There’s a few ways, but first up it’s best to overview the bits you can play with and the whys. If any of this doesn’t make sense then just ask, as rather than point you at articles it’ll be easier if you just ask questions on anything that sounds odd (yay, forum!):
- Clock Frequency, what the CPU internal clock is set to.
- Clock Multiplier, the interval at which the CPU and the rest of the motherboard talk at.
The internal CPU frequency is a combination of those two things, e.g. a 4.5 GHz would often be a frequency of 100 using a clock multiplier of 45. The rest of the PC runs at a slower clock (say 100 Mhz) and the so called ‘North bridge’ and ‘South briges’ step between these speed regions e.g. a PCIe can speak faster than the old ISA stuff etc). Overclocking is usually just CPU overclocking, although RAM speed and how the ‘Northbridge’ is linked can be interesting too.
In most CPU’s the modifier value you can set is locked, but in the ‘K’ series of chips you can change it either in software or the BIOS when you start up. Most Intel’s are also set up by default to ‘power save’ (called SpeedStep) when idle and dynamically drop their multiplier on the fly. A good first step into this is to download Core Temp and check out the various values you have now (if you wiggle the mouse and drag a window you might see your base and multiplier change):
The balance is then between the quality of the CPU to be able to run at a higher core frequency reliably. The thing that helps improve this reliability is to draw more power, i.e. voltage increase. There are various voltages set in a PC, but the key one for overclocking is the VCore, the voltage given to drive the CPU. This is often reported back as ‘VID’ (Voltage ID). As the CPU does more stuck at a faster frequency it’ll draw power at various rates, and the VCore target is regulated but can drop. The amount of allowed ‘drop’ is called Vdrop and is also another important overclocking setting.
Given that it would be easy just to Frankenstein Power a CPU with a massive voltage, the down-side is of course heat. What stops a CPU from working in overclocking is the power draw creating more heat than can be dissipated away from the chipset. Modern CPU’s protect themselves from heat pretty well, and will internally shutdown at a given temperature to protect themselves (i.e. a fan stops working etc). So overclocking is actually a balance between how good your cooling is vs how much Vcore/Vdrop to tweak when increasing your Clock multiplier.
Modern Bios’s all automate a lot of this, as in you can set ‘auto’ to most values and set a ‘OC’ profile in the ASUS bios to let it give you a nice 20% ‘free’ overclock. This is probably the easiest way to get it done, but personally when it comes to stuff like this I like to see what the system is trying to do and then maybe tweak it myself, i.e. turn a lot of the auto stuff off, set stuff up manually that makes sense to me, measure it and then if the auto stuff is going to do the same then feel happier that I ‘get’ what it is up to.
So first steps will be to screencap your Core Temp utility window and then we can try either an ‘auto’ setting or do a manual overclock. Nearly all overclocking should be done in a ‘small single variable tweak, measure, repeat’ loop and the only time that overclocking used to go bad was when people aren’t actually sure what the values meant and then just slammed in maximum values. So put another way, the overclocking is actually pretty easy and safe, but it needs some context of what’s going on first.