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[ The PC Guide | System Optimization and Enhancement Guide | Overclocking: The Dissenting Opinion | Should You Overclock? ]

IF You're Going To Do It... Do It Properly

If you decide that overclocking is for you, then by all means go ahead, but at least do it properly. To some extent success requires luck, but there are also specific steps you can use to maximize your chances of success, and reduce the risk of problems. I've overclocked systems before, but as you can probably tell I'm not a big fan, so I don't have a specific guide for overclocking on this site. However, implementing overclocking has been covered quite nicely on other sites. I'd recommend checking out Scott Wainer's overclocking page for specific instructions on "doing it".

I'd also keep in mind the following issues regarding actually accomplishing the overclocking of your system. You'll probably see some of these comments in the other overclocking information on the net, but others you probably won't:

  • The Importance of Cooling: Heat is the number one enemy of the overclocker. If you plan to overclock your CPU in particular, you will need to consider using some sort of active heat sink or even a more advanced form of cooling in order to make it work properly. Most practical guides to overclocking include a discussion on cooling and how important it is. The cooler you keep the chip, both the more likely it will overclock and the longer the chip will last.
  • Don't Take Chances With Your Data: Make sure you back up your hard disk before you start, assuming that you are overclocking an existing system that already has data on it.
  • Walk Before You Run: If you are setting up a new system to overclock, I'd recommend setting it up first without overclocking, to make sure that it works and to get an opportunity to familiarize yourself with your hardware and settings. This way, you have a chance to eliminate up front any hardware problems that aren't really related to the overclocking, so any problems that show up after you overclock are more readily linked to that action.
  • Know When To Give Up: Some of the overclockers on the 'net really seem to be bent on "overclocking at all costs", it seems. If it makes sense for you and you can do it in a way that makes sense, go for it. But if you have to slow down half your system to make the other half faster, it may not be worth it. Even worse, there are people who advocate turning up the voltage to your CPU in order to increase the chances of it running at a faster speed. This may be true, but overpowering the voltage to your system processor is really asking for trouble, and I strongly advise against it. Most processors have a tolerance range of voltages they can handle above or below the nominal range without problem but going outside this range is dangerous, and it is always best to stay in the middle of the spec.

Next: Procedure Guide

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