Why We Overclock

Some language may not be appropriate for the young or sensitive.

A while back, I published an email I got from someone who criticized overclocking and asked you to explain why you overclocked.

I got some thoughtful responses, in some ways similiar, in some not, and I’d like to show what I got.

From Benjamin Whetham

I am a 16 year old high school student and built my own system. It may be
easy for you to say to buy a new system, but not for me. I have to do with what I have.

Remember the WW2 slogan, “Use it up, wear it out. Make it do, or do without.” I
tear apart old systems for parts. (much to the dismay of my parents) I NEED
to overclock, many other people must do this too. Some people can only
afford to buy a new system every 2-4 years. So to maintain reasonable
performance, people spend $30 or so to buy some basic cooling supplies.
(heatsink, fan, ect) and boost the CPU up a little. (100Mhz or higher).
This will get them by for a little while longer.

Why you may ask?? Let me tell you. Why do people race cars around a loop at 200 Miles per hour? Why do people put a
400 horsepower engine in a car designed for 100 horsepower? Why do people
race cars, boats, airplanes, powered shoping carts, motorcycles, or any
other powered veicle? Why do people play football, hockey or baseball?
To push the limits of their machines, to test their physical abilities.

What if NASCAR imposed a speed limit. What if piston engines, in cars
used to set land speed records, had to use baffle plates in the exhaust, and
tackling was banned from football?

It’s the same with overclocking. If you blow your engine, it’s your fault.
If you crash your plane, it’s your fault. If you break your neck playing sports, then
you will have to live with that. If you blow your CPU and burn out you entire PC, its your fault.

If you’re so convinced that overclocking is bad, then don’t watch any racing
or sports. It is the same thing as overclocking. Pushing limits is the point of overclocking.

Some of us may travel a straight line in life, color inside the lines, not
question anything someone says, but that would stink.

Others push the limits, try exciting things. The person who pushes things will live a more complete life.
All the famous people in history pushed the limits, broke through obstaclesls that stood in their way,
Albert Einstein, Thomas Edison, Orville and Wilbur Wright, Chuck Yeager,
Alan Shepard, John Glenn, just to name a few.

So we will let you sit on the side of the road while the rest of us pass you. What you say is impossible,
we are already doing.


From Thomas Gires

Reading your letter, posted on the Overclockers.com front page, led me to think deeply about why most people overclock, and my personal reasons.

As far as I can see, there are two types of overclockers: the diehard performance freaks who will stop at nothing to squeeze every last megahertz out of their top notch system, no matter the cost involved. Though this may seem like a waste of money, remember that these people have computers that in their non-overclocked state would make anyone else drool. Thus it’s more of a mixture of showing off as well as an investment of time and capital into getting what they can truly say is one Bad MF Computer.

But you could also think of it in the way that these people showcase the true potential of hardware anyone could buy.

Unfortunately, I am not myself one of these people. I am just a poor French student in the middle of Thailand, where computer equipment is relatively widely available but at a steep cost. For a lot (maybe a majority) of people who are like me, overclocking is a way of getting the required performance out of an aging system while minimising costs.

Looking at local prices for today, why buy a Pentium III 600 for 12,300 Baht (about US$325) while I could get a Celeron 400 for about a quarter of that price?

I have saved up a lot of money that could be wisely spent elsewhere while I overclock my little Celeron, with minimal investments (fans, heatsink) for performance currently equivalent to a Pentium 3 500. And we know it is possible to get more speed out of it. Which is why, for a further investment less than 1,500Baht (US$40) I am building an efficient watercooling system from scratch, which, coupled to a couple ice cubes will give more speed.

All of this is just to tell you that overclocking is not only a rewarding experience that can benefit anyone, but it is also a test of skills, patience and luck, as well as a lot of fun. I suggest you try it.


From Scrappy G256

I have a question to ask, whether you answer it to me or yourself, I am sure you’ll get my point.

Have you yourself ever overclocked a processor succesfully?

I personally don’t think you ever have, ’cause if you did you would be hooked.

I went to Fry’s the other day just to tote around and look at a corporations prices for processors. I asked just out of curiosity how much would I be looking to spend for a PIII 1 gig chip. I was informed I would be lucky to find one under 1K. Now why in the h*ll would I want to spend some awful god amount of money like 1000$ US for a PIII 1 gig when I can just as well buy a PIII 600e, 650e, or 700 and get either to or damn close to the 1 gig mark for nearly 700-800$ cheaper?

Saving money isn’t what “all” we hardcore overclocking junkies are looking for. Look at my system.

  • AseTek Vapochill System – ($800 US)
  • ASUS P3B-F
  • PIII 700 @ 1050 1.7v@150fsb
  • 128mb Infineon PC133 Ram
  • Elsa Gladiac Geforce 2 GTS 32mb

Right there is almost $2000.

Since in my case saving money isn’t the issue, I will explain my reasons for overclocking. You know what a d*ck size is, right? Well, I am going out on a limb here, but I would say most overclocking is done for that reason. Come on, why else would someone posts an overclocked result? What is he really doing? No matter how much one can deny it, you love to post your results to show off your accomplishment, or in this case, size. I dont think there is anyone that can come up with an excuse for overclocking better than more FPS for games, more speed, or for fun.

Overclocking is not something that everyone just decides to do one day. It is something that takes a passion and desire to do something more with your machine.


From Scott Heibel

Why I overclock…. mostly out of curiosity. Being a third-year computer
engineering student with a minor in electrical engineering I want to see how
far and how fast I can push today’s technology.

Since the chip makers
basically take a batch of CPUs, test then until they are stable and throw
them into a bin they test until stable, I know that CPUs are capable of much
higher speeds than they are spec’ed at.

