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[ The PC Guide | System Optimization and Enhancement Guide ]

Overclocking: The Dissenting Opinion

One of the hottest topics you will see in the Internet PC world today is the subject of "overclocking". Once the domain of only a few daring hardware hackers, overclocking has gone quite mainstream. Apparently more mainstream than I thought it would: when I first wrote this page I said you'd probably never see articles in popular PC print magazines on overclocking; then six months later I found myself writing one for a magazine! Still, overclocking discussion remains much more prevalent online than anywhere else; here you will see people talking about overclocking everywhere--on USEnet, on IRC, and at other PC hardware sites.

Many of these people talk about overclocking as if it were the greatest thing since sliced bread. On the web sites, you will see overclocking featured quite prominently. I do not wish to speak ill about my fellow webmasters, but I think that while many of them do a reasonable job of outlining the risks of overclocking, others brush these off and convey the impression that overclocking is a simple, risk-free thing that anyone can do without too much difficulty. I do not share this opinion, and I find this sort of advice irresponsible.

What really makes me cringe is when I read hardware USEnet news groups and see someone who is obviously new to PCs post asking "What is overclocking? Can I do it?" and someone responds with a message saying basically "It's great! It's easy! All you have to do is ‘X' and ‘Y"!". Well, sometimes yes, sometimes no. Clearly, many of these people have absolutely no idea what they are talking about, and they are giving dangerous advice to others who may know even less. They moved a jumper once and it worked, so now overclocking is a "no brainer". The phrase "blind leading the blind" comes to mind.

So, I'm not going to make very many friends in Internet hardware circles with the opinions you're going to read in this section, and that's fine. Call me the Grinch; I concede that my position is an unpopular one. But if you really want to overclock, I think you owe it to yourself to read both sides of the argument. I have no problem with overclocking, as long as those who do it are informed about what it is they are doing, and it is done in an appropriate way at an appropriate time. So far, this is the only place where I have seen the dissenting opinion expressed in any level of detail. I'm interested in answering the question "Should you overclock?" while most everyone else just skips this question and jumps right into the specifics of doing it, rather quickly.

Note: If you want to write to me disagreeing with what is in this chapter, that is fine, but if you choose to do so, please make a cogent argument about something tangible. I am open to changing my mind if there is valid reason to do so. On the other hand, silly flames telling me "I'm lame" or that "overclocking roolz" will be sent merrily to the bit bucket. :^P (As a matter of fact, I have received quite a few positive comments on this section, and a few negative--but fair--ones; only a handful of flames.)

Next: Introduction to Overclocking

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