How to Make Your CPU & Graphics Card Run Faster & Better
By Mark Robinson
The central processing unit and graphics card, with its graphics processing unit, are two of the most important pieces of hardware on any computer, as both provide the computational and graphics power required for ordinary usage. Improving the performance of both your CPU and graphics card can help your applications and games run smoother and faster. These improvements can also extend the longevity of the computer itself, since you can hold off on upgrading physical components.
Overclocking Your CPU
Access your computer's BIOS by shutting down and rebooting the computer. Hold "F2" during the computer's boot-up screen, shortly before the Windows logo appears.
Navigate to the BIOS' "Frequency/Voltage Control" settings. The navigational path may vary among motherboard BIOS screens.
Increase the CPU's clock speed or front-side bus speed by 5 or 10 MHz increments. Save these changes and reboot after each increment. Increase the memory voltage, chipset voltage and core voltage if the system cannot reliably boot into Windows. Reset the voltages to their previous levels and reduce the front-side bus speed slightly if these changes are not successful.
Reboot into Windows and use bench-marking software to test the stability of the new overclocked settings. If you cannot complete the tests and the program crashes, reduce the front-side bus speed slightly and try again.
Overclocking Your Graphics Processing Unit
Download and install freeware such as EVGA Precision, RivaTuner or ATITool onto your computer. ATITool, for example, helps users adjust the core and memory speeds of both nVidia and ATI/AMD graphics cards.
Select "Find Max Core" on ATITool to find the maximum safe core value. ATITool will overclock the GPU in small increments until artifacts are detected. The program will then reduce core speed while it continues to scan for artifacts. Click "Find Max Mem" to perform the same procedure for finding the maximum safe memory value.
Click "New" to create a new 3D profile. Enter the name of the profile and select it from the drop-down box above. Set your core and memory clock values to those found at the end of the tests. Click "Set Clock," and then click "Save." Select the new 3D profile in the "3D Profile" drop-down box, while leaving the default 2D profile as is.
Updating CPU and GPU drivers
Identify both your CPU and GPU. Click "Start," select "Control Panel" and then select "Administrative Tools." Click "Device Manager" under "Computer Management." Expand both "Processors" and "Display Adapters" to find the name of both CPU and GPU. For more detailed information, highlight and right-click the device, and then click "Properties."
Open your Web browser and navigate to the manufacturer's website. Navigate to the "Support" section and download the latest drivers for your CPU and GPU.
Double-click on the downloaded installer and follow the instructions on-screen. When finished, the computer may prompt you to restart it.
Other CPU and GPU improvements
Clean the motherboard, heat sink slots and fans clear of dust and other accumulated debris. Dust that accumulates over time can clog up air ports and coat other computer components, causing them to run hotter than normal. Clear away dust from the CPU and graphics card with a can of compressed air and a nonstatic cloth.
Add additional cooling to your computer. Open the computer case and locate any available expansion slots available for extra fans. If any slots are available, attach the extra fans onto the case and secure them in place with the provided clips or screws.
Unclip the CPU's original heat sink and replace it with one that features an upgraded fan or copper heat sink plumbing. Add a thin coating of thermal paste to the underside of the heat sink where it meets the CPU. Close the computer case when finished.
- Overclocking, if done incorrectly, can cause severe damage to your CPU and GPU. Be careful when adjusting the clock speeds and voltage settings of these devices.
Mark Robinson is a freelance graphic designer and writer. Since 2008 he has contributed to various online publications, specializing in topics concerning automotive repair, graphic design and computer technology. Robinson holds a Bachelor of Science in graphic design from Alabama A&M University.