CPU overclocking is the process of increasing the clock rate at which your CPU operates. The speed of a computer’s processor is commonly measured in units of megahertz (MHz) or gigahertz (GHz).
A higher value indicates a faster processor and, therefore, a better computer. Overclocking your CPU can give you a significant performance boost at the cost of making your computer more likely to experience problems such as overheating and crashing.
The benefits of overclocking are clear: you can increase the performance of your CPU by just simply increasing the clock speed. This allows you to do more work within a shorter period of time. The downside (uncertainty) is that it may shorten the lifespan of your CPU, and it may also make your CPU more unstable.
Why is My CPU Overclocking Itself?
It’s a misconception about how the CPU clock speed works. The CPU isn’t really “overclocking itself”; the system clock is simply running at a higher speed than the rated speed of the CPU. Every Intel and AMD desktop processor has a defined maximum speed at which it will run and with which it was designed to work.
This speed is called the rated or nominal clock speed and is determined by multiplying the base clock (BCLK) by an internal multiplier. But indeed, there are common reasons for a processor to appear to overclock itself; if your CPU is overclocking itself, it is most likely because of the following reasons:
1. BIOS Settings Changed
You might have accidentally changed a setting in your BIOS that is causing your CPU to overclock itself. To ensure you don’t accidentally change any settings when changing something else, go through each section one by one and take a picture of each screen before making changes. That way, you can refer back to the picture if you don’t remember an exact setting.
2. Overclocking by the Manufacturer
Some manufacturers will overclock their CPUs before sending them out. The most common example of this is Intel’s “K” series processors, which are meant for overclocking but do not have a performance boost out of the box unless they are overclocked manually or automatically by their vendor.
This means that in many cases, your CPU will come overclocked already, and you may have purchased a CPU that has already been overclocked past its limits giving you instability or crashes.
Overheating is another reason you might think your CPU is overclocking. This can cause the system to downclock the processor automatically. Downclocking the processor is done to prevent damage to your computer’s processor and other components.
If you find that this is happening, it’s likely because you have a faulty cooler or use a stock cooler without thermal paste. It could also be caused by dust build-up inside your computer case.
4. Aggressive clock speed setting
Another reason would be that you’ve set an aggressive clock speed manually, which means your CPU will be running at this speed all the time (even when it doesn’t need to be). This isn’t good for your CPU life span because it runs hotter and will degrade faster than if it was running at stock speeds.
It also uses more energy, which means worse battery life on laptops and increased power costs for desktop PCs. Summarily, your CPU might not be overclocking itself; it’s just starting up with a different CPU speed. If your motherboard supports it, it will adjust the default speed of your CPU according to a load of your system.
This is called “Intel Turbo Boost.” You can check whether it’s enabled or not by going into your BIOS and looking for a setting called “Turbo Boost” or “Intel Turbo Boost” if it is disabled, the BIOS will start up at the normal speed of the CPU.
5. Does Overclocking Damage The CPU?
Overclocking damages your processor, and you need to take some precautions to avoid damaging your processor. Overclocking a CPU can make your computer faster, but it can also significantly increase the temperature of the CPU, which can lead to damage.
This process is commonly done by gamers who want to improve their performance, but it is also used by people who want to increase the overall speed of their computer.
If you’re looking for ways to speed up your computer, overclocking may be right for you, but it’s essential to do some research before you start overclocking so that you don’t end up damaging your CPU or other components in your system.
Several things can cause damage when overclocking a processor: voltage spikes, thermal throttling, and component failure. In order to prevent these issues from happening, some precautions need to be taken before starting an overclock session with any processor.
Safety Precautions Before Overclocking The CPU
When overclocking, it is important to be careful. Check out the following:
The CPU will get hotter than normal and may require additional cooling. A CPU cooler will typically come with the stock heatsink and fan, but these are usually insufficient when overclocking. You can purchase an aftermarket cooler, such as a liquid-based Cooler Master or Corsair Hydro Series H50 liquid cooling system.
It’s also important to check with your motherboard manufacturer to see if they have a compatible heatsink and fan for your specific model of CPU. Not all coolers are compatible with all CPUs, so this is an important step when overclocking to be sure that you have the right equipment to handle the increased heat output of your CPU.
You should also keep an eye on the temperature of your CPU while overclocking. There are programs from both Intel and AMD that measure temperatures and provide alarms when the temperature reaches dangerous levels. These programs are called Intel Extreme Tuning Utility (Intel XTU) for Intel processors and AMD OverDrive for AMD processors.
