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Methodology

My goal here is for this overclocking guide to be useful for anyone with a newer Intel based system, i3, i5, i7, LGA1156 or LGA1366. With the same basic principles applying to all of them, the basic process doesn¶t change whether you are planning to use your system as an everyday system, gaming or if you want to push the limits for a single benchmark. This guide is also independent of your cooling system. Whether you are using the stock Intel cooler or if you¶re pushing to the extreme with liquid nitrogen, the basic steps remain the same. One thing that is far too common is errors in mounting your cooling system, specifically the application of the thermal interface material (TIM). If you don¶t have much experience mounting a cooling apparatus, please refer to this excellent guide from Arctic Silver. Determining methods for finding a stable overclock are highly controversial, and my suggestion is that we agree to disagree. Everyone has their individual definition of a stable system, but when I refer to ³stable´ in this guide, I am referring to the stability of your selected ³stability test.´ So for a power user or gamer who wants a reliable system that won¶t ever crash due to an overclock pushed too far, you¶d need to test with a program that will load all of the cores and threads applicable to your CPU, OCCT and Prime95 are two popular choices. For a benching team member looking to squeeze every last MHz out of their chip for a 7 second SuperPI 1M run on liquid nitrogen cooling, SuperPI 1M would be the ideal test. In my examples below, my verbiage will obviously be geared more towards those running tests like Prime95. Super PI 1M only takes a few seconds to complete, so when I say ³run your stability test for five minutes´ obviously you will have to tailor that instruction for your individual situation. So with that in mind, we will attempt to isolate each portion of the system and overclock one piece at a time. This may seem time consuming at first glance, but rest assured this can potentially save you hours of troubleshooting and frustration. So go slow, and follow each step very carefully.

Disclaimer
I also need to insert a disclaimer in here somewhere: I am not responsible for any bad things that happen to you or your computer as a result of you listening to my advice, nor is overclockers.com. My goal is for this guide to be a safe overclocking guideline, but the burden for damaged hardware lies on the user performing the overclock! Overclocking can damage hardware, the new 32nm CPUs seem to be particularly fragile. Overclocking will also void your warranties.

Prerequisites
This guide is written for you if you can get around in your system¶s BIOS (basic input/output system). I cannot write this guide to cover the variety of BIOS represented. If you are unfamiliar with your BIOS, search for more information regarding your specific motherboard. Also, do not be afraid to get into your BIOS and have a look around, if you are ever concerned that you may have changed a setting erroneously, you can always load defaults, and start over. Micro-architecture The CPU micro-architecture has taken a huge leap from the 65nm Core to the new generation 45 and 32nm technology, it has brought many changes not only to the CPU¶s but also to the chipset and motherboard design and functioning. This is what make overclocking the i3/i5/i7 CPU¶s so much different to their predecessor LGA 775 CPU¶s.

