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To overclock or not to overclock?

I have been researching it for a couple of hours, but it still perplexes me. I mean, I understand the basics: raise the clock speeds of various components for performance gains, as well as higher temps and greater power consumption. The trouble is that many of the guides seem to assume a fair bit of reader knowledge, which I'll be the first to admit I don't have. Moreover, many of them strike me as being rather vague. How significant are the performance gains? Would I even notice them in-game? How much does it increase the temperature? Would it require an aftermarket cooler? Would it place too much demand on the power supply?

What I would like to know is simply whether or not I should consider overclocking any of my components. If so, which component(s)? What are the benefits? What are the risks/disadvantages?

System info:

Operating System: MS Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit SP1
CPU: AMD Athlon II X2 250 32 °C
Regor 45nm Technology
RAM: 4.00 GB Dual-Channel DDR3 @ 533MHz (7-7-7-20)
Motherboard: LENOVO Tilapia CRB (CPU 1) 27 °C
Graphics: HSG1074 (1824x1026@60Hz)
512MB GeForce GTS 250 (EVGA) 45 °C
Hard Drives: 977GB Seagate ST31000528AS ATA Device (SATA) 33 °C
Optical Drives: TSSTcorp CDDVDW TS-H653G ATA Device
Audio: Realtek High Definition Audio
PSU: Corsair 430W, delivers 28A on the 12V rail
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  1. Those questions can't be answered since a specific pcs specs and the games you play will have an effect. I can't really answer unless I know what games but you gpu is the weakest link. You've pretty much answered your own questions. It can increase performance as well as heat and power.
  2. k1114 said:
    Those questions can't be answered since a specific pcs specs and the games you play will have an effect. I can't rellly answer unless I know what games but you gpu is the weakest link.

    The GPU is actually new. I know it's an older model, but as far as I know, it's better than anything more current that you can get for $80. I'm not an expert, but I'd think that the CPU is greater cause for concern, or so I've been told. It's just a dual-core.
  3. Most games don't use more than 2 cores. A dual core has no issue maxing bf3, skyrim or even more intensive games like crysis with a capable gpu as they are all gpu dependent. The cpu just needs to be fast enough to not hinder the gpu and in a couple games will handle physics. But there are games that are cpu dependent like dues ex where a cpu can improve fps.
  4. k1114 said:
    Most games don't use more than 2 cores. A dual core has no issue maxing bf3, skyrim or even more intensive games like crysis with a capable gpu as they are all gpu dependent. The cpu just needs to be fast enough to not hinder the transfer of files to the gpu and in a couple games will handle physics. But there are games that are cpu dependent like dues ex where a cpu can improve fps.

    Really? I thought that newer games generally require quad cores, at least as it concerns recommended specs. So, my CPU isn't a bottleneck? Because quite a few people said it would hold back GPU performance. I know GTA IV is pretty CPU dependent, but as you say, it's the exception, not the rule.
  5. As with everything, the key is moderation. Overclocking a little bit will give you a bump in performance. I overclocked my e8400 from 3.0 to 3.6 GHZ and it's rock solid.

    However, when you start raising the voltages and pushing the limits of the system then you could fry your computer.
  6. k1114 said:
    Most games don't use more than 2 cores. A dual core has no issue maxing bf3, skyrim or even more intensive games like crysis with a capable gpu as they are all gpu dependent. The cpu just needs to be fast enough to not hinder the gpu and in a couple games will handle physics. But there are games that are cpu dependent like dues ex where a cpu can improve fps.


    Skyrim is just weird. I overclocked my cpu by 20% but the framerates were exactly the same. So then I got a new gpu. I upgraded a 8800 gts to a radeon 6870. My new GPU is 4 times faster in terms of GFLOPS, has twice the vram, support directx 11 and is 3 years newer. The framerate: unchanged.
  7. RaptorHunter said:
    Skyrim is just weird. I overclocked my cpu by 20% but the framerates were exactly the same. So then I got a new gpu. I upgraded a 8800 gts to a radeon 6870. My new GPU is 4 times faster in terms of GFLOPS, has twice the vram, support directx 11 and is 3 years newer. The framerate: unchanged.

    That is...odd. I'm going to blame Bethesda. Classics though they may become, Bethesda games are always a shaky investment at launch.
  8. RaptorHunter said:
    As with everything, the key is moderation. Overclocking a little bit will give you a bump in performance. I overclocked my e8400 from 3.0 to 3.6 GHZ and it's rock solid.

    However, when you start raising the voltages and pushing the limits of the system then you could fry your computer.

    Does moderate overclocking require aftermarket cooling?
  9. Best answer
    @Raptor, Well it depends on the res and settings too, not sure why you didn't mention that. Were you playing on directx 9 on the 8800gt? 4 times gflops does not mean it's 4 times faster, it's closer to 2.5x. Vram is only relevant if your using it all which depends on res and game and being newer does not mean faster. The 5000 series is faster than the 6000 series.

    @koro, It depends on your temps, you might be able to OC but heat is a killer more than voltage. I would never suggest oc on stock cooling. Decent coolers don't cost much, the 212+ is only $25.
  10. k1114 said:
    @Raptor, Well it depends on the res and settings too, not sure why you didn't mention that. Were you playing on directx 9 on the 8800gt? 4 times gflops does not mean it's 4 times faster, it's closer to 2.5x. Vram is only relevant if your using it all which depends on res and game and being newer does not mean faster. The 5000 series is faster than the 6000 series.

    @koro, It depends on your temps, you might be able to OC but heat is a killer more than voltage. I would never suggest oc on stock cooling. Decent coolers don't cost much, the 212+ is only $25.

    If that's the case, then I think I'll just hold off for now. Someone told me that people often OC the GPU on stock cooling, but I was warned against doing the same for the CPU. The shader clock on my GPU appears to be mildly underclocked, but it's not like my card is hurting for performance in the games I play (i.e. Mass Effect 2, Fallout: New Vegas, etc.).
  11. k1114 said:
    @Raptor, Well it depends on the res and settings too, not sure why you didn't mention that. Were you playing on directx 9 on the 8800gt? 4 times gflops does not mean it's 4 times faster, it's closer to 2.5x. Vram is only relevant if your using it all which depends on res and game and being newer does not mean faster. The 5000 series is faster than the 6000 series.

    @koro, It depends on your temps, you might be able to OC but heat is a killer more than voltage. I would never suggest oc on stock cooling. Decent coolers don't cost much, the 212+ is only $25.


    That's a load and you know it. Every other game runs at least twice as fast now. Only skyrim has EXACTLY THE SAME framerate.
  12. @koro, if it's running with the performance you want, then there's no point in oc, but maybe as an option later if you need to.

    @ raptor I assure you everything I said is correct. It's kind of hard to explain more to inform you when all you said was basically I'm lying. If that's the only game that's happening to then it's obviously something with that one game. You can't single out one instance.
  13. Best answer selected by Koroviev.
  14. k1114 said:
    @koro, if it's running with the performance you want, then there's no point in oc, but maybe as an option later if you need to.

    @ raptor I assure you everything I said is correct. It's kind of hard to explain more to inform you when all you said was basically I'm lying. If that's the only game that's happening to then it's obviously something with that one game. You can't single out one instance.

    Thank you for all of your replies, I certainly appreciate the guidance.
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