Overclocking your gaming PC sounds both complicated and impressive, but it’s actually accomplished with just a few programs and maybe a few more peripherals.
The process has its benefits and pitfalls, but in this article we’ll dive into the navigation and help you decide if you want to overclock your gaming PC.
What is the benefit of overclocking?
The immediate benefits of overclocking may seem obvious – extra performance for a relatively low cost – but let’s explore these and a few other benefits of overclocking.
The first and most obvious benefit of overclocking is getting every drop of performance out of your hardware. By overloading your PC, you’ll get every extra frame per second, can cut all your load times, and play at a higher resolution. This extra power comes at a cost, which we’ll get to later, but with the right know-how and additional hardware, it’s manageable.
The tools are out there
With a few relatively simple tools, you can squeeze a lot more performance through your GPU, CPU, and RAM, and get closer to the performance you want. To get started, read our guide to overclocking your CPU. Programs like MSI Afterburner can easily overclock your CPU and GPU with any handheld displays you might need, such as: B. internal temperatures and power consumption. There’s even a CPU and GPU stress test feature to give you an idea of how far you can push your PC.
Overclocking is financially beneficial
Having to break the bank to upgrade your hardware is something nobody looks forward to. With prices constantly rising, it makes sense to try to keep your old parts for as long as possible.
Pushing your old hardware to the limit often pushes it to next-gen performance, or close enough. Not having to scour the markets for the latest gear is always a plus, why spend the money when you can get more out of what you have?
There’s plenty of support
If you decide to overclock your PC, you’ll find plenty of helpful forums, subreddits, and videos to guide you through the process. If you plan on doing it, it’s almost guaranteed that someone has already done it, made all the mistakes, and posted about it online. Research is key in anything to do with building and buying a PC, and that goes for overclocking too.
Why not overclock?
It all seems to make sense; Overclocking saves money, improves performance, and seems relatively easy. Why don’t we all do it? There are a few things to consider that we will discuss.
Overclocking shortens the lifespan of your hardware
As you draw more current through any part of your PC, it will inevitably have to work harder. Like anything, when you’re working hard you need more rest. PC parts get tired too. Over time, the increased voltage running through your PC’s hardware will wear it down. The extra volts generate more heat and accelerate the breakdown of the sensitive elements. This leads us to our second issue to consider.
Increased heat output
With increased voltage comes increased heat, and that requires better airflow and heat distribution. Increasing your PC’s internal temperature without proper treatment can cause some serious problems, least of all errors and minor crashes. An overclocked CPU can reach temperatures of 195F and still be within the safe zone, although obviously closer to 175F and below is much better.
If you’re serious about overclocking your components, it’s definitely worth investing in more cooling as well. Water cooling is a common solution along with a good number of additional fans. Overclocking can mean a slight rebuild of your current PC, depending on how far you want to go.
Greater performance comes with higher power requirements. If you demand more from your components, you will be expected to compensate with a higher voltage. Of course, this comes with the expected slight increase in utility bills, but the more immediate concern will be whether your power supply can actually handle the extra load. When you build your PC or buy your pre-built PC, make sure you consider the expected voltage before overclocking.
As you begin to optimize for performance, you need to be aware that your power supply has a limit. Be careful not to exceed this value as it can cause serious problems like unexpected shutdowns and even fires. Learn more about the importance of a proper power supply in our explanation of why PSU efficiency matters.
You need to make sure you’re overclocking properly
Unfortunately, it’s not that easy to just click a button and instantly have a perfectly overclocked PC. Knowing how and to what extent each component needs to be optimized plays an important role. As mentioned, MSI Afterburner can help with this. Find out more in our list of the best overclocking software.
Aside from knowing what software to use, you also need to know if your components can actually be overclocked, not everything, and pushing them beyond their limits can be damaging. It’s always worth checking with your manufacturer and checking the exact model to see if it’s up for the extra boost in power and performance.
They can void your warranty
If you decide to go ahead and push your PC to the limits, it may affect your statutory rights. Most manufacturers release their products in such a way that they work the longest in the most efficient way while also providing the best results. If you decide to tweak the settings and take your gaming PC beyond its originally intended use, the manufacturer has the right to refuse a refund if it breaks.
The downside to this is that if you decide to burn out your GPU and hit 144 FPS at 4K for a six hour marathon, most companies don’t have the technology to test whether or not you’ve overclocked, so there is an element of risk.
So is the calculated overclocking risk worth it?
When you look at overclocking and see the often significant boost in performance, the temptation to keep going seems very obvious. But discovering that overclocking can require some research and learning how to understand your hardware can put many people off the idea. Fortunately, anyone can become an expert in no time thanks to online help with videos and forums.
The lack of expensive and often difficult to obtain hardware is of course a plus for anyone interested in PC building or performance enhancement. The downside to this is that you first have to learn how to monitor your components, and then control the heat output with things like additional cooling systems. With the right free software, the effort and time involved can be negligible, and cooling systems are almost always cheaper than new hardware.
With all points considered, it seems to indicate that overclocking your gaming PC seems like the right thing to do. Just make sure you take the time to understand the process and put together the right tools to monitor your gaming PC.
As you can see, there are good reasons to overclock your PC, depending on whether you have the time, patience, and know-how to get it all up and running. With the tools available and a little research, improved gaming performance can be within reach.
You might need to invest in a bit more hardware to keep your hardworking parts at a reasonable temperature, but these kinds of extras will usually hold their value. The extra research you invest, while time consuming, is well worth it for the money saved and the extra performance.