How to overclock your CPU without setting your computer on fire

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Overclocking AMD with Overdrive

If you’re running an AMD processor, your steps are going to be a little different but the core principles remain the same. We’re going to increase two variables until we find a good balance.

Overdrive

AMD Overdrive is the software utility we prefer for wading into these waters. It’s reliable, and designed specifically for AMD processors. You can get AMD Overdrive here, along with some introductory information.

Once you’ve got it installed, head over to the “stability test” tab, and run it for about an hour, but don’t go anywhere – the information we need will show up during the test.

After about 45 minutes, take a look at the core temperature under “system status.” What we’re trying to find out here is how hot your CPU gets while it’s working its little heart out. If you’re at 80 degrees Celsius or over 80C, it’s not a good idea to overclock your CPU, at least not until you get some better cooling. If you’re around the low to mid 60s, you’ve got a little head room. But proceed with caution. In this case, lower is better.

Step One: Multipliers

First things first, we’re going to adjust your CPU multipliers. These are the controls that will alter how fast your CPU is running. Only move these up in small increments. What we’re doing here is trying to find the limits of how much power your CPU is currently drawing.

AMD Core Multipliers

Move these guys up a little, by 1x at a time, and make sure “select all cores” is checked. Unless you really know what you’re doing, don’t bother with tuning individual processor cores. Just move them all up or down at the same increments.

Step Two: Core Voltage

Now that your CPU will be running faster, it’s going to need more power. The core voltage setting here determines how much power your CPU is getting, so once you’ve moved up your multipliers, move up your core voltage by one increment – by .025.

AMD Core Voltage

For instance, if you’re at 1.350, move it up to 1.375.

This amount of increase is not a hard and fast rule. You can increase your voltage in a larger increment, if desired. But this increases the risk of damaging your processor.  As you increase voltage, it’s wise to consult online documentation for your processor to see the recommended maximum voltage. You might also browse overclocking forums to see the levels others have safely hit.

Go ahead and hit apply, then run another stability test – this time for about one to five minutes.

Step Three: Rinse, repeat

Overclocking is all about patience. Now that you’ve overclocked your CPU, it’s time to do it all over again. Move things up one more increment, and keep an eye on your heat. It’s generally not a good idea to push your heat up past 80 degrees Celsius, so once you start approaching that temperature, it’s a good idea to stop.

What about BIOS?

We would be remiss if we didn’t address the elephant in the room: the BIOS.

You know that thing that you only dig into when something is going seriously wrong with your computer? The menu you can access by holding F2 while your PC starts up? That guy’s the BIOS. There you’ll find all the advanced settings for your PC, everything from startup settings, to boot disk, and yes, CPU clock.

In the BIOS, you’re changing the same settings that you are in Intel XTU or AMD Overdrive – the multiplier and the core voltage. But meddling with the BIOS is a little more dangerous than tooling around in XTU or Overdrive. The BIOS doesn’t have as many safety nets as those two utilities, so we wouldn’t recommend it for your first overclocking experience.

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