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  • CPU Overclocking: In Case of Emergency
Technology Articles > Hardware > Processors > CPU Overclocking: In Case of Emergency

Overclocking your CPU will void your warranty—and with good reason. Pushing your central processing unit beyond the limits prescribed by the manufacturer can lead to instability, heat death and irreparable damage to your motherboard and the rest of your computer hardware. Of course, this doesn’t stop the most enthusiastic of tweakers and hackers. By all means, dive into the adventure of overclocking your PC and experiment—but be sure you know what to do if and when your system goes haywire. Bookmark this article and refer to it when you need it.

Step 1

Before you change anything about your CPU or your BIOS, find the manual for your computer and/or your motherboard. Internet forums and web articles (yes, even this one) are unreliable references once it comes to looking up specific information about your motherboard. There are so many different makes, models and versions of motherboards and CPUs that it’s unlikely that any user-driven resource will have authoritative information on your computer. So, hop on to the manufacturer’s website and PRINT off the manual (the whole manual) or dig out the manual that came with your computer and dog ear the section about dealing with your BIOS. Got it? Good. Let’s press on.

Step 2

Familiarize yourself with the innards of your PC. There are two components that you should locate before tweaking: the reset jumper and the CMOS battery. The reset jumper will look like a series of pins or prongs on the motherboard itself. At least one set of pins will be exposed, while the remaining ones will have a jumper already plugged in. This is usually labeled as “CMOS RESET” or “J-1.” The best way to be sure is to check your manual.

The CMOS battery is a round battery that is about the size of a thumbnail. You can’t miss it—it’s about the only removable round object on your entire motherboard. There will be a slight nub on one end of the housing that serves as the release. Again, check your manual if you’re not sure. Google Images is also a great place for finding examples of CMOS reset jumpers and CMOS batteries.

Step 3

Reset your BIOS. This is the go-to solution for whenever your computer fails to POST, boot into Windows or otherwise becomes bricked. There are a couple ways to do this, and since you located your manual, your CMOS jumper and your CMOS battery, you can do them all.

The best and most unobtrusive way to do this is to boot into your BIOS setup screen and simply choose the “Reset to default” setting. Since you’re already overclocking your PC, you should know how to get into your BIOS setup screen. However, if your computer isn’t posting, you may need to try an alternate method, such as holding INSERT while your computer boots.

If you absolutely can’t get into your BIOS setup screen, try setting the reset jumper. This usually entails moving the jumper to the next set of pins, or the position indicated as the reset position. Leave it be for 20 seconds (or longer just to be safe) and then replace it back to its default position. Boot your computer.

Lastly, you can try removing your CMOS battery. The CMOS battery is what keeps your BIOS settings saved from boot-to-boot. The battery allows you to keep your BIOS settings even if the power goes out or your unplug your computer. The BIOS stores its settings in volatile memory, meaning when it loses power, you lose your settings. In our case, where we’ve presumably mucked up the BIOS settings, this is precisely what we want to do. Gently pry out the battery using the release or by wedging it out with a small flathead screwdriver or pencil. Be very careful not to damage any part of the housing or motherboard. Leave it removed for 1 to 2 minutes, replace the battery and boot your computer. Cross your fingers, if desired.

Now that your BIOS is back to its default settings, you can leave well enough alone or dive back in there and try to overclock it again without nerfing your system. Good luck.