When even the mighty Intel, locker of clocks and remover of multipliers, releases a software overclocking app you know overclocking has gone mainstream.
While the hardcore know that BIOS is best, for the rest of us software apps provide the most sane way of easily squeezing more speed from your processor, memory or graphics card from within the friendly Windows environment.
To help novice overclockers get started we've put together this collection of best overclocking software.
This top 15 list covers everything you need from system information tools, system monitoring and stress tools to the essential overclocking apps themselves.
1. CPUZ and GPUZ
Information is power. And in the system information app world you can't get better than CPUZ and GPUZ. These two stand head and shoulders above the rest for their completeness and simplicity. CPU-Z is a comprehensive processor, motherboard and memory report tool that displays live clock rates, bus speeds and voltages, perfect for identifying components and speeds.
In a similar move, GPU-Z was developed to do the same but for graphics cards.
2. AMD Overdrive.
The official AMD overclocking tool, AMD OverDrive, is an impressively comprehensive utility from the processor manufacturer for your Athlon/Phenom system. It manages to pack almost everything you would want into a single program, including system information, a status monitor for fans, voltages and buses, alongside controls to adjust clocks, buses, multipliers and voltages for the processor, HyperTransport and memory. Good work AMD.
3. Intel Desktop Control Center
Where AMD goes Intel is sure to follow and the Desktop Control Center is its attempt at an official overclocking tool. It has an effective single-click overclocking feature plus a full raft of processor and memory controls and reporting. Unfortunately the full release is limited to the latest socket 1156 and socket 1366 motherboards based on the DX58SO, DP55KG and DP55SB chipsets.
4. Motherboard tools
If you've built your own system then it's highly likely the manufacturer of your motherboard supplied a Windows-based overclocking app. Each company has its own branded tool that will only work with its motherboards or chipset. Nvidia has its longstanding nTune for the nForce chipset while ASUS provides its AI Suite and TurboV tools. MSI has the ridiculously designed OC Genie, while Gigabyte offers its EasyTune series. Other manufacturers have their own, so find out which made your mobo using CPU-Z and download the corresponding tool for easy overclocking.
5. MemSet and CPU-Tweaker
At this point we're starting to delve into the more complex software tools and a pair from the same developer are worth checking out at tweakers.fr. MemSet is a complex memory overclocking tool that provides most of the features you'd expect to find in the BIOS, though a tool like AMD Overdrive also offers many of the same advanced options.
Its associated app is CPU-Tweaker, which is used in place of MemSet for processors with embedded memory controllers such as AMD Phenom and the Intel Core i3/5/7 range. As you might expect this version also provides overclocking features for the processor as well.
While many covert SetFSB for its advanced options, many will also shun it. Unless you know exactly which clock generator - known as the PLL - your motherboard has then SetFSB is useless. But then it can also overclock systems where other options fail. The only prerequisite is that SetFSB has been updated to support that model of PLL. A useful guide to locating your motherboard's PLL chip can be found here. The position, manufacturer and style varies from board to board. Not an essential tool for most but it can be invaluable for some.
7. Official graphics overclocking
When it comes to graphics cards, by far the easiest option is to the use the official driver tools.
ATI users can right-click a blank area of the desktop and choose Catalyst Control Center. The ATI Overdrive section provides access to a wide, but not full, range of GPU and graphics memory clock speeds plus fan control and temperature readings.
For Nvidia owners, you'll need to install nTune and then magically a new Performance section becomes available from the Nvidia Control Panel. Again ultimate clock speeds are limited but it's an easier and official way to start.
8. Riva Tuner
Remember the 'ancient' Riva 128 and TNT graphics cards that Nvidia produced in the late 90s? That's from where this all-in-one graphics overclocking tool takes it name, but it now supports both ATI and Nvidia cards. Riva Tuner should be on your list of graphics overclocking tools as it provides unfettered control of the GPU, memory and even shader clock speeds alongside the usual fan controls.