How to Safely Overclock your Raspberry Pi 4 to 2.147GHz

The Raspberry Pi 4 is arguably the best Single Board Computer, but did you know you can overclock it to squeeze out even more performance? Yes, its base ARM Cortex-A72 processor with max clock speeds of 1.5GHz can actually be overclocked to up to 2.147GHz !

In today’s tutorial, we’ll teach you how you can safely overclock your Pi 4! Do still try this at your own risk!


Steps to Overclock your Raspberry Pi 4

Warranty and Risks

In most cases, overclocking is safe and will not void your warranty if done so in an appropriate manner. However, you should still be aware that there are several settings that will void the warranty by flipping a hardware switch inside your Pi:

  • over_voltage greater than 6
  • force_turbo=1
  • temp_limit greater than 85

There will always be a risk of your Raspberry Pi 4 overheating while being overclocked. This tutorial will teach you the safest method, but please be aware of and accept the risks that you will undertake by continuing!


Step 1: Prepare the Hardware

Before we get started, let’s first go through what you’ll need for this tutorial. Apart from your Raspberry Pi 4, you’ll need:

  • A Raspberry Pi 4 Cooling Solution – Heatsink + Fan recommended
  • SD Card with Raspberry Pi OS Installed
  • A Reliable Power Supply (official version is highly recommended) to ensure your Pi is not being starved of power

Recommended Cooling Solution: Black Warrior ICE Tower CPU Cooling Fan

Undoubtedly the biggest issue with the Raspberry Pi 4 is thermal issues and throttling. With the Pi 4 capable of reaching insane temperatures (even beyond 85°C) without overclocking, you’ll definitely need a cooling solution in place if you want to overclock it!

Black Warrior ICE Tower CPU Cooling Fan for Raspberry Pi

One of the hot favourites here at Seeed is the Black Warrior ICE Tower CPU Cooling Fan for Raspberry Pi. It’s capable of reducing temperatures from 80℃ to 40℃ and is designed by 52PI, a world-leading Raspberry Pi accessories manufacturer. To achieve such a level of cooling, this cooling kit includes a 5mm copper tube, multi-layered heat sinks, and a fan with 7 blades.

If you’re looking for a cooling solution that’s more discrete, you can check out our list of Raspberry Pi cooling cases and heat sinks!

Step 2: Update your Raspberry Pi 4 Firmware

For the latest overclocking capabilities on the Pi 4, always update it to the latest version. This will give you the latest performance and reliability optimisations offered, which will improve your ability to reach higher clock speeds!

Here’s how you can update your Pi 4 to the latest firmware:

  1. Open the terminal on your Raspberry Pi and enter the following code:
sudo apt update

sudo apt full-upgrade
Source: Cytron

2. Afterwards, reboot the system for the update to be applied!

sudo reboot

Step 3: Check the Default Speed of CPU

The next step before you overclock your Pi 4 is to check your CPU base speed. It is good to check the default clock speed to see the changeable value, which can be done by opening the command line and entering the following:

Lscpu

or

cat /sys/devices/system/cpu/cpu0/cpufreq/scaling_cur_freq
Source: Cytron

This indicates that my Pi 4 CPU base speed is 600MHz, the speed requested by the kernel!

Step 4: Let’s start overclocking!

To overclock your Pi 4, we’ll mainly be tinkering with the config.txt file under core configuration settings. Follow the instructions below carefully to avoid any errors.

  • Open your terminal window and enter the following code:
sudo nano /boot/config.txt
Source: MagPi
  • Scroll down to the section marked:
#uncomment to overclock the arm. 700 MHz is the default.
#arm_freq=800
  • Change the config settings to:
#uncomment to overclock the arm. 700 MHz is the default.
over_voltage=2
arm_freq=1750
  • Save the file with CTRL+O (press RETURN) and use CTRL+X to exit. Now, restart your Raspberry Pi:
sudo reboot
  • Once your Raspberry Pi boots up again, use the vcgencmd command to check your new, faster clock speed:
watch -n 1 vcgencmd measure_clock arm

This command will monitor your real-time speed. Browse a few web pages on a few tabs and watch your CPU head on up to 1.75GHz!

Step 5: Overclocking your Pi 4 to even higher clock speed (2GHz)!

If you think overclocking it to around 1.75GHz is impressive, let’s take things up a notch, by cranking your Pi 4 CPU to 2.0GHz.

We will need to increase over_voltage to adjust the core CPU/GPU voltage to accommodate the higher clock speed. We will be cranking the over_voltage value up to 6, which is the highest without voiding the warranty.

  • Edit the config.txt file with the following settings:
over_voltage=6
arm_freq=2000
  • Save the file and exit Nano by CTRL+O and CTRL+X. Reboot your Raspberry Pi 4 and run:
sudo reboot
watch -n 1 vcgencmd measure_clock arm

Similar to before, you’ll now see the clock speed limit to appear as 2.0GHz!

Step 6: Overclocking your Pi 4 to the Max level!

Now for the moment you’ve been waiting for, overclocking your Pi 4 to 2.147GHz max clock speed! This time, we’ll also have to boost the gpu_freq by editing the config.txt file once again. 

We’ll set the arm_freq to 2147 and gpu_freq to 750 by changing the following settings:

over_voltage=6
arm_freq=2147
gpu_freq=750

The gpu_freq command will set core_freq, h264_freq, isp_freq, v3d_freq and hevc_freq all together which drives the L2 cache and memory bus for higher performance. A value of 750 is the highest value we’ve gotten after rigorous testing.

  • Save the file and exit Nano by CTRL+O and CTRL+X. Reboot your Pi 4 Now and you should see your device running at 2.147GHz!
sudo reboot
watch -n 1 vcgencmd measure_clock arm

NOTE: Some Raspberry Pi 4 boards have failed to boot at this speed or slowed down due to overheating/under-voltage. It’s unlikely for you to run your Pi 4 board at this max speed in the long run, hence we recommend you to settle for arm_freq=2000 / stop at step 5. Do also be reminded to monitor your CPU temperatures, as overheating can cause irreparable damage!


Summary

That’s all for today’s tutorial on how you can easily overclock your Raspberry Pi 4. Overclocking your Pi 4 is a rather straightforward way to get extra performance from your CPU, but you should understand the risks and limits of overclocking – it’s definitely safe when done in a controlled manner. Always check the settings that you are about to change before effecting them to avoid voiding your warranty.

Thanks for reading! PS. Here is a list of warning icons that may appear on the screen while you are attempting to overclock your Raspberry Pi. Always check if warnings appear or if you have any doubts!

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