It’s tempting to buy a cheaper CPU and overclock it for better performance, but overclocking comes with its issues. You can easily overclock a CPU with little effort, but it takes a more experienced user to know the signs of overheating that eventually reduce the lifespan of the component. Here are some pros and cons of overclocking your CPU, so you can make an educated decision if it’s the right choice for you.
What is Overclocking?
Before discussing the pros and cons, you should know what overclocking means. Overclocking is a method of obtaining more performance out of your CPU than what the manufacturer intended. By sending more volts to the CPU, it expands its performance capabilities. You can overclock a CPU directly in the computer BIOS, so it doesn’t take any extra hardware or software to gain more performance from the machine.
Overclocking isn’t necessary when the machine is used for just simple applications such as office suites, Internet browsing, or other basic applications. However, for gamers and people who like to benchmark applications, it’s a legitimate way to get more speed from computer hardware.
Pros of Overclocking
There is actually only one pro for overclocking: performance. It’s why gamers and PC enthusiasts overclock a CPU and a GPU (graphics processor unit). When you send more voltage to either the CPU or GPU, the graphics increase, response times within applications are reduced, and benchmarks can identify peak performance for complex software.
Cons of Overclocking
The biggest issue with overclocking is the reduction in a component’s lifespan. You can overclock a CPU, GPU, motherboard or RAM, but sending increased volts gradually damages these components. Damage is caused by heat generated from increased power. Additional heat doesn’t usually ruin a circuit immediately, so the damage is seen gradually over time.
As you know, your CPU has a fan and heat sink attached to it to pull heat away from the processor and disperse it into the air. These components work well together to keep the CPU’s core temperature down. When you overclock, the fan and heat sink aren’t usually adequate for heat removal. For this reason, gamers and enthusiasts who overclock take extra precautions when increasing volt input. Water cooling is an expensive alternative to a heat sink and fan, but it’s an efficient way to cool an overclocked CPU. Water cooling is a special type of system that uses pipes and cooled water that run over the CPU. Heat disperses into the cooled water, and the pumps pull the heated water away from the CPU. The water is re-cooled and recycled back through the pipes to start the process again.
Another disadvantage is the heat-related bugs that can occur. When a CPU overheats, it usually results in PC crashes and eventually the component is irreparably damaged and must be replaced. CPUs are expensive, and it’s harder to find CPUs that work with older motherboards. If the computer is several years old, you might need to replace the motherboard and CPU.
Overall, overclocking has its advantages if you really need some extra speed from a computer and you are thoughtful about how you do it. If you are intimidated or are an average user, it’s better to just buy a faster CPU.