Most computer CPUs and GPUs come from the factory with a maximum speed setting certified by the manufacturer. Running your computer within those speed limits and with proper cooling ensures that your computer performs without problems.
However, the nominal clock rate given by the manufacturer is more often than not never nearly the upper limit of the actual CPU and GPU performance limit.
There is still some performance reserve that you can tap into if you need more speed. This is where overclocking comes in.
Overclocking is the process of setting a higher multiplier or clock rate, typically within the computer’s BIOS.
In doing this, it forces the CPU and or GPU to handle more operations per second, thereby increasing the speed of the processors and the overall speed of the system.
While overclocking opens up more performance from your CPU and or GPU, the excess heat built poses a reliability and longevity risk to the processors.
One must take proper steps to monitor and manage the additional heat load to mitigate the reliability issues occasioned by excess heat production and build-up.
Additionally, the power source must be tweaked to provide ample power to meet the higher electrical current demand. Failure to consider these aspects might result in the total failure of the processor or CPU in general.
Moreover, because the performance of the whole system depends also on the speed of the RAM, you must take into consideration the memory speed aspect as well.
If RAM is not fast enough to store and process the faster data throughput coming from the processors then your whole system will suffer. That is where RAM overclocking is also another important aspect to consider for better overall system performance.
So, why would you want to overclock your CPU or GPU and risk its failure? The obvious reason for overclocking is to get more performance from your computer in general.
Overclocking comes in handy when running particularly demanding programs. On the other hand, overclocking your GPU comes in handy when gaming. An overclocked GPU can help yield smoother action and produce better graphics much more reliably.
Herein we will explore 20 of the best overclocking software for CPUs, GPUs and RAM to help you reliably and safely overclock your hardware. The list below is in no particular order.
The MSI Afterburner is a staple GPU overclocking tool among overclocking enthusiasts owing to the wide variety of features it offers users.
For instance, it provides an incredibly detailed report of the hardware. It is compatible with most of the graphics cards out on the market. Moreover, this free overclocking program gives users full control of their graphics card via a user-friendly UX interface.
The user interface also provides users with real-time clock speed, temperature, voltage, and usage of the GPU report. Another notable feature worthy of mention is the custom fan profile to strike the perfect balance between heat and performance.
AMD Overdrive is arguably one of the best overclocking software available today. With the capability to overclock and fine-tune your CPU and memory, the software takes a comprehensive approach to overclocking systems.
For RAM overclocking, the program has pre-tuned settings and memory profiles that help you boost DDR3 performance.
On the other hand, for CPU overclocking, the software offers an automatic overclocking and clock tuning function based on your system’s capabilities.
Importantly, the utility allows users to monitor the voltage, memory timing, and memory clock performance in real-time. You also get automatic stability tests and control running to ensure your system stability all-through.
The Precision X 16 is the latest in the long line of high-performance GPU overclocking software from EVGA.
As such, it not only builds on a line of tried and tested overclocking software, it comes from reputable software developers renowned for producing innovative software.
Precision X 16 is not different. It is designed for graphics card fine-tuning with GPU, Voltage, and Memory controls. The software is also designed to support Microsoft DirectX 12 API.
Other notable features include custom fan carve and fan control, OSD interface with RGB color support, custom system profiling with up to 10 profiles available using hotkeys, Pixel Clock Overclocking, and much more.
The CPU-Z is a free software designed to profile and monitor systems RAM, CPU, motherboard chipsets, and other hardware components.
It can gather information on memory size, timing, and type, and module specification. Importantly, it can monitor the core frequency and memory frequency, CPU temperature, CPU load, and the fan speed.
With this capability, it is mainly used for monitoring, documenting, and validating clocking speed after you have overclocked your system.
The GPU-Z software is a lightweight free software with the ability to monitor and document the performance of the graphics processor and video card.
In some regard, GPU-Z is for Graphic cards whereas CPU-Z is for CPUs and memory (although they are created by two different developers).
The GPU-Z can support leading GPU brands such as Intel graphics, AMD, ATI, and NVIDIA, allowing users to validate and document the performance of their product.
The software has a simple, user-friendly interface through which it displays information on GPU performance, including default clocks, overclock, and 3D clocks (if available). The software has a load testing feature that verifies the PCI-Express lane configuration.
The Nvidia Profile Inspector is a lightweight freeware produced by a third party developer for use with their range of GPUs.
The 129 KB software features all the necessary functionality that GPU users need to track the performance of their Nvidia GPUs. For instance, within its three tabs, users can track the performance of the GPUs and their fans and also manage their GPU overclocking and fan speed.
The software automatically detects the graphics card you are using and create an in-depth profile of your GPU and its current configuration. Users can set the GPU frequencies according to their needs. Additionally, users can set the fan speed or use the automatic mode available.
Intel XTU software was developed by Intel for use in overclocking, performance tuning, and performance monitoring of some of the latest CPUs.
