So many users are searching around the net these days looking for advice on how to overclock their new systems but don’t know where to start. To help everyone out, I decided a how-to guide was in order. Searching around forums can be confusing and intimidating. There are so many people willing to give advice, but who can you trust? It’s hard to know, and I’ve seen many users sent on wild goose chases because they are following advice that doesn’t solve or even address their specific problem. I’ve also seen too much trial and error overclocking, unless you get lucky it tends to be far too time consuming a frustrating. What I’ve attempted to do is create a very simple three step guide for overclocking Bloomfield and Gulftown based CPUs. If you want to continue searching out other opinions, please consider each suggestion with caution. Some will undoubtedly be great, some will not.
I am not responsible for any bad things that happen to you or your computer as a result of you following this guide, nor is techreaction.net. My goal is for this guide to be a safe overclocking guideline, but the burden for damaged hardware lies on the user performing the overclock! Overclocking can damage hardware and in most cases will void your warranties.
In an earlier version of this guide, I requested that you have some basic knowledge of your motherboards BIOS. While I have not addressed every motherboard on the market, I have included details for the top enthusiast brands. But as before, please do not be afraid to get into your BIOS and have a look around, if you are ever concerned that you may have changed a setting erroneously, you can always load defaults, and start over. Most boards have a CMOS reset button on them now-a-days, if not check your user manual for the location of the CMOS reset jumper…please ensure you know the location before getting started.
This guide is independent of your cooling system. Whether you are using the stock Intel cooler or if you’re pushing to the extreme with phase change cooling, the basic steps remain the same. One thing that is far too common are mistakes mounting your cooling system, specifically the application of the thermal interface material (TIM). If you don’t have much experience mounting cooling apparatus, please refer to this excellent guide from Arctic Silver.
Determining methods for finding a stable overclock are highly controversial, everyone has their own definition of a stable system, but when I refer to “stable” in this guide, I am referring to the stability of your selected “stability test.” So for a power user or gamer who wants a reliable system that won’t ever crash due to an overclock pushed too far, you’d need to test with a program that will load all of the cores and threads applicable to your CPU, OCCT and IntelBurnTest are two popular choices. OCCT uses the same algorithm as Prime95 but has a more friendly interface. IntelBurnTest uses the Intel linpak binaries to stress the system and also has an easy to use interface. In this guide I may use testing this is insufficient in your opinion. It is only a guidline and if you feel more testing is necessary for your system, by all means feel free.
So with that in mind, we will attempt to isolate each portion of the system and overclock one step at a time. This may seem time consuming at first glance, but rest assured this will potentially save you hours of troubleshooting and frustration. So go slow, and follow each step very carefully.
If you’ve found my guide online, my guess is you’re looking for more than a basic overclock. If you’re not, and all you’d like is something simple, please redirect your attention to your motherboard manufacturer’s website and download the latest overclocking utility. For basic 10-20% overclocking, they work pretty well. There is “Gigabyte EasyTune6“, “Asus TurboV EVO“, “MSI Control Center“, and “eVGA eleet“. This guide is written to take it to the next level, for THAT we need to do the overclocking from the BIOS.
Speaking of which, before we begin, please check your motherboard manufacturer’s website for the latest version of your BIOS. Usually enthusiast level boards will have BIOS engineers tweaking them for months or years to improve overclocking support. Unless you have a reason to stay with your current BIOS, I’d update to the newest version.
If you don’t know how to access the BIOS, please refer to your motherboard’s owner’s manual for instruction. While you’re there, find out how to “clear CMOS”. As I mentioned in the introduction to this guide, it’s important you know how to properly “clear CMOS” before we begin.
Secondly, the first thing to do after powering up the new system is to enter the BIOS and find the “hardware monitor” area and verify the CPU temperature is reasonable based on your cooling. If not, please power down the system and verify the mounting of your cooling apparatus (refer to the guide linked in the “prerequisites” section above).