I don’t usually recommend the auto-overclocking (or Auto OC) features you find on most motherboards, though they have gotten interesting lately. AMD’s Precision Boost Overdrive (PBO), for example, doesn’t boost clock speeds higher than what you see on the box. However, it will allow your CPU to boost to that advertised clock speed more often, for longer periods of time, or in situations where it otherwise wouldn’t be able to reach those speeds.
You’re probably itching to get going, but resist the urge to start pushing clock speeds just yet. First, I recommend getting a baseline of your CPU at stock settings. Restart your computer and load up the BIOS by pressing Delete, F2, or whatever key the boot screen indicates.
Spend some time in your BIOS getting the lay of the land, exploring the different settings and where they are. (On some boards, you may have to enter Advanced or Expert Mode to see them all.) Each motherboard manufacturer organizes their BIOS a little differently, and may have different names for certain settings. If you go through this guide and aren’t sure what a certain feature is called on your motherboard, Google is your friend.
Next, it’s a good idea to run an initial stress test to make sure everything is okay at stock settings, ruling out a defective chip or other stability issues that may hamper your overclocking endeavors.
Start OCCT and, in the Monitoring window, click the little graph button in the toolbar until you see a table, like in the screenshot above. In my opinion, this table is easier to read than the graphs, and has all the info you’ll need to monitor your CPU.
Click the On button and OCCT will begin the stress test. Let it run for about 15 minutes and, if you don’t encounter any freezes or blue screens, reboot your computer and head into the BIOS for some overclocking.
The easiest way to overclock is by slowly raising that multiplier value—it’s possible to raise the base clock too, but the base clock affects other components of your system as well, making it much harder to keep things stable—so we won’t touch it today. Find the multiplier option (sometimes called Core Ratio or something similar), set it to Manual or Sync All Cores, if the BIOS gives you such a choice, then choose a number for your initial overclock.
You may have to research your CPU to find a good starting point, but for my Ryzen 2600, I started at 37, a few notches above its default multiplier of 34. (Note: some people like to use the aforementioned Ryzen Master for tweaking the multiplier, and that’s fine for the testing phases—I prefer to make all changes in the BIOS itself.)
Once you’ve set a multiplier, scroll down to the CPU Core Voltage option—sometimes just called “Vcore”—and set it to Manual instead of Auto (since Auto tends to be overly aggressive). Again, you may have to research your CPU to find a good starting point, but for my Ryzen 2600, I used a voltage of just under 1.24v, which I knew should work at 3.7GHz.
At a certain point, you’ll either run into an error, your computer will freeze, or you’ll see the dreaded Blue Screen of Death. This means your CPU isn’t getting enough voltage to sustain the desired clock speed, so you’ll need to give it a bit more juice. Go back to the BIOS, raise the Core Voltage by 0.01 volts or so, then run that stress test again. As you do this, write down the results of each stress test on your notepad so you can keep track of your progress. As with all experiments, it’s best to change only one variable at a time.
Load-Line Calibration: When your CPU requests voltage, it can sometimes experience something called “Vdroop,” where the voltage drops below its specified level under load. Load-line calibration, also called LLC, combats this by making voltage delivery a bit more precise.
XMP and RAM Overclocking: Unlike some older CPUs, Ryzen’s Infinity Fabric architecture causes higher RAM speeds to give noticeable performance boosts. So once you hit a wall with your CPU speed, try kicking your RAM speeds up a notch.
If you tweak it manually, you might even be able to push it farther than the specs on the box indicate. Whatever you set your RAM to, you should definitely do a full round of Memtest86+ to ensure its stability.
When you’re done tweaking, you should have a collection of settings that are stable for 15 minutes of OCCT’s Linpack testing. That’s a good start, but we want this overclock to be rock-solid, which means running it through a few longer tests. Start by running that same OCCT Linpack test for three hours. Some overclocks might be stable for 15 minutes but can’t hold up to longer bouts of stress.
If you run into any freezing or crashing—either during these tests, or in the course of normal gaming binges—you’ll need to either increase your voltage or decrease your multiplier. When all was said and done, my Ryzen 5 2600 kept stable at 4.0GHz on all six cores, which is a nice little jump from the 3.6GHz-to-3.7GHz all-core boost I was seeing at stock settings.