The performance tuning software has features that allow Intel CPU users to overclock and monitor their systems. The program uses a set of capabilities that are common to overclocking and performance tuning software as well as capabilities proprietary to some of Intel’s products, especially the Intel® Motherboards and Intel® Application Processors.
The Ryzen Master is a performance tuning and overclocking software designed by AMD specifically for their products. Given that every AMD CPUs and GPU is multiplier enabled by default, AMD products users can use this software to fine-tune the performance of their AMD CPUs, GPUs, and memory.
If you are looking to personalize performance for various applications, this utility provides for up to four different profiles.
This feature is available for their integrated Radeon™ Vega graphics and Ryzen™ CPU and any DDR4 memory. Within each profile, users can adjust the memory timings, graphics frequency, and optimize the cores to suit the intended application.
On the overclocking front, the software allows users to overclock their AMD CPU cores and RAM for improved performance.
Finally, the utility comes with a status monitoring capability, giving you a real-time status report of your system and its performance. For instance, the reporting feature gives you information on the clock rate of each core, the temperatures, and much more.
The CPU Tweaker 2.0 is a lightweight CPU tuning software. Despite being lightweight, it is also powerful with regards to speed improvement and processor performance optimization.
The software allows users to fine-tune the memory timing on CPUs with integrated Memory Controller. Other features it ha include VDimm and VCore support and a user-interface for performance monitoring.
It is important to note that while the tool is powerful, it is equally hard to get to grips with. It is not designed or optimized for novice CPU overclocking and performance fine tuners.
MemSet 4.1 is a lightweight system tweaking software designed for memory tweaking only. The tool is capable of changing the memory timing to improve system performance and fine-tune the performance to better suit your needs and application.
While powerful, this free software is not the easiest memory tweaker to use. You have to be adept in system optimization and overclocking to utilize this software effectively.
The SAPPHIRE TriXX software has been designed and optimized to optimize the performance of SAPPHIRE Graphics card.
However, the software can also optimize, fine-tune, and overclock. It comes with intuitive user interface and powerful engine, allowing its users to eke out the performance they need from their graphics card. You can change your GPU clock speed, memory clock, and GPU voltage from its user interface.
Moreover, after changing the GPU performance metrics, you can save the setting in a custom profile. The software allows for up to five profiles. However, if you are new to GPU fine-tuning, you can use the two modes it comes with – one for high-performance and the other for silent running.
It also has a hardware monitor feature and provides real-time updates on the performance of the system. Finally, it has a fan control feature allowing users to customize their cooling to meet the demands that come with overclocking.
SetFSB is a free tool used to customize the performance of the CPU by giving users the ability to customize their system Front Side Bus speed. Using the slider, you can increase or decrease FSB speed to fine-tune your CPU speed.
That said, you should use this software cautiously. SetFSB as a tool is not for novice user but power users with an intricate understanding of system customization.
The ASUS GPU Tweak II is a premium graphics card optimization tool made by ASUS. The software features several performance modes, including the overclock mode, the gaming mode, and the silent mode for fast optimization.
The tool also gives users the ability to save their custom profiles. As such, the software gives overclockers the ability to create custom profiles by optimizing various aspects of the hardware including memory clock, GPU voltage, GPU boost clock, the power target, the fan speed, and much more.
For the premium price you pay for the software, you also get the ability to automatically and manually turn off windows processes and services, turn off windows visual effects (thereby boosting performance), and defragmenting your memory.
With an XSplit Gamecaster premium license, you can record or stream gameplay. A performance overlay also provides real-time temperature, GPU clock speed, and VRM usage as you play.
The Riva Tuner is a driver-level OpenGL/ Direct3D tweaking NVIDIA GPU software with the ability to tweak systems and create profiles for the various applications you run. The software also has low-level hardware access for more efficient system profiling.
The tool has real-time hardware monitoring capability to keep an eye on your system performance. However, it the patch scrip engine and built-in registry editor that sets this NVIDIA GPU performance-tuning and overclocking software apart.
The nTune is another software product of the GPU makes, NVIDIA, for NVIDIA products. The software is capable of handling performance adjustment typical of other utilities, including monitoring and adjusting system comments such as voltages and temperature.
However, the software, unlike some other tool, the nTune utility performs the changes within Microsoft’s Windows interface rather than the BIOS. As such, the changes allow users to make changes for overclocking or smooth running purposes without having to reboot their systems.
ATI Tray Tools is a Radeon utility that gives its users instant access to processor settings and options. While lightweight, the software is very powerful, owing to the extensive features it has.
For instance, it gives users access to overclocking, Direct3D settings, OpenGL setting, and much more. Importantly, for system tweaks, it provides templates for users to use in search of the performance they need from their system.
The Intel GMA Booster tool allows Intel’s Graphic Media Accelerators GPUs users to optimize the performance of the GPU and to overclock their GPUs as well. The software supports overclocking of GMA 900 and the GMA 950 series of chipsets, giving chipset users access to as much as 2.4X extra processing power.