L2. the only exceptions being their lack of Intel® Hyper-Threading Technology. . All i3 CPUs work only on LGA1156 based motherboards. Another major issue many users have been running into with overclocking these Clarkdale based CPUs is the IMC. The first die is manufactured on a 32nm process. because you are actually in a constant juggle with overclocking both dies. Lynnfield based CPUs are unique in that they do not have a QPI. These are currently limited to two physical cores with both the i3 530/540 models supporting Intel® Hyper-Threading Technology. and L3 caches. All i7 CPUs include Intel® Hyper-Threading Technology and Intel® Turbo Boost Technology. Why? Because both dies derive their speed from the bclock (base clock) frequency. and have been known to fail even when core temperatures are well within ³safe´ limits. the second die is manufactured on a 45nm process. This is all very important to understand when attempting to overclock one of these CPUs. 540) The least expensive and least powerful choice are the Core i3 chips. These CPUs are manufactured on the 45nm process. They have dual channel IMCs and PCIe controllers built into the CPU die. except for the Gulftown hex cores which will be available late 3rd quarter of 2009. Core i5 (Lynnfield ± 750) Quad core i5 CPUs (Lynnfield) are identical to the low end i7 CPUs. All i5 CPUs work only in LGA1156 based motherboards. and i7 CPU¶s The following are the different CPU¶s available today on the market. 661. and many users are forced to run at slower memory speeds and timings to get stable. These CPUs are manufactured on the 45nm process. but is built into the chipset (on the motherboard). all i3 CPUs have two pieces of silicon (or dies) in the CPU. 660. the CPU and chipset are linked with a QPI. Please understand that these new 32nm CPUs are more sensitive to high voltages. Core i3 (Clarkdale ± i3 530. 965/975) The mid range Core i7 (Nehalem) are quad core CPUs made for LGA1366 based motherboards. Because the PCIe and memory controllers are both integrated on the CPU die. All i5 CPUs work only in LGA1156 based motherboards. Core i7 (Bloomfield ± i7 920. They are known to have incredible IMCs and are capable of sustaining extreme memory bandwidth.i5 650. The second die contains a GPU (graphic processing unit) which is capable of outputting video without the use of a dedicated video card when used with an H55 or H57 based motherboard. They have triple-channel IMCs built into the CPU die. At this time. The PCIe controller is not part of the CPU. It is not nearly as powerful as the Lynnfield based CPUs. i5. This second die also contains the PCIe controller and the dual channel IMC (Integrated Memory Controller). but also include Intel® Turbo Boost Technology. there is no need for the QPI. Core i5 (Clarkdale . 870) The low end Core i7 (Lynnfield) are quad core CPUs made for LGA1156 based motherboards. 960.Intel Core i3. 940. One contains the actual processing cores and all of the L1. 670) Dual core i5 CPUs (Clarkdale) are identical to the i3 CPUs. All i7 CPUs include Intel® Hyper-Threading Technology and Intel® Turbo Boost Technology. Intel® Virtualization Technology for Directed I/O (Intel® VT-d) and Intel® Trusted Execution Technology (Intel® TXT). The two die are linked with the Intel QPI (Quick Path Interface). Core i7 (Lynnfield ± i7 860.

Enter the BIOS again and disable all power saving features. The CPU speed of the new generation is not the only factor that determines how fast your PC will run. yielding an increase in not only communications speeds but also bandwidth. is the foundation around all the other frequencies discussed below. Although I would also recommend turning off any start-up slash screens. feel free to disable any ³integrated peripherals´ that will not be used (i. subject to certain stability limitations. Your machine will restart with default BIOS values. The following simple equation determines the clock speed of the CPU¶s cores: CPU Frequency = Base Clocks x Multiplier. QPI speeds are a function of base clocks. you may need to use it a lot. These CPUs are manufactured on the 32nm process. The base clock is similar to the FSB but also has some key differences. and load defaults. EIST. but is built into the chipset (on the motherboard). please power off the system by flipping the switch on your power supply. Resetting the CMOS restores the BIOS to its factory settings and is a ³hard´ reset of these settings. and have been known to fail even when core temperatures are well within ³safe´ limits. dram speed. uncore is a multiple of Bclk. The PCIe controller is not part of the CPU. etc). the CPU and chipset are linked with a QPI. NICs. then activate the CMOS reset jumper/button for 10 sec. They have triple channel IMCs built into the CPU die. then save and exit. a jumper is located near the battery on the motherboard. These include.Core i7 (Gulftown ± i7 980x) The high end Core i7 (Gulftown) are hex (six) core CPUs made for LGA1366 based motherboards. there is now a direct link (QPI) that increases efficiency. we have a few more definitions such as: QPI Frequency ± QPI or Quick Path interconnect is the Intel communication path upgrade from the older chipset and front side bus (FSB) communication path. and QPI frequency. Uncore frequency ± This