Future Tense: The 15% Rule of Overclocking



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  I really enjoyed this article but as for me I don't upgrade aside from my graphics cards for gaming unless there is a major change. I had a pentium 3 until I finally decided to change to an Athlon X2 6400 then I kept that until my current CPU which is an AMD Phenom X4 9950 BE. I won't be upgrading again until there is a need for as of now I can run any game I play(aside from crysis) on ultra high with all AA & AF on at my 1680x1050 resolution. So I am more than happy I see no reason to spend $1200+ for 10-15% performance increase. As I said earlier the only money I spend is about every 1-2 years on a new graphics card. For now though, I am very happy with my HD5770 upgraded from a 4870 for DX11 since I play AVP & BC2.

   Once again really nice artilce, enjoyed reading every word of it!



Here is a perfect example of watch what you read.

this guy never told you what res and settings the gaming he kept talking about took place, and no you will not notice a big difference between 33 and 36 fps but you will between 33 and 50 fps.

secondly was he talking about the cpu ocing while he was talking about the fps business? if so then he must be back in 2000 when everbody's res was still 1200 x 1000 and cpu ocing made a big difference in games, now in days in these higher res of 1600 x 1200 and 1900 x 1200, the gpu makes the biggest difference, far cry 2 with a 920 oced to 3.8 with 2 x 275 can give you 50 to 60 fps at 1900 x 1200 res, now a 920 oced to 3.8 but with 1 x 275 will not give you that, you can oc the cpu to 4.2GHz, and you still not gonna get that.

so if this guys was talking about cpu ocing when he was talking about fps then somebody needs to call him and let him know that the dinosaur era is over, and that he should update his info/data.

Now if he was talking about gpu ocing, then again he was wrong, first off you are not going to get 50 to 60 fps from 1 x 275 @ 1900 x 1200, no matter how much you oc it, just like you are not going to get 50 to 60 fps in far cry 2 at 2560 x 1600 no matter how much you oc a 5870, so to get more fps at today's res, you need a second gpu or a more single gpu solution.

he also never explain what settings, was it highest in the game? what kind of aa and af are we talking about?




1. Of course he does not sit there and watch it, he obviously has a slow processor that takes a long time, so who wants to sit there for hours and watch that. If he had oced his cpu tho, the process would have taken a lot less time and perhaps not long at all so it would not be a matter of sitting there and watching it.

2. this dumbass must barely ever use his pc, cause let me tell you, who the hell wants to sit there and do nothing so the encoding goes as smooth as possible and unlike this dumbass I don't have 2 hours to not be on the computer, somebody let mr. dumbass know that some of us use the pc much more often then his dumbassness.


4. last who decides what is cost effective? maybe going from 2 hours to 1 1/2 is not cost effective to him, but it very well could be to others, his whole article is based on what is going on in his world/life, as if the whole world's life is a duplicate of his.

5. he is doing awful lot of assuming, he is assuming that your cpu runs at 3.3GHz, he is assuming your oc is 3.7GHz. false false false, again out dated. Now in days let me see him get a 920 stock and encode with that at 2.6GHz and I will encode with a 920 oced to 3.8Ghz and lets if he notices the big difference. Or if his argument is that he has a 960, then what cost effectiveness is he talking about? I can get cooling for a 920 and OC it to 3.8GHz for less his 960 cost.

6. somebody explain to this guy that time is money, maybe his time is cheap but the rest of us value our time, even a 10% save on time is a big deal to many people. if ocing saves 10 or 15 minutes or so off of that hour, then thats 15 mintes.

now some of the stuff about fps and eyes being able to tell and all that was true, so that stuff was correct but the main point of the article is stupid/outdated/incorrect and simply dumb.

well I feel better now, I thought my head was gonna explode after reading that, that was a close one


I had to type this people, post like this make my head want to explode, because of bs like this, people dont know the right stuff from the wrong 



...the reasons I build and overclock my own computers are

1.) I enjoy tinkering about with the innards
2.) tuning for that last skosh of speed is, in itself, fun
3.) glass-smooth game video is as satisfying as good chocolate

Even so, I basically agreed with the points you made in your article.




