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While not technically in the realm of ’maintenance’ per se, overclocking has become a popular hardware tweak among the more hardcore computer users who demand the most out of their computers.  As we’ve previously discussed, one critical specification for both CPUs and video cards is their clock speeds.  The faster the clock speed, the faster they will perform calculations.  While you can’t expect a large increase in performance overall, overclocking your components could give you that extra couple of percentage points in speed that could turn a choppy game into a smooth one.  Be forewarned: you are liable for any damage you may incur to system components after overclocking them!

CPU overclocking

Back in the day, overclocking your CPU was a dangerous and exciting affair that could make a huge difference in your computer’s performance.  Today, it’s a mixed bag affair that may or may not improve your PC experience.

Modern CPUs are designed for overclocking to a certain degree.  Your CPU’s clock speed can be increased through your BIOS (basic input output system).  The BIOS can be accessed a few moments after you power up your computer by pressing ’delete’ or ’F1’.  It depends from BIOS to BIOS, so make sure to keep an eye out for a line saying ’press DEL to enter setup’ or something to that effect.

Once inside your BIOS, you can tweak all sorts of neat things but I’d definitely avoid doing so unless you are familiar with the terms.  Read your motherboard’s manual for more information on how to tweak general options.  As for overclocking, you can usually select a frequency above and beyond the default frequency of your CPU.   Often you can just select the frequency, but sometimes you’ll be asked to select a ’multiplier’.  By choosing a multiplier in small increments, you can slowly increase the clock speed of your CPU.

One word of warning: you should never choose a clock speed that is significantly higher than your default one.  Usually a change of a few percent is all you can manage without introducing new problems with heat.  If you really want to overclock your CPU, you will have to purchase additional cooling solutions to keep the temperatures down.

Video card overclocking

Similar to the CPU, your video card’s GPU can be overclocked as well.  This can be achieved through third-party programs (some manufacturers give you the option in their own programs).  The same rules apply here.  Don’t overclock too much.  Always increase in small increments to make sure your system remains stable.