sets the frequency of the on-die memory controller and the L3 cache.e. Setup Before we do anything. so as you increase your base clock your QPI speed will also increase. or unplugging it completely for 10 sec. so instead of the CPU communicating with the memory via the LGA 775 Northbridge. Most newer motherboards have a button in the same location and many may also have a button on the rear input/output panel for easy access when your motherboard is installed in a case. so that you can view your system¶s post behavior. Please understand that these new 32nm CPUs are more sensitive to high voltages. please start by going into your system¶s BIOS. This is a biggest change from the old LGA 775 where FSB and multiplier determined the CPU speed. Become familiar with where the CMOS jumper or button is. Like CPU clock speed. extra PATA/SATA controllers. The uncore must be at least 2:1 of the DRAM speed otherwise you will not get a stable overclock. also commonly spelled bclocks or bclk in forms. Understanding CPU frequency Before we go into how we overclock these CPU¶s let us look at what determines how fast your CPU will run. Uncore can be set independently of those other frequencies. If your motherboard fails to post after changing certain settings. All i7 CPUs include Intel® Hyper-Threading Technology and Intel® Turbo Boost Technology. All other settings you can leave on auto for now. legacy devices. The base clock. and all other C-states. in fact your PC will not even boot if the ratio is not . you will have to locate and reset the CMOS. but are not limited to. Also. If you need to reset the CMOS. C1E. Most of the time. which leads to an increase in PC performance.

if your default multiplier of your CPU is 20 (i7-920) and you set your baseclock to 200 and you boot up with turbo enabled. Every motherboard Bios differ but all of them have the voltages as set out below.This voltage feeds the chip that regulates the communication from the peripherals to the CPU via the DMI. In most cases leaving it at auto works best. Now. Multiplier and Turbo ± As mentioned above. However. ICH Core Voltage. Isolate the bclock from the memory . You set your voltages expecting to run at 4 GHz and you cannot understand why you get a BSOD when you enter Windows. Most of these come with a Turbo multiplier which is available if you enable the Speedstep option under the CPU settings.4 GHz. it is dependent on where the CPU is positioned in the price/performance curve of Intel¶s range of CPUs.honored. as soon as you enter your Operating system your turbo kicks in so you end up with 21 x 200 = 4. when the ratio reaches 3:1 it is not possible to maintain full stability. In some situations. Increasing the uncore:dram ratio above 2:1 yields significant performance gains. Now if you also have C-State enabled. which you¶re not quite ready for yet. x12 may not work. Doing this isolates the CPU from the bclock so you can focus on only bclock overclocking in this step. you will leave the bios at 20 x 200 = 4 GHz. one CPU core will actually have access to a 22 multiplier which enable that core to run at 22 x 200 = 4. not all CPU¶s have the same multiplier. below are the main ones. Raising the bclock to 200 with the stock x20 multi would result in 4000MHz for the CPU. so don¶t be afraid to try other low multipliers if x12 doesn¶t work. For example. Important Voltages when Overclocking There a few important voltages which you will need to manipulate while overclocking. which would result in a CPU speed of 2400MHz if you were successful in reaching your 200MHz target bclock. It is best to set this at auto. so take care when using turbo and C-State and adjust voltage to accommodate for the higher multipliers. well. If you are shooting for a 200MHz bclock. For instance. the first thing you need to do is manually force a low multiplier for the CPU. at stock speed. IOH Core Voltage. the multiplier is the second factor in how CPU core speed is determined. As you increase the CPU frequency you would need incrementally increase the v-core as well. QPI voltage/CPU Vtt ± Increase in this voltage is necessary from the default as you increase your RAM speed. this is just an example though. It also helps to stabilize your overclock at higher base clocks. tighten the timings or increase QPI frequency. In order to isolate the bclock from the other components.This voltage aids when increasing base clocks above say 200.2 GHz. Care should be taken not to increase this voltage more that 0. Now that we have covered all the basics let us jump to what this article is all about«overclocking Step 1) Maximize Bclock Frequency Isolate the bclock from the CPU First you need to isolate the bclock and find its stable limit with your chosen cooling. Care should be taken when using the turbo as you may not be able to see the resultant frequency in the BIOS. an i5 750 runs on a 133MHz bclock and a x20 multiplier which results in its stock speed of 2660MHz (133×20). then a safe choice for now might be a x12 multi. y y y y y V-Core ± Directly related to the CPU frequency.5 volts above your Vtt as you could cause permanent damage to your CPU. that is the reason. VDIMM/DRAM ± This is directly related to your RAM memory modules and increase will assist in stabilizing increase in Ram speeds.

