Android Overclocking Explained!

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Many of you probably already running a custom ROM on your Android smartphone or tablet, perhaps even overclocked to 1.8Ghz and unleashing the true power of your Android device.

Well, for those of you who don’t know, what is Android overclocking?

Similar to overclocking CPU on a desktop computer, Android overclocking increases the maximum frequency (or speed) that your CPU can run, thereby increasing performance of your Android smartphone or tablet.

Overclocking Android can have a lot of benefits like being able to run 3D/HD games without lag (if you have an older Android device that lags on newer games) or even make older Android devices run just as fast as newer devices.

Android runs open-source Linux kernels, which makes this possible.

Now is overclocking safe?

Yes, I’ve overclocked all of my 30+ Android devices for the last couple years, I’ve never seen a SINGLE FAILURE of CPU due to overclocking although I have burned up my computer CPU many times.

Mobile CPUs used on Android smartphones and tablets are somewhat safer than computer CPUs as they are designed to fit in small compartments and also possess more safety mechanisms to prevent CPU from burning up easily (otherwise manufacturers would have a headache dealing with burned up CPU returns). Desktop computer CPUs are easy to replace but mobile CPUs are not.

At the worst case scenario, your CPU on an Android device will reboot, not burn in hell.

Also, many people mistaken the fact that when you overclock from 1Ghz to 1.5Ghz, your phone/tablet will be running at the 1.5Ghz all the time. This is not true (unless you’ve set your governor to performance, which is not ideal), your Android device will automatically ramp up CPU power as needed so even if you overclock, you might not be running 1.5Ghz all the time, maybe 10-25% of the time when you are running many apps.

How is my battery life when overclocking?

When you overclock your Android device, your battery life is shortened since overclocking uses more voltage, hence more power from your Android device. My ideal guideline for overclocking is to overclock only 10-20% of your stock frequency. So for 1Ghz stock CPU frequency, overclock to 1.1-1.2Ghz.

Overclocking does use more battery life but if you’ve got a phone with a large battery like the Note 2, it certainly is worth to overclock as your battery will still last more than a day. But on phones with no removable battery or small battery, you may have to test it out and see if overclocking is right for you or perhaps only overclock when plugged into a wall playing HD games.

How do you overclock?

First and foremost, you do need a rooted Android device to get overclocking.

Overclocking requires you to have a custom kernel that supports overclocking OR a custom kernel module that supports overclocking (Tegra Overclock app).

Many custom ROMs actually come with custom kernel that supports overclocking so by installing a custom ROM, you can get overclocking enabled on your Android device.

You can also install a custom kernel that’s compatible with your custom ROM (or stock ROM) that will enable overclocking.

To actually overclock though, you will also have to have an Overclocking app such as SetCPU. On AOSP ROMs, overclocking settings are usually built-in under settings in Performance.

If you have a Samsung device such as Galaxy Note, Galaxy S2, Galaxy S3, or Galaxy Note 2, you can also use Tegrak Overclock app to overclock your phone/tablet. This app installs a “kernel module” to enable overclocking, it only requires root and a very safe method to overclock.

For Nexus 4, see How to Overclock Nexus 4!

Lastly but not least, do you overclock your Android?

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Have a question?

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Max Lee

Max Lee is the founder of Max makes Android tutorials and review videos for people who want to get high on Android over at his YouTube channel and Korean YouTube channel.