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Good and Bad on Overclocking

May 22, 2001
by Albert Kwok

Overclocking means running your CPU at a higher clock and/or bus speed then the CPU specified.

To Overclock or Not to Overclock?
Good Bad
  • Saving big bucks
  • Less upgrade necessary
  • Increasing the probability of system faults
If you follow the guide steps by steps and use a little bit of common sense (bad example like pour water directly to the CPU, no kidding people do crazy thing), you will not damage your hardware.

What will you get from overclocking?
Overclocking your CPU, allow you to establish the peak performance from your under-utilized CPU, and get more budget on your peripherals.

For example, a Celeron 800 cost US$79 and a Celeron 600 cost US$48, you save US$31 while buying a Celeron 600 and overclock it to 800 or even higher. And what do you want to do with the extra US$31 dollar? You now get more budget on either adding more rams or get a better video card depending on your needs.

Am I taking any risk to toast my CPU?
First, you have to know that CPUs are designed to run at temperatures between -25 and 80 degrees Celsius. 80 degree is so hot that you will not be able to touch your CPU. Normally the temperature of a CPU is between 30 degree(idle) and 60 degree(on load) air cooled.

Intel CPU
Every Intel CPU has thermal sensor built-in. If the CPU temperature go beyond the maximum limit of the CPU, it will shut down by itself. So unless your CPU is on fire it will never burnout.

No thermal sensor built-in to AMD CPU even the newest Athlon CPU but due to the fact that CPU can stand high heat. It should not be a problem.

Do I have the right equipment?
CPU - Take the Celeron as an example, the lowest speed available is around 533MHz - 600MHz and the fastest speed available is 800MHz, so you get a good chance of getting those 533 - 600 Celeron to run at 800MHz since it tell us that the manufacturing technology of these new Celeron can run at 800MHz.

Motherboard - Look for the features like adjustable CPU voltage and Softmenu BIOS while these features increase your chance to get the most out of your CPU. Because with voltage adjustment you can pump more power to the overclocked CPU, and softmenu will let you to change the CPU setting with ease without opening up the case and set jumpers.

Celeron P3 (E/EB)
Original Bus Speed 66 MHz 100 MHz / 133 MHz
Usually Overclocked To 100 MHz and up 133 MHz and up
All new Intel CPUs are multiplier locked, so we can only play with the FSB (Frontside Bus). So look for PC-133 which is the standard now or PC-150 RAM if you consider heavy overclocking.

Cooling - If you apply thermal compound to the stock fan that come with your CPU, that should give enough cooling. However, if you want your CPU to work a bit cooler, replace the stock fan with an aftermarket fan.

How to overclock? Boot up the computer > go to the BIOS > CPU settings > increase the FSB. Boot into Windows and play around for a while to see if the computer will freeze up. You can run some benchmark programs like 3DMark2001 to stretch your CPU as well. If the computer freeze during boot up or getting some Windows error, turn off your computer, go back to the BIOS and increase the voltage.

So the cycle of overclocking is, increase FSB, if the computer freeze then increase voltage. Once you have rise your voltage to like 20% of your default voltage, and still cannot manage your CPU to run properly, start to decrease your FSB.

You can save your time by doing some research with Overclockers.com's database and see what other people are getting with the same CPU.

Always keep in mind
1) Make sure you know what you are doing.
2) Backup everything that you cannot take the chance of losing it.
3) Never rise your CPU supply voltage over 20% of your default voltage unless you have special cooling.
4) Do not overclock your boss's computer!!!

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