Introduction to overclocking jargon

Getting into overclocking might be intimidating first, but once you’ve taken the decision to push your components beyond their standard frequencies, there is no going back.

Taking the first step is all well and fine, but the second step can be a bit harder: understanding what the overclocking community is talking about.

Below is an introduction to some of the jargon used by overclockers.


The above is short for Super pi, one of the most prolific 2D benchmarks in the world of overclocking.

The aim is to compute Pi to the 1 millionth or 32 millionth digit (these just being the two most common super pi benchmarks) in the quickest time possible. Easy to run, but notoriously difficult to perfect, Super Pi is often at the centre of efficiency and tweaking debates online.


Referring either to PC Mark Vantage or 3D Mark Vantage, Vantage is enough to describe two of the most popular benchmarks offered by Futuremark.

PC Mark Vantage is a test that stresses each component in your system to determine the overall score, making it an in-depth benchmark to fine-tune. It often requires expensive SSD drives and third-party controller cards to do well in, with drive performance playing a huge part in the overall score.

3D Mark Vantage, meanwhile, is a common 3D benchmarking program which focuses on the important gaming hardware, including the CPU, graphics card and RAM. The first Futuremark benchmark that required DirectX 10 (and consequently, Windows Vista or later), Vantage is a now a staple test in an overclockers suite of benchmark.

“Tighten your timings”

Rather than insulting your mom, the above means that the RAM latency timings are set too high, and need to be reduced in order to improve overall performance.

The primary timings are often marketed with the RAM in the form of 8-8-8-20, referring to CAS latency (CL), Row Address to Column Address Delay (tRCD), Row Precharge Time (tRP), and Row Active Time (tRAS) respectively. We realise the irony of having these terms unexplained in an article meant for explaining them,  so check out the Wikipedia page for a bit more info.

There are also sub-timings that overclockers can tweak for improved performance, though here extensive testing is required if you want stability while you run your benchmarks.


LN2 stands for Liquid nitrogen, the essential part of any overclocker’s diet. It is used to cool down CPUs and graphics cards in order to increase voltages and frequencies far beyond the normal “safe” conditions.

If LN2 is the bread, the butter in the diet would be DICE, the short term used for dry ice.

This is also used to reduce temperatures during overclocking, though is not nearly as cold (which is sometimes a good thing).

There is also LHe, liquid helium. This is even colder than liquid nitrogen; though, due to its cost and extreme temperature, it is not often used by regular overclockers.

Cold bug/Cold boot

Cold bug is what happens to a system that has become too cold to function. The system will lock up and refuse to work until it has had time to warm up.

Cold boot is similar: it is the problem overclocker’s face when a system is too cold to start up.

Cold boot can be higher or lower than a system’s cold bug, depending on the component that is being cooled. Overclockers have no choice but to wait for the system to warm up before continuing their session.

Phase/Cascade/Single state

Phase change cooling is a method used by overclockers to keep their systems as cold as possible permanently, without having to resort to LN2 or DICE each time they want to overclock to an extreme level.

There are various systems out there, including cascades and single/multi-stage setups that each have their own unique cooling capacities.


Rather than referring to pumping iron in the gym (boet), benching is the short version for benchmarking: running a series of benchmarks on an overclocked system to achieve a score that can be compared to other scores. This is sometimes (incorrectly) used in conjunction with clock (below).


Clocking refers to overclocking: increasing the clock speed and voltage of various system components to achieve a faster system. Clocking is just the act of increasing system speeds, and not of testing the system (which would be benching, explained above).

The bot

The bot refers to HWBot, the world wide overclocking database which stores overclocking results for a variety of benchmarks.

These scores are compared to each other (and ranked accordingly) with each assigned a number of points depending on its position relative to other scores. These points are the basis for a range of overclocking leagues, where professional overclockers challenge each other for positions and titles.

Prime stable

So your system is clocked, but is it prime stable?

This refers to the stress test, Prime 95, one of the more common methods to determine whether or not an overclocked system is stable for 24/7 use.

The test stresses components to their maximum, generating the most heat and placing the most load on components to determine a weak point in the system – which the overclocker can then address to improve stability. Other tests such as OCCT also exist and perform a similar function.

Related Articles

Gaming mouse pricing comparison

5 cool PC gaming features we take for granted

Important gaming motherboard features

PC cleaning tips and tricks

How to budget on PC components

Forum discussion

Join the conversation

Introduction to overclocking jargon

Related posts