Overclocking in computing is the act of forcibly increasing a component's clock rate in the attempt to exceed the manufacturer's certified capacity and increase the machine's performance. The components most frequently subjected to overclocking are CPU and GPU, while other components can also be overclocked.
Overclocking is achieved by setting a higher clock rate in the computer's BIOS, forcing it to perform more operations per second. The common pitfalls of such act is the increase in power consumption and the excessive heat produced by it, while noise levels are also increased. An overclocked device may often be unreliable or fail completely if the additional heat load is not removed or power delivery components cannot meet increased power demands. For that reason, many device warranties state that overclocking and/or over-specification voids any warranty, but many users choose to trade their components' safety for the increased performance as most modern devices are far more tolerant of overclocking.
In theory every computer component can be overclocked as the main objective is to exceed the components limitation set by the manufacturer. Therefore, even the slightest increase in performance theoretically achieves the goal of overclocking as long as the displayed threshold is being breached. While most components oftentimes see marginal or barely perceptible benefits, CPUs see much larger performance improvements, especially when using a high-end cooling solution. However, CPUs are also the most complex component to overlock, making it significantly harder for newcomers and beginners to achieve great numbers.
GPUs (Graphics processing units) on the other hand although overclockable rarely see significant performance gains while results can be wildly inconsistent. "The Silicon lottery" is a term used by overclocking enthusiasts to describe components that turned out better during the manufacturing process, therefore making them more durable (this can also arise with CPUs, but is most often referenced concerning GPUs), capable of handling the pressure of overclocking better; meaning more overclocking headroom. Regardless, GPUs are the most popular component to overclock despite its downsides.
In terms of complexity, RAM (Random-access memory) is closely tied with CPU and yet its performance gains aren't as grant. In Particular, DDR4 SDRAM are more prominent compared to its predecessors DDR3 and DDR2. However, even though higher speeds aren't usually all that noticeable in most applications there are a few scenarios where overclocking RAM is actually really important. One such scenario is with AMD Accelerated Processing Units where CPU + GPU are combined in one chip meaning they have to share memory resources. Typically, a GPU has its own RAM that is much faster than desktop DDR3 or DDR4 SDRAM, but with an APU it has to work with slower desktop RAM. In this particular scenario, overclocking your RAM is actually highly recommended and will give you meaningful performance increases .