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How to Overclock CPU? The Detailed Guide

Starting right from establishing the baseline, adjusting the performance settings, measuring performance gains, and finally ending at performing stress tests –that’s it! You’ve overclocked your CPU.  

Overclocking is the process in which you bias your computer with a higher frequency than the manufacturers actually intend it. It’s one of the most powerful updates you can bring into your CPU to boost its performance levels.

Instead of spending a bunch of dollars on an expensive upgrade, overclocking brings you a new approach to run your gaming PC faster and efficiently than before.

Although it seems simple, trust me here, you need to know complete rocket science to make the process simple and safer. We are here to guide you from the notch and cover almost every aspect of overclocking.

Let’s get right into the business! But before that, we have also compiled a guide if you are interested in overclocking your graphics card.

Overclocking an Intel CPU –Get the Most out of Your Processor

Overclocking Intel CPU

There’s no exaggeration in saying that overclocking Intel CPUs is quite more complicated than all other CPUs. Despite the presence of automatic overclocking software that makes the process one-button press, manual overclocking has its own perks.

But wait, before we get right into the overclocking process, there’s one thing you’ve to keep in mind.

If you overclock the processor incorrectly, there are good chances of the system’s premature failure because you’re actually running your Intel CPU out of the manufacturer’s specs.

However, if you successfully overclock it, trust me; you can extract every single MHz out of your CPU. That’s quite astonishing because things get easier once the performance faces a sudden boosting jerk.

Moreover, you can apply this method to overclock CPU Intel i5, i7, and i9 too. It goes well in all cases.

Determine the Following Aspects of Your Motherboard

You know what? Two motherboards, even by the same brand, are never the same. Manufacturers try to over-elaborate things by using different terminologies for the same things.

Before we get into the process, you need to know all the basic parts and settings of your motherboard.

  • CPU Multiplier –Commands the exact ratio between front-side buts (FSB) and the CPU. What’s the strategy? It begins by determining the frequency of the processor by multiplying the CPU multiplier with the base clock.

For example, 4GHz is the overclock CPU frequency with a base clock 100MHz and a multiplier of 40.

  • Base Clock –is the CPU’s frequency at which it communicates with PCIe and memory devices. The Intel Coffee Lake chips come with a BCLK of 100MHz.
  • Voltage Mode –adds a particular amount of voltage to the processor, no matter its frequency. However, adaptive voltage only enhances the volts when the system is in turbo mode.
  • Processor’s Core Ratio –is the access point that gives you a choice between either you want to set the multiplier for an individual core or all of them at once.
  • Intel Speedstep –keeps the load into consideration and responds by lowering or increasing the voltage and speed according to the load.
  • Load-Line Calibration –provides the extra voltage to compensate the Vdroop. Vdroop is the condition when the processor is under load and not getting desired voltage.
  • Extreme Memory Profile –allows the compatibility of the XMP profile on the memory kits.
  • FCLK –takes control over the speeds of the data passing from the processor on the way to the GPU. The standard Intel Coffee Lake processor has 800MHz FCLK.

Intel CPU Overclocking Process –Step by Step

Step 1 – Entering the BIOS

You have to enter the BIOS to initiate the process. On most PCs, you can do it by hitting the ‘Del key’ when you see the motherboard logo popping up on the monitor during PC start-up.

Step 2 – Enabling the XMP

The next thing, if you want to run your memory modules at their desired speed, you have to enable the XMP. The default support memory of the Intel Coffee Lake CPU is DDR4-2666.

However, if your CPU has faster memory, ensure your system’s stability before overclocking it.

Step 3 – Setting the CPU multiplier

Here’s the most important step in setting your CPU’s multiplier to the desired overclock. But wait, there are two approaches to carry out this step that are poles apart.

You can add the 100MHz increments and gradually increase the frequency until it reaches the desired value. You can also make it by setting the fixed frequency value and working your way up and down.

Step 4 – Synchronizing all the cores

Finally, in this step, you will choose the CPU core ratio option to synchronize all the cores. Make sure you don’t leave any processor core by overclocking it to the same frequency.

