Is the performance increase worth it?

Overclocking your gaming PC sounds both complicated and impressive, but is actually accomplished with just a few programs and maybe a few more peripherals.

The process comes with its benefits and pitfalls, but in this article we will look at navigating them and help you decide if overclocking your gaming PC is something you might want to do.


What is the benefit of overclocking?

The immediate benefits of overclocking may seem obvious – extra power at relatively low cost – but let’s explore these and some other benefits of overclocking.

Performance upgrades

The first and most obvious benefit of overclocking is to squeeze every drop of performance from your hardware. By overworking your PC, you will get every extra image per second, being able to trim all the loading times and the game with higher resolution. This extra power has a cost, which we will discuss later, but with the right knowledge and extra hardware it is manageable.

The tools are out there

With a few relatively simple tools, you can push much more power through GPU, CPU and RAM and get closer to the performance you want. To get started, see our CPU overclocking guide. Programs like MSI Afterburner can easily overclock the CPU and GPU with all the handheld monitors you may need, such as internal temperatures and power consumption. There is even a function to stress test both CPU and GPU to give you an idea of ​​how far you can push your PC.

Overclocking is economically advantageous

Having to break the bank to upgrade your hardware is something no one is looking forward to. With ever-increasing prices, it makes sense to try to keep your old parts for as long as possible.

Pushing the old hardware to the extreme will often push it into the region of next-generation performance, or close enough. Not having to trawl the markets for the latest equipment is always a plus, why spend the money when you can get more out of what you have?

There is plenty of support

If you decide to overclock your PC, you will find loads of useful forums, subreddits and videos that guide you through the process. If you are planning to do so, it is almost guaranteed that someone has already done it, made all the mistakes and posted about it online. Research is the key to everything that has to do with building and buying a PC, and that applies to overclocking.

Why not overclock?

It all seems to make sense; Overclocking saves money, upgrades performance and seems relatively easy to do. Why do not we all do it? There are a few things to consider that we are going to go through.

Overclocking will shorten the life of your hardware

Pulling more power through any part of your PC will inevitably make it work harder. Like everything else, you work hard, you need more rest. PC parts also get tired. Over time, the increased voltage running through your PC’s hardware will wear them out. The extra volts create more heat and speed up the breakdown of the delicate elements. This leads us to our second problem for consideration.

Increased heat output

With increased voltage comes increased heat, and it requires better airflow and heat dissipation. Increasing the internal temperature of the PC without correcting it properly can cause some serious problems, least of all is errors and minor crashes. An overclocked CPU can reach temperatures of 195F and still be considered within the safe zone, although closer to 175F and lower is obviously much more preferable.

If you seriously want to overclock your components, it is definitely worth investing in more cooling. Water cooling is a common solution along with a good number of extra fans. Overclocking can mean a small rebuild of your current PC depending on how far you want to go.

With higher performance comes higher power requirements. When you ask for more from your components, you will be expected to compensate with a higher voltage. This of course comes with the expected slight increase in the electricity bill, but the more immediate concern will be whether your power supply unit can actually cope with the extra load. When building your PC or buying your pre-built PC, make sure you take into account the expected voltage before overclocking.

When you start adjusting the performance, be aware that the power supply unit will have a limit. Be careful not to exceed this, as it can cause serious problems such as unexpected outages and even fire. You can learn more about the importance of an appropriate power supply in our explanation of why the efficiency of the PSU is important.

You need to make sure you are overclocking properly

Unfortunately, it is not quite as simple as just clicking a button and immediately having a perfectly overclocked PC. Knowing how to adjust each component and to what extent plays an important role. As previously mentioned, MSI Afterburner can help with this. Learn more in our list of the best overclocking software.

Beyond just knowing what software to use, also knowing if your components can actually be overclocked, not everything can be, and pushing them beyond the limit can be harmful. It is always worth looking up your manufacturer and the exact model you need to check is suitable for the extra increase in power and performance.

You can cancel the warranty

If you decide to go further and push your PC to the limit, it may affect your statutory rights. Most manufacturers release their products set up to work most efficiently in the longest time, while giving the best results. If you decide to adjust the settings and push the gaming PC beyond its original intended use, the manufacturer has the right to refuse a refund if it breaks down.

The downside of this is that if you decide to burn out your GPU and get 144FPS at 4K for a six hour marathon, most companies do not actually have the technology to test whether you are overclocking or not, so that is an element of risk.

So, is the estimated risk of overclocking worth the payout?

When you look at overclocking and see the often significant increase in performance, the temptation to move on seems very obvious. But discovering that overclocking may require some research and learning how to understand your hardware can put many people off the idea. Fortunately, with the help available online with videos and forums, anyone can become an expert in no time.

Being able to avoid buying expensive and often difficult to acquire hardware is of course a plus for anyone interested in PC building or performance improvement. The downside to this is first having to learn how to monitor your components and then manage the heating effect with things like extra cooling systems. With appropriate free software, effort and time can be negligible, and cooling systems will almost always be cheaper than new hardware.

Taking all the points into account, it seems that overclocking your gaming PC seems like the right thing to do. Just make sure you take the time to understand the process and gather the right tools to monitor your gaming PC.

As you can see, there are good reasons to overclock your PC depending on whether you have the time, patience and knowledge to make it work. With the tools available and some research, improved gaming performance may be within reach.

You may need to invest in a little more hardware to keep your hard-working parts at a reasonable temperature, but this type of accessory will usually keep the value. The extra research you put in, even if it is time consuming, is worth the gain because of the money savings and extra performance.