The big takeway with overclocking is the "Frequency Degradation". Also overclocking may void your PC warranty and an overclocked CPU will breakdown more quickly.
If you optimize your entire PC with one of the better system tune-up utilities, you'll safely experience a boost in the overall speed of your computer. If it doesn't work out for you, simply uninstall it. Using a PC optimizer (described below) was by far the easiest, the most effecient, and certainly the safest of all the things we did to speed up our computers.
Especially considering, with overclocking if you make a mistake that overheats your CPU - there's no uninstall or undo function to repair a burnt out processor. It's pretty obvious which method I prefer, but I want to go into more detail on the pros and cons of overclocking versus using a computer boosting program.
CPU Overclocking Risks
Various settings within your system's BIOS can be adjusted to overclock you CPU bus speed. This will allow you to run your processor faster than it was intended which can be an extremely dangerous thing to do.. The terrifying result can be an overheated processor that will eventually heat up and actually melt onto your board. The quick fix is to install a larger fan, but overclocking also voids your warranty and there's no quick fix for that.
Overclocking will make your cpu work much harder and the temperature will increase. Then your PC may overheat and become unstable which will cause system crashes. If your overclocked processor does work for a time, its days are probably numbered because electro migration (interconnect failure) will eventually destroy your cpu. Of course it may not happen at all - you may discard the CPU before failure occurs. Over clocking simply raises the odds against your CPU fulfilling its' lifetime duration at a faster pace than intended. Obviously a soon to be replaced computer is a prime candidate for excessive overclocking.
Now, I'm not against overclocking completely. I believe a slight overclock is fine, but pushing your CPU too far, may eventually lead to hard-to-diagnose problems. On a positive note, today's modern processors do have silicon fail-safes built in to protect the CPU, but even then, you're still running past the tested safety range of the chip.
So if you overclock, I recommend a light touch. You'll get slightly better performance and keep things cool. If you do a maximum overclock, consider water cooling to reduce the heat - but even that may not help with the continual frequency degradation that can bring hard to track down errors.
To get a safer speed boost, speed up your PC with optimization software that will keep your hardware calm and cool, while safely boosting your CPU, RAM, and Internet to faster performance levels. There's a lot of bottlenecks within Windows, and the safe and steady performance gains available through PC optimizer programs (discussed futher below) exceed dangerous overclocking. It's also far easier, click a button and you're optimized versus going through your complicated BIOS and reading numerous online opinions on the best voltages to use. Unfortunately, every processor is different and there is no solid advice that can be correctly given for your exact CPU. Overclocking requires a lot of "trial and error", or as I like to say, "trial and risk".
There's also a danger of fire along with the loss of one of the most expensive components in your PC. Not worth it for minimal speed gains in our opinion and that is why we will not attempt to show you how to overclock.
However, there are a few tech sites online with detailed guides on how to overclock and boost your CPU speed if you want to go into those risky waters. Just make sure the instructions deal exactly with your motherboard. Your search would begin by finding out the exact make and model of your motherboard. Then carefully read a few articles first to gain a proper understanding of the entire process - don't jump in ill-prepared or you could end up frying your CPU.
Of course there is a sweet spot when overclocking makes a little more sense. Usually processors in the lower range are produced with the same manufacturing process as the CPUs sold in the mid to high range. The higher rated CPUs are factory overclocked and tested, then sold for a premium. Many will get the cheaper processor and boost the CPU speed to nearly the same levels of the premium ones. This works only, and only if, you are lucky enough to get a CPU that just missed the premium cut during initial factory testing. Sometimes, you will be stuck with a CPU that only overclock's slightly above its' rating. The BIOS of your motherboard is the control station for overclocking and many new PCs sold today offer enhanced versions just for the purpose of overclocking.
Should I Overclock or use a PC Optimizer?
You can boost CPU speed and everything else on your PC with an optimization program that speeds up your system to the maximum. It's far safer than overclocking and it will actually promote stability. Faster CPU performance, program launches, boots, shutdowns, increased Internet speed, optimized RAM, and even a more compact registry file. Best of all, you don't need to overclock - ie: overheat any hardware components or void your PC warranty.
Even if you do decide to overclock, the best PC optimizer that I found - out of the 32 I tried, was still providing exceptional speed increases with or without overclocking - so I just turned my CPU back to default and used the optimizer software. Now my PC stays cool, quiet, and is much faster than before.
The final decision is yours to make. If your PC is an older one that you know has limited life remaining, maybe now is a good time to risk overclocking to get a little more speed out of it. If your PC is fairly new and still under warranty, overclocking may break your warranty - in this case, an optimizer certainly makes more sense.
You may also want to read the details on WiseCare 365 Pro for even more information on how the best optimizer of this year can help you safely gain speed without overclocking.
SpeedupNew (a collaborative effort by our team)
All of our writers have over a decade of experience reviewing software, tweaking, and just flat out enjoying their computers. We treasure our PC's just like you do. We're here to help you get the most out of your computer.