Mainstream adoption of overclocked processors, and the enthusiasm with which manufacturers have embraced tuning, has made the process simpler and much more accessible to enthusiasts and gamers. But the iterative methodology behind overclocking, and the sometimes finicky behavior of overclocked systems, means that overclocking is still, if not an art, then a skill that requires patience and practice.
The landscape has changed, and enthusiasts are often spoiled when it comes to hardware that supports overclocking, from high-end motherboards to complete liquid cooling kits.
With VR headset requirements pushing the envelope of what is required from gaming PCs, we expect overclocking to be a hotter-than-ever (pardon the pun) trend moving forward.
But overclocking comes with a few caveats. The cooling requirements of overclocked systems can require significant expenditures. Overclocking does reduce the usable lifetime of processors and other system components, and can often lead to a less stable build. Over time, the electricity cost of generating and then getting rid of extra waste heat adds up. In certain scenarios, underclocking may actually be beneficial for component longevity or additional stability. Still, having the choice and the tools at our fingertips makes all the difference in the world.
In terms of the bleeding-edge of overclocking experimentation, apart from the “faster, cooler, even faster” benchmarking competitors, hardware enthusiasts are moving into niche applications: overclocking tablets, unlocking mobile CPUs, modifying proprietary VMR circuitry, and operating processors in configurations and conditions the original manufacturers never dreamed of. Whether any of these niche activities yields more universal utility and develops the potential to go mainstream, remains to be seen.
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