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QOTD: Do You Overclock Your PC?

By - Source: Tom's Hardware US | B 155 comments

There's no real shortage of processors and graphics cards these days. For every application and intent of building, there's a CPU and GPU that will fit your needs, and budget.

What's also equally apparent these days is that CPUs are very fast, relative to what was available just a few short years ago. This isn't to say that today's CPUs are significantly faster in clock frequency however--they're faster overall and significantly more efficient. Even Intel's Pentium 4 CPU was able to reach current CPU frequencies no problem.

When CPU clock frequencies were sub-gigahertz, overclocking brought in a significant boost in speed ratio. But today, with high frequency processors, overclocking doesn't nearly bring in as much, relatively. However, it must be said that getting more bang for your dollar is mainly what this is about, and squeezing every bit of performance from our components means a lot more than just the bottom line.

The question of the day is: Do you overclock your computers?

If you do, what kind of cooling do you use?

If you don't overclock, tell us why as well.

Check out pictures of some of the craziest systems Tom's Hardware saw around the net last weekend.

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  • 4 Hide
    smartel7070 , March 20, 2009 2:32 PM
    I have a Core2Duo E8400, stock 3.0ghz overclocked to 3.6ghz with a Xigmatech s1283 cpu cooler.

    I overclock because like it says I want to squeeze as much performance as I can from my hardware.

    I've been overclocking my CPU's since the Pentium 1 days.
  • 2 Hide
    Anonymous , March 20, 2009 2:43 PM
    Yep, Trusty Windsor X2 5600 @ 3.1 Ghz ....been that way for as long as i can remember..... A little weak these days... but I still see no reason to shell out tons of cash for an elite rig anytime soon. Using a Zalman 9700 heatsink and 3 120mm fans in a relatively spacious case...
  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , March 20, 2009 2:44 PM
    I overclock to find out how far I can push the system and run benchmarks. Then I usually back off to find a good balance between a moderate overclock and low temperatures.

    An aftermarket heatsink/fan is a must. I tend to use hardware website reviews along with Newegg customer reviews in my decision regarding which HSF to purchase.

    CPU: Q6700
    Cooler: Tuniq Tower 120
    Motherboard: Asus P5E

    Maximum Overclock: 3.67GHz
    Normal Overclock: 3.0GHz
    Temps (normal OC) - Idle: Mid to Upper 30's Celcius | Load: Mid 40's Celcius
  • 0 Hide
    AdamB5000 , March 20, 2009 2:46 PM
    I don't overclock. I'm nervous about doing something wrong and causing instability or shortening the life of my components. It also doesn't really interest me.
  • 0 Hide
    Onus , March 20, 2009 2:49 PM
    I have a Q9450, oc'ed to 3.2GHz. It was a quick and easy mod. That is the bottom line for me. I want to get more for my money, but I'd rather play ON my PC than play WITH it, so every last MHz doesn't matter to me. That overclock is not very stressful for that chip (no voltage increase), so the cooler is just an AC Freezer 7 Pro.
    I also have a 4850e on a 790GX that is not overclocked, and won't be; it's on 24/7 and I want lowest power consumption.
    My wife's PC is a 5400 X2 on a 790GX. It has a Ninja Mini on it, but isn't overclocked. I just got some better RAM for it, and will likely try to push it some (she runs LOTS of stuff at the same time), but I think I see a 720 in her future.
  • 0 Hide
    wolfseeker2828 , March 20, 2009 2:49 PM
    I have a Pentium Dual-core e2160 @ 3ghz, stock 1.8. I overclock because I see a huge increase in performance versus stock. I use air. I have a Cooler Master Hyper TX2 CPU cooler and three fans blowing to create airflow.
  • 1 Hide
    Blessedman , March 20, 2009 2:49 PM
    I have never been a big fan of overclocking, the expense of a new system compared to the performance gains is not worth the risk in my opinion. Not only running the chance to burn out your system but also lowering the life time expectancy of components. I know that today's processors have gotten better at protecting themselves, but I still don't see the benefit of gaining another 5-6% performance when everything runs as well as I would expect at default settings. Then again I upgrade at least once a year.
  • 0 Hide
    08nwsula , March 20, 2009 2:53 PM
    e4400 from 2.0 ghz now to 3.0 without a problem, 300 mhz fsb with a 10x multiplier. using an arctic cooler 7 pro which keeps me at about 30c most of the time. I also overclock my ram and my video card.
  • 2 Hide
    Anonymous , March 20, 2009 2:54 PM
    Phenom 940 with an easy 3.5ghz overclock. Again, squeeze more performance without sending my hardware into a panic attack.

    Cooling with a ARCTIC COOLING Freezer 64 Pro. Again, nothing crazy. Does the job very well and quiet at the same time.

    Amd PII 940 3.5ghz
    MSI K9N2 SLI Platinum
    BFG GeForce GTX 285 OC
    Corsair 4gb (2x2gb)

  • 2 Hide
    shashwat , March 20, 2009 3:05 PM
    I have an AMD X3 8650 @ 3.1 Ghz 1.3V and I am using Sunbeam Core Contact Freezer and Jetway HA07 motherboard with it.. Can't push more stuck with value ram. . Will possibly get Corsair Dominator DDR2 1066 soon..

    Here is the specs

    AMD Phenom X3 8650 @ 3.1 ghz
    Jetway HA07 790GX Board
    Transcend P-Series DDR2 800 Mhz [5-5-5]
    Western Digital 640Gb AAKS
    Sunbeam Core Contact Freezer
    Thermaltake M9 with 2 pre-installed fans.. will change them with Antec Tri-Cool 120mm and add an extra 120mm .
    POV Black Diamond 500 W SMPS :( 
  • 0 Hide
    Greatwalrus , March 20, 2009 3:07 PM
    Never overclocked a computer - damn Dell laptop. I really hope to build a PC sometime this year and maybe test out some slight overclocking with an i7 or Phenom II.
  • 1 Hide
    ImmortalJman , March 20, 2009 3:07 PM
    I sure do. I have an older Athlon X2 6000+ and although I can't get much out of it I can get to run at 3.272 very stabley for 24/7 opertaions on watercooling and it helps out a lot.