As the starting point, we usually suggest 1.25V for the Vcore. When it comes to the Coffee Lake processors, Intel has detailed the maximum voltage reaching up to 1.52V.

Trust me; such a high value is insane because there’s a zero possibility of processor cooling left behind. It’s better to keep the value at 1.40V to be on the safe side.

Instead of applying any magic formula, apply little increments of 0.01-0.05V with a lot of patience.

Step 5 – Configuring mode of the voltage

The choice is yours! You have to configure the voltage mode depending on your choice. We’ll suggest you the adaptive mode because it’s quite practical to make the CPU produce less heat and consume little power. Moreover, this mode ensures your system’s longevity.

Step 6 – Setting the AVX offset

It’s time to reduce the multiplier by setting it to -1 or -2 when the system is under heavy AVX workloads. Can you imagine how harder the AVX workloads hit the processor? It does, and the ultimate result is the need for more voltage to stabilize the system.

Step 7 – Setting the LLC

There are numeric values on some motherboards to determine LLC level, while some motherboards contain non-numeric values. If you’re an average user, you’d be needing an average LLC level. Experiment with all the values and fix the one that suits best on your system.

Step 8 – Setting Intel Speedstep

Set your Intel Speedstep on the enabled or disabled mode. It’s up to you! If you want to run your CPU always at the overclocked frequency, turn on the enabled mode.

End this whole process by continuing tweaking until the way you stabilize the Vcore completely. Although this method goes well with all the Intel CPUs, when we think to overclock CPU Intel i9, the results are miraculous!

Overclocking the CPU with BIOS

CPU Overclocking with BIOS

The most precise and the best possible way to overclock your CPU with optimal control over the entire process is through BIOS. Here, we’ve brought you a detailed guide to walk through the complete process.

Basic Input Output System (BIOS) is the motherboard software that loads before the OS comes into play. It allows the configuration of hardware installing on your motherboard. It’s quite possible to manually overclock the CPU by changing frequencies and voltages from the BIOS interface.  

But wait! Before we get into the process, it’s imperative to know what software you’re going to use. Intel Extreme Tuning Utility is quite suitable for beginners who had little knowledge of overclocking.

Moreover, it’s necessary to update your BIOS to the latest version. You’ll be able to get access to all the new features and advantages of your motherboard.

Overclocking Settings

BIOS comes with extensive menus for navigation and provides access to system-wide hardware. You know what? The BIOS interface design is different for every motherboard, and the menu layouts will vary too.

For your convenience, we’ve short-listed some important settings that you need to consider for overclocking.

  • CPU Core Voltage: It’s the amount of power the processor is getting. Basically, when you increase the CPU Core Voltage, the input CPU voltage also increases, ultimately aiding the CPU to achieve higher speeds.
  • CPU Core Ratio: It determines the CPU speed. You can calculate it by multiplying this ratio with the base clock speed. When either of the value is higher, the greater will be the CPU speed. And you can alter this setting per core or across all the cores at once.
  • Ring Ratio/CPU Cache: It alters and adjusts various CPU parts’ frequency, including memory controller and cache.

Monitor the System Vitals

Before getting right into the most precision-seeking task, you have to bring every aspect to light. Monitoring the system before starting the overclocking is an important thing to do. It will alter the hardware power that can ultimately impact the operating temperature.

But wait! BIOS comes with lesser monitoring options, so better to go for software that operates on Windows. The Intel XTU is perfect for this task as it offers a full system tools suite.

However, you can also go for HWiNFO32, CoreTemp, and CPU-Z meant for the same purpose.

BIOS Overclocking Process –Step by Step

Once you’re finally geared-up with all the pre-settings, it’s time to move into the main process. Let’s get right into the business!

Step 1 –Establish the baseline performance

Determining the baseline performance is the first and the most important step when you’re overclocking with BIOS. It will let you make easy before and after comparisons, and you’ll get to know the precise increments.

You can’t operate a benchmark utility directly from BIOS. Instead, you’ll be using that utility from Windows. Benchmarking the hardware requires explicit methods, including Intel Extreme Tuning Utility Software.

Keeping track of your benchmark score lets you compare it with the latest scores.

