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Overclocking software can assist with overclocking a computer, though the variety of programs can make it a challenge to pick the right one. The most common type is manufacturer-specific overclocking software, which enables a user to easily overclock a central processing unit (CPU) built by a certain manufacturer. Generic CPU overclocking is similar, but it typically is harder to use and can overclock most CPUs. Another component that can be overclocked is the graphics processing unit (GPU), and there is a specific type of program for this. Bus and motherboard overclocking programs enable a user to overclock many components, but this is very advanced and harder to use.
When most people use overclocking software, they are using manufacturer-specific programs. These programs are made specifically to work with a CPU from a certain manufacturer, so there is less coding and fewer steps needed to make the CPU speed up. This is because the program knows exactly how to work with the CPU and where the CPU will be located. Users typically just have to select the specific CPU they are using and the speed they want to use.
The problem with manufacturer-specific overclocking software is that it cannot work with CPUs made by another company. If a user works with many different computer systems, then a generic CPU overclocking program may be better. This enables the user to overclock most or all CPUs, but the user typically has to tell the program where the CPU is located, and coding is needed to integrate with the CPU.
A similar unit to the CPU is the GPU. Unlike the CPU, which uses its resources to work on all the functions in a computer, the GPU is made for processing graphics. This means computers used to make complex animations and images typically benefit most from having the GPU overclocked. GPU overclocking software normally is similar to other generic overclocking programs.
When someone is overclocking, he generally is working with the CPU, but it also is possible to overclock the bus and motherboard of a computer. This makes many components speed up, though there is a lot of risk when using bus and motherboard overclocking software. The user has to know where all the components are on the motherboard or the program can mess up. At best, the overclocking will not work; at worst, some components will be overclocked too much and will burn out or even explode.
@Soulfox -- it is very true that one should be careful when overclocking, but it is possible to do some research and be safe.
For example, a very common GPU in certain netbooks was slowed down by manufacturers for the purpose of saving power rather than concerns about heat. Overclocking those is generally fine as the only concern is that they might draw down a battery too quickly.
Another thing to be very worried about when it comes to overclocking is too much heat. Even if you have an overclocking program or bit of code made to work with a very specific CPU, there's always the very good chance that the company that made your computer didn't include a cooling system stout enough to handle the additional heat that overclocked CPU will use. When a company makes a computer, it generally designs the cooling system to handle the heat a CPU will generate under normal conditions. Overclocking is not considered normal.
And you might not notice any trouble immediately. It might take a while for an overclocked CPU to build up enough heat to burn up and take a good chunk of your motherboard with it.
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