How to Overclock Raspberry Pi 3 (Without Corrupting SD Card)

How to Overclock Raspberry Pi 3 (Without Corrupting SD Card)

How to Overclock Raspberry Pi 3 (Without Corrupting SD Card)

The Raspberry Pi is a little computing board that can do all the tasks like a desktop PC. In other words, it is a full-blown computer which can help you to edit documents, watch online videos, and even play retro games. But can we overclock the Raspberry Pi as we do with our desktop computing system? Let’s find it out.

Today, I will show you how to overclock Raspberry Pi. I will take the Raspberry Pi 3 Model B for doing this experiment.

Overclocking Raspberry Pi 3

The Raspberry Pi 3 is a fastest and smartest circuit device among the whole Raspberry Pi family today. But, for the modern and more demanding software and apps, you may want to overclock it so that you can get higher performance from its RAM, graphics, and main processor than the default settings.

You know that overclocking means the processor speed will be faster than the defaults whenever there is a sufficient load. So, it’s better to force the Pi to use the maximum of default settings. To do this, you can disable the CPU scaling feature which will help in reducing the lagging & boosting the performance.

The Pi has the default configurations like below:

Default underclock (MHz)

  • arm_freq= 600
  • core_freq= 250
  • sdram_freq= 450

Default clock (MHz)

  • arm_freq= 1200
  • core_freq= 400
  • sdram_freq= 450

We know that the Rasp-Config tool works like the BIOS for Raspberry Pi. You can edit the text file named as config.txt in any old or new text file editor. Mount the SD card on your system, open the configuration file and edit it.

Add the below lines of code in the /boot/config.txt file

force_turbo= 1

boot_delay= 1

The first line of code above will void your warranty. So make sure you want to do that. The second code line will help you to prevent the SD card from corrupting which can happen because of enabling the force_turbo.

After you have written the code, save the file, attach the card with your Pi 3 and boot it up. You will see new default settings to a new overclocked mode. I got them like below:

arm_freq = 1250

core_freq= 500

sdram_freq= 600

over_voltage= 5

That will do overclocking your Pi 3 without corrupting the SD card. If you are satisfied with such high-rate of the processing power, then it’s good. But if you still want some more, then you can take a push through and continue with setting the new parameters as mentioned here.

How to overclock the Pi 3 without voiding the warranty

If you got your Pi when the first Pi circuit board launched and tried to overclock it, then you will say, yes, overclocking the Pi means losing the warranty of the board. But after the Raspberry Pi Organization tested and confirmed in the laboratory, the Raspbian which is the official Raspberry Pi OS distribution comes with the inbuilt configuration tool to preset the overclocking functions. In fact, the Raspberry Pi itself provides the scope of 50% more performance rate safely.

The device itself never let you go beyond the pre-decided limitations for overclocking. So, it will not affect the warranty. For example, if your CPU temperature reaches to 1850 F (850 C), then the hardware will stop working.

You can also surpass these settings by the company with some deep knowledge and by tinkering a bit more. But, you have to be accurate as when you push the performance limits beyond the approval of the manufacturer, you will risk the warranty.

Overclocking the Pi safely (without risking warranty)

The safest way to overclock the Raspberry Pi 3 is to use Raspi-Config file on the Raspbian distribution. The overclocking menu is available in the older models, but in Pi 3, you will not see it because;

  1. The Raspberry Pi 3 design is already in such a great shape that, it’s at the nearly highest of the settings at every time
  2. Officially, the Raspberry Pi 3 is not supported for overclocking

Now, let’s go through the overclocking process for your Pi.

  1. Open the ‘Raspberry Pi terminal.’
  2. Enter the command raspi-config and hit Enter (add ‘sudo’ at front if you are not using the root login)
  3. Select the option number 8 mentioning ‘Configure overclocking for your pi’ in the window of software configuration

raspi-config

You will be shown a new window giving you warning that “Be aware that overclocking may reduce the lifetime of your Raspberry Pi..”

Pi-overclocking-warning

  1. If you wish to continue, then select ‘Ok.’
  2. Now from the list, choose the overclocking preference as per your wish and select ‘Ok.’

Overclocking-menu

Remember that if you face any issues while choosing the turbo mode, then it’s not the fault of your Pi board, but the power supply you are using is not enough to handle the power needs. The Raspberry Pi 3 needs more power than the other boards, +5.1V, 2.5A to be exact. Depending on the peripherals and devices you connect with the Pi 3 model B, it uses power accordingly.

How to check the overclocking?

Your Raspberry Pi 3 is overclocked, and you are ready to get the most out of it. But how you will check whether the overclocking has done and which are the parameters that changed? Let’s find it out too.

You may know that the Raspberry Pi has several processing modes, like:

  1. Performance
  2. Power save
  3. Userspace
  4. On demand and
  5. Conservative

First of all, put the processors in the ‘performance’ mode. It is recommended to prevent them from slowing down. For doing this, write the command in the terminal as mentioned below:

echo “performance” |sudo tee /sys/devices/system/cpu/cpu0/cpufreq/scaling_governor

Now, create a file to check the temperature & speed of the CPU. You can give any name to it. I have given it the name ‘temp_speed_check_cpu’ as shown here:

pico  temp_speed_check_cpu.sh

After that, write the command

cat /sys/devices/system/cpu/cpu0/cpufreq/scaling_cur_freq

Now from here, you find some repeated steps mentioned before in the article. But they are necessary to understand this topic.

Open the config.txt file and change the arm_freq to 1200

Reboot the whole system and test the performance of the Pi 3. Write the code below in the terminal:

fulload() { dd if=/dev/zero of=/dev/null | dd if=/dev/zero of=/dev/null | dd if=/dev/zero of=/dev/null | dd if=/dev/zero of=/dev/null & }; fulload

These lines of code will put the processors at peak performance always by creating threads and copying zeros into the digital trashcan Linux equivalent.

Now, start the script

watch watch ./temp_speed_check_cpu.sh

Update this at every couple of seconds. When you see the temperature reached to 56-570 C, then stop there.

Insert the SD card in your PC and add the boost in the voltage

arm_freq= 1200

over_voltage= 6

This will make your Raspberry Pi 3 run easily with 1.5GHz speed. But, for best continuous output, set for 1.45GHz.

If you want to terminate the whole process, then just write ‘killall dd’ to become free.

How to check the warranty status of Pi?

If you stay with the company-approved limitations, then you have not to worry about the warranty of your beloved Microcontroller or Computer. But, going beyond the limits always create the risk of voiding the warranty. The ‘sticky bit’ helps to check the status of it. It’s an easy process. Follow the below step:

Open the command terminal in your Pi and enter the command:

cat /proc/cpuinfo

This will display the information of the CPU and also the warranty status. Look for the label ‘Revision’ in that. If it shows a 4-digit alphanumeric value, then you are good, but, if it is showing the value with prepended ‘1000,’ then you have lost the warranty of your Pi.

That’s it. Overclocking your Raspberry Pi 3 is not that difficult as you may have thought. Share your experiences with Pi overclocking in the comment section below.

PS: As per my belief, the SDRAM is not clocked dynamically.

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