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A beginner’s guide to unlocking more performance

Overclocking an Intel or AMD processor is a best practice to get the most out of your computer. Older systems can go far beyond what the manufacturer specified at the factory. Modern processors usually have boost technologies built in that allow for some degree of stock overclocking, but you can still push it further with the appropriate supporting hardware. Even the most powerful processor on the market will still have room to slightly increase clock speeds and adjust other metrics to extract more performance.

But doing so won’t matter much if you’re not using the best hardware elsewhere in your system. It is important to consider overclocking your computer as a whole, as well as the CPU.

You need to overclock the CPU

The most important part of overclocking a CPU is to make sure it actually supports this feature because not all processors are capable of overclocking. Intel identifies overclocking-capable Core CPUs with the “K” suffix – such as the Intel Core i9-13900K. The “KF” processor also supports overclocking but does not come with integrated graphics.

For AMD, things are much more straightforward as every Ryzen desktop processor can be overclocked. If you have a locked processor, we recommend that you do not perform any kind of overclocking. Indeed, Intel Previously warned about overclocking CPUs other than K Alder Lake.

It is also important to make sure that the motherboard is able to provide enough stable power to the chip and it will be able to handle the overclocking. A $150 motherboard won’t be able to push the latest $500 powerful AMD and Intel processors, for example.

Then there is the chipset. Some are unable to perform any overclocking or are limited to memory modules. For example, you can only overclock Intel processors with their Z-series chipset. Finally, you’ll need a decent CPU cooler. It doesn’t have to be the best, but the TDP should be higher than the default value listed for your chip. We recommend using the AIO with at least a 240mm radiator. Do Not Use the included stock file.

Last but not least, it is important to evaluate power consumption to see if the capacity of the PSU is sufficient to keep the show running. Take a look at our roundup of the best power supplies to find some good options.

How to overclock an intel cpu

We always recommend looking at your motherboard’s BIOS to apply overclocking, which can usually be achieved automatically. On how to enter your motherboard’s BIOS (usually by pressing the delete key during startup), be sure to check your motherboard’s manual. For this guide, we will be using Intel’s Extreme Tuning Utility (XTU) to overclock the CPU. You can download this free program here.

Performance and core temperature tests

One of the first things you need to do is find out your core temperature and your CPU performance. This will allow you to determine performance gains after a successful overclock. You can hit the “Run Benchmark” button on the Benchmarking tab to see a few things about your CPU, such as its maximum frequency and maximum temperature. You’ll also get a score at the end of this test, which can serve as your base score before overclocking.

Intel Extreme Tuning Utility

NB: If your CPU temperature crossed the 80-degree mark during the baseline test, it probably isn’t a good idea to proceed without a cooler upgrade. Overclocking the CPU from this point will cause the temperature to increase and push it further towards TJMax values. Accessing the TJMax can be considered “by design” with the latest CPUs, but we recommend always running a chip cooler, if possible.

From here, you can either start with “Basic Tuning” to adjust a limited set of parameters or dive deep into “Advanced Tuning” to tweak more options, including Vcore, Core Ratio, and more.

Basic tuning with Intel Extreme Tuning Utility (XTU).

When it comes to core tuning, you’ll see the “Core processor ratio” and “Processor cache ratio” sliders. Either way, we recommend gradually increasing the slider in small steps. Increase it by 1x, restart, and check for stability before increasing again, rather than making drastic changes. The “Processor Cache Ratio” slider adjusts the frequency of the part of the CPU that connects the cores to the processor cache.

We recommend keeping both sliders at about the same frequency, but it’s free to experiment as long as you don’t make drastic changes all at once.

Basic configuration of the Intel Extreme Tuning Utility

Advanced tuning with Intel’s Extreme Tuning Utility (XTU).

This tab will allow you to dig deeper into more settings, but we don’t recommend tweaking it unless you know what you’re doing. It’s designed for more advanced users, so it’s best to stick with the basic tuning if you’re new. Within this setting, you’ll be able to change things like the processor core ratio for each individual core, Vcore (Core Voltage), and more. You can also change the multiplier for all CPU cores at once, so feel free to explore this option.