    I also have the new AMD Phenom II 720 (which I'm currently overclocking for the AMD virtual contest) that I will keep overclocked on just plain air cooling using Thermalright Ultra 120 Black Edition.

    I find that's it definitely a way to get more bang for the buck. Even though it might make it last a little less time with the the way chips get outdate so fast, there's really no problem with keeping overclocked with the right cooling.

    With my watercooling setup it stays at 39C at 100% full load running SMP Folding@Home.
  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , March 20, 2009 3:10 PM
    I have an E8500 3.16 stock at 4ghz with Artic Frezzer 7 pro
  • 1 Hide
    Anonymous , March 20, 2009 3:10 PM
    Overclocking is a sure fire way of gaining extra performance for free, carefully selected components increase the percentage overclock you will get within a budget you have pre-defined.

    I have overclocked since P2 days and have never had a really bad experience or lost major hardware except a few athlons along the way(My bad, super stressed the components knowing I was on track to killing them)

    Have had some superb OC before, Best though are P4 3.0ghz at 3.8ghz prescott chip on s478 with zalman flower cooler, still running daily at this clock after several years and my current core2duo 7200 clocked at 3.8ghz with artic cooler freezer 7 pro which has been running flat out for ten months now at this speed, even had it over 4.2ghz before booting into windows.

    Point is, if you have the correct kit, take your time and do it slowly unless you know what the kit is capable of, you can gain way more than 3-5 frames per second in my view.
  • 1 Hide
    legierk , March 20, 2009 3:10 PM
    Used to OC in the old days. Now I run AMDs and use CnQ as I think it works great, uses less power and keeps everything cooler. I just don't think there is enough performance to be gained (if you're not playing games, that is) to justify to risk or petentially shortening the life of your components.
  • -1 Hide
    judeh101 , March 20, 2009 3:13 PM
    I have a Core 2 Duo E4300 running at 3.2 GHz, 400MHz FSB. with P5K. (which sux)
    It's cooled with an Arctic Cooling Freezer 7 Pro.
    It runs ok, doesn't overheat, but runs hot!
    NB: 1.40V, RAM: DDR2 800 "cheap" Apacer memory, tightened to 4-4-4-12 and overvolted to 2.15V.
    What others are missing is the gfx card.
    My 8600GT runs at 652MHz, 1400 MHz shaders. GDDR3 runs at 1.9Ghz, (950MHz).
  • 0 Hide
    pinaplex , March 20, 2009 3:18 PM
    I have an E7300 at a safe overclock of 3.4Ghz with no voltage increase. A little extra boost with minimal change. everything else is at default. =)
  • 0 Hide
    etrnl_frost , March 20, 2009 3:19 PM
    I no longer overclock - did back in the glory days of AMD. Now that I have a nice employee's discount, and prices in hardware have come down, I now only overclock "lite" - adjusting clock speeds via Riva Tuner, and not playing around with voltages. Like some have mentioned here, I but just past the bleeding edge now, and wouldn't like to have to accidentally have burnt out a component too quickly.

    It doesn't help that I haven't bought a 3rd party mobo in a while. But when you get them for free....

    Intel dg33tl
    Intel q9650
    Crucial 4x2GB 800MHz
    9800 GX2 (the only OC, to 700/1050/1700 - core/mem/shaders)
  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , March 20, 2009 3:22 PM
    judeh101I have a Core 2 Duo E4300 running at 3.2 GHz, 400MHz FSB. with P5K. (which sux)It's cooled with an Arctic Cooling Freezer 7 Pro.It runs ok, doesn't overheat, but runs hot!NB: 1.40V, RAM: DDR2 800 "cheap" Apacer memory, tightened to 4-4-4-12 and overvolted to 2.15V.What others are missing is the gfx card.My 8600GT runs at 652MHz, 1400 MHz shaders. GDDR3 runs at 1.9Ghz, (950MHz).

    Nice Call judeh101, 3.2 is great for that c2d

    Graphics cards are essential overclockers as well, have 4870 OC to 850MHZ core and 4400MHZ Memory, a sweet overclock, figured that by the time it would have made a difference to the life of the card I would have moved a couple of generations on from it.
  • 0 Hide
    LuxZg , March 20, 2009 3:23 PM
    I do overclock where it makes sence for daily use. So, yes, my C2D E4400 is clocked to 320x10 (3.2 GHz).. Air cooled ofcourse, with Scythe Ninja. Sometimes I do get "burned", no in failed hardware (yet :)  ), but for example this same CPU worked fine on this same frequency even on box cooler.. so this was money wasted on aftermarket cooler. Also, I don't overclock RAM, as it makes almost no sence for stuff that I do. My GPU was also overclocked, both when I had X1950, and when I bought HD4870. Now I'm back on X1950, but haven't overclocked again, because it won't give me much advantage in current games anyway.. but when new card arrives - it will get clocked again.

    I never did go to water cooling though, but only because prices of such setups make them less bung for $$$ than using air cooling. Pretty much the same as my Ninja "miss" - I doubt that this CPU would get much further even if it was watercooled.

    What I DO NOT overclock are PCs used for just surfing on the Net and using office apps.. makes no sence to do it there, as any CPU is already overkill for those apps.


    (I'm starting to like these QOTD articles :)  keep them comming! :)  )
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