Raspberry Pi devices make computing much easier and far more convenient thanks to their small frames packed with computing power on par with even some of the strongest smartphones.
Perhaps top of the range of Pi devices is the Raspberry Pi 4. This is easily the most popular Raspberry Pi on the market and offers a perfect balance between power and price.
Many choose to use Raspberry Pi 4 as an emulation device, to help to preserve classic games that might otherwise become defunct as technology continues to improve.
They can also be used to optimize existing computers, which is easily done thanks to the non-complicated motherboard designs of Raspberry Pi computers.
However, sometimes even the best gaming PCs just aren’t enough to handle certain problems or certain games, and it becomes necessary to push them past their limits. This is what is termed as ‘overclocking’.
Overclocking helps to push a computer past its limits so that it can achieve things it would not be able to normally.
However, pushing a computer past its limits runs the risk of incurring lasting and irreversible damage. So how do you overclock a Raspberry Pi 4 safely, and without damaging it?
We’ll show you how!
What Is Overclocking?
On a basic level overclocking refers to the act of pushing a computer past its standard clock rate, which allows it to run faster than it was designed to.
This can help you to achieve greater speeds, but done improperly it can cause terrible damage that would be difficult to repair.
The ‘clock’ of a computer actually refers to an electronic pulse that is sent out by the CPU that helps all of the other components in the computer to synchronize and work together in harmony.
Think of how a metronome works in music, it helps an artist to keep within rhythm so that they do not lose track of a song’s intended tempo.
The pulse of the clock helps to keep the computer running safely and to mitigate crashes that occur when a computer becomes overloaded.
How Do You Safely Overclock A Raspberry Pi 4?
ARM Cortex-A72 CPU processors come standard with all Raspberry Pi 4 devices, and they act as the central brain of the computer and help to keep all of the various processes and calculations in order.
The ARM CPU has a general maximum speed of around 1,500 Megahertz in the clock.
This is more than enough to help a Pi 4 to run ordinary processes and any programs you might operate through it, but in certain cases, you may find yourself in need of a little extra oomph.
If you want to overclock your Raspberry Pi 4 to push it past the 1,500 Megahertz limit, then you will need to start by making a backup of all of your data on that Raspberry Pi 4.
Unfortunately, overclocking a Raspberry Pi 4 carries a significant risk of overloading the CPU and causing the device to crash and become corrupt, so you will want to make sure that all of your important stuff is kept safe.
You will also want to make sure that you have access to the Raspbian OS Confic.txt code, as that is where you will implement the command to overclock the CPU.
And, finally, you also want to make a point of updating your Pi 4 to the latest Raspberry Pi OS version, as the Raspberry Pi company is constantly implementing and improving the Raspberry Pi OS to perform better, even when overclocked.
Once you have made a firm backup of your Raspberry Pi 4, gained access to the Raspbian OS code, and updated your Raspberry Pi 4 to the latest Raspberry Pi OS, you can move on to the first step.
Step 1 – Position Your Raspberry Pi 4
It might sound strange, but placing your Raspberry Pi 4 into the perfect position helps it to work better. Place the Pi vertically, as this helps to improve the airflow to every component on the motherboard and helps to keep the system cool. This creates active cooling conditions to keep your Pi safe.
Step 2 – Make A Note Of Your Current Speed
Now for the fun part. Open up the terminal for the Raspberian OS and type in ‘cat/sys/devices/system/ cpu/cpu0/cpufreq/scaling_cur’
Before we start overclocking, take a look at the default CPU speed. Open a Terminal and enter: ‘cat /sys/devices/system/cpu/cpu0/cpufreq/scaling_cur_freq’. This will give you an up-to-date read of your Raspberry Pi 4’s default clock speed.
It’s likely that the number you will be met with is 600000. If you were to then divide that number by 1000 you would be met with your actual clocking speed in action.
Normally, a Raspberry Pi 4 will operate at around 600 Megahertz as dictated by the core configuration settings.
Your Pi will likely run slightly faster if there is a good-quality power supply that you are connected to.
To push the Pi 4 to a faster clock speed enter: ‘vcgencmd measure-clock arm’ into the terminal. You will likely see an immediate performance boost and a faster maximum CPU speed.
Step 3 – Overclock Your Raspberry Pi
Now, using your terminal, enter ‘watch -n 1 vcgencmd measure_clock arm’. This causes the CPU to begin clocking at 1500000 GigaHertz and causes the CPU to continually monitor the speed using the same command you used earlier.
Every time it makes a monitoring search it will push the clock up by one unit per second. This will begin slowly pushing the CPU clock past its limit.
From here, you can now set a new upper limit that exceeds 1.5 GigaHertz. Open another terminal and type in: ‘sudo nano/boot/config.txt’.
From there, scroll down and find a small section that says ‘#uncomment to overclock the arm. 700 MHz is the default. #arm_freq=800.
Simply change the small ‘#arm_freq=800’ section to ‘#arm_freq=1750’. From there, simply save the changes that you made to your terminal and restart your Pi.
When the Pi boots you should take another look at the clocking speed by using the code mentioned in step 2, and you will notice that the clocking speed has gone up quite immensely and that you now have extra performance power.
As you utilize different functions on the Pi 4 you will notice that the number continually increases. Make sure not to push the Pi 4 too far, as that can cause crashes that may render your Pi 4 bricked.
Overclocking your Raspberry Pi 4 can open up a whole new world of computing power, so it is well worth trying out, but you need to make sure that you are aware of the risks so that you can mitigate problems.
Overclocking any kind of computer can prove disastrous if not done properly, and thus you must be careful, especially when doing it with a Raspberry Pi 4, as such systems can easily be irreparably damaged.
Frequently Asked Questions
Why Should You Overclock Raspberry Pi 4?
You don’t have to overclock a Raspberry Pi 4, as one can run very efficiently even at the most basic clocking rate. However, if you want better performance when emulating, for example, then it is worth taking the time to overclock.
Will There Be A Raspberry Pi 5?
Though there has been no official announcement of a Raspberry Pi 5, it is no doubt going to happen eventually. When it will come out, however, is still very much up in the air.
How Do You Install Stressberry?
Just simply head to the Stressberry website and follow the steps to install the Stressberry program onto your Raspberry Pi 4.
Once it is installed Stressberry can help you to run stress tests on your Raspberry Pi, to see how well it is running.