Robert S

I had to go and read the article several times. You do not overclock to get better average FPS. Average is a benchmarking tool to get an easy to see number of how powerful the rig is. It has much less to do with the acual gaming experience. Judging if an overclock is worthwhile is more based on the MINIMUM FPS.  If your average FPS goes from 33 to 38 you will see very little difference in your game. If during intense scenes that push your rig to the limit, your minimum FPS goes from 15 to 20, your gameplay will be vastly improved.

 That is why comparing to film FPS is not entirely valid. Films run at a constant FPS regardless of what is being shown. Games can fluctuate wildly in FPS depending on the scene. Mitigating the slowdowns in minimum FPS is the important part of overclocking. Showing your epeen by bragging about yur average FPS is just that.



kudos to you sir

minimum fps increase is what matters in gaming

to be fair average fps does matter but as a secondary metric


anyways, I consider overclocking as a life-extending upgrade rather than an immediate advantage-maker

my rule on overclocking & upgrades has always been 20% minimum with a margin of error +\-5% so this artile reaffirms me

when overclocking a computer (mine or a friend or customer etc) I always make sure the warranties are all expired on the relevant components in order of relevance:  motherboard  powersupply  graphicard  memory & processor

since the longest warranties for excellent parts (not counting the rare lifetime warranty) are 5 years & that's also about how long you can guarantee relevance in gaming for a well-planned upgrades-in-mind PC overclocking all possible components becomes a free upgrade with no penalties

if the machine dies & has served you well for atleast 4 ifnot over 6 years then who cares if it dies..? if it doesn't you've got a life-extended performance boost for your machine


1 caveat for all who will listen:  what does overclocked\hacked\new\upgraded hardware matter if ou don't optimize Windows? (...or Linux if you'rn't gaming)




Well lets see, my current computer is a stock Dell dimension 2400

intel pentium 4 2.8 Ghz single core processor

512 mb of DDR 166 Mhz RAM

Integrated intel poop-graphics (64 mg of memory)

80 GB ide hard drive

  18 in. monitor at 1152x864


I'm hoping to build a new computer as soon as I get the money ($900) The problem is that I'm 15... but anyway

AMD Phenom II x4 955 quadcore at 3.2 Ghz

4 GB of DDR3 1600 Mhz RAM

ATI radeon 5770 (1 gb of memory)

500 GB Sata hard drive

21.5 in. monitor at 1900x1080


I'm pretty sure that's more than 50% :D 



And, my $220 i7 920 is running at a speed well above a $1000 i7 975. If it frys I can get  anothor one and I am still at half the price. The point is to find the sweet spot. For example, I have had this chip stable at 4.0 Ghz (remember it is a 2.7 Ghz chip) so knowing I have that kind of headroom I backed it down to 3.64 Ghz and I run it that way all the time. The first chip I overclocked was a P-4C and it ran for years at 20% over stock. It never died.

On the other hand, those that do not know what they are doing, or do not want to learn should just run at whatever their Dell or even their more simple apple comes clocked at. Overclocking is a challenge, BMW or Toyota, both will get you there, but why not enjoy the ride as well as the destination.

For me, I love the feeling of acomplishment as well as the screaming fast speeds, not only for gaming but in Photoshop, Acrobat, even having multiple Excell speradsheets pop up right fast.



You didn't mention the GPU, I over-clocked mine and was able to get 4-7 extra FPS on newer games (but not Crysis, but ya' know), I am running a Pent 4 HT 3GHz and an ASUS EAH3440Silent, which is a POS, but is good for most games at 1900x1200 and high or mid textures, so what I am saying is that over-clocking can let you use an older rig like mine, so you can save money for a new kick-ass oen, like I am.



