Is Overclocking Worth It: CPU Edition

Overclocking is when you make certain changes to your hardware so its performance gets a boost. But the question is, is overclocking worth it? You know that your CPU can be overclocked to a certain limit, but you’re not certain if you should go for it because overclocking the CPU is the most expensive type there is as it requires some updates in terms of hardware. So let’s take a look at the pros and cons of it to see if overclocking the processor is actually worth it or not.

But before that, let’s first understand what overclocking actually is. If you aren’t new to the term, you can scroll right ahead to the pros and cons.

What is overclocking, really?

To understand ‘overclocking’ and whether it is worth it or not, we must first understand ‘clocking’. Clocking is a term used to define the speed at which a component runs. CPUs, or processors, and GPUs are generally the components that take the term clocking to define how fast they run – known as the ‘clock-speed’.

Since ‘clocking’ is about the speed at which a component works at factory settings, ‘overclocking’ is all about how the component can work faster than those preset limits – with a few tweaks, of course.

Overclocking the CPU

Overclocking the CPU is a bit complex than overclocking other components, but it tends to give the most in terms of results. But, just because CPUs in general can be overclocked doesn’t mean your particular model can as well.

Many machines use processors by Intel, and Intel doesn’t allow all of its CPUs to be overclocked. You can only overclock a couple of their series, that’s all. AMD, on the other hand, allows most of its models to be overclocked. So you will need to see if your particular model can be overclocked or not.

Also, overclocking the processor will mean, in all probability, that you will need better cooling as well. Let’s move on towards the pros and cons now to see what we’ll gain and what we’ll lose when we overclock out CPUs.

Why is overclocking worth it?

First things first: the benefits, because that’s what you’re here for. You want to know what overclocking the CPU can do for you in the long run.

You should overclock your CPU because:

  • It will give you better performance, duh. When the clocking speed of your component will increase, you will experience greatly enhanced performance.
  • You might be saving money if you manage to get better performance out of a cheap machine. This can be especially true of the AMD processors.
  • In many cases, you can achieve a higher frames-per-second rate.
  • You might hit the jackpot with the silicone lottery – which means that your model might have the chips that manage the overclock better than others and therefore you might be able to reach next-level performance.

Why overclocking isn’t worth it?

Now that we have tackled the advantages, let’s take a look at the disadvantages of overclocking. Because rarely anything is all good.

You shouldn’t overclock your CPU because:

May Cost You

While it might be cheaper in the sense that you won’t have to invest in a new machine by managing to squeeze out more performance from your older one, you will have to spend a fair bit to achieve the overclocking as well, especially in entry-level models. For example,

  • You will need to exchange the motherboard with one that supports overclocking, e.g. for Intel processors, you will need a chipset with a ‘Z’ in the name.
  • Your processor might not support overclocking, so you’ll have to replace that too. Intel processors of the ‘K’ series can be overclocked, and most AMD models can be as well. Other models of Intel are restricted.

Instability

You should be prepared to come across instability. While your overclocks will not be stable when you have just started tweaking and are yet to find the perfect levels for it, even when you do achieve a stable overclock you might come across instability.

Your games or programs might crash, or while you are still trying to figure out how to overclock your PC might decide to not boot up at all or show you a blue screen. You can fix this by restoring the default settings but be prepared for all sorts of crashes.

Cooling expenditures

In addition to spending on motherboard and processor,  you will also need to spend on a third-party cooler. Ideally, you will need to go for a liquid cooler to keep the heat under control all the better but you can also make do with an air cooler.

But keep in mind that all the extra heat that will be produced due to the overclock will need to be managed accordingly, or you risk getting your system damaged irrevocably.

Conclusion

All in all, it appears that if you have an entry-level system, going for an overclock might not be the best thing for you. You’ll end up spending a fair bit on a system that you will likely be replacing soon. An investment that won’t last long, and you don’t even know if your CPU will achieve the perfect, stable overclock.

It may be infinitely better to invest in a machine that will serve you well in the long run. If you already have a high-end setup then you can go for the overclock as the extra expenses will go a long way. You’ll be able to squeeze more performance out of your CPU without having to exchange your already costly machine for an even more expensive one. In this case, overclocking will most certainly be worth it.

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