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How to Check if CPU is Overclocked? – 3 Methods

Overclocking of CPU is a popular technique to bring out every drop of performance you can get from it to make your computer run faster. While most new machines have CPUs that run at the manufacturer’s specifications, used ones may have CPUs that are overclocked. So, you may like to find out the answer to this question: how to check if CPU is overclocked?

Practically it’s done by finding out if the CPU clock speed is greater than its maximum turbo frequency or speed that’s specified by the manufacturer. This can be checked through Task Manager in Windows 10, freeware software such as CPU-Z, or the overclocking settings of the BIOS. You need to know the base and turbo frequencies of your CPU model in this regard.

While overclocking is done to enhance the computer’s response particularly to run games and heavy applications, it’s a safe bet to check it.

Overclocking in Brief:

Overclocking of CPU has become more of the art these days. However, it’s more of a necessity to check whether its overclocked or not. You can gauge the importance of this fact that CPU is regarded as the brain of the computer.

In essence, CPUs can operate at a base clock speed or frequency that’s known as its regular operating point. Its manufacturers such as Intel and AMD also allow achieving maximum turbo frequency using their turbo-boosting technologies. This is the maximum speed the CPU can achieve that’s allowable.

Turbo-boosting technology is regarded as a dynamic overclocking that automatically deals with heavy workloads. It ensures that the CPU stays within its safe power and temperature limits.

However, increasing the clock speed beyond the maximum turbo frequency is usually done manually and can prove to be risky if you are not experienced with it.

How to Check if CPU is Overclocked?

There are several ways through which you can check the clock speed to see if its overclocked or not. These are as follows:

  1. Checking through Task Manager in Windows
  2. Checking through CPU-Z
  3. Checking through the BIOS

1. Checking through Task Manager in Windows

how to check if cpu is overclocked
If you know the base and the turbo speed of your processor model, you can then determine if it is overclocked or not

The simplest way to find out if your CPU is overclocked is through the Task Manager in Windows 10. Following are the steps:

  1. Make sure your computer is running under full load. Right-click the taskbar and then open Task Manager.
  2. Select the Performance tab and check the “Speed” that’s given. If this is higher than the turbo frequency of your CPU then its overclocked. You can also see the CPU’s base speed.

Also Read: Best Motherboards with WiFi

2. Checking through CPU-Z

cpu-z
Intel Core i7 7700 details as determined by CPU-z. Source: valid.com

CPU-Z is free software that displays detailed information about your computer hardware including CPU. Here’s how you can check if your CPU is overclocked through it.

  1. Download and install the classic version of CPU-Z for Windows. You can run the zip version if you don’t want its setup version. Make sure you download it according to your computer architecture (32 bit or 64 bit).
  2. Upon running the software, you may have to wait for a few seconds for the information to load. Once it’s loaded, look for the first tab that’s related to your CPU.
  3. Determine the base and turbo frequencies of the CPU you have by searching it on Google. Then you can visit the specification page of the CPU on the manufacturer’s website.

For example, the base frequency of the Intel Core i7-6700K processor is 4.00 GHz while its turbo frequency is 4.20 GHz.

  1. In CPU-Z, pay attention to the “Clocks” section. Do a simple calculation by multiplying the Bus Speed to the Multiplier. The answer will approximately or equally match the “Core Speed” that’s mentioned in MHz and you can convert it into GHz.
  2. If the result of the above calculation is greater than the turbo frequency you determined earlier, then the CPU is overclocked.

For instance, you may get a calculation of 100*44 (bus speed*multiplier) that represents a clock speed of 4.40 GHz. In this case, it’s greater than the turbo frequency which validates an overclocked CPU.

  1. Right-click on the “Core Speed” that’s given to view the clock speeds of all the cores. Generally, in overclocking the frequency is set to higher than the turbo frequency for all the cores. If you find this, the CPU may be overclocked.

3. Checking through the BIOS

AMD Athlon BIOS
AMD Athlon BIOS CPU Overclock settings. Source: aoaforums.com

You can also check for overclocked CPU using your computer’s BIOS. Before doing this procedure, make sure that it’s updated to the latest version. You can search for the website of your motherboard’s manufacturer in this regard. Here are the steps:

  1. Turn on your computer and press the F2, Delete or F10 keys repeatedly. Doing so lets you enter the PC’s BIOS. If you are unsure which key to press you may consult your motherboard’s manual.
  2. Look for the section named as Advanced Frequency, Advanced CPU Core Settings, or OC (Overclocking). This is where you will find the settings related to overclocking.
  3. Here look for the section named CPU Base Clock and CPU Clock Ratio. Multiply the two parameters without changing anything.
  4. If you find that the product of multiplication (expressed in GHz) is greater than the maximum turbo frequency of the CPU, then it’s overclocked. If it’s less, then your PC may have boosting technology that’s enabled.
  5. Alternatively, the speed of different cores may be displayed. If they are greater than the turbo frequency, then your CPU may also be overclocked.
  6. Come to the main section of your BIOS and select “Exit Without Saving”. Press Enter to leave the BIOS.

Also Read: How to Update Bios Without CPU

Why Check if CPU is Overclocked?

There can be several reasons to check if the CPU is overclocked. You may have purchased a used PC or borrowed it from someone and find that the warranty period of the CPU is remaining.

If you find that the CPU is manually overclocked by someone beyond its maximum turbo or boost frequency, then its warranty gets void.

In that case, it becomes necessary to monitor CPU clock speed and temperatures to avoid overheating. You may also experience unstable computer performance if your CPU is overclocked.

Even if you have a new or existing computer, you may like to check if it’s overclocked and find out at which clock speed its running. This will help you to get a clear idea of the workings of your processor and be assured its working within safe limits.

Also Read: How to Enable Motherboard HDMI

Conclusion

In this article, we gave solutions that answer the common query people have in their minds: how to check if CPU is overclocked.

It may not be a concern if you built a new desktop PC with new components including the CPU. Also, if you find that your CPU is overclocked to a greater extent due to any reason, you may have to underclock it. This is to prevent possible overheating and damage to your computer’s components.

In this case, we recommend doing the underclocking to the maximum turbo frequency of CPU in BIOS for reliability.

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