I spent $2000 on a new desktop last month which I bought specifically for future-prrofing and upgradability. I can overclock from 2.66Ghz to 4.09 GHZ out of the box and LEAVE it there at 50% CPU overclock running around 52 Celsius... but even at 2.66 it runs "today's" applications at speeds where a 50% overclock only appears to make a difference that is barely noticable. I cann see a FPS increase of about 20% and definitely some specific application and benchmark increases...but nothing that really "works" my system hard enough to justify such an extreme O/C so far. The i7-920 is easy enough to replace, but if it blew my memory and motherboard then it was not worth pushing it, potentially costing over a thousand in damages.

Now when Gulftown i7-970 ships, that is a big increase in CPU for almost $600 more...is that worth it yet?

Not price or performance wise ....with today's sloppy apps barely using dual-core much less hex-core power!

But it would still be nice to say you have "Gulftown"!

I think upgrading video cards has the greater impact in today's world...I went from a GT9500 to HD5850 which was as big a jump as from Athlon X2 3800 to Core i7-920!

I do wish LAPTOPS were as overclockable and upgradeable :)

 Cyberpower i7-920 O/C 4Ghz
Asetek LCLC120 Liquid

Powercolor Radeon 5850
6GB A-Data 1600 RAM
Asus P6x58d with USB3 / SATA6G
Asus 26" VW266H LCD @1920x1200



Westmere Xeon X56xx series beat Gulftown hands down



If you can do it and make the cpu stable and not run too hot, why not.  

I ran my old E2200 2.2ghz dual core up to 3.0ghz with stock fan and a small voltage increase, that was worth it and it kept cool, I wouldn't overclock anything that went over 60 degrees.

On my q6600 2.4ghz quadcore, I went to 3.0 without increasing voltage at all and just got a 25 dollar fan, it keeps cool.

If you can keep it cold and don't have to pump alot into it, then it's a good deal, buying a 3.0ghz dual core would be pricey, as would a 3.0 quad, in comparison to the ones I have.

It's all about the cpu, if you got a stubborn one that you gotta pump up the voltage alot and it heats up alot, don't bother I say, unless your oc obsessed, hehe. 

As far as I know, if you don't have to increase the voltage much and the cpu still runs below it's recommended temp threshold, your cpu's lifespan should be fine.



6/7/2007 $1400

9/22/2008 Case  Cooler Master Cosmos 1000

EVGA 680i

C2D 6600 @ 2.4GHz

Corsair Dominator 2GB 1066 Ram

EVGA 8800GTS 320MB

Ran all games at Max Settings above 60FPS until Crysis at 1600x1200


Upgrade path:

Step 1

New 27" Dell ultra sharp  @ 1920x1200; Not sure on the date.

4/21/2009 Step 2

Zalman CNPS990, CPU @ 3.3GHz

EVGA GTX 275 Superclocked Edition 896MB

Corsair Dominator 2GB 1066 Ram

I can run all games maxed settings again and stay over 30 FPS


I just build a new Ci5 rig for a friend with an HD 4870 and I am sorry to say I was hoping for a massive improvment when I built it. I was thinking of building my own! After putting it together and running a few benchmarks I still can not justify the cost compaired to my old rig.

When I buy parts to build a full PC I try to get the best bang for the buck without having to OC. At the time I built my C2D rig there was no need to OC. Two years later I was able to OC it with a new graphics card and get a few more years out of her.

So what is my plan now? Well I give my 680i another 2 years before I build another rig. Maybe by then I will see the 50% improvment without having to OC. That should give me another 2 years before OCing will be needed.

Why did I not OC my CPU when I first got it? An OC to 3.3 would not have been worth risking my processors life span for the small yet noticable increase in proformance. After the Graphics card upgrade the OC was more noticable therefore justifiable. Also considering my CPU was closer to death then it was when I built the computer.

PCs are not cheap and I am not rich!



There is no way that 2007 rig will run Crysis at max above 60 fps on any normal resolution under 16X12



I'm using an i5-750 on air cooling

Overclocked from 2,667 to 3,921GHz.

That is a 47% overclock.

Is it worth it? I have to answer, yes.



"It’s my feeling (and I’m willing to hear other opinions on this), that any improvement—whether it’s overclocking or upgrading a video card or even buying a whole new machine—isn’t cost-effective unless you see a noticeable difference."

