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Overclocking is a pastime for many people out there and they are always searching for the best equipment to get that last point in 3DMark or that extra few FPS in Unreal Tournament. The first thing I will note and will continue to note: “Overclocking voids your warranty.” “To overclock is madness”—Dave Pender (N715DP)

With that said, the best overclocks are usually achieved because of three reasons:


  1. The right equipment and money to purchase more when the current dies or becomes slower than you want it to be.
  2. Luck.
  3. Luck.

While this is all fine and dandy, choosing the right equipment has quite an effect on your overclock. Buying the fastest equipment out on the market and trying to push it way beyond its limits usually doesn’t work. Because of the way processors are produced, sometimes the manufacturer will label a processor differently even though the processor is capable of doing much higher speeds. A good example of this was with the 1700+ Thoroughbred-B (Tbred-B from now on) chips. Most of the chips were really 2600+ Tbred-Bs, but due to market conditions and supply/demand, they were re-labeled and sent out the door as 1700+ chips. Soon, overclockers found this out and instead of buying higher priced 2600+ chips, they bought the 1700+ chips in hope of getting a 2600+ relabeled chip (this is where the luck comes in).

Another key factor in overclocking is your motherboard…and there are a few companies that overclockers feel are more reliable over all others. Abit and EPoX come to mind when I think of overclocking boards. Chipsets are also important (as well as chipset steppings—but that’s pretty deep), and NVIDIA and VIA lead those two categories for overclockers.

RAM is yet another important factor in how far you can overclock as you’ll want to have a synchronous FSB / RAM clock speeds to ensure the fastest combination. More on RAM in a second – it’s the next section.

PSUs (Power Supply Units) are also a factor in overclocking and when overclocking you should always run a reliable PSU from a good company. Antec, PC Power & Cooling, and Enermax make that list in my opinion. As for the wattage, if you get a good 400w power supply you will be fine. I emphasize good because a generic 400w PSU will actually work a lot worse than say a 300w or 350w Antec PSU.

Heatsinks and fans are yet another important part of overclocking. One company stands above the rest when it comes to air cooling: Thermalright. With their successful lines such as the SK-6, SK-7, the infamous AX-7, and the SLK series, Thermalright has proved that they know how to cool a processor. Fans are generally a personal preference thing as you may be able to deal with more noise than some or vice versa. I personally think that Panaflo makes awesome fans. They have a fairly high output with low noise. Other small things such as the type of thermal compound have a slight effect on your cooling as well. The well known Artic Silver line of thermal compounds is the market standard, and they are hard to beat. One weapon that overclockers use to battle heat (your worst enemy while overclocking) is liquid cooling. Refer to our Liquid Cooling Forum for more on that as I have never tried it. Another more potent weapon against heat is super cooling. There are several variants of super cooling. The common ones are Liquid Nitrogen and phase change cooling devices such as the Vapochill or the Prometeia.

“Overclocking voids your warranty.” “To overclock is madness”—Dave Pender (N715DP)

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