Overclocking is the process of making various components of your computer run at faster speeds than they do when you first buy them. For instance, if you buy a Pentium 4 3.2GHz processor, and you want it to run faster, you could overclock the processor to make it run at 3.6GHz.
WARNING: Overclocking can F up your stuff. Overclocking wares down the hardware and the life-expectancy of the entire computer will be lowered if you overclock. If you attempt to overclock, I, Rogue_Jedi, and Overclockers.com and its inhabitants are not responsible for anything broken or damaged when using this guide. This guide is merely for those who accept the possible outcomes of this overclocking guide/FAQ, and overclocking in general.
Why would you want to overclock? Well, the most obvious reason is that you can get more out of a processor than what you paid for. You can buy a relatively cheap processor and overclock it to run at the speed of a much more expensive processor. If you're willing to put in the time and effort, overclocking can save you a bunch of money in the future or, if you need to be at the bleeding edge like me, can give you a faster processor than you could possibly buy from a store
The Dangers of Overclocking
First of all, let me say that if you are careful and know what you are doing, it will be very hard for you to do any permanent damage to your computer by overclocking. Your computer will either crash or just refuse to boot if you are pushing the system too far. It's very hard to fry your system by just pushing it to it's limits.
There are dangers, however. The first and most common danger is heat. When you make a component of your computer do more work than it used to, it's going to generate more heat. If you don't have sufficient cooling, your system can and will overheat. By itself, overheating cannot kill your computer, though. The only way that you will kill your computer by overheating is if you repeatedly try to run the system at temperatures higher than recommended. As I said, you should try to stay under 60 C.
Don't get overly worried about overheating issues, though. You will see signs before your system gets fried. Random crashes are the most common sign. Overheating is also easily prevented with the use of thermal sensors which can tell you how hot your system is running. If you see a temperature that you think is too high, either run the system at a lower speed or get some better cooling. I will go over cooling later in this guide.
The other "danger" of overclocking is that it can reduce the lifespan of your components. When you run more voltage through a component, it's lifespan decreases. A small boost won't have much of an affect, but if you plan on using a large overclock, you will want to be aware of the decrease in lifespan. This is not usually an issue, however, since anybody that is overclocking likely will not be using the same components for more than 4-5 years, and it is unlikely that any of your components will fail before 4-5 years regardless of how much voltage you run through it. Most processors are designed to last for up to 10 years, so losing a few of those years is usually worth the increase in performance in the mind of an overclocker.
To understand how to overclock your system, you must first understand how your system works. The most common component to overclock is your processor.
When you buy a processor, or CPU, you will see it's operating speed. For instance, a Pentium 4 3.2GHz CPU runs at 3.2GHz, or 3200 MHz. This is a measurement of how many clock cycles the processor goes through in one second. A clock cycle is a period of time in which a processor can carry out a given amount of instructions. So, logically, the more clock cycles a processor can execute in one second, the faster it can process information and the faster your system will run. One MHz is one million clock cycles per second, so a 3.2GHz...