Overclocking isn't cost-effective? When it's free, everything is cost-effective.

If you were offered two new processors for the same price, one clocked at 3.2 ghz and the other at 3.4 ghz (they are otherwise identical), you really wouldn't care which you purchased? After all, the performance difference isn't enough to make any "preceptible" difference and neither represents a cost benefit, so what should it matter which you get?

On my i5, I can run a 14% faster bclk and not even touch the voltage. Regardless of how preceptible, that's a FREE performance increase with no drawbacks or additional risks. There is so much overhead available in today's processors that even the manufacturers are dynamically overclocking right out of the box!

Why would you leave that overhead on the table? Is it too much effort to go into the BIOS and change a value? Is it too difficult to run a Prime95 session while you sleep?



Burning money is free. It is not cost effective.



I have been on or around computers since late 80's early 90's, only really used them for the core specifics of computing. Around late 90's I found a nitch for them more and more and started to slide away the case and see what kind of gold awaited me. Always been a console gamer my hole life first i ever owned was the 2600 atari. Up until about a year almost, decided to fully commit to the pc, ecspecially now that all the nay sayers are fronting with pc is dead. So overclocking for me i feel is a must, outside of tons of gaming i do, alot of coverting mp4,divix,avi,h246,ect. I figure if i can squezze the extra juice out of my parts to perform safely then why not, as i see it now computers can get quite pricey, for instance im running a 17 920 stock 2.67 now have it running at 3.7, have yet to time my programs speed before and after, however overclocking to me justifies my purchase on a expensive part that much more plus in my mind creates longevity for the part thus I find myself holding onto the part much longer then something stock where in a geek brain,would be telling you its time to move on and pick up something better, faster. All and all when it comes down to it i break it down like this ones whom arent very concerned with overclocking they would be like your console gamer, buy the product no questions asked hit the button and let the show begin, and a pc player is a player that wants to think outside the box, or inside for that matter and wants a customized control and experience for his or her needs. Weather its 5 percent or 15 ill take it, mentally it tells me to hold off cause im getting the maximum performance for my part in tern saves me money and who dont like to save some scratch.



We overclock for practical reasons?!  Let's be honest, most of us do it for the thrill and bragging rights with our nerdy friends, not a slightly better gaming experience and saving time (hardy har har).  That's why my PC has a window and blue lights.  Machizmo!

Let's stop trying to be so mature :)



alrighty everyone, i need some overclocking help. andy help will  be much appreciated.

ive sucesfully overclocked my i7 920 to 3.66 ghz before. ran prime 95 for about an hour. and it did fine.

but  when i put my windows 7 based pc to sleep. it wont wake back up! my system powers on, and the screen stays blank! what have i done wrong? i have it back to factory. and tips advice will be very much appreciated. thankyou!!!

i have the numbers i used in the bios if that would help u diagnose the problem. just let me know!



"Overclocking is only a small improvement, so you don't really need to do it."

Reasoning out fairly obvious things is kind of a waste, isn't it? You feel brilliant, but you've robbed someone else of feeling brilliant.



Myi7 920 stock speed is 2.66GHz. Overclocked with a $60 cooler, I'm seeing 3.6GHZ easy. If I want to allow my CPU to go above 70°C all the time while fully loaded, say to 75-78°C, I can push it to 3.8GHz. Even if I don't push it that high, I still have a 1GHz increase in CPU speed! For $60? Sure, I'll take that! And I'll watch my Work Units in Folding@Home shave over a minute off of each step going from 5m25s per step to 4m10s per step given the same WU number/type. That's helping science and hopefully, humanity. In my mind, I'm REQUIRED to overclock so I can hopefully contribute to a cure for common diseases faster....getting a cure to some one who is ill faster. Hopefully even saving a life! If it cuts my CPU life from 7 years to 4 years to overclock, and it saves a life, it would be criminal to even consider NOT overclocking IMO.And I've completed over 100 WU's with that overclock!

