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Tom’s Hardware readers know all about overclocking, of course. In fact, many processor and graphics card reviews would be deemed incomplete without coverage of overclocking potential. Indeed, articles such as the System Builder Marathon series have a long history of specifically valuing performance achieved through overclocking rather than just through stock performance.
If you already consider yourself an enthusiast, pardon a bit of background here--we'll get into the nitty-gritty technical stuff in just a second.
What exactly is overclocking? In a nutshell, the term is used to describe running a component at a higher speed than its specification in an attempt to increase performance. Various computer components can be overclocked, including the processor, memory, and graphics card. And the degree of overclocking can include anything from simply procuring small gains from an inexpensive component all the way to seeking a level of performance way beyond what could even be purchased at that point in time.
There is already a wealth of content available on this site on the history, risks, and benefits of overclocking. Those seeking a bit more background can refer to an overclocking guide written back in 1997 by Thomas Pabst, the founder of Tom’s Hardware, and also this more recent three-part guide.
In today’s guide, we will focus specifically on how to overclock current AMD processors to maximize the available headroom given your cooling solution of choice. The timing here isn't coincidental. If you're planning to participate in our AMD Overclocking Competition, we'll be providing you with tips within the pages of this story that will help your chances of putting up winning scores.