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I have heard this term many time and would like to know what does it exactly means?

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I should also mention something that no one else has stated: overclocking voids any warranty you may have on your CPU/GPU. So if you have a warranty, I wouldn't recommend doing it. –  Sasha Chedygov Aug 19 '09 at 19:12
    
Never mind, I guess @Troggy mentioned it, but what the heck. –  Sasha Chedygov Aug 19 '09 at 19:13
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its lot of information i got within few minutes. its actually better than readin wikipedia. you guys rock!! –  jack.spicer Aug 19 '09 at 19:27

4 Answers 4

up vote 19 down vote accepted

It basically means that people will alter the settings for their CPU (processor) to go faster than it was designed to do so. By increasing the CPU frequency, you're also obligated to change speed settings for RAM, the system bus and so on. So if you have an Intel or AMD processor that say runs at 2.0GHz, you can overclock that processor (depending on a few variables) to run at 2.3GHz or 2.4GHz.

Pros

  1. The good thing about overclocking is you can get better performance out of your computer without paying extra for a higher model. Most people who overclock are gamers, but I'm sure there are other uses for overclocking in computation and such.

Cons

  1. Heat - Faster CPU means more electricity which means more heat. Heat can kill computer systems. Improperly cooled and overclocked CPUs can die a lot faster than you think.
  2. Cost - In order to increase the speed, better cooling is necessary to dissipate the heat. From water coolers to fancy heatsink/fan solutions, you should put forth some money to address the heating problem.
  3. Possible Damage - People forget that by overclocking, you're going out of bounds for the manufacturer's specification. The extra work, electricity, heat can (over a period of time) damage your CPU. If you deal with heating properly your odds of damage decrease, but it's always a risk.

Personally, I don't overclock. It's a risk with little to no benefit that I can see. Others may feel differently, but I hope this answers your question.

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yes it was pretty helpful. –  jack.spicer Aug 19 '09 at 19:04
    
Overclocking is definitely something that is more in line with hardware enthusiasts than it is your typical computer owner. –  TheTXI Aug 19 '09 at 19:05
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@ The TXI , @osij2is both of you have answered my doubt very well, i could not decide which answer is the perfect one, so not marking any accepted answer. Any additional information is welcom. –  jack.spicer Aug 19 '09 at 19:08
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@jack. feel free to mark osi's answer as correct. His is generally better structured, plus he could use the rep more than me anyway. –  TheTXI Aug 19 '09 at 19:12
    
@ jack TheTXI answered your original question exactly though. Just a thought. –  Troggy Aug 19 '09 at 19:13

Overclocking is the process of running a computer component at a higher clock rate (more clock cycles per second) than it was designed for or was specified by the manufacturer, usually practiced by enthusiasts seeking an increase in the performance of their computers. Some of them purchase low-end computer components which they then overclock to higher speeds, or overclock high-end components to attain levels of performance beyond the specified values. Others overclock outdated components to keep pace with new system requirements, rather than purchasing new hardware.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Overclocking

Overclocking any component comes with inherent risks. Generally running anything faster will cause the heat to be greater, which can lead to a much higher failure rate. This is why most people will not tackle overclocking unless they are certain that their components are tolerant enough of the changes (and even then will only up the speeds in small increments) and will have good cooling systems in place to help mitigate the problem of heat.

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Not just a CPU. It's applicable for other processors (e.g. GPU) and bus frequencies. –  LeakyCode Aug 19 '09 at 18:58
    
Correct. I'll modify. –  TheTXI Aug 19 '09 at 18:59
    
Also list some drawbacks while you're at it: heat, stability –  hyperslug Aug 19 '09 at 18:59
    
but does it lead to some side effects? –  jack.spicer Aug 19 '09 at 19:00
    
the obvious side effects would be increased performance out of your components. That is a positive side effect. The negative side effects include increased heat and potential for catastrophic component failure (chips burning up, etc.) –  TheTXI Aug 19 '09 at 19:04

In addition to what TheTXI posted...

You are running the hardware beyond its rated limits. It can void warranties and damage hardware. You can see weird errors depending on the issues. It varies from each combination of hardware. It is mainly for the hobbiest or someone who wants to take the risk to get that little extra performance out of their machine.

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I'm pretty sure this was a simple comment a minute ago.. :] What wouldn't we do to push you to 3000 :] –  Gnoupi Aug 19 '09 at 19:06
    
It was, but I started to type a few sentences and I thought it would be better as an additional answer. Also, it was before osij2is posted his good answer. –  Troggy Aug 19 '09 at 19:09
    
so is it common among hardware geeks to overclock the system? –  jack.spicer Aug 19 '09 at 19:11
    
I haven't paid much attention to the practice, but I remember back in the early 2000's overclocking was extremely popular because the Intel Celeron processors were dirt cheap and could be OC'ed pretty high. Made them a very popular choice in comparison to the P3's and P4's which were much more expensive. –  TheTXI Aug 19 '09 at 19:14
    
Yes, it is very common among hardware geeks. It is also a challenge to some to see how far they can push it with upgraded cooling and other extreme measures. –  Troggy Aug 19 '09 at 19:14

Overclocking means running a component faster than the maker of your system intended. This can mean excessive heat and cooking things, or it can be no big deal. For example, 11 years ago, Intel stoped making the mobile Pentium 75 that Toshiba used in their Libretto 50ct micro laptop, so Toshiba substituted the P120, and just undercloked it. If you had one of those, going to 120mhz would not be a big deal, and many could be overclocked to as much as 200mhz.

Often a manufacture will want, say , 1/3 at the highest speed, 1/3 middle, and 1/3 slow. Each will be tested only to meed the needed spec (though they may route the chips from the center of the wafer to the high speed group, for instance). This doesn't mean the slower stuff would not have qualified for the higher speeds, or that with a better heat sink they would have.

You can overclock with software (often this can be done for video cards), bios (your cpu/mb/ram), jumpers (old school for that), or hardware mods (cutting or replacing wires, changing clock chips, etc).

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thnx. addition to information is always welcomed. –  jack.spicer Aug 20 '09 at 5:59

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