AMD OverDrive is a robust performance monitor and overclocking utility designed for beginners and enthusiasts alike. It ships with a variety of motherboards and video cards, or can be downloaded. It also interfaces with the ATI Catalyst Control Center.
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When you first load up AMD Overdrive you will receive a warning that operating a processor outside of its factory settings (called Overclocking) can damage your CPU and other components, and void your warranty(s). Yes, despite the fact that this software is provided via AMD (though I received it with my Asus motherboard) and carries their brand name, damage to your components resulting from its use is not covered by any warranty. Overclock at your own risk.
AMD Overdrive, besides providing overclocking assistance for both beginners and experienced overclockers, also serves as a robust performance monitoring utility with excellent reporting and benchmarking functions that monitor far more than just your processor. Learn more about AMD Overdrive, and Download it.
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After clicking through the damage and warranty warning box, AMD OverDrive will load entirely. At first, it can be incredibly overwhelming, especially if you're not that experienced with overclocking and everything that goes into it. Let's look at the first screen that you will encounter - System Information.
System Information gives you a detailed readout of everything going on in your system. Don't worry, there are no settings to change on this page so you can't screw anything up. It is great for quickly looking up detailed information about your hardware, like L2 and L3 caches, bus speeds, clock speeds, and voltages. As you can see, it is broken down into five sections: Processor, Cache, HyperTransport Link, SPD (memory timings/interface), and Memory. While some of these things may mean little to you, important information about your CPU is found in the Processor and Cache areas, and you can quickly reference information on your RAM in the Memory section.
You can view this information in a more detailed way by clicking over to the "Detailed" area instead of "Basic". To view the system information in a diagram that shows an image of how everything in your system is linked up, click over to the "Diagram" area.
The Status Monitor tab of AMD OverDrive provides an easy-to-read summary of your system, including voltages and temperatures. There are four tabs in this section: CPU Status, with multi-core monitoring; GPU Status, supporting up to four GPUs; and Board Status.
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The overclocking options offered by AMD OverDrive are broken into two broad areas: Novice Mode and Advanced Mode. You can swap between modes at the top of the Preference tab.
Novice mode allows you to use a single slider to control overclocking of your system, selecting between levels 1-10. You can't achieve very much overclocking using this mode, but it is definitely the safest way to go. It overclocks every component by a small amount, which you can see as you slide through the options.
Also available in Novice Mode are the Benchmarking tool, which tests the CPU, Memory, and Cache, and the CPU stability tester.
Advanced Mode unlocks a ton more features and options, but also doesn't protect you from making big mistakes that will destroy your system. I recommend you don't even look at advanced mode unless you know precisely what you're doing. Advanced mode gives you full control over clock speeds and voltages on all possible components. There is a relatively simple way to overclock just your CPU using a percentage selector, but you need to be cautious, not just crank it up to the highest possible and "see what happens".
Advanced Mode also opens up a whole new tab dealing with memory, where you can set timings and voltages as needed - again, only do this if you know exactly what you're doing.
Auto Clock Utility
The Auto Clock Utility is designed to test the limits of your hardware configuration's overclocking potential. It is worth noting though, that this process will often freeze your computer to the point that you need to do a hard reboot. This happens because the program pushes your configuration to a limit that it cannot support, causing it to halt. Once you reboot, go back to the Auto Clock area and it will tell you what your maximum successful overclock achievement was. Input those numbers in advanced mode, and run a stability test to see if you can work with them.