The word overclock was once only reserved for enthusiast PC users who either wanted to brag about their FPS in the latest shooters or trying to break the record for the highest benchmark results. That was a long time ago – now overclocking has become the need of almost every individual computer user – partly because of its easy accessibility and partly because of powerful tools like AMD OverDrive.
OverDrive is a windows based overclocking tool that lets you tweak all the advanced aspects of the 700 series AMD chipsets. It works as good as (and sometimes even better) than a similar overclock from the BIOS. The tool is free to use, and all you need to run it is a supported AMD chipset (series 780 and onwards).
For this guide, I’m running the latest version – AMD OverDrive 3.0 which is optimized for Windows 7. I will be overclocking an AMD Phenom II X3 720 Black Edition processor on an ECS A790GXM-AD3 Black Series motherboard. Both “Black Edition” and “Black Series” monikers represent overclock friendly components.
My CPU has an unlocked multiplier, so overclocking would be fairly simple. It’s also running on the stock cooler, so I won’t be pushing for a high overclock. Lets get started.
Download and install AMD OverDrive from AMD. You need to install it as an administrator under Windows 7. Launch the application after the installation is complete. You will be greeted by the following warning – read it, and continue if you want.
I would advise you to close all other open programs, because they may cause complications when we are tuning our system. After the utility finishes initializing, you will see the basic information about your system which includes the CPU, Caches, Memory and the SPD timings. Our primary interest here will be the CPU.
There are actually three modes of overclocking available with OverDrive. You can select them by clicking the Preferences tab on the top:
- AutoClock: Clocks your system automatically. Not recommended as it isn’t perfect and takes a lot of time anyways.
- Novice Mode: You are presented with a simple slider that you can use to tweak your system. Changes are made to every component though you can’t see or control them.
- Advanced Mode: This is the mode which we would be playing in. It allows fine tuning of everything from the CPU multiplier to the SPD timings and voltages.
After switching to to Advanced Mode, make your way to the Performance Control tab. This tab allows you to configure and control various aspects of your hardware. It is divided into 7 subsections, though we would only be focusing on three here.
To start things off, click the Benchmark tab and with every option selected, click the Run button. Overdrive shows you a score of your current system configuration.
Once you’ve established a baseline score, we can now overclock our system and compare our results. Now, click the Clock/Voltage. You’d see a lot of options to be tweaked here. The screen is divided into six groups, starting clockwise from top left, we have the System Status, Advanced Clock Calibration settings (ACC) settings, current Voltage Levels, Voltage modifiers, GPU modifiers, and CPU modifiers. We will be working in the last section.
The trick here is to increase your CPU Core Multiplier notch by notch and test for system stability. For this example, I’ve set my multiplier to 17x (base clock 200MHz * 17) giving me an effective clock speed of 3.4GHz. Just to be safe, I also increased my CPU Core Voltage (VID) to 1.35V under the Voltage section. Hit apply after setting your desired levels but be warned, setting something too high would likely fry your system. I’d recommend you to start low and go higher step by step.
After you hit apply, your system would be overclocked to the new speeds. We need to test if it is stable enough for regular use, so click the Stability Test button on top. Click the Select All button you see on the right and then adjust the time slider to something you like. We would be stressing our CPU to check for stability here, so more longer the duration of the test, the better it would be. Click the start button after that.
Now, you need to keep an eye on your CPU temperatures too, so click Status Monitor and you’d end up on the CPU Status tab. Keep an eye on the CPU temperatures while the test runs. If they get too high (>60 degrees) then immediately go back to the Stability Test screen and stop the test. Lower the VID and CPU multipliers and then repeat the same steps again.
The trick here is to find the sweet spot. Once you’re satisfied with your overclock, hit the Ok button and make the changes permanent. You’re settings wont be reapplied with Windows restarts. If you want to do so, go to Preferences –> Settings and check the box next to “Apply my settings with system starts”.
Hope this guide was helpful for you. If you have any questions (or even suggestions) then feel free to ask them.