at this current time. So reduce the set iGPU frequency by 33% to 600MHz. To bring 1350MHz back down to 900MHz we would need to reduce it by 33%. This is most often expressed in the BIOS as ³2:10 . please pay close attention to this section. your set iGPU frequency will yield an actual iGPU frequency of 900MHz. if you successfully reach your target 50% increase in bclock. If you were to overclock the bclock to 200MHz as described before. Moving on. that would yield a 1350MHz actual iGPU frequency. then shut the system down and double check that your cooling system is properly mounted. Just like the CPU. which is a 50% overclock of the bclock frequency. I always recommend going to the temp/voltage monitoring section and checking the CPU temp.The fastest rated speed for memory on P55 with an i5 750 (for example) is DDR3-1333. VTT is the crucial voltage adjustment for achieving high bclock stability. and also has a major impact in overclocking the bclock. please re-read the last paragraph in the ³prerequisites´ section above. However. it¶s only important to isolate it as a variable from our overclocking process.35V. If you still cannot get past this step. are you ready to start overclocking? After entering your BIOS and lowering the CPU & MEM multipliers. and IOH. After you¶ve restarted your system with your manually configured voltages and returned to the BIOS. which is a clock speed of 667MHz (dual data rate ³DDR´ doubles the bandwidth to 1333-like speed). in this case x5 (133×5=667).35V and your CPU VTT to +0. if you do not have this option in your BIOS. Some early BIOS versions did not allow for iGPU clock speed adjustment.2V. except that YOU have to do the calculation. please update your BIOS to the most recent version. So. If the temperature seems too high for your cooling. almost all systems should be able to achieve 150MHz . go to the voltages section and raise your IOH to 1. if your system fails to post and return to the BIOS. This is a relatively simple concept to understand. What makes things worse at this time is that there is no software monitoring utility that is capable of reading the actual iGPU frequency. ³QPI/VTT´. give the IOH 1. but as a rule of thumb LGA1366 likes a lot. your memory would only be at 600MHz (DDR31200) and well within the capability of all but the worst DDR3 on the market. most likely 2:6. it appears as though the iGPU frequency setting in the BIOS is based on the default bclock frequency. will only actually be 900MHz if the bclock frequency is set to 133MHz. so this information may only be relevant for a short time. If you were to reach your goal of 200MHz bclcok frequency. you need to lower the set iGPU frequency to prevent its overclock during this process. For now. Then restart your machine and go back into the BIOS. and beyond the specs of all but the most extreme memory. post in the forums for some specific help. your memory would be running at 1000MHz (DDR3-2000). This is the voltage that is fed to the IMC (Integrated Memory Controller). To isolate the memory from the bclock. Isolate the bclock from the iGPU (Clarkdale only) Clarkdale CPUs include an iGPU (integrated Graphics Processing Unit). the memory receives its clock from the bclock via a multiplier. and making good contact. CPU VTT is the crucial voltage adjustment for achieving high bclock stability. the actual iGPU frequency would also go up by 25% or 1125MHz.3V. and start over. the actual iGPU frequency would also be 600MHz. Bclock voltages For this step. If the stock iGPU clock speed is 900MHz and we were to overclock it 50%. if the bclock frequency was raised by 25% to 166MHz. Stock values differ depending on platform and CPU. P55 doesn¶t need as much. lower the memory multiplier to the lowest setting available. This means that an iGPU frequency that is set at 900MHz in the BIOS. if you are running more than one PCIe graphics card. So. give it 1. However. not the actual frequency. If you are using an H55 or H57 based motherboard and the iGPU is enabled. This platform is still very new and immature. with our stock bclock frequency. VTT. assuming your goal is 200MHz bclock frequency. which is the iGPU¶s stock speed.3-1. because the BIOS only reports the set frequency. if you are running a single PCIe card (graphics card). or ³QPI/DRAM´. IOH is easy. there are only two voltages you should play with. which is also known as ³CPU VTT´.

