Getting started can be a daunting experience for a newcomer. However, with a little guidance and little determination you will soon find how easy it can be. We have developed a simple step by step guide to help get you started.
What is Your PC?
If you want to overclock your PC, you must first find out exactly what kind of PC you have at your disposal. Learning about the hardware you are using, is an essential part of the journey.
Desktop or Notebook PC?
Although Notebook, Laptop and other mobile PCs can be overclocked, it is usually more difficult to do so and will somewhat limited the experience. The vast majority of overclocking happens on desktop PC hardware. We highly recommend starting on a desktop PC. In fact a cheaper, even older system may well prove to be the perfect place to begin.
Find Out What is Inside
Obviously you need to know what kind of hardware you are running, this includes important things like the brand, type and model of Central Processing Unit (“CPU”) also known as processor. This will also determine what kind of memory your system uses and what motherboard is installed among other things.
Of course, a good way to find the answer to these questions is to simply open the machine and take a look - not a bad idea and something that will probably need to happen at some stage. However you can also install a small software utility which give you all the precise information you need to learn about virtually every component inside your PC.
Two great options are CPU-Z and Speccy:
CPU-Z will give you a detailed overview of your system’s CPU, memory and motherboard, including the current configuration being used. CPU-Z is an essential tool when submitting scores to the HWBOT database. To prove a score is valid, it is common practice to show a screenshot with CPU-Z (or several iterations of CPU-Z) displaying the memory and CPU configuration used to achieve the score. http://www.cpuid.com/softwares/cpu-z.html
Speccy is an application that will show you pretty much every component used in your PC. For beginners, it’s a great way to become familiar with your hardware. You can instantly find the brand, make and model of your graphics card, it’s current clock rate and temperature. You can also find out what kind of Audio chip was used by the motherboard manufacturer who made your board, as well as pretty much everything else you could ever want to know. https://www.piriform.com/speccy
Do Some Basic Research
Now that you have the data, do the research. Start by finding out what kind of CPU you have. Here are some questions to get you started in your quest for knowledge:
- What Model of CPU is it?
- Is the CPU high-end?
- How much does it currently cost?
- How many cores does it have?
- What is the default clock speed?
- What is the current CPU temperature?
- How much system memory do I have?
- What version of Windows am I using?
- How old is this PC?
- Can I still buy compatible components for it?
- What could I improve?
Can I Overclock My PC?
In theory all PCs can be overclocked to a lesser or greater extent. Today you will find that some hardware (usually higher end models) is actually designed with overclocking in mind. Certain models of CPU are ‘unlocked’ for example, meaning that they have specific features built-in that allow you improve performance. Now that you have determined what hardware you are using, it’s time to find out to what extent can it be overclocked.
Intel or AMD?
The manufacturer of your CPU is of vital importance to defining what kind of system you have. Intel has been the performance leader in terms of CPUs for the last decade or so and it is for this reason that the majority of scores submitted to the HWBOT database use Intel CPUs. Recent generations of Intel processors (or CPUs) include Pentium, Core i3, Core i5 and Core i7 models. Certain Core i5 and i7 models use the suffix ‘K’ to indicate that the CPU is unlocked and designed with overclocking in mind, for example the Core i7 6700K, or the Core i5 6600K - two examples of the sixth generation CPUs that belong to the Skylake family.
Intel CPU, Means Try XTU
Intel users are fortunate in that they can take advantage a very simple tweaking and benchmark utility known as Intel XTU. 3. How Use the Intel Extreme Tuning Utility (XTU) Benchmark This is short guide that explains how to use the Intel XTU benchmark.
Download and Install.
The first thing you need to do is download and install the Intel XTU benchmark application. To download the latest version, first we need to visit the HWBOT website (http://hwbot.org), navigate to benchmarks, scroll down to the XTU section where you will find download link. This will take you to the Intel download page where can download the latest version. Click on the link for the Intel Extreme Tuning Utility, click download, agree to the terms and conditions and select the destination folder where you want the installation package to reside.
Once downloaded, we can start the installation process by double clicking the installation package, agreeing to the license and clicking the install button. After installing the XTU app you will be asked to reboot your system. This is required to complete the installation.
Run the XTU Benchmark
Before we begin tweaking your system to improve performance, we will run the XTU benchmark to assess your system’s performance at current, stock settings. Once you open the XTU benchmark you will see a menu on the left side. From the menu, select ‘Benchmarking’, then click ‘Run’. The XTU app will then run a benchmark test to assess your system’s performance. The benchmark test usually takes around 30 seconds or so (depending on performance of course).
After the test has been completed you will presented with your XTU score. You can then click the option to ‘Compare Online’ which will take you the HWBOT.org website. Select the cooling that was used to make the score (i.e. air cooling, water cooling etc). Click the box to say you have agreed to the XTU submission rules and finally, click Submit Benchmark Result. Your score will then be uploaded to the HWBOT score database where you can compare it to scores from other overclockers using the same hardware.
Tune Your System
One of the best features of XTU is that it provides you with a graphical interface where you can tweak and configure many of your PC’s settings. Now that you have a base score, it is now time to use the XTU app to tweak and tune your system to try and improve overall performance.
Firstly, to understand what hardware you are currently using, you can look click the ‘System Information’ tab on the left side navigation panel. The system information section will show you a comprehensive view of your PC’s CPU and memory settings. These include reference clock speed, turbo ratios, core voltage and plus memory timings in the lower section and much more.
A good place to start is by adjusting the settings that affect your CPU’s performance. The ‘Manual Tuning’ section allows you change a wide variety of the CPU’s settings, however Intel ‘K’ model CPUs will offer more complete access to settings involving the speed of the CPU cores.
Note: Using extreme and perhaps even wholly inappropriate settings will not cause damage to your computer. Settings that do not work, for whatever reason, will result in your system crashing and perhaps a Blue Screen of Death (BSOD - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blue_Screen_of_Death). This kind of failure can be easily remedied by rebooting. In most cases this will return you back to safe settings. If not, you can manually enter BIOS, reset the settings from there and begin overclocking again.
Using XTU Profiles
One other great feature of the Intel XTU app is that each time you make a submission you can also create an XTU profile. This is a complete profile of all the setting used within the tuning utility. Overclockers can share XTU profiles too, which is great way to educate yourself about what other overclockers are doing.
Simply visit http://hwbot.org/search/profiles and search for XTU profiles from other overclockers using the same hardware as you. You can download their profile, save it to disk and then click the ‘Profile’ section of the left side menu to then apply that profile to your system. This is a great way to quickly learn the basics of CPU and memory overclocking. Soon you will be aware of the limitations of your PC’s hardware and cooling.
Over the past two decades plenty of guides and how-to guides have been posted across the web detailing how to overclock.