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How To Overclock Your CPU Using AMD OverDrive

amdThe 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.

Overview

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.

Overclocking

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.

image

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.

image

There are actually three modes of overclocking available with OverDrive. You can select them by clicking the Preferences tab on the top:

  1. AutoClock: Clocks your system automatically. Not recommended as it isn’t perfect and takes a lot of time anyways.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.

AMD OverDrive Pref

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.

AMD OverDrive Benchmark

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.

AMD OverDrive CPU

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.

(By) Uzair Sajid (UzEE), a technologist and a freelance blogger who also authors The Technopath.

  • http://geekyninja.com Sharninder

    Nice ! Is there a similar utility for Intel processors ? Intel usually tries to downplay overclocking and doesn’t encourage it but I’m sure if a utility like this comes along, it’ll be very useful for us tinkerers.

  • Hayden5757

    Hi, thanks for this great tutorial of overdrive. I just bought a fancy new phenom II 955 3.2GHZ and a Coolermaster V8. i have been tweaking with this program a little with almost no results. Will i need to disable AMD cool and Quiet? I am unfortunately unfamiliar with voltage setting and timings. Is there a quick memorization for 2000 = 3.4 GHZ kind of stuff? well thank you for your time.

    • KrisInFla

      Hayden your questions show that you need to do some research and learn about how CPUs function before you tinker with overclocking. No insult is intended. You should simply understand more before you do something that has the potential to fry your hardware.

      There are many websites dedicated to the art of pushing hardware to new heights of performance. I personally HIGHLY recommend this to get you started;

      http://www.xbitlabs.com/articles/cpu/display/newbie-oc-guide.html

      Best of luck and be careful :)

  • Brybear

    Hey thanks for the great guide.
    I have had the AMD Athlon X2 7850 Black Edition for about a year now.
    I have been overclocking in the bios with very little luck. Stock speed on this CPU is 2.8Ghz and seems to become unstable at around 3Ghz, even when using the auto-overclock feature in my bios.
    I’m definitely going to download this program and give it a try.

  • Josh

    Got a problem. Computer core multiplier 0 and 1 only go up to 10 X. In this picture it’s at 17, my slider is all the way to the right and the maximum is 10 X. What do I do?

  • KrisInFla

    Hi Josh…

    I would need to know what model CPU you have and the Motherboard it is running on. Not all CPUs are Clock Multiplier unlocked, and not all Motherboard BIOS utilities support overclocking.

    Post back with your info and I’ll be happy to help where I can.

  • Josh

    I think I figured it out, I’m actually running a laptop, and I don’t think it will allow me to overclock. But if any of this helps, here are my specs. (I’m on a gateway laptop, running windows 7)
    Processor: AMD Athlon II Dual-Core M300 2.00 GHz
    Model: NV53
    Installed Memory (RAM): 4.00 GB
    System Type: 64bit OS
    Display Adapter: AMD M88OG with ATI Mobility Radeon HD 4200
    (I’m not sure if any of this helps at all, I don’t really know what I’m doing)
    -Newbie

  • Jchang

    Hello all,

    I just downloaded the AMD overdrive and stumbled upon this great tutorial. I’ve tried going through it, but I can’t overclock. Once I get to the “Clock/Voltage” tab, my multipliers are all set at 16x and that seems to be the max . By that I mean that the sliders are all set to the far right already. Does this mean I can’t overclock my CPU? Any reason why? It’s the AMD Phenom II X2 555 BE unlocked to an X4. Thank you all in advance.

  • Joel

    Hi, I have the AMD Phenom ii X4 955 Black Edition CPU on an Asus m4a785td-v evo motherboard, but my multiplier goes up to a maximum on x16 in AMD Overdrive. Is there a way to make it go above this? I really would like to because so far x16 only lets me go up to 3.2Ghz, which is good, but I wanna see what I can get out of my system.

  • Alex Long

    i do not usually overclock my PC coz sometimes it can kill your PC~’~

  • Laundry Sorter 

    i am also not a fan of overclocking personal computers, if done incorrectly, it could permanently damage your system:;,

  • http://mytechencounters.wordpress.com Vijay

    If you have a Black Edition K10 CPU, Phenommsrtweaker can be used to set on-demand overclock. Though it can’t adjust HTT, non BE users can do that via BIOS and adjust the multiplier on the fly using that application. On-demand Phenom II CPU overclocking

  • Yaqz101

    If my cpu is not able to be overclocked (similar to other people in which the clock speed is already set all the way to the right) is there anything I can do to make the cpu able to be overclocked? 

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