Overclocking or oc’ing, as is commonly known to the overclocking community, is a process that involves pushing the clock speed of a particular computer component such as the CPU or graphics card higher than the default clock speed originally set by the manufacturer.
Some overclockers may buy cheap computer parts for the purpose of overclocking them further than originally intended and by doing this seek to save money, rather than buying the fastest parts. On the other hand, there are enthusiast oc’ers who buy the very fastest and latest components and push the clock speed of these parts to the very limit.
A third type of overclocker also exists, and they are those who overclock their outdated components to keep up to par with ever increasing system requirements, instead of upgrading to newer hardware.
From the parts of a computer that are overclocked, there are really only four components that people really try to overclock. They are the processor (CPU), motherboard chipset, RAM (memory) and the video card. Traditionally these components are overclocked by changing the processor multiplier and the motherboard’s FSB which can be accessed via the motherboard’s BIOS or “Basic input output system” which is a firmware interface stored on a chip found on the motherboard.
You can access the BIOS on any computer by pressing the DEL key or on some other systems the F2 key depending on the manufacturer. The key needs to be pressed at some point after you hear a beep from the computer which is right after you press the power button.
For a long time the FSB or front side bus has always been at the heart of any overclocking attempt but now with AMD’s HyperTransport and Intel’s QuickPath Interconnect, FSB is fast becoming an old and slow technology.
The reason for AMD and Intel producing these new technologies in order to replace FSB is because in newer computer systems that we have today you find that the speed of which data is transferred from the northbridge to the CPU and other devices (this is FSB) has become a bottleneck for today’s fast processors that are able to deal with individual operations a lot quicker.
Before you begin overclocking there are some important matters that you should consider first.
The first thing is that you have enough power to a component so that it will be able to sustain the faster clock speed. Though at the same time, too much power to a particular component can permanently damage it. The best way to avoid any problems like this would be to check that you have a good power supply or invest in a better one.
The second matter is the fact that overclocking requires the ability to change certain values within the BIOS menu settings, something that is mostly found in more advanced and slightly more expensive motherboards rather than older and cheaper motherboards. More expensive, more advanced motherboards will have more settings to play around with and also include built-in overclocking settings. Some older motherboards or even those that are in new machines built by manufacturers such as Dell and HP, may not contain any settings within the bios that allow changing any clock speeds whatsoever and with that being the case such a motherboard would not support any overclocking at all.
The third matter that you need to take into consideration is cooling. All the parts within a computer system will produce heat. Once you start pushing the clock speed of a component higher, then that component will begin producing more heat than before. This becomes a problem if your cooling doesn’t keep the temperature at the proper levels. Overheating components can cause system instability which leads to crashes, failed startups and hardware failure. In a lot of cases depending on how far you intend to overclock a component, you can get away with using the stock cooling parts that cool the processor, video card, motherboard etc. But in order to get the most out of your overclocking adventure, it’s wise to invest in beefier more effective cooling. Things like bigger fans, larger heatsinks made from pure copper, water cooling and other more extreme methods like liquid nitrogen :O Cooling of a computer system is something you should never overlook. It’s a topic that is vast and you should research this area well before trying to overclock.
Part two of our ASUS motherboard overclocking guide coming soon