Not to mention the time I can save converting various video types for my different players. Just going from 2.66GHz on this 920 to 3.6 GHz has already shown a 1m12s time savings per movie I convert. When I do 20 movies, you do the math. I need sleep and I need to do things during the day. So that 20+ minutes saved can be better spent watching a bunch of pubescent-raged teenagers beat the hell out of each other in football, my son in amongst the fray. 

Overclocking is worth it to the individual who recognizes the limitations, has reasonable expectations and knows when to say when. Also, you need to have the equipment to do so safely. If the core is capable of running at 1.35v 24/7 and hitting 3.8GHz, why NOT run it that high if you're well within temperature limits? And for games that are hugely CPU dependent and you've gone through the trouble of having SLI or Crossfire, you can really make a 1920x1200 screen fill up with the pretties!

But one true gripe about this column of yours is that you don't take into account the most basic of conditions that would lead a person to overclock. GPU and screen resolutions. You can't just say, "overclocking the CPU by 15-20% really helps gamers. There's WAY more to it than just that. If the guy has an 1280x1024 monitor in front of him, and all he does is game with a GTS250 GPU, there's no reason to overclock a newer CPU running at 2.66GHz.

And why the hell do you title it the 15% rule to overclocking and talk more about upgrading?

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Amd 2100+, AGP nvidia 6600 upgraded to a i7 920 and 9800gtx+ about a yr ago. Now i dont know what percentage increase that is but it was deffinetly noticable :)



 Wow, great read, very interesting.




...But I think different people will want different thresholds:

While a 15% performance increase in certain measures is noticeable, for some people the threshold may be higher (like 20% for me - I once tested this on myself.)

And for yet others, a 1-2% increase in performance may make economic sense even if it does not rate a perceptual measurement.

Personally, I try to not upgrade unless I am at least doubling as many of the major component measurements as a I can. For example, I moved from a 1Ghz P3, to a 2Ghz AMD Athlon64 3200+, to a Core2Quad Q9300 at 2.5Ghz. The first machine maxed out at 512MB PC133 SDRAM RAM, the second at 4GB PC3200 DDR RAM, and the 3rd at 8GB PC2800 DDR2 RAM. And vid cards went from 128MB Nvidia 4600, to 256MB ATI X850 XT, to Nvidia 1GB 9800GX2. Each new machine was a huge increase over the last one, and each actually cost about the same as the one it replaced.

(the old machines were retired to servers on my LAN, and usually run folding@home)



 I have always had a 10-15% rule myself for when it is time to upgrade a component.

For instance,  I have a i7 4 core running at overclocked 3.2 GHz. In order to upgrade my CPU, I am looking for either another core (20%) or 3.7 GHz (after O/C). So one of the new hex cored chips is in my future.

Hard drives? Larger drives when the cost per MB is about the same as what I am using now. Samsung 2TB drives soon.

 Graphics card? Waiting for the  5870 yields to improve and reliability to increase, otherwise I would have upgraded from my GeForce 280.

As for overclocking,  as long as the machine is stable, who cares. A few more watts and possibly some improvement somewhere. Its all perception anyways.

BTW, you can actually UNDER clock a CPU too, y'know. Heh. After all, its not noticeable.



David, great piece!  Keep em coming...

 I've been doing the "home brew" builds and upgrading like a wild banshee for so long I'm too embarrassed to admit it.  Let's just say closing in on 20 years and we'll leave it at that...

