Five ways to overclock a netbook (really!)

By Eric Lai, Computerworld |  Hardware, netbook

The words overclocking and netbook appear in a sentence together about as often as Steve Ballmer is spotted at a Linux convention. Netbooks are all about portability over performance. Overclocking is all about taking already blazing-fast gear and pushing it to its upper limits -- warranties, energy use and safety be damned. Right?

Actually, "people have been overclocking netbooks pretty much since Day One," according to Brad Linder, who writes the Liliputing blog. It started with the very first Eee PC 701, which Asustek Computer "intentionally underclocked ... to improve battery life," said Linder. Frustrated hackers developed tools such as Eeectl and SetFSB to "right-clock" the Eee's CPU, he says.

Quick to take a hint, Asus soon began shipping its own overclocking app, the Super Hybrid Engine, with every Eee. That let users boost the speed of most Eees by up to 10% while staying within warranty. And the newly released Asus 1101HA can be run up to 30% faster.

Netbook manufacturer MSI also enables its users to easily tune its Wind netbooks and make them as much as 24% faster.

Then there are extreme modders like Team Australia in Adelaide. Using a dry-ice-filled pot to chill the exposed motherboard of an MSI Wind U100 netbook, they were able to push its Intel Atom N270 processor to 2.4 GHz, a 50% boost over its rated 1.6 GHz.

Of course, most of us aren't interested in performing science experiments for the sake of bragging rights. We just want to get apps to load faster, or high-def videos to play stutter-free.

But besides Asus and MSI, few other netbook makers officially endorse overclocking, much less bundle tools to enable it.

Never fear: Below we detail five (fairly) easy ways for you to overclock your netbook, none of which requires access to exotic cooling materials, and only one of which requires competence with a soldering iron. (There's also a bonus tip for Acer Aspire One owners -- no overclocking, but plenty of hardware tweaking.)

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