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Overclocking

Overclocking is the act of increasing the speed of certain components in a computer other than that specified by the manufacturer.  It mainly refers to making your CPU run at a faster rate although it could also refer to making your graphics card or other peripherals run faster.  For example if you have a 300MHz PII CPU, you could probably overclock it easily to 350 or even 400MHz.  The latest P4 processors also appear to be overclockable through the FSB (front side bus) even though they are advertised as being clock-locked.

So, now that you now what overclocking is, let's see how you can actually overclock your CPU.  You can do this using any of the following 3 methods: 1. Through your BIOS, 2. By changing the multiplier settings, 3. By changing the Bus speed!

BIOS: In some BIOS's you are given the option to alter your CPU speed.  Using this method, you won't even have to open your computer case.  When you first boot your PC enter your BIOS (usually by pressing Del, F1, or F10) and start looking for any option that allows you to change your CPU speed or voltage.  If you do find it, then it's as simple as changing the current number to a higher value.

Bus Speed: When increased, it makes the whole system run faster and not only the CPU.  Most PC's have a speed of 66MHz or 100MHz.  Mainly, it defines the speed that your motherboard and other components run at.  To change your bus speed appropriately, see the table below.

Multiplier Settings: Multipliers are located on your motherboard and come in the forms x1, x1.5, x2, x2.5, etc...  When the Bus speed is multiplied by any one of these numbers, it results in the final CPU speed.  For example, if you have a bus speed of 100 and a multiplier of x4, your CPU speed is 400MHz.  Clear? The table below shows how you can change your bus speed/multiplier settings depending on your CPU.

Summary: The best way to overclock your PC is to alter the bus speed and multiplier settings.  To do that, look at the table below and you should straight away realize how beautifully it has been put together.  For example, if you have a Pentium 166MHz CPU (which is set up on a 66MHz bus speed and a multiplier setting of x2.5) you can see straight away that you only have 1 choice and that is to increase the multiplier setting tox3 to get a net speed of 200MHz!

Other processes to try out:

You must understand that to overclock you MUST buy a heatsink or an additional fan because your motherboard will be producing more heat. Ask your local hardware store for help with fitting these. Also, make sure you download a benchmarking utility to know how much speed you've gained, check out SiSoft Sandra 98 from the Speed Apps section.

Now that you know what you'll need and what your options are, let's take a look at how you can actually speed up your PC:

(1) Take off your PC's lid and play around with your Motherboard's jumpers. Making sure you've got your Motherboard manual in hand, you can see how you should fit your jumpers for each CPU speed. Simply reposition the jumpers for a faster CPU by altering the bus and multiplier setting jumpers. (see table below)

(2) Software. I would recommend you use software since it's easier. Go to h-oda.com and download a program called SoftFSB.  Follow the instructions and then overclock your CPU one step at a time (rebooting after each time) to check and see if you've been successful. If Windows crashes for no apparent reason then your processor is probably overheating and you need to undo your last speed jump.

(4) To prevent overheating your CPU, download and try CPUidle from cpuidle.de and Waterfall Pro from rocketdownload.com. Alternatively, you can buy heatsinks/fans for your CPU.

To help you choose the speed you want to overclock your machine to, consult this table. Bus Speed in MHz is listed down the left and multiplier settings across the top. Figures in bold represent the most common settings.

  x1 x1 x2 x2 x3 x3 x4 x4 x5 x5.5 x6 x6.5 x7 x7.5 x8
150 150 225 300 375 450 525 600 675 750 825 900 975 1050 1125 1200
133 133 200 266 333 400 466 533 600 667 733 800 866 933 1000 1066
112 112 168 224 280 336 392 448 504 560 616 672 728 784 840 896
100 100 150 200 250 300 350 400 450 500 550 600 650 700 750 800
90 90 135 180 225 270 315 360 405 450 495 540 585 630 675 720
83 83 125 166 208 250 291 333 374 415 457 498 540 581 623 664
75 75 113 150 188 225 263 300 338 375 413 450 488 525 563 600
66 66 100 133 166 200 233 266 300 333 366 400 433 466 500 533
60 60 90 120 150 180 210 240 270 300 330 360 390 420 450 480
Information within this table created by PC Answers Magazine