Gamers are among the most competitive people on the planet—notorious for finding ways to beat the most challenging games and overwhelm their opponents. Overclocking is one way to boost the competitive performance of your hardware, and it’s become pretty commonplace among PC gamers today.
What Does Overclocking Do for Gaming?
Overclocking a GPU or CPU allows for faster, richer, and improved gameplay, thanks to enhanced game performance. The practice enables your computer to run quicker than it was designed to—boosting the system’s performance without upgrades or enhancements.
PC manufacturers develop computer processor chips to run at a particular speed—called a clock speed. Clock speed is a measure of how many times your processor completes a cycle per second.
Your processor’s clock speed is directly correlated with how fast your computer can perform calculations. So, higher clock speeds allow your PC to work more quickly and render graphics at a higher frame rate.
When it comes to gaming, overclocking can lead to better FPS. Overclocking may allow you to run your game at higher settings than is possible while running your processor at its base speed.
Typically, manufacturers place a hard cap on the clock speed of your processor. This cap prevents your processor from running at a clock speed higher than the cap determined by the manufacturer.
The purpose of this cap is to ensure the uniformity of performance between processors of the same make and model.
When you overclock your processor, you exceed the clock speed cap established by the manufacturer, allowing you to get better performance from your processor than what’s allowed out-of-the-box.
Do Gamers Overclock Their PCs?
Gamers are the most likely to overclock their PCs, and many do. Overclocking leads to performance increases and improved framerates while gaming at high settings. Although overclocking your PC can damage it if not done correctly, its benefits to gamers are usually worth the risks.
Overclocking is pretty straightforward—take a processor with a speed of, say, 3.0ghz and increase it to 4.0ghz. It’s like getting an upgraded processor without actually changing your hardware.
While the actual improvement in speed may not be as dramatic, it’s a free and easy way to get an advantage in gaming and increase your PC’s gaming performance.
These days, overclocking has become exceedingly common among gamers. With the rise of gaming PCs, more and more gamers are getting into PC building and learning tricks to improve hardware performance.
While the average gamer doesn’t need to overclock their processor to run common games, hardcore gamers and PC enthusiasts frequently overclock their rigs because they want to get the best-possible FPS.
Is Overclocking Worth It?
Overclocking is worth it since it leads to better performance while playing graphically-demanding games. Since overclocking is free, the only downsides to this strategy is the risk of your processor overheating. As long as you have adequate cooling installed, overclocking your PC is worth the associated risk.
As long as you go about it the right way, the performance boost that comes along with overclocking is worth it.
And while some people might argue that the gains from tinkering with your processors are insignificant, you’d be surprised by how much a 10% increase in hardware capabilities can impact your entire PC gaming experience.
Still, overclocking is not a silver bullet when it comes to enhancing system performance, and it certainly carries some risk.
You can significantly mitigate these risks if you overclock your PC components correctly and take the proper precautions, like monitoring your CPU temps and ensuring proper cooling/ventilation in your rig.
Pros of Overclocking?
Here are the pros of overclocking:
- It’s a relatively cheap (sometimes free) way to boost your PC’s performance.
- It’s easy to do, and you can get the software tools online for free.
- You have a choice of overclocking your CPU, GPU, monitor, or RAM to optimize your PC experience.
The pros of overclocking a PC are pretty straightforward and intuitive, but you can only get these benefits if you do it correctly. I’ll go into how to correctly overclock later, but let’s first explore the drawbacks you might encounter if you overclock your PC.
Cons of Overclocking?
The cons of overclocking your PC includes potential crashes and damage to your computer. Fans tend to work harder when overlocking so they might be noisier. Additionally, you can void your warranty.
Let’s have a look at some of these in more detail:
- Overheating is a common problem with overclocked PCs, leading to crashes and severe damage to your system’s components.
- Overclocking uses more power than you usually would since the hardware’s enhanced performance requires more electricity.
- Overclocked PCs are louder, and you’ll experience a noise problem owing to the fans working extra hard to cool the computer.
- You should expect frequent and premature damage to components since you’re operating your computer at a higher rating than the manufacturer designed it to withstand.
- You will void your warranty if you overclock your PC, as most manufacturers do not support the practice.
We’ve gone over the pros and cons of overclocking. Now, let’s see if overclocking is a good practice.
Is It Good To Overclock Your CPU?
It’s perfectly fine to overclock your CPU, and it can help you get better performance out of your processor without making changes or spending lots of money. Therefore, you can run more demanding software and run your games at higher settings than usual.
However, you can overheat and severely damage your PC if you do not overclock correctly or fail to install an appropriate cooling system to handle the increased processor temperatures.
I mentioned before that overclocking isn’t only possible with CPUs—you can improve the performance of your GPU, RAM, and display performance. But which component offers more benefits: overclocking your CPU or GPU?
Is It Better To Overclock CPU or GPU?
It’s better to overclock your CPU if you’re looking for improved performance across the board. However, an overclocked GPU will offer more noticeable improvements in gaming—usually in frame and refresh rates. Both are beneficial, and you can work on whichever is safer and easier to overclock.
Although many people focus on overclocking their CPU, you can also get improved performance from your PC if you overclock the GPU. The benefits are not the same as you’ll see from overclocking your CPU, but that doesn’t mean it’s not worth it.
But is overclocking safe? Of course, it has risks—but should you refrain from doing it completely?
Is Overclocking Safe?
Overclocking is safe if you do it correctly and ensure your computer’s voltage and temperature stay within safe levels. Therefore, you need to make sure you monitor your power supply and component stability. You should also install a cooling system that’s up to the task.
There are many helpful online guides for overclocking your GPU or CPU. I recommend you check if your components support overclocking before starting the process.
Eric streams 3 days a week on Twitch and uploads weekly to Youtube under the moniker, StreamersPlaybook. He loves gaming, PCs, and anything else related to tech. He’s the founder of the website StreamersPlaybook and loves helping people answer their streaming, gaming, and PC questions.