Step 2 –Adjust the performance settings

We have already mentioned that every CPU comes with its own BIOS and hardware configuration, so you’ll see that the settings’ location is different. But, the basic concept of overclocking is the same.

Let’s just start right by altering the CPU Core Ratio that determines the final CPU speed. Scrutinize your BIOS and find this section to alter this setting.

But wait! While altering the processor’s operational settings, we’ll recommend you alter one setting at a time. Make sure you verify it before moving on to the next one.

Start modifying the CPU Core Ratio by moving one value upward and save the changes. Exit the BIOS and reboot the system. Once the system starts-up again, run that modified benchmark and see if the score has been improved or not.

If the system fails to reboot or new CPU settings didn’t apply, get back to the last viable settings.

Moreover, it would be best if you altered the voltage level along with CPU settings. It’s important only when your system isn’t stable after CPU Core Ratio modification. The higher the voltage, the more power to your CPU that can reach higher frequencies.

Let’s dig a little deeper!

You know what? You can even modify the built-in safeguards from the BIOS. But wait, that’s only beneficial when you’re quite confident in what you’re actually doing. If you alter the safeguard settings improperly, trust me; things will go bad and damage your hardware.

Test all the increments you made and check if you have achieved everything you’re looking for. If you find that you restart the system without any hiccup, you’re good to go with the next step.

Step 3 –Measure the performance improvements

It’s the most anticipated moment when you’re finally going to check that your efforts bore fruit or not. Running each benchmark you previously used while measuring the CPU’s baseline score will ensure the performance gains.

Finally, it’s time to make a comparison, and if you see visible increments, Congrats! You’re successful in overclocking your processor with BIOS. Now you can move to the next step and ensure system stability.

In case if you didn’t get the desired results or there’s no positive gain, you’ll have to go back to the BIOS. Repeat the entire process and change the settings to attain the optimal scores.  

Step 4 –Perform the stress test

If you want to make your system stable in the long run and make it withstand intensive workloads, it’s the best idea to perform a stress test to check the CPU frequency.

Out of many stability test software options available, you have to choose what suits your system best.

After Overclocking

After going through the entire process, one question might cross your mind that how to know if CPU overclock is stable or not? There’s no better way than a stress test to check the stability of the system.

If you have followed exactly the same directions for the BIOS overclocking, your system should be stable, faster, and more efficient than before.

And most importantly! If your system passes the stress test, congrats! You have successfully overclocked your CPU. 

How to Overclock CPU without BIOS, by the way?

If you’re a newbie in the gaming world and aren’t fully aware of this entire overclocking world, there’s no need to worry at all! You can boost up your system’s pace even without using BIOS.

It’s not a complicated process; in fact, you have to download software and get things underway. We usually recommend downloading Intel Extreme Tuning Utility (XTU) because this program runs on Windows.

But wait! One thing you have to keep in mind is that if you want to overclock your Core Duo, even XTU will not work on that. It’s because Core Duo is a CPU that lacks the overclocking potential from the notch.

Overclocking AMD Processors

Overclocking AMD CPU (2)

Overclocking on AMD processors is as efficient as on Intel processors. Once you successfully overclock your AMD CPU, you’ll get access to out-of-the-box speeds brilliant power.

Most of the latest AMD iterations, including Ryzen 5 3600X and Ryzen 7 3700X, don’t contain that much-overclocking potential. There are chances that you’ll get a little benefit out of them.

But wait! AMD Precision Boost technology comes right into play during overclocking to provide you with every MHz out of your CPU. Let’s get right into the tweaking process!

The Complete Step-by-step Guide

Step 1 –Resetting the BIOS of the motherboard

You might be longing to start pushing the clock speeds hastily to get things done quickly. Be patient! Let’s just start by getting the CPU’s baseline at previous settings. Restart the system and open up the BIOS panel by pressing the ‘F2’ or ‘Delete’ key.

Here, you have to spend a little time to know the settings layout by exploring it deeply. Start by opening the ‘Load Optimized Defaults’ option that you’ll see beside the ‘Save’ or ‘Exit’ button.

This option will reset the motherboard from its previous settings, and you’ll get a clean slate to work on. How can you forget to turn the extra things off?

