​​of the clock speed (Core Speed) and the voltage (Core VID). Through Tools / Clocks you can also read the clock speed of the individual CPU cores. It may vary depending on possible power saving modes. Switch to Windows Power management For example, take a look between the schedules Energy saving and High performance: you immediately notice the difference.

It is also a good idea to measure the CPU temperature, because it will probably be higher during overclocking. A handy tool for this is Core Temp. It accurately displays the temperature of each processor core based on a DTS (Digital Thermal Sensor) located in each core. Usually Core Temp also tells you the Tj. Max-where the. This is the maximum temperature your processor is allowed to reach before it automatically scales back to cool. When overclocking, you prefer to keep the CPU temperature at least 15 °C below this Tj. Max or, if this value is missing, preferably below 80 °C.

For real-time information about your GPU, you can Using GPU-Z. On the tab Sensors you will find, among other things, the clock speed, temperature and load, as well as the CPU temperature.

A different power scheme directly affects the maximum clock speed of the CPU(s).

Stress testing

Before you start overclocking, it is best to also perform a stress test on your cpu and/or gpu. This way you check whether they are stable enough for your overclocking plans. Immediately check that all fans are clean and running smoothly.

You will find such a stress test on the tab bench from CPU-Z, via the button Stress CPU, but there is nothing that can be done about this. Better tools are therefore IntelBurnTest, the multi-platform Prime95 and the beautiful OCCT. We briefly explain the latter.

First open the section Monitor and view the tabs. Here you will find out, among other things, the temperature and the fan speed (rpm) of your CPU. The actual stress test can be found at Test. Select here CPU. Bee Duration set the test duration; you can leave the other settings undisturbed. You start the test by pressing the red arrow button. Let it run for a few hours, but keep an eye on the temperature. It is useful that you can also enter the distance in °C to the Tj. Max value reads.

There are of course also tools to stress test your GPU. A solid and free program is MSI Kombustor. Various stress tests are available and you can set the desired test resolution yourself. You can run several tests in succession, but do check the GPU temperature (bottom left). You can close such a test at any time and via Log File analyze the results, including frame rates (fps).

OCCT puts the fire at your cpu’s shins. Keep an eye on the temperature.

Benchmarking

It is a good idea to run some benchmarks first. That will give you a good idea of ​​the current performance of your cpu and/or gpu, so you can compare it with the results after overclocking.

We first focus on the CPU and again arrive at CPU-Z. On the tab bench you will find a simple benchmarker. You select at Reference a cpu with which you want to compare the performance of your own cpu and you start both a single and multithread test with Bench CPU. click on Submit and Compare to upload the results, then click on your score to compare it to other CPUs.

Another benchmarker is Cinebench. This tool, found in the Microsoft Store, renders a complex image during the test and is aimed a little more at high-end systems. Through Preferences set yourself how many simultaneous threads you want to address. Afterwards, a ranking with other CPUs follows.

For your gpu you can go to GFXBench, where you can choose whether you want to take all the tests at once or just the tests you select yourself, and at PassMark Performance Test (30 days free). Via the buttons 2D and 3D you can run various tests here that you select yourself. Afterwards you can compare your own video card against baselines and (comparable) GPUs.

Cinebench uses ‘4D animation software’ to benchmark your CPU.

Overclocking (CPU)

Everything is now ready for the actual overclocking. With the right tools (and suitable processors, such as the Intel K and X series and AMD Ryzen) this can be done safely, but you do this at your own risk.

Among the better overclocking tools for Intel CPUs are Intel Extreme Tuning Utility and Intel Performance Maximizer (at least for 9th generation K processors). For AMD CPUs, AMD Ryzen Master recommended.

Unfortunately, we do not have the space to go through these tools step by step, but it is important that you know that the CPU frequency is determined by three factors: the voltage of the processor cores (VCore), the base clock speed (BCLK) and the core. multipliers. Suppose your BCLK is 100 MHz and your multipliers are set to 44. You then arrive at a frequency of 100 x 44 = 4400 MHz (4.4 GHz). To overclock, increase all multipliers simultaneously in increments of 1 so that (in this example) the frequency increases by 100 MHz each time.

It cannot be ruled out that you also have to increase the Vcore a bit for more stability, but you can also do that in steps of a maximum of +0.05 V. During the entire process it is best to also run a tool such as CPU-Z – although the Intel tool also has a stress test on board – and you regularly perform short stress tests with it. Also get the Core Temp tool to monitor the CPU temperature.

The Intel Extreme Tuning Utility also has its own stress test (and benchmark).

Overclocking (GPU)

As with the CPU, step-by-step overclocking of the GPU is safe in itself, but you do this at your own risk. For overclocking gpus it is free MSI Afterburner an excellent tool. Also make sure you have MSI Kombustor installed.

Start Afterburner and click on the kkey to also start Kombustor. Now increase the Core Clock (MHz) – so not it Core Voltage – in steps of about 20. Once you go above 50, it is best to work in steps of 10. Confirm after each increment with To apply (the button with the check mark). If it doesn’t work, then (if possible) adjust the sliders Power Limit (%) and with Temp Limit (°C) temporarily at the maximum, and imagine yourself via the abutton the Fan Speed ​​(%) in at approximately 75%. Confirm with To apply.

During the increases, you continuously run Kombustor’s stress test, where you monitor the results, such as the temperature of the gpu and cpu. If the temperatures get too high or the stress test crashes, set the increase about 10% lower than your current test value.

Then you can also use the Memory Clock increase slightly, in steps of a maximum of 10. Here too it is best to stay about 10% below the value at which the stress test turns out to be a bit too demanding. Then click on Save (floppy disk icon) and on profile button 1. Finally, click on the Windows button at the top right, so that your system starts up with the current profile values.

You increase the clock speed of the GPU core and memory in small steps.

Check

Not only do you have to monitor the results and temperatures with the help of stress tests during the actual overclocking process, but it is also a good idea to perform a few longer stress tests after overclocking. Also run the same benchmarks as before overclocking, because it is quite satisfying to see that your efforts actually result in better performance of your processor(s). Good luck.

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