´ which seem to be less common now. it should be 450MHz at this point). Testing for highest stable bclock frequency Once the operating system has fully loaded. if you are running a high end air cooler I would not advise more than +0. If the test failed. continue to raise bclock or CPU VTT voltage with a short test after each change. and no more than +0. adjust for your situation). Check both the CPU tab for the expected CPU frequency (should be 1800MHz at this point).Congratulations! ± you have found your highest stable bclock frequency. * Note ± there is a phenomena known as ³bclock holes. my advice is to never exceed TJ Max.3V on LGA1156 platforms.2V. now it¶s time to get a little more fine tuned. Fine tuning After you have met one of the criteria above.4V on LGA1366 systems. I¶ve used up to 1. Then repeat the steps above and search for one of the three criteria again. the same concept can be applied to this fine tuning step as well. and that you are running at your desired speed. But if you appear to have found your limit at a much lower speed than anticipated. Now start up CPU-Z. This time let it run for a full hour (for those of you testing with Super PI or similar. but may still create confusion and frustration during this process. This time. and going past them may allow you to regain stability. and if you are using extreme forms of cooling then use whatever works best. If it passes the test . so go to the bclock adjustment and change it from 133MHz to 150MHz. If you¶re running the stock Intel heatsink and fan. shift to 2MHz changes. Now start up your selected test program. ensure you check my note about ³bclock holes´ above. Raising the CPU VTT does not allow for additional stability. Then save and exit and allow the system to reboot. lower the bclock by 2MHz and run your test again. as well as the distance to TJ Max. If you are running a high end custom water loop add another 0. If the test ran without error. reboot into your OS and run the test again. for example OCCT or Prime95. RealTemp shows your CPU¶s core temperatures real-time. please consider trying a step or two higher before continuing on. and check the memory tab to ensure your memory is running at the proper speed (CPU-Z will show the frequency of the memory. allow the system to boot fully into the operating system.05V to those values. I would not advise more than +0. raise the bclock by 10MHz. five minutes should be plenty. reboot into your OS and run the test again. raise the CPU VTT voltage by a small increment. Maximum safe CPU VTT What is the maximum safe CPU VTT voltage? Depends on a lot of things. Then reboot the system and return to the BIOS. Step 2) Optimize Memory Frequency . start up RealTemp. until you meet one of the following criteria: y y y You reach your desired bclock and successfully pass your stability test. RealTemp should always be running while checking for stability of an overclocked system to ensure you do not overheat your CPU. Next.bclock stability with stock voltages. After you have found your highest stable speed to within 2MHz accuracy. Run the test for just a short amount of time. not the DDR3 speed.70V on an i7 920. but I feel like these are some basic conservative guidelines. You should be able to see where this is going.55V with my i5 750 with extreme cooling. instead of 10MHz bclock changes. this will allow you to ensure that your overclocked settings have been properly applied. Also. and up to 1. you should have a rough idea of your bclock limit. A bclock hole causes system instability a particular bclock values. You reach your maximum safe CPU VTT voltage.