With the advent of X58 based boards, low latency triple channel DDR3 and i7's, I made a vow to myself to figure out what I needed for the long haul - commit to it - and not frickin upgrade for at least another 5 years ( on aggregate ), or at least try my hardest not to (with the exception of the vid card in maybe 2 to 3 years).  That aside, the more interesting & compelling angle to all of this was achieving "overclocking within reason" as I like to call it.  My goal was to find balance, throttle back the power when performance wasn't needed, keep forced air cooling noise to a minimum for the most part, have power on reserve when I need it for gaming and encoding, and lastly - get something that has the basis to run Windows Vista and/or Seven with all the bells and whistles in snappy fashion.  I think I've found that and seriously, i7 helped make it happen.  The inherent Turbo Mode overclocking of the i7 975 extreme is an awesome feature in an awesome chip, and in the right mobo  - and coincident to your story - it gives me that 11%  boost on the fly when I need it to keep things crisp and clean in daily activities (meaning non-gaming).  3.33 GHz stock that throttles up and down to 3.7 on the fly is cool because it only makes logical sense (to me anyway) that it has to be way better in the long run for the chipset, the motherboard and the processor.  I'm through with all the "push the processor and mem channel to the maximum extreme and keep it there" mentality; that's a flat out waste of energy, valuable hardware life expectancy and probably most importantly, my personal time [in the pursuit of minimal gain].

Left for Dead 2 flat out kills on my rig and I'm only running an eVGA GTX 285 FTW, 6 GB of OCZ Platinum 1600 DDR3 7-7-7-24 and a couple of Velociraptors in Raid 0.  I'm not knocking those guys hungry to see what they can do,  I've been there and it's a dope ride...but I'm at a point now where it's time to give it some time between redos...on the computer front in addition to the rest of the tech toys.   Don't even get me started on the failings of the LED backlit television fiasco across that industry and now all this talk about BIG HD 3D in every family room!    ...gonna go hurl now...

Ya know, if you read enough overclocking reviews about chips and memory, play around with your own rig and make your own benchmark measurements, and most importantly, really really really pay attention to what makes things boot - load - feel - and appear fast & smooth, then the rest is all just hype with big dollars spent for truly diminishing returns.

                                                                         That's my 2 pesos worth...

My rig:

eVGA X58 760, i7 975, OCZ Platinum tri-channel PC3-12800, eVGA 285 FTW, 2x WD V-Raptors and 1x WD Black 1TB, Sammy LCD T240, Noctua NH-U12P SE2 for socket 1366.

CPU speed ranges anywhere from 1.5 to 3.7 using Turbo Boost automatically with 28 x multipliers - on all 4 cores; temps stay near 27C during mundane day-to-day activities and ramps up to 40-ish on gaming.  IntelBurn passes 50 loops cranking standard test on 8 threads = 100% duty cycle and stable as all get out.  Individual core temps during IntelBurn stay near 70C, with the aggregate CPU temp about 5C lower.  Stock voltages on everything and never experienced any freezes what-so-ever on this rig - seven months running.  So in a nutshell, I get overclocked performance when I need it (automatically) and everything settles down to more reasonable  power (and noise) friendly levels when lurking the interwebs or running general apps.  When I get questioned, "why the heck did you buy a mobo like that if you're not pushing it?" I respond with, "I'm pushing it on demand, via mechanisms built into the hardware to boost things when boost is needed - what's the fuss? I bought the good stuff to get the operational margin to give performance, robustness and reliability."  Can't say enough good things about Turbo Boost technology, that's what I paid for - and the unlocked multiplier capability to take advantage of it when it counts.  Incidentally, I've pushed this air cooled rig to nearly 4 GHz without it breaking a sweat, but 28 x multipliers are more than satisfactory - because as I've already mentioned - why push it further or keep it pushed at the high fixed speed when the perceivable bump in  peformance is a dimishing return.  Moral of the story - figure out what your rig can do on the stable overclock level, then let Turbo Boost and your mobo do it's designed in magic to throttle up and down as needed (assuming i7 obviously).

Anyone that feels compelled to explain why it's necessary to lock a rig in at an overclock speed 100% of the time please chime in - I'm all ears...



i upgraded from a  dual core anthlon at 3.2Ghz to a quad core i7 at 2.6Ghz, then oced that i7 to 4.2Ghz and watercooled. triple the ram from 4 gigs to 12, then go from sli to quad sli.

i have never had a computer that was literally instant, when it came to opening programs, playing games maxed out at insane fps, and multitasking. never having my computer stutter.

 now tell me, when do i need to upgrade? 



Hello David Gerrold,


The heck with PC's.

