When getting into overclocking your rig – whether you just want more frames per second out of your old 6600 GT in Call of Duty 4, or to be able to brag about a score above 20k in 3DMark06 – you’ll need the right tools for the job.
Here’s an introduction to some of the most used overclocking and monitoring tools!
Windows 98 / ME / 2000 / 2003 / XP / Vista / Windows 7
This application lets you overclock your NVIDIA graphics card. It was originally just a registry tweaking application for NVIDIAs old Riva TNT graphics card, but has since evolved into a much more useful tool. The most common use of RivaTuner is to set higher clock speeds on the core, shaders and memory of your graphics card(s), as well as letting you control fan thresholds and other settings. The registry tweaking is still an option however, shall you feel tempted.
Windows XP / 2003 / 2000 (incl. 64-bit)
You guessed it – ATITool was made to overclock your ATI graphics card. However, today this application also works with NVIDIA graphics cards. If you have problems with RivaTuner, try this little bugger instead.
Windows (incl. Windows 3.1) | Linux | FreeBSD | OS/2
This number crunching application lets you push your CPU to its limit of stability. The latest version supports multi-core processors using multiple threads. Tip: If you want to test only your CPU for stability, choose the “Small TTFs” torture test, and select “Round off checking” under the “Advanced” menu. This test uses the least amount of system memory, reducing the likelihood of your RAM being the culprit in case of failure, (but it will still be a factor).
External link: Guide to using Prime95 effectively.
Windows 9x / NT / 2000 / 2003 / XP (incl. 64-bit) / Vista / Windows 7
This handy tool lets you monitor temperatures, voltages and fan speeds, and can even monitor hard disks with S.M.A.R.T. enabled. As a bonus feature it can adjust the FSB speed on some motherboards, but primarily I use SpeedFan to monitor the temperatures and voltages when overclocking. Tip: Disable SpeedStep (Intel) or Cool’n'Quiet (AMD) features in the BIOS to get accurate readings after OC’ing.
Windows 2000 / XP / 2003 / Vista / Windows 7
A simple, yet useful utility that lets you monitor the temperatures of your processor cores. A nice feature of Core Temp is that all CPU core temperatures can be displayed in your system tray at all times.
One of the most widely used tools for overclockers. CPU-Z gathers information about your CPU, motherboard and memory timings (including SPD values).
Windows 2000 / XP / Vista / Windows 7
As the name suggests, this tool is much like CPU-Z, only for graphics cards. GPU-Z gives you detailed information about your accelerator card, from make and model to clock speed and driver version. If you click the “Sensors” tab, you can handily monitor the GPU and PCB temperatures, fan speed (in per cent and RPM), and current core and memory clock speeds.