Gamers thinking of OC'ing 2nd gen i5 or above...

So over the last couple of years over clocking has become increasingly popular with the addition of "unlocked" processors. Along with it there was been a lot of controversy over how much over clocking is safe and if there is really any quantifiable gain by over clocking your CPU.

Well I decided to post a few benchmarks and some real world numbers while playing arguably today's two most popular games, BF3 and Skyrim, to help anyone decide if they should overclock their CPU or if there is a better way to increase their frame rates while gaming.
(Note: I mean this to apply mainly to gamers. Video/Music/other CPU intensive programs may benefit more from oc'ing)

First off my system specs:
i5 2500k CPU
Asus Maximus 4 Extreme Motherboard
16GB Corsair Vengeance Low Profile RAM
XFX Radeon HD 6970
Antec 1100w PSU
Cooler Master HAF-X Case
XSPC Rasa CPU Water Block
EK Full Cover GPU Water Block
XSPC RS 240mm Radiator
Black Ice GT Stealth 140mm Radiator
Swiftech MCP 655 Pump
EK 250ML Multioption
Samsung Syncmaster 24'' monitor, 1920x1080

On to the numbers!

(Konbustor ran @ 1920x1080 preset, Vantage run @ extreme preset, Heaven run on stock setting, BF3 and Syrim on ULTRA preset and 10 minutes of Fraps, same run on each benchmark, 1920x1080)

i5 2500k @ 3.3GHz, Turbo Boost off. GPU @ stock 880MHz core clock and 1375MHz memory clock
Prime95 (one hour) - Min temp 32C-37C, max 49C-55C
Kombustor - X1443(38fps), graphics-2773(54fps), physx-864(43fps), combined-825(16fps)
3DMark Vantage - X11391, gpu-11182, cpu-17643
Heaven DX11 - FPS-73.7, Score-1856, Min fps-34.7, Max fps-130.3
BF3 - Avg fps-43.247, Min fps-25, Max fps-90
Skyrim- Avg fps-58.757, Min fps-27, Max fps-64

Here is a good set of base numbers to compare our other results to. Next I upped the CPU clock to 4.5GHz.

i5 2500K @4.5GHz, GPU clock unchanged
Prime95 (one hour) - Min temp 32C-37C, max 66C-72C
Kombustor - X1469(40fps), graphics-2773(54fps), physx-1007(50), combined-825(16)
3dMark Vantage - X11413, gpu-11114, cpu-23410
Heaven DX11 - FPS-73.5, Score-1850, Min fps-38.9, Max fps-129.5
BF3 - Avg fps-41.992, Min fps-28, Max fps-89
Skyrim - Avg fps-58.534, Min fps-28, Max fps-64

Well after quite a CPU clock jump from our base test we can see that our benchmarks that run CPU specific tests increase. Our real world tests though show absolutely NO GAIN what so ever after a jump of 1.2GHz! That right there shows that unless you want higher benchmarks there really isn't any gaming benefit in oc'ing with these major titles. What we can deduce from this is that the bottleneck atm on my system is my stock clocked HD 6970. Lest throw the GPU up to the maximum allowed while using Catalyst Control Center.)

i5 2500K @ 4.5 GHz, GPU core clock @ 950MHz, mem clock @ 1375MHz
Kombustor - X1589(44fps), graphics-3063(64fps), physx-1006(50fps), combined-880(17fps)
3dMark Vantage - X12214, gpu-11912, cpu-23546
Heaven DX11 - FPS-78, Score-1964, Min fps-40.6, Max fps-140.3
BF3 - Avg fps-53.056, Min fps-28, Max fps-99
Skyrim - Avg fps-58.802, Min fps-28, Max fps-64

Well again our benchmarks went up, which can be expected, but this time performance in BF3 jumped an average of ~11fps, which is a nice bump. After that I expected a similar bump up in Skyrim performance but strangely there was again no change. This was very surprising and I really can't explain it.

I ran one more test with the memory clock upped to the max of CCC which is 1450 but there was no change so I wont post the results again. Upping the mem clock might have some noticeable difference running a higher res or multi monitor but I'll test that another day.

So do you need to over clock your 2nd gen i5 or higher for gaming? I'd say no, and after this test I'll be dropping my daily clock from 4.5GHz to 4.0GHz.
GPU clock affects gaming FPS much more than CPU clock with newer processors, even if a game is deemed "CPU Intensive" like BF3 is.

Well I hope y'all enjoyed my little test and thanks to those who stuck with it and got to the end:)
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  1. Hello;

    thanks for your efforts, time, and sharing.

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