How to Overclock Your Intel CPU

Push your processor to its full potential

What to Know

  • The easiest option is to use Intel Performance Maximizer or the Intel Extreme Tuning Utility (Intel XTU).
  • To manually overclock, enter the BIOS to increase the CPU multiplier. Set the Vcore to 1.25V, the AVX offset to -1 or -2, and the LLC to medium.
  • Use (Intel XTU) or a similar program to stress test and monitor your PC to prevent damage to its components.

This article explains how to overclock your Intel CPU using software or manually in the system BIOS on Windows.

Can I Overclock My Intel Processor?

Not all Intel processors can be overclocked. If your CPU's model number has a “K” in it (Core i9-9900K, Core i7-9700K, etc.), then it's overclockable, but your motherboard's chipset must also support overclocking.

Intel processors for Macs cannot be overclocked, but you can use the Turbo Boost feature to improve performance if your CPU supports it.

Is Overclocking a CPU Easy?

Intel has made it easier to overclock its CPUs over the years. The simplest solution is to download Intel Performance Maximizer and run the software. For more advanced options, use the Intel Extreme Tuning Utility (Intel XTU) to tweak your computer's performance in various ways. However, if you want to squeeze the absolute most out of your CPU, you should manually overclock it in the system BIOS.

If you play resource-intensive video games with 3D graphics, you should also consider overclocking your RAM and GPU.

How Do I Overclock My Intel CPU on Windows 10?

Here's how to overclock your processor using Intel Performance Maximizer:

  1. Download the appropriate version of Intel Performance Maximizer for your CPU. Your processor's name can usually be found on a sticker on your computer. If you don't see a sticker, open the Control Panel, go to Security > System, and look for Processor.

    Processor highlighted in the Windows 10 Control Panel System Settings
  2. Extract the ZIP file and open the installer, accept the license agreement, and install the program. When the installation is complete, you'll have to restart your computer.

    Intel Performance Maximizer Installer and Install highlighted
  3. Open the Intel Performance Maximizer. Read the warning information, select I Agree, then select Continue.

    I Agree and Continue highlighted in the Intel Performance Maximizer set up screen
  4. Choose a drive on your computer (not a flash drive) and select Continue to create a UEFI partition. If there's not enough space on the drive, the program can allocate free space from other drives.

    Drives shown and Continue highlighted in Intel Performance Maximizer
  5. After the partition is created, select Continue to begin performance testing your PC.

    Continue in the Intel Performance Maximizer

    This process may take a few hours, and your computer may reboot a few times during the process, so leave your computer running and plugged in.

  6. When testing is complete, your computer will reboot, and you'll see a summary of the improvements made. Select Finish.

    Finish highlighted in Intel Performance Maximizer summary screen
  7. Try running a couple of programs to make sure your system is stable. Finally, restart your PC, then run a stress test.

Stress Test Your Overclocked CPU

When pushing your PC to the limit, it's important to monitor all of the changes you made so you don't damage any components. Use a tool like Intel XTU or CPU-Z to stress-test your PC whenever you overclock components, and keep an eye on your computer's temperature to make sure it doesn't go over 100 degrees Celsius.

It's a good idea to use more than one program to perform tests and compare the results, but only use one tool at a time.

Is It Safe to Overclock CPU?

As long as you use Intel Performance Maximizer, you can rest assured your computer will not be harmed. If you manually overclock your CPU, you risk damaging the motherboard, and the warranty will be void. It's particularly important to manage the voltage and make sure your power supply can handle the extra draw. You should also consider getting a liquid cooling unit to prevent the PC from overheating.

How Do I Manually Overclock My Intel CPU?

Before you begin, run benchmarks using a program like Intel XTU to get a baseline performance. That way, you can accurately measure your performance gains.

Once you have a baseline, follow these steps to overclock your Intel processor manually:

Making a mistake when editing the system BIOS can irreparably damage your device. Change only one setting at a time so you can roll back the changes in case there is a problem.

  1. Update your system BIOS to make sure you have the latest version.

  2. Reboot your computer and enter the BIOS. How you access the BIOS depends on your computer's manufacturer.

    The layout of the BIOS differs from system to system, but they all give you access to the same settings.

  3. Set the CPU multiplier. Multiply the base clock (BCLK) by the CPU multiplier to get your processor's frequency. So, if you have a CPU with a 100MHz BCLK and set a multiplier of 50, the frequency would be 5,000MHz, or 5GHz. It's best to do this in 100 MHz increments, taking time to test your computer's stability in between.

  4. Set the CPU core ratio (also called CPU voltage or Vcore). Synchronize all of the cores and set the Vcore to 1.25V (the maximum for most Intel processors is 1.40V). If you want to increase the voltage, do it in increments of 0.01V or 0.05V at the very most.

  5. Set the Voltage Mode to adaptive so that the Vcore only increases when the CPU's frequency increases. That way, you'll reduce the risk of overheating and consume less power in the long run.

    Enable Intel Speedstep if you don't want your CPU running at the overclocked speed when idle.

  6. Set the AVX offset to -1 or -2. That way, the multiplier will decrease while the CPU handles AVX workloads, which require extra voltage.

  7. Set the Load-Line Calibration (LLC) level to medium. This will help prevent voltage drop by ensuring consistent voltage when your CPU is under load.

  8. Reboot the system and run the same benchmarks you used for your baseline. Subtract the baseline stats from the overclocked results to determine your gains.

  9. Stress-test your system to make sure it's stable. Every time you make further adjustments, run another stress test.

  • How do I overclock my CPU with the Intel Extreme Tuning utility?

    The Intel Extreme Tuning Utility (XTU) is an all-in-one software package that does much of the overclocking heavy lifting, making it a good choice for first-time overclockers. After downloading and installing XTU, select Run Benchmark to test and score your system's current performance. If you're a first-timer, choose the Basic Tuning option and move the Processor Core Ratio up incrementally, and then apply your changes. If you're an advanced user, select the Advanced Tuning tab to adjust the Processor Core Ratio by individual core. After making changes, run the benchmark utility again to measure your system's new performance. Finally, use the Stress Test tab to make sure your system can remain stable with its new settings.

  • How do I overclock a locked Intel CPU?

    If you're running an Intel CPU with a locked multiplier, you can't overclock it. However, some motherboards have features that let you tweak the processor's Power Level 1 settings, which can boost your system's performance. Keep in mind, however, that doing this may void your CPU's warranty.

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