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5 ways to overclock a netbook (really!)

By Eric Lai
October 27, 2009 06:00 AM ET

2. Elevate your Eee with Eeectl

Method: Apart from the new Eee 1101HA, which can be run up to 30% faster, Asus' netbooks can be pushed only 10% faster with the included overclocking app, the Super Hybrid Engine. For more, you need to turn to Eeectl.

This free, two-year-old app from Russian developer DCI lets you control the speed of the motherboard's front-side bus as well as the CPU voltage -- the two virtual knobs you need to twiddle to over/underclock your CPU. The ever-handy Eeectl also lets you double your screen's brightness, control the fan and configure various hotkeys.

Models: Works on older 700 series Eees with no modification. For other Eees, users may need to modify the code.

Operating systems: Windows XP and Vista (and, reportedly, Windows 7).

Difficulty level: Not that easy, due to the need to modify the app for use on most Eees. There have also been a number of complaints about the software in the forums of Eeeuser.com. Another issue: The developer seems to have permanently halted development on Eeectl a year ago.

The scuttlebutt: Despite the complaints, the utility remains popular (a Google search turns up about 30,000 mentions). Cyb3rGlitch has a good general guide on using Eeectl. And check out this YouTube video, in which someone uses Eeectl to double an older-model Eee's clock speed.

3. Pump up the graphics with GMABooster

Method: An app called GMABooster by Vladimir Plenskiy can take your netbook's Intel graphics chip from 133/166 MHz to 400 MHz without increasing the voltage (power drain).

Models: Virtually all netbooks today, including the Acer Aspire One, most Asus netbooks, Dell Inspiron Minis, the MSI Wind, the HP Mini line (except for the original 2133), the Samsung NC10 and others. They all use Intel's GMA 950 graphics chip, which comes integrated with the motherboard of most Atom netbooks. The chip is also used on some notebooks and business desktop PCs.

Operating systems: Most versions of Windows, Linux and Mac OS X.

Difficulty level: Easy. The biggest hassle? Nonpaying users must redownload and install a new version each week. Those who donate any amount to the developer can avoid that hassle.

The scuttlebutt: Reports are mixed. UMPC Portal found an average increase of 20% to its graphics performance benchmarks using GMABooster. "While 20% isn't huge, I think it could be noticeable depending upon what you are doing on your device," wrote UMPC blogger Ben. Some commentators at UMPC echoed that sentiment.

However, the French site Blogeee.net was unimpressed, saying the small performance boost was outweighed by the increased heat and battery drain.

4. Enhance your 'Hackintoshed' netbook's graphics with GMA OverClocking

Method: Hacking your netbook to run Mac OS X has been popular for the past year. A free three-month-old app called GMA OverClocking from the developer Thireus lets Hackintosh netbook users set their Intel GMA integrated graphics chip to run at the maximum 400 MHz.

Models: Any netbook you can get to run Mac OS X. In practice, that is most likely to be a Dell Mini 9, Asus Eee 1000H or 901, HP Mini 1000 or Lenovo S10.

Operating systems: Officially, any version of Mac OS X prior to Snow Leopard, but some users say it works with Snow Leopard as well.

Difficulty level: Easy. First install Apple's Computer Hardware Understanding Developer (CHUD) tools, then run the GMA OverClocking installer, type one line in Terminal and reboot.

The scuttlebutt: Extremely safe, since the speed is increased without boosting the voltage. For the same reason, any boost in performance may feel very slight, users say.



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