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09/06/2002 - Editorial: Overclocking.. what's all the fuss about? by Saeed Amen

Before I start, I want to stress I am in no way responsible if your overclocking destroys your computer! Overclocking.. what's all the fuss about? Why do people do it? When chips are made, they are rated to run at a specific clock speed. They can run at higher clock speeds if you change the speed of the motherboard bus which they are run on. However, such an increase in clock speed can result in higher temperatures which may damage the chip and even start a fire. Overclocking is basically the name given to any attempt to increase the speed of components of a computer in this manner.

Generally people tend to overclock processors, but you can also overclock the chips on your graphics card and other components. It is important to remember that overclocking components will generally void your warranty, so be very careful, and never overclock a mission critical machine. For example if your processor runs at 1000 MHz and your motherboard bus speed is 200 MHz your processor has already been clocked to 5X the speed, so it might be realistic to overclock to 6X, 1200 MHz. Generally AMD chips cannot be overclocked as much as Intel chips, because AMD chips have generally already been clocked to near the limit of their operation. Recently chip makers have tried to make it more difficult to overclock their products, so in most cases you need to "unlock" the capability to overclock.

You should increment your bus multiplier in very small intervals. Make sure you monitor the temperature of your computer's components carefully. I have a Tyan Tiger S2460 and on their website they have an application called System Monitor which conveniently gives you the temperature of all the major components on your motherboard. To deal with the increase in temperature you will need to cool your computer more efficiently using more fans, different types of fans, or in extreme cases try liquid cooling. Make sure you research the chips you are going to overclock and what temperature they can withstand. In any case make sure you make the computer as cold as possible, even if you don't overclock it, since the colder it is the longer the components will last. Some chips might be able to run at 90C, but this is seriously hot, and can be dangerous if anything goes wrong!

So hopefully if you're overclocking goes well, you'll get a faster machine!