There’s free, extra performance buried inside your Raspberry Pi. Just as you can overclock a PC, increasing its CPU speed above stock, you can overclock any model of Raspberry Pi . In fact, on newer models, you can not only turn up the Raspberry PI’s CPU speed, but also its GPU speed. You can, for example, get a Raspberry Pi 4, which defaults to 1.5 GHz CPU / 500 MHz GPU all the way up to 2.1 GHz / 750 MHz or perhaps even higher.
We’ve written in the past about the benefits of overclocking a Raspberry Pi 4 specifically, but the methods below will work on any Pi model. We also have a table of recommended Raspberry Pi overclock settings for everything from the Raspberry Pi 1 to the Zero / Zero W at the bottom.
Before you begin the process of overclocking your Raspberry Pi, make sure that you have adequate cooling. At minimum, you should have a heat sink on the CPU and chipset, but a fan such as the Pimoroni Fan Shim is better. Note, of course, that while unlikely, it’s also possible to damage your Pi during the process.
How to Overclock a Raspberry Pi
1. Attach a fan or heatsink to the Raspberry Pi before powering on.
2. Update the available repositories and then upgrade your Raspberry Pi. This will ensure we have the latest software available.
sudo apt update && sudo apt dist-upgrade
3. Open config.txt for editing. It’s found in the /boot directory.
sudo nano /boot/config.txt
4. At the bottom of the file make a new line and add the corresponding data from the table below for your model of Raspberry Pi. If you choose to use this card in a different model of Raspberry Pi later, you should change or remove this first.
5. Save the file by pressing CTRL + X, Y then ENTER.
6. Reboot the Raspberry Pi. If the Raspberry Pi fails to boot, power off the Raspberry Pi, remove the micro SD card and insert it into another computer. In the BOOT partition edit config.txt and check your settings. You may need to reduce the overclock by 100MHz in order to boot.
7. With the Raspberry Pi booted to the desktop open a new terminal. To see the current CPU speed of the Pi updated every second use this command.
watch -n 1 vcgencmd measure_clock arm
When idle the CPU will run at around 600MHz, if we were to open a web browser or another heavy application such as Wolfram, then the CPU speed would increase to match the demand.
Overclocking values for all models of Pi
All of these values have been tested with our Raspberry Pis but you may need to tweak the settings as per step 6.
|Raspberry Pi 1 Model A & B||arm_freq=1000|
|Raspberry Pi A+ / B+ / Compute Module Cooling Required||arm_freq=1100|
|Raspberry Pi 2 v1.1||arm_freq=1000|
|Raspberry Pi 2 V1.2 (Shares the same CPU as a Raspberry Pi 3)||arm_freq=1300|
|Raspberry Pi 3 & Compute Module 3||arm_freq=1300|
|Raspberry Pi 3 A+ / B+ / Compute Module 3+||arm_freq=1500|
|Raspberry Pi 4||arm_freq=2100|
|Raspberry Pi Zero / Zero W||arm_freq=1100|