- Technical Know-how:
Before you start to overclock the CPU, it is important to understand the whole process. Since overclocking is a trial and error procedure, it can be good to have a clear picture of how the system will behave when different settings are applied. For example, if you are using an AMD processor, you should know that two components control the speed of your computer: the motherboard and the CPU. In this case, you should also know that each has its own independent multiplier. The CPU multiplier is responsible for increasing the CPU’s frequency while the motherboard controls everything else on your PC.
How to Check if CPU is Overclocked?
There are a few methods that can be used to check whether a component is overclocked or not.
1. Check BIOS
One way to do this is by looking at the BIOS of a computer. Although this method may work for some motherboards, it does not work for all. This method may also give false results.
Another way to find out is by using software that detects if a component is overclocked. Many utilities and programs will allow you to check whether your CPU has been overclocked or not, but they can often lead to confusion and doubt. An example of this software is CPU-Z. You can also check if someone else has overclocked your computer or not. Also, if you have an AMD processor, don’t worry, as the same steps can be used for AMD processors.
First of all, open up the Task Manager on your PC. To do so, you need to press “Ctrl + Shift + Esc” at the same time. Alternatively, you can right-click on the taskbar and select the “Task Manager” option.
In the Task Manager, click on the “Performance” tab, and then under the CPU section, look for the “Clock Speed” value. If it is higher than its original value, your CPU is overclocked. For instance, my clock speed shows as 3.70GHz while its actual clock speed is 3.50GHz which means my CPU is overclocked.
If you want to see more information related to your CPU, you need to click on “CPU” from the left pane and then look at the values from the right-side panel, such as Physical Package Count and Logical Processor Count, etc.
How to Disable CPU Overclocking?
- Turn on your PC and go into the UEFI settings. This will be indicated by a message on the screen immediately after turning on your PC. Otherwise, look for the key printed on your motherboard or PC case.
- Find the “overclocking” menu option, which will be different for every motherboard model. If you have difficulty finding it, use Google search with your motherboard model number, plus “overclocking.”
- Disable overclocking in the menu options by setting any overclocking-related options to “Auto.”
- Save and exit from UEFI settings.
How to Safely Overclock Your CPU on Windows?
There are two types of overclocking methods: one is automatic, performed by AMD or Intel itself, and another one is manual overclocking done by users themselves. Automatic overclocking can be done in two different ways:
1. Dynamic Overclocking
These are built-in features that automatically overclock by increasing processor voltage and frequency to achieve a balance between performance and power savings.
2. Precision Boost
It’s a feature included in AMD Ryzen processors that automatically increases your processor’s maximum boost clock depending on workload. Now let’s look at how we can perform manual overclocking on Windows. To safely overclock the CPU, specific steps need to be followed.
Overclocking CPU can be done manually in a very simple way right from your BIOS, no need to use any software. Here is how you do it:
- Enter your BIOS by restarting the computer. Press Del, F2, or whatever key is assigned to enter Setup
- Enable XMP profile
- Press F10 to save and exit your BIOS
- Run Heaven Benchmark for about 15 minutes, check for artifacts such as screen glitches, corrupted shapes, etc.
- If everything goes well, open the benchmark again and take a screenshot of the score. Save it somewhere to compare it later with the results of the next steps
- Now go back into your BIOS and disable the XMP profile
- In BIOS settings, find CPU Core Ratio and set it to manual (usually, there is also an option called Sync All Cores – make sure you enable that)
- Now raise the CPU Core Ratio value by 1 and press F10 to save and exit your BIOS and enter Windows again
- Run Heaven Benchmark and see if everything goes alright again (no artifacts). If not – lower your CPU Core Ratio a little bit until everything goes smoothly again, after which you can try raising it again for better performance.
As we’ve shown, there are many reasons why your CPU could be overclocking itself. Thankfully, the chances are good that you’ll never encounter these issues. But if you’re concerned that this is happening to your computer, it’s best to just shut down the offending program or even restart your computer.
Then go into the BIOS and make sure that everything is set to normal. Remember, too, that trying to do two things at once on the same computer may not be ideal!
Hey, I’m Hammad. I write for this website to help you with the IT advice about PC, RAM, CPU, Motherboard, PSU, and other PC components.
I will provide detailed guides with images, and explain step by step so you can understand the process. Check all my articles here.