For the best performance, AMD Ryzen CPUs require high performance RAM. Speeds under 3200 MHz should be considered unacceptable for these CPUs, and speeds over 3600 MHz make sense.
Plenty of people purchase RAM for their Ryzen CPU and realize it’s not speedy enough. Luckily, DRAM Calculator for Ryzen helps users overclock their RAM at the click of a button.
The program analyzes a user’s current CPU and RAM configuration. From there, DRAM Calculator for Ryzen optimizes the overclock on the RAM for performance and system stability. Users end up with better performance that doesn’t sacrifice on stability or user experience.
Basic overclocking software aims to prevent users from damaging their machines. However, SetFSB is a fully customizable program that targets the Front Side Bus.
The FSB is considered the “highway” that makes the connection between the CPU and memory in order to make the system run. An overclock to the FSB allows faster performance throughout the entire system.
SetFSB provides details of CPU, RAM, and system information during use. Likewise, the program provides immediate access to system metrics like temperature and frequencies.
Only advanced users should consider SetFSB, but the program provides total control and flexibility. Overclocking the FSB provides an immediate system performance boost in everyday use cases.
Intel XMP allows users to overclock the RAM in their computer system. Doing so unlocks the full potential of all current Intel Core processors.
Within the program, users can load existing overclocking profiles or create their own. The program is designed with both novice and advanced users in mind.
Advanced users may load custom RAM profiles into the utility. On the other hand, beginners should opt for manufacturer-created RAM profiles.
The end result is overclocked RAM powering an Intel Core processor. Many users see performance gains of 10% or more using this utility, which is nothing to scoff at.
Is Overclocking the CPU Safe?
These days, CPU overclocking could be considered quite safe if you know what you are doing. The most popular overclocking software protects users from damaging their systems with bad settings.
Also, modern CPU components are manufactured with protections in place so that the device won’t get destroyed easily.
However, keep in mind that unrestricted overclocking can lead to bricking a CPU in rare cases. Moreover, a handful of issues arise from overclocking a CPU with any clock speed if you are not careful.
First and foremost, overclocking leads to higher operating temperatures. Major frequency boosts can lead to extra wear and tear due to the constant heat generated here.
An overclocked CPU utilizes more electricity to run, which can cause wear on a computer’s PSU (Power Supply Unit). Sometimes, an overclock may cause system instability or frequent crashes as well.
Is Overclocking RAM Safe?
Unlike CPUs, a computer’s RAM doesn’t generate much heat. Users face far fewer issues when overclocking RAM.
If the RAM is overclocked incorrectly, the system will crash and reboot but in most cases there will not be a permanent damage.
For that reason, most people shouldn’t hesitate to overclock the RAM in their system. They stand to reap various performance benefits in doing so.
It’s difficult to cause permanent damage to the system’s RAM through overclocking. Regardless, users should focus on system stability while overclocking RAM.
Nobody wants to see their system crash on a regular basis after all. RAM overclocking is quite safe because the consequences are almost always temporary.
Pros of Overclocking CPU and RAM
By overclocking a CPU or RAM, users increase the operating frequency and speed of the hardware.
Higher frequencies equate to better performance. Hardware like the CPU or RAM can complete tasks faster than their stock versions. In real world usage, this leads to faster load and render times.
A program might launch a few seconds faster. Rendering a video file might occur noticeably faster and also gaming will be smoother and faster as well.
Without a doubt, overclocking comes with tangible benefits for the user. Gamers can squeeze extra frames out of the existing hardware. Nobody’s going to complain about a faster computer, especially as hardware starts to age.
Overclocking provides an excellent alternative to replacing older hardware. At the expense of more power consumption, an older CPU or slower RAM can be overclocked to make tasks manageable.
An otherwise outdated PC could run like an upgraded machine without the cost of replacing hardware. Not all CPUs can be overclocked though, but most RAM can be overclocked.
Cons of Overclocking CPU and RAM
CPU and RAM overclocking does come with certain downsides that require consideration.
First and foremost, overclocking adds wear and tear to the hardware over time. Higher operating frequencies and clock speed equate to higher power usage and heat generation.
An overclocked CPU or overclocked RAM may come with a shortened lifespan. Safe overclocking minimizes this wear and tear, but it does occur nonetheless.
As previously mentioned, RAM is almost completely safe to overclock. On the other hand, users can cause irreparable damage to a CPU if they use overclocking software they don’t understand.
Luckily, most software comes with safety features built in to shut down the system as soon as issues arise. An individual should gain a basic understanding of overclocking before beginning this process because it’s not always foolproof.
Finally, higher power consumption leads to increase electricity costs. The consumption can wear out a system’s Power Supply Unit (PSU) a bit sooner than expected.
Added electricity consumption won’t make or break the bank for most people, though. In the end, safe and effective overclocking is more than possible with both CPUs and RAM modules. Users can reap these benefits on both old and brand new hardware alike.