Having friends that are mechanical
engineers, I have had a lot of ideas for designing my cooling system, and
since these guys know what they are doing, I need a way to put it to the
test, so why not crank the speed up and see how good the project is?

I could very easily go out any buy a faster processor, but with how fast they
go already, most apps won’t be greatly affected by a small increase in
speed. So I can save a few bucks and have a good time experimenting with
new ideas and new equipment, and with that trial and error, I can share it
with the guys who are like me and want to see how far they can push their

Mostly we are all speed-junkies, but we are also inventors
because we have the guts to try new things and see what happens.


From Evan Park

Have you ever overclocked before? The feeling that you get when you overclock is just great, breaking past the speed of the highest processor speed available cannot be put into words. Let’s say it’s better than the feeling you get when you catch your first wave in surfing…

AMD putting speed on the chip by laser doesn’t really stop the illegal sales of overclocked chips. Normal users will never know if their chip is overclocked or not, as long as the computer works, they will be happy. You don’t know how many computer illiterate people I see these days. What makes you think that a simple move by AMD can stop thieves who have been selling overclocked chips for all their life?

The only reason I overclock CPU’s is because I enjoy the thrill that goes through my system when I achieve speeds faster than the chips that are out at the moment. I have enough money to get tons of the most expensive chips right now, but I prefer to overclock, because I get a kick out of it. And I am a proud owner of many burnt motherboards, CPUs, RAM, and power supplies, but it’s all good fun.

I do understand overclocking can be harmful to your computer, but what is a life with no risks?

Overclocking is a hobby, a rather addictive one, and I will BITCH about it as much as I god damn want. Don’t take this too personally. I just wanted you to educate you – let you see the situation from another point of view. Life is like sex, you get fucked all the time, so sit back and have a fun ride…


From Ethan

#1 One word -challenge
#2 Fun . . .

. . . . This whole topic kinda reminds me of that AppleJacks commercial. The people who don’t do it, don’t understand why other people do. It’s as simple as that. Until you try it, you won’t understand.


From Camden

I have read you email, and while I am not the overclocker who is
consistently screaming freedom of speach, and all that, I do believe
that we as consumers should have a right to overclock and tweak our
personnal systems (and those of our friends if they are willing to let
us). . . .If I could afford the latest and greatest, perhaps I would buy just that, but to be
honest, I think I still would be pushing my system as hard as possible.

Overclocking for a profit, without the consumer’s knowledge is
wrong, it’s fraud, and it’s called remarking. Overclocking for fun, and
challenge in the safety of our own home is our right, and if AMD’s
current offerings don’t provide me the oportunity to overclock, then I’m
sorry to say that they have lost one loyal fan.


From Ralph ‘gravdigr’ Burket

When a famous mountain climber was asked why he
climbed the mountain, he replied “because it was there”. So in answer to the
why do I overclock, because I can. I enjoy tweaking ny PC as much as I enjoy
tweaking my car. It actually costs me more to O/C my Celeron 366 to 500 than
it would to just buy a Celeron 500.

I do it because it’s fun. I’ve learned more about computers by overclocking than I ever would’ve if I had followed
more “mundane” interests. So, as to why we are “bitching”, we
are bitching because AMD is tryimg to take away our hobby (at least with
their own chips) and it’s pissing us off. Hot rodders went through the same
thing with computer controlled cars until the advent of the PROM chip.

is an overclocking site and we don’t see ourself as bitching but we are
raising serious questions about a threat to our pasttime and if you don’t
like it feel free to write in another e-mail, I’m sure the thousands of other
overclockers like me will be more than happy to send a reply =o).


From T.J. Lowring

I compare this to the hotrod era. Back then, auto manufactures used to over-engineer cars. This
left the market wide open to buying bolt-on aftermarket parts that would
boost performance. Why? Call it a status symbol. Having the hottest rod
marked you as someone creative and interesting. Call them shadetree

The sad part was that these modifications were pretty much
impractical. Another 100HP wasn’t likely to get you anywhere faster, at
least not if you obeyed the law. But that’s not why they built them. The people that built hotrods shared another
trait: curiosity. The need to know what makes things tick.

Fast forward twenty years. Today cars are expensive, exactly engineered and
in many states strictly regulated for emissions. Hotrodding is no longer for
the shadetree mechanic since the cost of buying the tools to modify the car
alone is beyond the pocketbooks of most.

Computers are an entirely different matter. Today, they are like the cars built during the hotrod era. They are
overengineered, inexpensive and easy to modify. Because of a healthy
hardware manufacturer base, few standards are strictly adhered to. The lack
of strict standardization has created potential for shadetree engineers
(overclockers) to exploit.

At first hotrodding computers was a little tough.
Soldering, pinclipping and other techniques were the mainstay. But as more
and more overclockers got into this new hobby, hardware manufacturers began
to pander to this new market niche. Arguably, this is how Abit gained its
popularity. By making it easier to overclock and making their products more
flexible for overclocking.

Sure there is still some status symbol mentality, to get bragging rights for
pushing your overclocked hardware further than anyone else. But where this
really differs from the hotrod era is the instant gratification and
practical benefit the overclockers garner from their efforts. More FPS in
games, more bang for your buck, faster application startup and faster
application operation. This is a very healthy thing for the entire market.
For if it were not for those of us pushing the envelope on performance, the
industry as a whole wouldn’t be driven, as it is, at this breakneck speed.

So many people stare oddly at the geek behind the computer counter buying
the latest soon-to-be-tweaked hardware gizmo. So to do we geeks wonder how
someone could spend days in front of a little gray box without the slightest
curiosity about what lies beneath its cover. And what potential lies


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