- Overclocking your Intel CPU is a popular way to boost its performance and prepare it for CPU-demanding activities such as gaming
- Before you start overclocking, it's best to check if your system can handle the heat by testing it with specialized software
- If you plan on overclocking, another healthy practice is changing your CPU's thermal paste to prepare it for the abnormal heat level
Simply put, overclocking is the process of making your CPU run faster.
Overclocking is perhaps the best way to custom tune your PC by adjusting the power, core, voltage, memory settings and other values of your system for the ultimate performance of your processor, RAM and motherboard.
The good thing about overclocking is it speeds up the components, as well as your gameplay, and comes in handy with tasks like transcoding and image rendering, which are processor-intensive in nature.
There are several reasons why you may want to overclock your Intel CPU, but generally, you get the most out of it if you use your computer for tasks that are CPU-intensive as mentioned, including gaming.
While most overclockers enjoy the thrill of fooling around with their systems, pushing them to the limit, overclocking can also be dangerous as it could damage some components permanently or shorten their lives too, if something wrong happens.
For this reason, it’s best to also use an overclocking testing software to make sure that your PC can handle the strain.
We checked out some of the best overclocking software for Intel CPU, and here are our top picks.
This is the world’s most popularly recognized and best overclocking software for Intel CPU, and graphics card overclocking utility that lets you fully control your graphics cards.
Afterburner provides a detailed overview of your hardware, in addition to customizing fan profiles (you can fully customize a predefined fan speed curve so as to determine cooling performance), benchmarking and video recording.
Afterburner is free of charge and can be used with graphics cards from any brand, and the best part is it makes overclocking easy for complete beginners to get the most out of their hardware’s performance.
It features GPU/shader/memory clock adjustment, adjustment of fan speed (advanced), and GPU voltage control adjustment.
Its hardware monitor that forms part of its interface and effectively tracks your rig’s performance, is bespoke, plus it shows frame rates among other things during gameplay.
Other features include the triple overvoltage that gives you an edge through precision control of the Core Memory and PLL voltages, in-game FPS counter with real-time info on your system’s performance in an on-screen display so you can monitor the effect of your overclocking settings while gaming.
You also get 64-bit support for such applications, custom user skins, multilingual support, Kombustor benchmarking tool based on the Furmark software to push your graphics card to its limits and test both stability and thermal performance, and predator video capture such that you can record your best performance in games or overclocking without missing a single frame.
Intel Extreme Tuning Utility (Intel XTU)
This is a simple Windows-based performance tuning software for newbies and pros alike, especially overclocking enthusiasts.
Intel XTU helps you overclock, monitor and stress a system, with a software interface that exposes its robust capabilities common in most platforms, plus special new features for net Intel application processors and Intel motherboards.
It is powerful, and worth the installation, what with features like graphs which chart CPU utilization, temperature, and frequency of the process, which changes with time, so you can monitor these changes.
The manual tuning tab lets you tweak your processor, graphics, voltage, and memory, and the Stress Test modules let you exercise your CPU, memory, and graphics to determine if the system is still stable.
Other features include the Profile options so you can save and remember specific overclocking settings, which you probably forgot about.
However, it is not advisable to use the Intel XTU for overclocking unless you actually know what you are doing, and you can accept the risks that come with it, otherwise, this is one of the best overclocking software for Intel CPU that you can use.
UPDATE: The latest Intel Extreme Tuning Utility version adds support for the next-generation Intel Core processors. So, even if you own an old computer or the latest 8th or 9th generation Intel CPU, this software can help you optimize your overclocking settings to get the best possible results.
EVGA Precision X
This is another free to use, and convenient overclocking software for Intel CPU, which comes with support for a maximum of 10 custom user profiles.
EVGA is one of the best overclocking software for Intel CPU today and has become a must-get for gamers who want to up their gaming laptop and push it higher in terms of hardware performance.
However, it only works with NVidia graphics cards, unlike MSI Afterburner which works with all graphics cards from any brand, so AMD users will have to use something else.
Its latest version supports Microsoft DirectX 12 API and lets you change the clock and memory offset.
Features include a navigable interface, seamless switching between user profiles, fan speed, voltage, and much more.
The latest version, the PrecisionX 16 has added features like overclocking support, functionality and full support for Microsoft Vista/7/8/8.1 and 10.
Another new feature is the EVGA LED Sync, which you can use to sync your EVGA RGB graphics card, CLC cooler or chassis with the EVGA LED Sync, built into the Precision XOC.
Benefits of using EVGA Precision X include a dynamically set independent voltage or frequency points for ultimate control, a linear mode for one-click overclocking, scan mode for finding optimal voltage/frequency curve for your card, OSD interface with RGB color support, custom fan control, in-game screenshot hotkey that supports BMP and JPG, and much more.
Is overclocking my CPU worth it?
If you want to squeeze out some more power from your old(er) CPU, then definitely, overclocking it is the cheapest way to do so without spending extra money. However, note that overclocking might reduce the lifespan of your components, cause high CPU temperature and increase your system’s instability.
Is turbo boost the same as overclocking?
In short, no. Turbo boost (also known as turbo clocking) is seen as “normal” CPU activity, as it means giving your CPU a little extra power within the regular thermal threshold. Overclocking means “pushing” the CPU above the normal thermal threshold to get higher performance.
Can overclocking reduce lifespan?
Lifespan reduction greatly depends on the way you handle overclocking. Increasing the frequency of your CPU by itself should have little to no effect on its lifespan. However, this practice might render your system a bit more unstable than its non-overclocked version. Make sure your system can handle the heat before you start overclocking.
Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in March 2018 and has been since revamped and updated in March 2020 for freshness, accuracy, and comprehensiveness.