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Overclocker doubles Raspberry Pi's clock speed to an incredible 3GHz

Raspberry Pi 4 runs Windows 11
(Image credit: The Raspberry Pi Foundation)

The Raspberry Pi is hardly what you'd call a performance machine. Even so, with each iteration, it has been getting faster and more capable—to the point where you can now use the Raspberry Pi 4 Model 4 as a desktop PC. Well, Claude Schwartz has taken the little machine and has pushed it harder than anyone else has managed so far, pumping the clock up to a cool 3GHz. 

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Claude Schwartz (via Tom's Hardware) didn't actually overclock the standard RPi 4 but instead overclocked the near-identical Raspberry Pi Compute Module 4, which is sort of a headless version of the Model B, as in it doesn't have any video outs or any of the standard IO ports. This possibly made the overclock that little bit easier. 

For reference the RPi 4 normally has a core clock frequency of 1.5GHz, although with some passive cooling you can hit 1.8GHz fairly easily. Mount a decent fan on the RPI board, and 2.3GHz is within reach. 3GHz is definitely a push above what you can normally hit, and indeed that was only possible by cooling it with ice spray—so this isn't an overclock that is particularly practical.

It isn't particularly easy for normal hardware hackers to achieve either, as there are limits in the firmware that stop you from hitting anything above 2.5GHz. Claude bypassed these by setting the PLL directly, which essentially dictates the system clock, along with tweaking the voltages. He also used Thermal Grizzly Conductonaut liquid metal under the heat spreader to improve heat dissipation. 

Obviously, this isn't intended to be an overclock that just anyone can do, but it's still absolutely an impressive feat and shows what's possible with the right know-how. And Claude Schwartz absolutely does know what he's doing, as he's also the man behind PiStorm, which uses a Raspberry Pi to boost the performance of an Amiga A500.

Alan Dexter

Alan has been writing about PC tech since before 3D graphics cards existed, and still vividly recalls having to fight with MS-DOS just to get games to load. He fondly remembers the killer combo of a Matrox Millenium and 3dfx Voodoo, and seeing Lara Croft in 3D for the first time. He's very glad hardware has advanced as much as it has though, and is particularly happy when putting the latest M.2 NVMe SSDs, AMD processors, and laptops through their paces. He has a long-lasting Magic: The Gathering obsession but limits this to MTG Arena these days.