When oh when are you going to finish the Chtorran series!!!??

I want to still be breathing when I find out what they are!!!!




This article presents an interesting mish-mash of arguments that appear to support each other.

First, gamers are not the only people who benefit from overclocking.  Anyone who is currently pushing their PC to its limits will see a benefit if they increase those limits.  Gamers are an obvious example of this but so are people who use their PCs to, say, rip their movie collection.  If it takes 20 minutes to rip a movie and you can shave 10% off of that time, you're saving 2 minutes per movie.  For a collection of 100 movies, you're saving yourself over 3 hours.  

A developer who needs to compile a large project would similarly benefit.  If you save a minute or two every time you have to recompile, you're saving yourself time AND money.

Next, consider the '15% rule' itself.  My core i5 750 will overclock from 2.66Ghz to 3.1Ghz out of the box with the stock cooler. With absolutely no hardware tinkering or adjustments to voltages, memory timings, or any other esoteric overclocking trickery, I obtained a 17% increase in clock speed.  One setting in the BIOS was changed.  I pushed the base clock from 133 to 155.   That's it. 

Is it worth it?  For $0 and a time investment of about 5 minutes?  Hopefully, anyone who reads this magazine would say yes.

If I add an aftermarket cooler, I expect I can reach 4GHz.  At least, that's what the internet tells me.  So, for $60 and some time spent reading, I net a 50% increase ... this is an increase that my experience tells me will be *very* noticeable. 

Is *this* worth it?  Well, the author agrees that an upgrade should net at least a 50% increase in speed.  For $60, you can do that.

If you want to tinker and have fun, you can build a watercooled system that'll push that number to 60 or 75%.  Is *that* worth it?  Probably not .. unless you enjoy the process as much as the results.



"5 minutes"?

5 *hours*, maybe...



Well, if you think about the massive price difference between the low and high end Core-i7s, you can buy a completely new GPU.  So getting a lower end CPU and overclocking it to the higher end model while getting a second high end GPU in the process is well worth the time and effort.  That would definetly create a perceptible difference.



If I had an extra machine to play with and plenty of free time, I'd probably care.

As it is, I have a nice quiet stable box with a simple air-cooled config. If I decide it needs to go faster, I'll buy new parts.



Me too. 

I used to over-clock my parts until I realized I never noticed any difference. And my computer is fast enough as it is already. 


Edit: I just over clocked my PC from 2.8 Ghz to 3.5 Ghz and definitely see and feel a difference in games and Windows 7 64. I will keep it like this. 



Great article, first of all. First and foremost, I am on my first real high-end gaming system home built from the ground up. In it is an Intel Q6700 CPU, A GTX260 GPU, and 4GB DDR2-800 ram. I mention those because as far as I know they are the only over-clockable components of the system.

 At stock speeds, the CPU ran at 266mhz fsb (= 2.66ghz), and the ram was locked to the same. However, for  $40 for a cooler, I took that and pegged the fsb at  310mhz (3.1ghz), and unlocked the ram, letting it go from 266mhz to 387. 


So I got almost exactly 16% more on the cpu,  and a whopping 45% increase on the ram. THAT makes a tangible difference in boot times and especially photoediting. 


AS for the GPU, the GTX260 is an overclocked version from BFG, and I measured the difference between the overclocked clocks and the reference GTX260 clocks, and on avreage got about 5-7 extra fps.  On high-end games that stress that card, 5-7fps can make a big difference. For example, the extra horsepower let me put an extra level of post-processing, OR shaders on in Crysis and FarCry2.

 My opinion is that system-wide low-level overclocking is easy, and when added up CAN make a huge difference in SOME applications, and so little reason NOT to try out. But it's very app and user-specific. 



even if one increase is only 11% that may or may not be the only thing you do to the system. you may make a few tweaks.

one improvement for 11% another for 4% and one more yet for 7% may just be adding 22% difference within the entire setup.

the other argument is if you have some of the best equipment available, pushing it one step further.


finally. just the act of upgrading and tweaking can be a hobby :) 

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