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For some people, fast is never fast enough. In the world of computers, a fast processor can be made even faster by overclocking it. Overclocking involves increasing the clock speed of the computer's CPU past the rate at which it was originally designed to run.

Some ways to overclock a processor include increasing the CPU's operating speed in the system BIOS or changing the hardware jumper settings for the processor. Modifying these settings may allow the processor to run faster than set by the manufacturer, which may increase the overall performance of the computer. However, since other settings, such as the memory speed, frontside and backside bus speeds, and other components are fixed, there may not be a significant increase in performance.

Regardless of how overclocking is done, it potentially may cause problems with the computer. After all, when you overclock a computer, you are altering the manufacturer's design of the machine. For example, if there is not enough electrical current to to power the processor at the new rate, it may slow down or stop running completely. Also, if the heat sink cannot sufficiently cool the processor running at the faster rate, it may overheat, causing your computer to freeze or crash. This is actually a preventive measure, since the computer stops functioning when the CPU gets too hot. Otherwise, the CPU may literally fry itself and your overclocked processor may become an overcooked processor.

In summary, overclocking a processor can be a risky endeavor. It is best left to computer enthusiasts who understand their hardware and are willing to accept the risks associated with it. Since overclocking voids your computer's warranty, don't expect the manufacturer to replace your cooked CPU for free. If you want a fast machine that is supported by the manufacturer, buying a fast processor to begin with is your best bet.

Published: 2008

Definition from the PC Glossary