HTPC GuideZertz , technodanvan , tacohunter52 - March 15, 2009
» Discuss this article (16)
The Processor - Overclocking
Given that this site has “overclocking” in its name, I feel that people will be asking about it, so I might as well get around to discussing it now. I'm not going to talk about how to do it, if you've never done it before then this probably isn't the rig you should start on. There are guides all over the place (including this site) that discuss that in great detail. For those that are experienced overclockers though, yes, of course overclocking is beneficial and very well could be done on an HTPC. However, there are a few things to keep in mind.
You need to worry about heat not only from your processor, but from your motherboard as well as your power supply. If you use a monster case, this likely won't be a problem. If you want to integrate your HTPC among the rest of your stereo equipment it will be in a much smaller case and possibly in a restricted environment. You might not even be able to get the nice big heat sink in the case, due to height restrictions. In addition, the case itself may be in an enclosed area resulting in even poorer airflow than it would have sitting out in the open.
Some people have yet to discover true stability. If you overclock and use your machine for folding, go ahead and skip this because you're awesome! But for those that don’t fold and only run Orthos or OCCT for a few minutes on their overclocked rigs, that just might not cut it. Keep in mind if you run image enhancement programs on these rigs that they will run 40-50+% throughout a movie even on a powerful processor. Compressing a DVD in Divx format can load them up to 100%. The point is it will use much more than the average game does for hours on end. That added in with the additional heat problems may cause crashes you might otherwise never see. Just be forewarned.
My recommendation would be a slight overclock only. Certainly don't increase the voltage on anything, and ensure that you have better than average airflow. If you are using a dedicated HTPC case, this likely means modding, since most only come with one or two 80mm intakes and maybe a 60mm exhaust. Obviously, if you intend on overclocking, the CPU recommendations above may not apply to you.