Overclocking, is it worth it?

#1 Edited by tehsorrow (64 posts) -

Hey guys.

I'll give you the short version but if you need anymore details I'll happily provide. Basically I have a pretty nice computer, but I'd like to push more out of it with stuff like Witcher 3 coming out so I thought I'd consider overclocking. I've never tried it before but I know my model of CPU is well suited, although it's recommended when overclocking you make sure your cooling set up is ideal. Mine is not so great. With only stock fans etc I get up to the high 80s with extended play of BF3 which is probably the most intensive game I own and this is with out of the box settings.

So my question is, if it with overclocking on this set up if I'd have to buy a new cooling set up to make it work or would the cost outweigh the gain?

Below are my specs.

#2 Edited by Vamino (202 posts) -

My personal experience is that it's rarely worth it, simply because when it comes to games they're rarely limited by your CPU. Certain games will push your CPU really hard, and you'd see improvements in those games (assuming no other bottleneck), but they're usually not going to be using everything your CPU has got.

That said, you can get good cooling solutions that will give you some play for not a lot of money. I got a big Noctua air cooler that dropped my CPU temps by about 20C. I got it just because I wanted my computer cooler and quieter though. Or you could go with one of those sealed liquid cooling jobs. Either one would give you space to overclock if you wanted to without getting stupid.

If I were you though, I'd get some sort of monitoring software and take a good look at just how hard your CPU gets pushed before really going for it though.

Edit: As a reference, this is the CPU cooler I got.

#3 Posted by rm082e (177 posts) -

"It" is the operative word there - what do you mean by "it"? If you mean, is it worth it to OC from the beginning, then no it probably isn't. These days, games tend to rely heavily on the video card. The CPU and RAM are rarely bottlenecks in performance. Keeping your CPU cool is much more important for performance than over clocking. Download something like Open Hardware Monitor and keep track of your temps. Google to find out what the normal idle temps and temp range are for your CPU. If your's is running hot, work to get it cooler.

With that said, if you want to extend the useful lifespan of your CPU, overclocking down the line can help you squeeze a few more months or maybe a year out of an aging CPU before it's time to upgrade. Then you just need to ask if spending the extra $5-$10 on an unlocked processor, and maybe $20 on a cheap air cooler is worth it to extend that life. You'll never know for sure how game engines will develop, so it's all a gamble.

In general, money spent on overclocking should probably be the last thing you worry about. Focus on buying a quality CPU and cooling it well, then put as much of your budget as you can into buying the best video card you can afford. That will do more to improve game performance than overclocking a CPU, but going with a cheaper, less powerful video card.

#4 Posted by MikkaQ (10224 posts) -

I think it's worth it, but then again I render a lot of video files and the increased speed is essential. I use a 30 dollar fan and heatsink combo, the Cooler Master Hyper 212+, and it does a great job, I can run my Sandy Bridge i5 2500k at like 4.4Ghz.

#5 Posted by IrrelevantJohn (927 posts) -

For games? No. I would only overclock if it's for something intensive like video editing and such. Your CPU should be fine.

#6 Posted by TobbRobb (4401 posts) -

I only ever overclocked for experimentation/fun. I considered doing it for emulation, but meh. I'll just get around to min/maxing dolphin when I upgrade the computer instead.

Otherwise, there isn't really much of a point to OC, and it kills the life expectancy of your cpu.

#7 Posted by ajamafalous (11591 posts) -

Games are so rarely CPU-limited these days that it generally will not be worth it for gaming alone.

#8 Posted by NoCookiesForYou (737 posts) -

I actually have that same cpu on my pc and it's really good for overclocking. With better air cooler it would be a breeze to get at least 4,0GHz out of your cpu, maybe even push to 4,5GHz. As you have already found out OC'ing with stock cooler is a big no no. As for is it worth it? I can't really give you unbiased opinion on it, but for example overclocking from 3,30GHz stock to 4,30GHz which is very doable with your cpu and motherboard would give you considerable boost not to be taken lightly.

If you want to go through it, I'd recommend reading some OC guides like this and this to get you started. Sites like Overclock.net, Tom's Hardware and Hardforum are full of posts with tips and guides for correct settings.

You'd also need some software. Something to keep track of your heat like Realtemp. CPU-Z gives info on your current OC and setup and Prime95 is great for stress testing your OC.

#9 Posted by TheHBK (5407 posts) -

Overclocking is so simple these days, and you should buy a quality cooling solution for you CPU anyway, so I would ask, why not instead. If you can, the CPU can do it, you are cooling it well anyway, why not get that extra bump? Don't go crazy and its fine.

#10 Edited by charlie_victor_bravo (869 posts) -

For games, probably no.

For other things maybe. Like @mikkaq said, if you are doing things video rendering it might help. Recently I have been testing video rendering performance differences between my normal CPU speed (2800Mhz) and over clocked (3400Mhz) and with my set up, there is no real big difference time-wise.

#11 Posted by charlie_victor_bravo (869 posts) -

For games, probably no.

For other things maybe. Like @mikkaq said, if you are doing things video rendering it might help. Recently I have been testing video rendering performance differences between my normal CPU speed (2800Mhz) and over clocked (3400Mhz) and with my set up, there is no real big difference time-wise.

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