Here, we’re talking about Game Boost, Precision Boot Overdrive, and other features that you don’t need at the moment while manual overclocking. Save the settings and get away by rebooting the system.

Step 2 –How about if you run a stress test?

To make sure everything is going well at the stock settings, it’s always imperative to run a quick stress test. This test will rule out an unstable or defective chip that may hinder your overclocking process.

You have to open the Monitoring window and start the OCCT. Then, open the table by clicking the graph icon in the toolbar. Trust me; the tabular data form is relatively easier to monitor the CPU than graphs.

Now you have to open the ‘LINPACK’ tab and cleck all the three boxes, including AVX Capable Linpack, 64 Bits, and Use All Logical Core.

If your processor remains stable under OCCT stress, there are good chances that it will remain stable during your strenuous workloads too.

Perform the test for 15 minutes. If there are no blue screens or freezing, you’re good to go with your overclocking.

Step 3 –CPU multiplier increments         

So here’s the most important tweaking stage –increasing the CPU multiplier! Let’s get right into it!

You know what? Your CPU’s speed is actually the result of the multiplication of CPU multiplier and Base Clock values. Most latest chips are coming with 100MHz Base Clock. If you multiply 100MHz x 34, maths becomes quite easier, and you get 3.4HHz CPU speed.

If you overclock all the cores individually, trust me, it gives a much powerful boost to your AMD’s performance. You have to increase the multiplier value slowly –also called the Core Ratio. Set the number for initial overclocking in case if your BIOS gives you this option.

If we think to overclock CPU AMD Ryzen 5 2600, the good starting point can be 37 above the default 34 value. You actually have to determine your increment by researching your CPU.

Step 4 –Run the second stress test and reset the voltage

After setting the multiplier value, come down to the ‘Vcore’ option to alter the voltage level. You have to modify it to ‘Manual’ by removing it from ‘Auto’ mode because the Auto mode is quite more destructive.

Here, again proper research is the go-to thing that will let you determine an ideal starting point. Let’s consider the case of overclock CPU AMD Ryzen 5 3600! The most preferred and desired starting point is 1.2V, which will work to produce a 3.7GHz frequency.

Once you have saved your BIOS settings, restart the system and set the OCCT again. Run it for whole good 15 minutes, just like you did before. If you don’t face any freezing or issue, restart the BIOS and add an increment of 1 multiplier. Repeat the entire process to get the results.

Even if you try your best to get rid of that uninvited moment, at a certain point, you’ll have to face the dead blue screen, freezing performance, or any other error.

It means that enough voltage isn’t reaching the CPU for sustaining the desired voltage level. So here you’ve to fuel it up a bit more. Add 0.01V increment in the BIOS and perform the stress test again.

Make sure that you’re noticing the results somewhere on your notepad to keep track of your improvement.

Moreover, when you’re increasing voltages, there are chances that the CPU’s heat level will rise too. How to cope with that, by the way? You have to research your CPU temperature limitation, but it’s better to stay a step below from that too.

We usually recommend keeping the temperature under 85°C to improve the chip’s lifespan.

Step 5 –Dig a little deeper

Repeat all the mentioned steps in a sequence by increasing the voltage and multiplier values and getting the performance-boosting up sideways. You might face little downfalls like temperature shoot-ups or instability, but don’t panic in either case.

Note the highest reading you have already reached. If you’re still craving more performance, you can check out the following things in your BIOS.

  • Load-Line Calibration

It’s the best possible way to deal with Vdroop because ut makes the voltage delivery a little more precise. LLC comes right into play when the system reaches higher clock speeds to bridge the gap.

Moreover, LLC can lower the temperatures down when the motherboard delivers a lot more voltage than usual. You have to make sure that you’re not setting your LLC not too high, or else it will overshoot your voltage.

Do your homework in researching your motherboard model and LLC implementations. It’s mandatory because some motherboards consider ‘1’ as the lowest setting; however, some consider it the highest.

Do the trials and make the errors; you will better understand which option is closest and best for the BIOS’s Vcore value.

  • RAM and XMP overclocking

AMD Ryzen processors feature an Infinity Fabric architecture to boost the RAM speeds –ultimately, the performance. After overclocking the CPU, it’s the right time to deal with the RAM speeds and efficiency.