Testing for highest stable memory frequency Theoretically we should be able to run for at least an hour with the bclock at 200MHz and the memory multi at 2:8± why? Because we already found out that this bclock speed is 1 hour stable. and often will not run at the higher multipliers even if your memory is perfectly capable. or even try dropping the memory clock multiplier to run at less than stock speed. You should be able to see where this is going. For example. memtest86+ should start automatically. NEVER INCREASE THE MEMORY VOLTAGE MORE THAN +0. so a 2:8 ratio with a bclock of 200MHz would put us right at that stock speed of 800MHz. Raising the memory voltage does not allow for additional stability. the integrated memory controller (IMC) is powered by the CPU VTT voltage. especially with the newer 32nm CPUs. but let¶s say your maximum/desired bclock is not 200MHz. and we are not overclocking the memory yet. So. However. In this example I will use some basic Crucial Ballistix PC3-12800 for my explanations. If this is the case keep the memory at stock speed. Allow memtest86+ to load and complete one entire loop. you may not be stable with your memory even at stock speeds due to the overclock imposed on the IMC. second. 6 DIMMS (X58). If the test failed. save settings and exit. and that is with Clarkdale base Core i3 and Core i5 CPUs. This memory has a stock speed of 800MHz. and are often times not capable of running memory even at their stock speed. Then configure your BIOS to load from your optical drive before the hard disk drive.5V OF THE CPU VTT VALUE. This memory is rated for DDR3-1600 (800MHz) 8-8-8 24 1T with 1. Continue to raise bclock or memory voltage until you meet one of the following criteria: y y y You reach your desired bclock and successfully pass a single loop of memtest86+.65V. Maximum safe memory voltage What is the maximum safe memory voltage??? This is determined by two things: first. and run the test again. DDR3 does not typically have a lot of overclocking headroom.DDR3 Basics The next step is to find the limit of your memory. They tend to have a very weak IMC. This is particularly true if you are running 4 DIMMS (P55/H55/H57). In the BIOS. Now. memory is probably the easiest component to damage . The newer 32nm CPUs seem to have particularly weak IMCs. If that were the case. You could set it and leave it there. our goal is to reach 210MHz bclock. If you have a Clarkdale based CPU. it is important that you take a break from whatever stability test you¶ve been running. raise the memory voltage by a smallest increment possible. we need to work our way up to the desired speed testing along the way. first you need to look at the memory¶s ratings. For testing memory. and can take quite a while if you have a large amount of memory installed. or 4GB DIMMS (P55/H55/H57/X58). the resulting memory frequency would be 840MHz (DDR3-1680). The easiest way is to download the . set your bclock to 202MHz. in this case 8-8-8 24 1T. which will result in 840MHz memory frequency. If the test ran without error. Enter the BIOS and adjust your memory timings according to the manufactures rating. you may have to sacrifice memory speed to attain a good CPU overclock. To do this. A single loop can vary in length. and immediately begin testing your memory. how much do you enjoy killing your memory? Throughout recent history. similar to finding bclock stability above. 200MHz for example. There is an exception to this section. if you are actually trying to reach 210MHz. and use memtest86+ instead. press Ctrl-Alt-Delete and enter your BIOS. So under some circumstances. and increase the CPU VTT voltage until you gain stability. But. Raise the bclock by 2MHz and then save and exit.iso and burn it to disc. so it¶s important to start with stock settings. consider your maximum/desired bclock frequency. When you boot the system with the disc inserted. You reach your maximum safe memory voltage. and your memory multi to 2:8.

