Raspberry Pi is a series of pocket-size computer boards manufactured by Raspberry Pi Foundation. The main purpose of creating raspberry pi is to promote the basic education of computer in programming in schools. Since its release, it has got huge popularity in the field of computer programming and DIY, since it comes preloaded with many programming apps and features and the 40 pin GPIO which can be used to connect various sensors as well as can be programmed to get various outputs from it. There are plenty of operating system available to install on it. The raspberry pi 3 comes with a 1.2Ghz A53 quad-core ARM processor 1GB ram with onboard Bluetooth and WIFI. Despite of its advantages there are also disadvantages of it and the main disadvantage of it is its processing power. It not suitable for projects, compilers and apps that require high processing power. Since we cannot upgrade the processor, we can push it to its limits by overclocking it. This article covers everything you need to know about overclocking the raspberry pi 3.
Things to be taken care before overclocking:
A good power supply is extremely important while overclocking the raspberry pi 3. A good power supply means it must provide 5v at minimum of 2.5 amps. The official documentation of raspberry pi 3 also mentions that you should use 5v 2.5A power supply. However 2.5A is just the minimum current required by the raspberry pi to run stable, So in order to achieve maximum performance by overclocking we recommend you to use a power supply that provides 5v and 3 Amps of current. If you are overclocking the raspberry pi and not providing enough power, your raspberry pi will become unstable in full load or it might force shutdown.
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While overclocking a processor, temperature plays a major in it. We all know that high temperature is not good for CPU, high temperature degrades its lifespan and also the CPU starts to throttle in high temperatures. In case of raspberry pi 3 the CPU throttling temperature is 85C, so we have to try our best to keep the temperature below 85C otherwise there will be no performance gain. To keep the temperature under 85C we have to install heat sink or cooling fan.
Heat sinks are good, but the bigger the heatsink greater the efficiency. In case of raspberry pi the heat sink is small so it cannot radiate much heat to air. So using a fan instead of heat sink is a good idea but combining heatsink with fan is a far better idea. In my testing, with heat sink the temperature went up to 83°C whereas with fan the temperature the remains around 77°C but when combined both temperature didn’t pass 73°C.
The common sign that will appear in the upper right corner of the screen is the thunder sign. It appears when the power supply is not providing 5v. If the sign occurs immediately you should check your power supply if the voltage is not less than 5v. If your power supply is providing 5v but still the thunder sign is appearing then you should change the USB cable and check.
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How to overclock raspberry pi 3.
Overclocking the raspberry pi 3 is pretty easy unlike windows, we don’t have to download specific software in order to overclock the raspberry pi. Here, by editing the config we can overclock the CPU, GPU, ram as well as set max overclock temperature.
Step 1. Turn on your raspberry pi.
Step 2. Open the terminal from the taskbar or from menu > accessories > terminal.
Step 3. Type sudo nano /boot/config.txt
Step 4. Use the down arrow key on your keyboard to navigate to the bottom and then copy paste this:
force_turbo=1 #Enable CPU-overclock over 1300MHz (default 0)
avoid_pwm_pll=1 #Enable no-relative freq between CPU and GPU cores (default 0)
arm_freq=1350 #Frequency of ARM processor core in MHz (default 1200)
core_freq=550 #Frequency of GPU processor core in MHz (default 400)
over_voltage=6 #ARM/GPU voltage adjust, values over 6 voids warranty (default 0)
sdram_freq=575 #Frequency of SDRAM in MHz (default 450)
sdram_schmoo=0x02000020 #Set SDRAM schmoo to get more than 500MHz freq (default unset)
over_voltage_sdram_p=6 #SDRAM phy voltage adjust (default 0)
over_voltage_sdram_i=4 #SDRAM I/O voltage adjust (default 0)
over_voltage_sdram_c=4 #SDRAM controller voltage adjust (default 0)
gpu_mem=256 #GPU memory in MB. Memory split between ARM and GPU (default 64?)
gpu_freq=550 #Sets core_freq h264_freq isp_freq v3d_freq together (default 300)
v3d_freq=500 #Frequency of 3D block in MHz
h264_freq=350 #Frequency of hardware video block in MHz
dtparam=sd_overclock=90 #Clock in MHz to use for MMC microSD (default 50)
dtparam=audio=on #Enables the onboard ALSA audio (always use this ON)
dtparam=spi=on #Enables the SPI interfaces (default OFF)
temp_limit=85 #Overheat protection. Disable overclock if SoC reaches this temp
initial_turbo=60 #Enables turbo mode from boot for the given value in seconds
start_x=1 #Enable software decoding (MPEG-2, VC-1, VP6, VP8, Theora, etc)
overscan_scale=1 #Respect the overscan settings with the use of an LCD display
Then press Ctrl + O to save the file and then press Ctrl + X to close the editor.
Step 5. Reboot your raspberry pi and enjoy increased performance.
I have benchmarked my raspberry pi 3 to check how much performance I can gain by overclocking it. I have applied various CPU frequencies up to 1550 Mhz and in 1550 Mhz the CPU Temperature went to 87°C and it started throttling and is also unstable because of the power settings. So after trying so many different settings I finally ended up applying the above settings, which is stable and in my case the max temperature recorded was 83°C with only heatsink and 77°C with fan and 74°C with both. The results might be different in your case.
The benchmark I performed is sysbench in which the pi with heatsink completed the test in 92 sec and with both heatsink and fan completed in 84 sec. As you see that after overclocking the raspberry pi 3 the benchmark timing reduced by 8 sec. The speed of the fan I am using is not so good, so if you use a powerful fan you can push it further.
If you face any problem while overclocking don’t feel shy to ask it in comments!