You just have to enable XMP or AMP to allow your RAM to reach the maximum speeds it’s designed to reach instead of the lowest supported range.

There’s no need for manually setting the RAM voltage, frequency, and timings when you have some powerful keystrokes in front of you.

No matter what type of tweaking you have done to your RAM, it’s important to give it one round through Memtest86+ to confirm its stability.

Step 6 –Perform the final stress test

Although your tweaking already has a vast collection of settings that can withstand OCCT’s 15-minutes Linpack testing, we want to make your overclock rock-solid.

Let’s just start confirming the stability by performing some longer tests. Run that Linpack test for three good hours. Even some overclocking show their actual face within 15 minutes and fail to hold up for longer.

Overclocking CPU for Gaming

It’s quite realistic when we think of a gaming geek as a hyper-nerd tweaking wizard probing deeper into the guts of their gaming laptops or PCs. That’s because they crave more and more performance, boost-up speeds, and improved efficiency to explore the best version of their games.

Gaming and overclocking CPU or GPU are two closest related things that go hand in hand. Let’s explore some results of overclocking on a gaming PC and see if it’s worth it or not!

Trust me, overclocking can shoot your PC’s performance to unrivaled heights. But wait, what about the additional heat it’s going to generate when you’re adding more frequency and voltage to the CPU?

Of course, your system’s cooling system needs to work a little harder to cope with that heat. More overclocking, more heat, and ultimately more noise the fans will generate during their strenuous workout against heat.

If the cooling system isn’t that efficient, things get their way to trouble. And even gaming processors come with a maximum thermal limit of up to 100-degrees –all thanks to their TJMax.

When you add little increments during overclocking, the system will either shut off or send the increments back when it reaches the desired temperature. It’s the best adaptation to overclock CPU without damage that most CPUs and GPUs come with to prevent your system from crashing from thermal loads.

Wait, wait, wait! There’s another thing to consider too! Have you ever heard about the silicon lottery or limit? As you already know, every processor is engineered to be different from others.

Let’s take AMD Ryzen 7 2700Xs, Intel Core i9-9900Ks, and Nvidia RTX 2080 Super into consideration. Due to different settings interfaces, you’ll notice that they will overclock differently by reaching different maximum boost clock speeds.

All the parts aren’t potent for overclocking like others so they will move towards instability when you add more voltage –ultimately crashing your system away.  It may result in reduced performance and artifacts in your gaming.

These were all the imperfections and flaws you can get out of your silicon chip because there’s actually no way to know that what your system is up to. The choice is yours! If you love taking risks, there’s no problem in overclocking your gaming PC.

Is It Safe to Overclock Your CPU?

Here’s the most anticipated thing! Despite enjoying all the overclocking perks, we’re often conscious about our system’s health, its premature failure, and many more. The thought of the system’s safety always remains in our heads when we’re going through the overclocking process.

Here’s a big YES! The overclocking process is entirely safe until you cross the tweaking limits. You might have heard some myths about the process.

Overclocking the CPU isn’t the exaggeration of frying it away. If you set the clock too high mistakenly, the system will respond by shutting down, freezing, or showing a bluescreen. You can easily revert to the original settings by bringing CMOS Reset into play.

But how can we neglect the additional stress when you add excess voltage increments beyond the system’s endurance? If we think realistically, you’re actually reducing your processor’s lifespan by 12-15 years, most probably.

Make sure you keep the cooling factor in mind before you get into overclocking your gaming PC. We’d end up saying that there’s nothing to worry about if you keep everything in precise control.

Other guides you might be interested in:

The Bottom Line

There’s no exaggeration in saying that overclocking your CPU is the most powerful update you can ever make to your gaming or regular PC. The process isn’t complex at all, but all you need is a little patience and vigilance.

The most important thing! Make sure you’re adding as little voltage increments as possible, and end-up every step by performing a stress test. It will consume a lot of your time but trust me, it’s actually worth it. It will keep the entire overclocking process going smoothly and efficiently.

We have tried our best to touch every aspect of overclocking process and made it easier for you. If you want the best results, make sure you follow this guide completely.

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