Today we’ll be looking at overclocking – does it reduce your CPU or GPU lifespan?
If so, what can be done to avoid reducing the lifespan of your hardware?
We’ll be answering these and many more related questions in this article, so by the end, you should have a solid understanding of how overclocking may impact the life of your PC hardware.
So, let’s find out, does overclocking reduce CPU lifespan? or does overclocking reduce GPU lifespan?
What Is Overclocking exactly? And How Does It Directly Impact Heat?
Overclocking is when you increase your processor’s “clock” speed.
“Clock speed” is measured in Gigahertz and refers to the number of calculations a processor can complete in a second.
Interestingly, clock speeds have begun to peak at around 5 GHz even for high-end enthusiast processors without heavy-duty overclocking. Showing signs clock speeds have started to fall off.
To increase the clock speed of individual CPU cores there must first be an increase in transistors — When it comes to shrinking down these processors, we’re starting to hit some hard limits.
Instead, manufacturers have put a larger focus on improvements to CPU architecture and improving multi-core capabilities rather than raw core speed increases.
When you overclock a CPU, those transistors are going to draw a lot more power, which means much more heat radiating from your CPU as a result. But you will definitely see an increase in performance from overclocking.
The same rule applies to GPU cores regarding transistors, higher power draw results in higher heat.
So, does this reduce the lifespan of your hardware? And how does this extra heat impact your system?
Let’s take a look, one part at a time.
Does Overclocking Reduce Your CPU Lifespan?
How CPU Overclocking Works
The clock speed of your CPU cores is the main thing you’ll be overclocking on the CPU.
If you’re an AMD user you may also look to overclock other parts of your CPU, by doing an infinity Fabric overclock.
Modern CPUs come out of the box with built-in methods for boosting their own performance.
When under a heavy load with proper cooling CPU’s regular settings will push its cores to a rated “Turbo” or “Boost” frequency.
You can maximize boosts like this, with the best cooling – but it will never be the same as forcing a proper overclock yourself.
With an overclock, you can easily surpass these boost frequencies or even just force them to run more consistently.
What will partially determine the extent of your overclock is the main limits that will be in your motherboard’s chipset and VRMs.
Regardless you are unlikely to permanently damage your CPU when overclocking.
What Makes CPU Overclocking Generally Safe
The reason why is fairly simple, actually: if your overclock is unstable, your CPU will not let you keep using it and will just crash.
As it turns out, processors are deeply intricate pieces of electronics, and when too much power or frequency is pushed through them in the wrong way it can result in immediate system failure.
After a system failure, all a user needs to do is to continue tweaking their overclock downward till they find something stable or simply revert back to stock settings.
That being said, just because a overclock appears to be stable and doesn’t crash your machine, doesn’t mean it’s healthier for your machine.
How exactly does it impact your CPU’s lifespan?
Does Overclocking reduce CPU Lifespan?
The general rule of thumb is if your overclock is stable and well-cooled, then you are not meaningfully reducing your CPU’s lifespan.
So, does overclocking reduce CPU lifespan? The only reason overclocking would reduce your CPU’s lifespan is due to an excess amount of heat. Over a long enough period, this will cause heat degradation which will make your CPU gradually perform worse.
However, an issue like dried thermal paste (which is easily fixed in a desktop PC) is much more common than your CPU itself actually degrading.
For the most part, killing your CPU by overclocking shouldn’t be a big concern – if you keep good temperatures – there are many safeguards built-in to prevent you from doing exactly that.
Does Overclocking Reduce Your GPU Lifespan?
How GPU Overclocking Works
GPU and CPU overclocking are slightly different from each other. While they both require changes to voltage, on a CPU you’re mainly making changes to your processing cores.
In addition to the usual voltage and power limit settings, with a GPU overclock, you have both a GPU core and a GPU memory clock to worry about.
Other than the added layer of complexity, GPU overclocking works about how you would expect.
The higher the percentage improvement you’re able to push in your core clocks the higher the percentage improvement seen in real-world game performance.
Is GPU Overclocking Safe?
So, does overclocking reduce GPU lifespan? No, it is completely safe, like with CPUs, the main reason it is safe is that an unstable overclock isn’t likely to run very long due to safeguards.
There will never be a point where your GPU will allow you to kill it by forcing too much frequency or voltage through it.
The built-in safeguards will force the system to crash before that happens.
So, the chances you permanently damage your GPU from a overclock gone wrong is pretty much zero. But, what about the heat and higher sustained loads that come with GPU overclocking?
Maintenance And Use-Case Play A Big Role in GPU Longevity
For overclocking to work properly you can’t have any deep issues with your power delivery or cooling that would prevent it from functioning.
What is the speak of dead graphics cards? Among GPU overclockers.
Why are graphics cards previously used for mining considered bad?
The problem lies in the degradation of the cooler and cooling setup, rather than the GPU chip itself.
After many years of prolonged heavy loads, dust will begin to build up inside the fins of their coolers and fans, causing thermal issues.
You will get the most severe overheating when the thermal paste between the GPU and the cooler starts to degrade. The overheating will continue until the GPU seemingly or actually no longer works.
Consistently monitoring temperatures and dusting regularly is the key to keeping a graphics card alive in the long term, especially when overclocking.
The reason GPUs that were used for mining are considered so bad to buy secondhand is because GPUs used for mining are basically being put through a full-time torture test, and as soon as they begin to show signs of failure they are put on the market.
Over for Now
And that’s all, for now!
Hopefully, this article helped shed some light on how overclocking impacts the lifespan of your hardware.
The short answer just in case you skipped all the way down here, overclocking shouldn’t meaningfully reduce the lifespan of your CPU or GPU, as long as your system has proper cooling and you’ve tested the long-term stability of your overclock.
In the case of a failed overclock built-in safeguards are there to prevent you from damaging your hardware. For an increase in performance that doesn’t come from overclocking, look into upgrading to a SSD or RAM.
Let us know in the comments, have you had much success with overclocking?