Vcore tuning is crucial to overclocking, as the CPU requires more power to run at higher speeds and keep it stable. Here, you can also use Core Voltage Offset if you don’t know the default Vcore for your CPU. As with every other change, it’s best not to exceed 0.05V changes at a time while increasing the Vcore. Even under the advanced configuration setting, we only recommend changing the processor core ratio, processor cache ratio, and core voltage for most users.

Advanced tuning from Intel Extreme Tuning Utility

Once you think you’ve made enough changes and made sure everything is stable, it’s time to see how much you’ve improved compared to your baseline numbers. You can check the performance improvement by running the XTU benchmarks again. You can keep tuning until you reach the desired level of performance for your system.

Intel Core i5-13600K
Intel Core i5-13600K

Intel’s Core i5-13600K is a great processor for the price. It’s fully open, has a hybrid core design, and can be pushed hard with less cooling. We recommend starting here on your Intel overclocking journey.

How to overclock an amd cpu

AMD Ryzen 7 7700

Source: XDA-Developers

The steps involved in overclocking an AMD CPU are pretty much the same as with Intel chips. The program, however, is different. We recommend BIOS or AMD Ryzen Master utility for beginners. You can download the latter here. Ryzen Master works fine with many AMD chipsets, but those using a relatively older AMD processor (released before 2017) can use the AMD Overdrive tool instead. It is very similar to the Ryzen Master tool, so the steps will remain mostly the same.

Performance and core temperature tests

Before we begin, it’s important to run some stress tests to determine the baseline performance and temperature of the chip you’re using. You can use Ryzen Master’s built-in stress tester or download a third-party benchmarking application such as Cinebench R23And CPU-Z, and more. Ensure that the CPU temperature does not exceed 80 degrees during the test. You may want to upgrade to a CPU cooler before proceeding with overclocking if this is the case.

CPU tuning with AMD Ryzen Master

AMD Ryzen Master

As part of our beginner’s guide, we’ll only look at the basic options. The first thing you need to do is switch Control Mode from Manual. This will allow you to manually set the clock speed and voltage for overclocking. AMD Ryzen Master will allow you to adjust clock speeds directly without having to use multipliers. Again, we recommend setting clock speeds in 50MHz increments. You can press “Apply and Test” after each build to allow the program to build and test.

AMD Ryzen master tuning

You can also increase CPU voltage to improve overall overclocking stability. However, higher voltages will increase temperatures, so be careful what you wish for and only make small adjustments. Once enough adjustments have been made, we recommend running some benchmarks for 30 minutes to an hour to ensure CPU stability and temperatures are below acceptable limits.

AMD Ryzen 5 7600

Source: AMD

AMD Ryzen 5 7600

The AMD Ryzen 5 7600 may be AMD’s entry-level processor with a TDP of just 65W, but you can push this chip hard. It’s well-suited for gaming, as well as other intensive applications once you bump up the settings with stable overclocking.

Get the most out of your computer

Overclocking your CPU, as you can see, is fairly simple, but it’s always a good idea to do a little research on your CPU to see its limitations or potential issues you might run into while overclocking. You can also head to XDA Computing Forums To discuss the potential overclocking ability of your chip or see what others have achieved with similar processors. Remember to change the settings only in small increments and run at least a short test series after making any changes.

If you experience crashes or if your computer restarts, there’s a good chance you’ve overdone it. Then you stop and go back and make the necessary adjustments. It should be noted that laptop processors generally cannot be overclocked unless otherwise noted. This is because laptops have thermal limitations and you can’t change the entire cooling solution for overclocking safely. If you think your laptop is showing its age, you may want to consider upgrading its memory or storage. If not, it might be time to get a new one. We’ve got plenty of laptops to recommend, so be sure to check out our roundup of the best gaming laptops, best AMD Ryzen laptops, and more. good luck!

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