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14 Of The Most Legendary Overclocking-Friendly CPUs

14 Of The Most Legendary Overclocking-Friendly CPUs
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What Makes A CPU Overclocking Legend?

Since the birth of the IBM-compatible PC, a number of processors have distinguished themselves as particularly good candidates for aggressive overclocking. Some models are known for exceptional headroom, while others were popular for how inexpensive they were. We even remember a few unique opportunities to unlock on-chip resources that shipped turned off.

Join us as we travel down memory lane, compiling a list of some of the most notable overclocking processors.

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  • 20 Hide
    yannigr , July 19, 2013 12:08 AM
    1999 (NO idea about overclocking)
    Me - OK. I want that board (ΒΧ440) and I also want the Celleron 300A
    Seller - With only 2000 more drachmas (6 euros) you can buy the faster 333A.
    Me - I don't know, I don't want to spend more money.
    Seller - It is worth it. It is faster and the difference in price small.
    Me - OK put the 333A then in the order.


    Almost 15 years latter I STILL HATE HIM
    ...lol
Other Comments
  • 0 Hide
    ltdementhial , July 18, 2013 9:16 PM
    i had several years ago (2007?) an Pentium 2160 Oce'd all the way up to 3.4Ghz runing on an horrible "PcChips" P17g, later on moved to a C2Q q6600 and was oced to 3.6Ghz this in an Asus P45(?) (dont rememeber the model) both were cooled by an Silent Knight. before the 2160 i had an P4 Extreme Edition that was 2.8 and died on me being oc'd to 3.2 (first and only cpu i have burned ocing) i also had the 720 BE unlocked and oced to 3.8 on a 1.5vCore. (last year i posted some threads about what should i update to) and now im runing an fx 4100 oced to 4.8 cooled by a Noctua NH-D14.

    Maybe next year i move to what SR brings.

  • 4 Hide
    Someone Somewhere , July 18, 2013 9:39 PM
    There's an E8400 E0 stepping in my HTPC. 3.8GHz with no voltage increase...
  • 4 Hide
    superflykicks03 , July 18, 2013 10:04 PM
    Oh man I LOVED my Opteron 144 I'm glad she made the list. Could be my favorite CPU of all time. It was the best option to upgrade to a dual core on the 939 platform at the time, and I got it and a 8800 GTS 640 in order to run Crysis with decent settings. The thing I liked most aside from the generous overclocking, and what made this CPU legendary, is that as 939 dual cores became scarce, the price for these skyrocketed on online auction sites, marking the one and only time I made a Prophet on a used CPU.

    Pun intended.
  • 8 Hide
    PreferLinux , July 18, 2013 10:17 PM
    "Although it launched in the $850 range, the Q6600 dropped to $200 by 2010, making it popular with enthusiasts on a budget. By 2011, it was replaced by the Core 2 Quad Q9550, another CPU with a great overclocking reputation."
    I think that needs either correction or clarification. I doubt I'm the only one that read it as saying that the Q9550 released in 2011 (it was actually released in March 2008) rather than the probably intended meaning of taking over the budget overclocking CPU position.
  • 3 Hide
    teh_gerbil , July 18, 2013 11:00 PM
    You're missing the rare hexa core AMD 960t, 4x 3ghz.
    Unlockable to 6 cores, and overclockable to 4ghz!
  • 3 Hide
    aggroboy , July 19, 2013 12:02 AM
    Q6600 depended on if you purchased the correct stepping. I got the inferior stepping which had far less thermal headroom, forcing me to switch CPUs early when it started chugging midway through the current console generation.

    Just when i7-920 was feeling slightly dated, game developers started making games more multi-threaded which gave this baby a new lease of life.
  • 20 Hide
    yannigr , July 19, 2013 12:08 AM
    1999 (NO idea about overclocking)
    Me - OK. I want that board (ΒΧ440) and I also want the Celleron 300A
    Seller - With only 2000 more drachmas (6 euros) you can buy the faster 333A.
    Me - I don't know, I don't want to spend more money.
    Seller - It is worth it. It is faster and the difference in price small.
    Me - OK put the 333A then in the order.


    Almost 15 years latter I STILL HATE HIM
    ...lol
  • 1 Hide
    ta152h , July 19, 2013 12:45 AM
    The king of overclockers was the 286. Implying the internal clock multiplier somehow makes it more overclocker friendly is pretty stupid, as it's got nothing to do with anything.

    That was made popular by the first internal cache on x86 processors. Overclocking a chip without an internal cache had poor performance improvement. But, again, that doesn't relate to overclocking. It does relate to the fact that they were reaching a point where it was very difficult to make motherboards handle bus speeds as high as the processors (although Intel would return to that with the original Pentiums, never to return).

