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Risks of Overclocking the Processor
There are definite risks that you are taking when you decide to overclock your system processor. There is much debate over what the risks are, ranging from "don't worry, be happy" attitudes from many hackers to those who think overclocking is very dangerous (I guess I'm close to being in that category, although I think it is reasonable in some circumstances). I hope to list here the dangers but with a reasonable indication of how likely they are, and really I don't think I'm going off the deep end with any of this stuff.
Here are the possible outcomes you can expect when you overclock your processor. These apply to raising the clock speed of the processor only, if you are changing the system bus speed above its nominal rating you will need to read here as well.
In addition to the above, you should realize that overclocking a processor will reduce its serviceable lifetime. How long? Nobody can really say for sure, because nobody really knows how long a processor will last without overclocking. Controlling heat is a big part of this equation. When you see people on the 'net saying things like "without overclocking the chip would last 10 years and with overclocking it will last 5 years, so what do I care because I get a new chip every 2 years", just remember that they really have no way of knowing that they are reducing the CPU's lifespan by only 50%--it could be 90%. (And I don't know about you, but even when I upgrade, I don't throw out my old equipment if it still works...)
Also consider that hardware is not static; it ages, it changes over time--and it degrades over time. Even if overclocking works today, it may be working because you are just within the limits of what the system can handle. This doesn't mean that in six months or a year, changes in the hardware due to aging, heat or other stress factors won't cause failures or strange behavior to crop up.