Beginner's guide to putting some extra zap into the CPU

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 22 May, 2001, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 22 May, 2001, 12:00am

Ever feel you needed a bit more speed from your processor? Would you like to squeeze a few hundred extra megahertz from your slow CPU? No matter how much you invest in buying a desktop, the sad fact is that within a few months, you will wish you had waited for something faster.


There are, three certainties in life - death, taxes and a slow computer.


The cost of additional fans, replacement power supplies, heat sinks and increasingly sophisticated thermoelectric modules, water or vodka-powered cooling systems can make the cost of a new PC seem a bargain.


But for the typical overclocker, it is not about saving money. For many, it is an end in itself.


If you want to play safe, the first source you should visit for overclocking information is the home page of your computer or motherboard maker. After all, they not only made the machine, they also write and update the drivers. Naturally, this tip does not apply to Intel's motherboard pages.


If you are new to the science of over-clocking, one good starting point is Overclockers.com (www


.overclockers.com). This site has almost all you could need to learn about boosting your system, from good beginners' advice, through to equipment reviews and user experiences.


Overclockers also offers some thought-provoking articles on why overclockers do what they do, and why Intel and AMD appear to tolerate the practice, when they probably could find easy ways to stamp it out.


Overclocking is not its main strength, but Tom's Hardware has a good introductory guide to the topic (www.tomshardware.com /guides/overclocking/index.html).


The art of overclocking has changed a great deal since the days when some courageous users would hack jumpers or sockets on their motherboards to achieve the desired effect.


These days, with PC components growing ever more powerful, you can cook more than just your CPU. Users are now cooking video cards, sound boards and even Ram.


Overclockers Australia (www.overclockers.com.au) has information on every aspect of clocking and cooling.


One of the most interesting features on this site is the Overclockers Australia PC Database, which features about 1500 entries ranging from the humble Intel Celeron 266 which was revved up to 400MHz, to a Pentium 4 which was boosted from 1500MHz to 1840MHz.


The database can be searched by using simple, drop-down menus and text forms, and also update information on your own overclocking efforts. Database results can offer both photographs and a huge range of detail.


Most of today's CPUs already produce an inordinate amount of heat, and one of the biggest dangers when overclocking a PC is frying, or even setting fire to your system.


In a city like Hong Kong, where homes can become ovens during the summer, the issue becomes even more crucial. For the truly dedicated overclocker, this means more than just a bigger fan to cope with screeching silicon.


Inevitably, the overclocking movement has spurred an entire industry to produce cool solutions to hot chips.


According to the Overclockers Hideout (www.overclockershideout.com) even porn star Asia Carrera has a hot CPU. And they have the photos to prove it.


The site also sells some quite remarkable chip cooling devices.


Club Overclocker, at www.cluboverclocker.com offers a wide range of good reviews and forums to discuss overclocking and cooling devices.


Unfortunately, the site offers little for learners. To get full access to the site, you must become a member, and membership is restricted to the extreme PC enthusiast. If your PC is not overclocked, you can't come in.


FrozenCPU.com (www.frozencpu.com) offers an impressive array of devices for the dedicated speed freak, from cases with multiple fans to LCD temperature gauges that slot into a standard five-drive bay.


Heatsink Factory, at www.heatsinkfactory.com is another site with a huge catalogue of cooling devices, ranging from funky fans and compact cables to thermal grease and 'extreme cooling' devices.


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