    The 286 was a more complete overclock, since it increased the speed of everything. If you overclocked the 286 by 33%, everything ran 33% faster, even the system bus. That never happened again. Most implementations of the 386 (and even later releases of the 286) ran the AT-Bus (commonly erroneously called the ISA bus), at 8 or 10 MHz, regardless of CPU speed.

    Overclocking the original PC/AT 139 was so common (from 6 Mhz to 8 Mhz), IBM put a timing loop in ROM for the 239 that prevented it. Eventually, the 339 ran at 8 MHz out of the box.

    Overclocking these machines often required more skill than modern machines, as you'd have to buy a different crystal, desolder the old one, and solder the new one in. If the memory chips were close to timing, they'd have to come out too. Luckily, most were not soldered in. IBM's had a perverse piggybacked arrangement though, where they would put one 64K chip right on top of another, and they were soldered together. It looked horrible, but somehow worked like a 128Kb chip (which there never was, they went from 16K to 64K to 256K).

    Leaving out the 286 is silly. It was really the first one commonly overclocked (I never hard of anyone overclocking an 8088, but someone probably did), and actually forced the largest computer company in the world to put in safeguards around it to prevent it. As strange as it sounds, my original 8 MHz Tandy 3000 showed a nice improvement going to 10 MHz. One SCSI card didn't like the faster bus, but everything else was fine. Adding in a zero wait state memory card from Cheetah also dramatically improved performance.

    Even the 386 was commonly overclocked, and there were a lot of scandals because companies would buy lower clocked 386s from Intel, get rid of the silk screen, and than overclock them in the machines they would sell, without telling anyone. What a mess that was ...
  • -1 Hide
    PreferLinux , July 19, 2013 1:18 AM
    Quote:
    Even the 386 was commonly overclocked, and there were a lot of scandals because companies would buy lower clocked 386s from Intel, get rid of the silk screen, and than overclock them in the machines they would sell, without telling anyone. What a mess that was ...

    Hence why they started locking the multipliers...
  • 1 Hide
    apache_lives , July 19, 2013 2:20 AM
    Pentium D 805? Crap i know but cheap 4+ghz out of the box
  • 0 Hide
    apache_lives , July 19, 2013 2:23 AM
    Pentium MMX overclocked to 250mhz? I had my Pentium MMX (P55C) running at 300/100 solid (Super socket 7 motherboard) - i do get the feeling that sample was a one-of-a-kind...
  • 0 Hide
    apache_lives , July 19, 2013 2:25 AM
    I remember a friend of mine with some AMD rig he had running on a water cooled loop - wake up every morning, dump a load of ice into an old fish tank and run that all day
  • -1 Hide
    rantoc , July 19, 2013 2:39 AM
    Amiga 3000 overclocked using hardware components (Crystal oscillators), was my first OC experience. Today moderate OC have become mainstream, change a bios/uefi setting and wham - done.

    One of the most fun OC was two Celerons on a Abit BP6 (Dual Socket), from poor to awesome (for the time) speed surpassing pretty much any system.

    Hope intel will get some real competition again, it shows they know they lack competition and thus can be lazy and cheap when it comes to oc (the haswell's soldering is just one example)..
  • 0 Hide
    mapesdhs , July 19, 2013 2:53 AM

    For newer CPUs, I'd include Clarkdale. The i3 550 oc's like an absolute
    monster. Even on a pretty average P55 board, it'll easily reach 4.7 vs. its
    stock 3.2. At 4.7 its performance is very good.

    Ian.

  • 2 Hide
    blubbey , July 19, 2013 3:40 AM
    The 920 was released almost 5 years ago already? That means the 4850 and 4870 are more than 5 years old. Damn. Shame CPU performance hasn't come on like GPU performance.
  • 0 Hide
    EvilShogun , July 19, 2013 4:01 AM
    my 7 year old e2160 has lived on 2.5GHz for as long as I canmember
  • 0 Hide
    ojas , July 19, 2013 5:17 AM
    Q8400 = not good overclocker :( 
  • 0 Hide
    ubercake , July 19, 2013 5:17 AM
    Well looks like I have to break out Firefox since the slideshows aren't working in IE9 on Win 7...
  • 0 Hide
    heltoupee , July 19, 2013 5:20 AM
    Never knew the i5-2500K had that much headroom. I'm still running that stock speed in my main machine - bought it because of a discount on newegg.
  • 3 Hide
    NuclearShadow , July 19, 2013 5:41 AM
    I had (or rather have it's just collecting dust now) a E4300 that actually overclocked by 100% stable and ran for years in such a state with liquid cooling. I've never done that with a CPU before and still have not to this day had such success since then. Going from 1.8gGHz to 3.6GHz was not only impressive itself but also quite handy as it had me stay the entire C2D generation sticking with it and running everything fine with a cheap budget CPU.
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