How to Overclock an Intel Processor (CPU)

Want to know how to overclock your Intelprocessor? Take a read through our guide to learn how. We’ll offer step by stepinstructions to get overclocked and some guidance on how to keep things withina safe overclock level.

By the end of this article, not only will you know how to overclock your CPU, but you’ll feel confident when doing it. Make sure to also check out our accompanying guide on how to overclock your GPU .

Can I Overclock my Intel CPU?

Before we begin, you need to know whether it’sactually possible to overclock your specific Intel CPU. Thankfully, that’s veryeasy to find out. Essentially, there are two types of Intel processors – nonoverclocked versions, and the K or X variant, which is overclockable.

For example, I have the Intel I7-7700K, whichis overclockable. The I7-7700, on the other hand, isn’t overclockable. If youaren’t sure what your model is, follow the steps below.

  • Open the Windows Start Menu.
  • Type ‘dxdiag’.
  • Click on dxdiag.
  • On the system tab, look for processor.
  • You will see your processor namehere

See K or X in your processor name? Then you’regood to go! If not, you’ll need to purchase an overclockable CPU before you canfollow this guide.

For reference, above is an example of what youshould be looking for.

What You Need to Overclock Your Intel CPU

Before we begin, you’ll need some software andhardware to test everything is running in place. You’ll need the following.

  • Prime95 for CPU stress testing.
  • Core Temp for CPU temperature monitoring
  • A better cooler for better temperature

The stock cooler that comes with your IntelCPU isn’t great, and it won’t do enough to keep your processor cool if you planto overclock it. Because of this, it’s highly advised you purchase a goodaftermarket cooler.

There are plenty of reasonably priced items onAmazon. One popular option is the air cooled Hyper 212 EVO. If you’d prefer toget lower temperatures, try the all in one water cooled Corsair Hydro H100. TheHyper 212 EVO costs $35 whilst the Hydro H100 will set you back $120.

Once you have a better cooler and the softwaredownloaded from above, it’s time to run a stress test to ensure everything isstable. First, open Core Temp. Next,look in the far right corner of your taskbar – ‘click the show hidden icons button.’

You will now see some fluctuating numbers –these show the temperature of the cores on your CPU. An example has been providedabove.

When your CPU is idle, or isn’t running any incredibly demanding tasks, you should be aiming for temperatures between 25 and 35 degrees celsius. If you are getting higher temperature, you should consider cleaning your cooler or upgrading it before trying to overclock.

Overclocking your CPU will cause it to increase in temperature, but if it gets too hot its performance will be reduced to lower the temperature, or there could be stability issues that could crash your PC.

Next, openPrime95. When opening for the first time, click ‘just stress testing’ on the prompt that appears.

Choose ‘blend’ and then click OK. Your PC will now be put into a stress test. All other programs may run slowly during this test, so you should close everything down for the meantime.

It’s advised to run the stress test for 5-10 minutes. During this time, you should be monitoring your CPU temperature with Core Temp.

Your temperature should slowly rise as theblend test runs, but eventually it will hit a wall and level out. This willgive you a rough idea about how far you can push your CPU overclock. Once thishappens, you can stop the test. To stop the test, click ‘Test’ in Prime95 at the top left and then click ‘stop’.

Ideally, you do not want to be going higherthan 70 degrees celsius. Realistically, you want to be going for as low aspossible. Once you overclock your CPU, the temperatures will go higher than thetemperature you have now.

Running Your First Overclock – The Easy Way

Now that your Prime95 test is complete, it’stime to run your first overclock. To do this, you must shut down your PC andopen the BIOS settings. You’ll be given a number of options to choose on thebootup screen, and usually the BIOS setup key will be F1, F2, or Delete. Pressit as soon as you spot which key it is.

Once you are in the BIOS, you can follow thesteps below to make your first overclock. Please note that all BIOS menus aredeveloped differently and some have more convenient overclocking features. Youwill need to find the equivalent options to what I suggest below – they shouldbe quite easy to find.

First look for ‘Advanced frequency settings’ or similar.

In here, you’ll see a number of options. Ifyou want the easiest solution, try ‘CPU Upgrade’ or Auto Overclock, or anythingsimilar.

Take a look at the image above for an example.With such a feature, you can let your motherboard automatically overclock yourCPU. For testing purposes, I tried to take my 4.2GHz processor and upgrade itto 4.8GHz.

For the next step, reboot your PC, then openPrime95 again. Run the same Blend test as before. Whilst running, check yourprocessor clock speed by following the steps below.

Rightclick the Windows button at the bottom right.

Click‘Task Manager’.

Clickon the Performance tab on Task Manager.

Makenote of your ‘Speed’ on the CPU tab.

If it worked successfully, you should see yournew speed.

As you can see above, my speed shows 4.79GHzonce under full load, despite my ‘Base speed’ still showing 4.2GHz.

You should now let the test run for at least 2hours to test for stability issues. Whilst the test is running, keep an eye onyour temperature regularly with Core Temp to see how things are performing. Atthe same time, do not open any background apps because your CPU will be pushedto the max.

After the test has run for 2 hours, you canask yourself the following questions:

  • Did you get any errors withPrime95?
  • Did you get a blue screen?
  • Were your temperatures on CoreTemp above 80?

If the answer to all of the questions above isno, it’s time to test your CPU in games, streaming, or video editing.Hopefully, you shouldn’t run into any problems. If you do go above 80, bluescreen, or get a Prime95 warning/error, try with a lower setting in the BIOS.

Pushing Your Overclock – The Manual Way

The following method should only be triedafter you’ve tried the automatic method and you’re still not happy with yourperformance.

This method will require you to run Prime95tests regularly as you incrementally increase your CPU voltage and max clockspeed.

  • For the first test, restart your PC.
  • Enter the BIOS when prompted.
  • Open the ‘Advanced frequency’ section orsimilar like before

In this tab, you’ll see information regardingto your current CPU performance.

The two important stats to make notice of arethe CPU base clock (BCLK) and either the multiplier or Clock Ratio. It candiffer on different BIOS menus.

In my case, it’s CPU Base Clock and CPU ClockRatio, as shown above. The CPU Base Block is multiplied by the ratio/multiplierto get your clock speed. For example, 42×100.00MHz. You should only increaseyour ratio/multiplier for stability reasons. We’d recommend starting with a change to 47 (4.7GHz).

Next, lookfor ‘Advanced Voltage’ settings or ‘CPUVoltage.’ Change this to 1.25, or, if it’s already defaulted at a highervalue, leave it there.

Next,save and exit and then reboot yourPC. Run Prime95 for 2 hours. RunCore Temp to monitor temperatures. If you blue screen, get warnings, oryour temperature goes above 80, go back to your BIOS and change the multiplierdown a little.

If you don’t run into any problems, you cantry to push your performance a little further. Once in the BIOS again, move your voltage to 1.30 and try topush your multiplier to 49 (4.9GHz).Save and exit and run Prime95 again.

Realistically, you’ll be lucky to get your CPUperforming higher than this unless you have a very good cooling system. Youmust increase your voltage to get higher clock speeds, but this increasestemperature drastically.

We would advise not ever going above a 1.40voltage, but 1.35 is reasonably safe. With this voltage, you may be able topush your CPU to 5.0GHz, 5.1GHz, or maybe even higher.  Every time you increase your voltage andmultiplier, you must run the Prime95 tests again. It’s important you test forstability before playing games or running other processor intensive tasks.

Summary

Thanks for reading our Intel overclocking guide. Didthis guide help you? If not, or if you have any questions, leave a commentbelow and I’ll get back to you when I c