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[ The PC Guide | Systems and Components Reference Guide | Hard Disk Drives | Hard Disk Performance, Quality and Reliability | Hard Disk Quality and Reliability | Hard Disk Quality and Reliability Issues ]

Overclocking

A popular activity undertaken by many PC hobbyists is the process of overclocking. This refers to running hardware above its standard and rated speed specifications in order to increase performance. I don't think overclocking makes sense for most people; I provide some background on overclocking, and my opinions on it, in this section.

Overclocking a PC inherently reduces the reliability of virtually every part of the system. Since a PC is interconnected, and overclocking usually affects key components such as the system processor and the motherboard, in some ways everything in the system is involved. When overclocking involves running just the CPU at a higher speed, it has little direct reliability effect on the storage subsystem. However, when overclocking the system bus, reliability concerns with hard drives often come into play. Overclocking the PCI bus upon which the IDE/ATA interface runs can cause IDE hard disks to behave spuriously. Since most SCSI host adapters also run on the PCI bus, they can also behave strangely if the PCI bus is run faster than its normal speed.

How a particular hard disk will react to overclocking is not easy to determine, and like most overclocking activities, requires trial and error. It also depends on how far you are pushing things, and especially, on the type of motherboard you are using and its integrated hard disk controller. However while it is true that "your mileage may vary", as the saying goes, it is also the case that some hard disk brands and models take to overclocking more than others. Research on any of the hundreds of overclocking sites, newsgroups and other resources can help you decide on a suitable drive if overclocking is one of your priorities.

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