Most overclockers would advise you to enable this feature. Testing for your highest stable CPU frequency Once the operating system has fully loaded. and switch your CPU multi up to its maximum. CPU Voltage That brings us to the first thing that most users want to play with after powering up their new system for the first time: CPU voltage. and putting more stress on the CPU. but they are all meant as a means to reduce or prevent v-droop. Step 3) Stabilize CPU Frequency Almost there The last step in this guide is often the first step for users who run into problems and then troubleshoot for days afterward. While there are exceptions. Leaving it to the last step makes the task much simpler. ³Load-line calibration´ This actually goes by a few different names. shifting the bclock down should not cause any instability. aka ³vcore´. and memory timings. So with my example of the i5 750. and your bclock should be quite high. Surprisingly enough. refer to this excellent explanation at anandtech. drop the bclock down 2MHz from your last stable setting. and memory frequencies. I would be able to lock in a multi of x21. the normal maximum would be x20. and see if memtest86+ will run through 2 or 3 loops without error. most newer DDR3 memory modules do not need very much voltage to reach their practical limits. many users are able to achieve very good overclocks with this modest amount of CPU voltage. start up RealTemp. Then reboot and go back into the BIOS. In our example i5 750. and that is another bump in CPU VTT voltage. and some BIOS will even allow for the higher multipliers to be forced. But I always use it when I am trying to fine the absolute limit. So. I would recommend starting at a nice and easy 1. If you wish to try to push your memory even further at this point. Run the test for five minutes. CPU VTT. . with some BIOS. this is actually one of the last things you should be changing. but at the cost of violating Intel¶s design specs. You now have the following settings locked in. As you can see. I do not enable load-line calibration on my daily/gaming system. I would only recommend it if you understand what it does. change you bclock to 140MHz.com. overclocking in its essence violates Intel¶s design specs. Right now your CPU multiplier should be very low. Once you have satisfied one of the three criteria above. This will possibly boost the capabilities of the IMC and give you a little more room to overclock the memory. Intel¶s Turbo feature allows for extra multipliers. there is one more thing to try. Otherwise .Congratulations! .with extra voltage. bclock. we would undoubtedly become very unstable. so you¶re not breaking any new ground with this feature. Now start up CPU-Z and verify that your overclocked settings have been properly applied. for example OCCT or Prime95. It does typically allow for measurably higher overclocking. memory multiplier. Now start up you selected test program. If we move the CPU multiplier up right now. However.you now have a relatively stable bclock frequency and memory frequency. and that you are running at your desired CPU. That means when we are looking for our highest CPU frequency. memory voltage. there are only two variables we need to play with: bclock and CPU voltage. It will not hurt to use this feature if you desire. and unlikely to post. For more insight on the matter.3V. IOH voltage. The idea here is that if your bclock and memory are stable with the current settings.

raise the CPU voltage by 0.025V. Electronic components behave differently under extreme cooling than under conventional cooling. and run your selected stability test until you are satisfied. Is it stable? So. but you may run longer if you desire. once you find your highest CPU frequency by meeting one of the criteria above. Cooling not only plays a huge roll in reducing temperatures but is also determine how much voltages you can feed to your CPU before you damage or even kill it. Personally. Cooling Cooling your CPU. You reach your maximum safe CPU voltage. Do not expect to reach the same level of CPU speeds on air or water cooling than your fellow bencher who is using liquid nitrogen. especially if you cool with conventional cooling such as air or water. OCCT or Prime95 for six hours is more than sufficient in my testing. If you are looking for a stable system as a power user or gamer.If the test ran without error. but it¶s really up to you. reboot into your OS and run the test again. Continue to raise bclock or CPU voltage until you meet one of the following criteria: y y y You reach your desired bclock and successfully pass your test. If the test failed. RAM and other heat generating components are key to the success and the level of how high you overclock your CPU. reboot into your OS and run the test again. lower the bclock by 5MHz. With stock air cooling this could be as low as 1. Or it could be as high as 2. I don¶t like to see my load temperatures exceed 90C on air or water cooling.3V on some i7 CPUs while running OCCT. I always like to play Crysis while encoding a Blu-Ray movie into an mpeg4 format. My recommendation is to determine your maximum safe voltage based on your temperatures while running your stability test. Raising the CPU voltage does not allow for additional stability. the raise the bclock by 10MHz. Use voltages in moderation and rather be safe than sorry. especially with the 32nm Westmere CPU¶s who are much more sensitive to voltages.2V when attempting Super PI 1M with an i5 670 on liquid nitrogen. . But for a true test of stability. Maximum safe CPU voltage For there is no maximum ³safe´ CPU voltage in my book.