CPU Overclocking Guide: How (and Why) to Tweak Your Processor

Benchmarks and Comparisons

Just for fun, we compiled a list of overclocked systems from various users online. This list is by no means exhaustive or up-to-date, nor is it meant as a guide. It is just a sample of what is possible.

Selected Overclocked “World Record” builds, Source: CPU-Z Validator

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System BuilderCPUStock SpeedOverclocked SpeedVcoreMotherboard
Andre YangAMD FX-83504.0 GHz8.794 GHz2.064 VAsus Crosshair V Formula-Z
DIBILOX-PCIntel Core i7-8602.80 GHz8.510 GHz1.152 VDell 0T568R
HKEPCIntel Core i7-6700K4.20 GHz6.998 GHz1.888 VASRock Z170 OC Formula
FtW 420AMD Phenom II X4 9553.0 GHz7.193 GHz1.872 VAsus Crosshair V Formula
Splmann Team OcaholicIntel Core i7-3770K3.5 GHz7.247 GHz1.792 VAsus Maximus V Extreme
CherV@HKEPC LabAMD A10-6800K4.4 GHz8.519 GHz1.984 VASRock FM2A88X Extreme6+

A Final Note on Cooling, Sensors and Maximum Temperatures

The actual components of the CPU—metal, silicon, and adhesives—are all rated for temperatures above 95+ °C, and no component degradation (short term; we’re not discussing electromigration here) should take place below this limit. However, most processors have a thermal shut-down limit around 90 °C, and while it is possible to run a processor near these temperatures, it’s not very healthy for the CPU or platform.

Processor Coolers

It should be noted that the socket temperature is not the same as the CPU core temperature. AMD CPUs do not have a thermal probe, and the CPU temperature displayed (through Overdrive or another utility) is an algorithmically calculated value from the socket temperature sensor. The inverse holds for Intel processors: Intel does not have a socket temperature sensor, and relies on thermal probes in the CPU to provide information. The distinction between the two temperatures only becomes relevant for very demanding performance and benchmarking scenarios. Socket temperatures can get quite high if the voltage regulation cooling is not quite as effective as the primary CPU cooling, and some overclockers have reported that cooling down the socket itself with a fan placed behind the CPU main fan, blowing over the motherboard, can help in such scenarios.

Another difference between AMD and Intel is that AMD processors do not handle high temperatures well. Take a look at the table below to get an idea of thermal thresholds on some high-end processor models.

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ProcessorMaximum Temperature (CPU)Maximum Temperature (Socket)Maximum peak temperature reported
Intel Core i5-6600K95 to 100 °CN/A55 °C
Intel Core i7-6700k95 to 100 °CN/A73 °C
AMD FX-837065 °C72 °C62 °C
AMD A10-7890K65 °C72 °C60 °C

Effectively cooling the CPU components is integral to the art of overclocking. Tom’s Hardware has a CPU cooling guide available as well.

Gene Fabron is an Associate Contributing Writer for Tom's Hardware US. He writes reference material across a range of components.
  • rush21hit
    Look at the voltage setting on those world records. Lots of LN2 involved here.

    Speaking as a former user of Q6600 @3.0 (Corsair Hydro series were non-existent back then) and i7 920 @2.8. Small OC, I know. Since I want my motherboard not get fried.

    Motherboard gets the most hammering in OC. Even the best of the best sometimes failed. Those capacitors can only hold so much. I just want to ensure it also last. Heck, even in normal use, motherboard tends to fail long before any other parts does.
  • blackmagnum
    Careful not to void your warranty. Leave extreme overclocking to the pros.
  • Calculatron
    Ever since the articles on the "E" series of the FX-line-up, I've tried to take efficiency into account. I run a mild overclock of 4.0ghz with just under 1.2V on my FX-8320. I can achieve a 4.7ghz overclock, but I just don't think that the performance gains are worth all the extra heat and stress on the components.
  • Nuckles_56
    There's a typo in the table of record speeds for the CPUs and the respective voltages, as there is no way that the i7 860 got to that speed at 1.152V
  • SinxarKnights
    18275176 said:
    There's a typo in the table of record speeds for the CPUs and the respective voltages, as there is no way that the i7 860 got to that speed at 1.152V

    http://valid.x86.fr/xuxjnn look for yourself. I suspect there was an error reading the voltage but I do not know, CPU-Z calls it valid though.
  • TexelTechnologies
    Its not that complicated but then again I am always surprised by how dumb people are.
  • Murdock4321
    Overclocking used to be pretty complicated and take some trial and error. With all these new processors and new bios', its really pretty easy. I'm still rocking an i7 930 @ 2.85ghz which is rock solid and has lasted me since 2010
  • leo2kp
    i7 970 @ 4GHz here with overvolt. 6 years old and still going strong.
  • jtd871
    How about an underclocking/undervolting guide for those that want efficiency rather than performance?
  • anbello262
    Well, isn't the procedure exactly the same, just lowering mult and volt instead of rising it? The stability concern (freq/volts) and the iterative methodology is the same, right?