ProDigit
Posts: 374
Joined: Tue Aug 30, 2011 1:24 am

UPDATED: Overclocking pi zero W

Sat Aug 17, 2019 6:07 am

I did a few hundred benchmark tests over the course of the week, on 2 different Raspberry Pi zero W units.
Both graphics and CPU/io stress tests, for stability and performance.

I would recommend the following settings, using nano in /boot/config.txt, as a mild overclock that still significantly boosts performance, but won't break warranty nor needs extra cooling (a passive heat sink is recommended though).
Do:

Code: Select all

sudo nano /boot/config.txt
Then add in the file:

Code: Select all

arm_freq=1085
#arm_freq=1095 for my other unit with heatsink
gpu_freq=530
#gpu_freq=550 for the unit with a heatsink.
over_voltage=2
core_freq=515
sdram_freq=533
over_voltage_sdram=1
Save and exit:

Code: Select all

Ctrl + x , Y, enter
To view CPU volts and frequency, while testing:

Code: Select all

 watch "vcgencmd measure_volts core && vcgencmd measure_clock arm"
GPU fps test:

Code: Select all

sudo apt install mesa-utils
glxgears
CPU stress test:

Code: Select all

sudo apt install stress
stress -c 1 -i  1 -t 60

For minimal vram usage in Raspbian full desktop, set vram to 26 MB for a 720p screen or below, and to 32MB for a 1080p screen or below.
Since you probably won't be using the zero for browsing or watching movies. You might need more memory for emulations or playing games though. But 26MB should be just enough to do everything you'd normally do, without the above 4.


To undo an overclock, or go back to settings you can either delete the line, or put a '#' (hash/pound sign) before the line.
Last edited by ProDigit on Fri Aug 30, 2019 8:22 am, edited 24 times in total.

User avatar
HawaiianPi
Posts: 5261
Joined: Mon Apr 08, 2013 4:53 am
Location: Aloha, Oregon USA

Re: Overclocking pi zero

Sat Aug 17, 2019 6:39 am

ProDigit wrote:
Sat Aug 17, 2019 6:07 am
I'll need another browser

Thoughts?
You need another Pi model. The Pi Zero is an awful choice for any kind of normal GUI/Desktop/web browsing use.

Note that the Pi Zero (and other single-core Pi models) use POP RAM. Meaning the RAM chip is mounted on top of the SoC, so heatsinks are not particularly effective (you are cooling the RAM directly, but only indirectly cooling the SoC).
My mind is like a browser. 27 tabs are open, 9 aren't responding,
lots of pop-ups...and where is that annoying music coming from?

ProDigit
Posts: 374
Joined: Tue Aug 30, 2011 1:24 am

Re: Overclocking pi zero

Sat Aug 17, 2019 8:37 am

Yes, that's not a big deal, since the CPU sits at around 52C under full load.

BeauSlim
Posts: 107
Joined: Mon Jul 31, 2017 10:02 am

Re: Overclocking pi zero

Tue Aug 20, 2019 5:09 am

Overclocking can definitely be useful on the Zero, but settings vary a lot between individual Zeros. You'll just have to test.

I agree that a Zero isn't going to be much of a desktop machine even overclocked. The lack of memory and the single core are both going to be a problem.

ProDigit
Posts: 374
Joined: Tue Aug 30, 2011 1:24 am

Re: Overclocking pi zero

Tue Aug 20, 2019 3:03 pm

I'm actually going to pair the zero with one of those GPIO screens, and a 480p resolution (has 320p resolution, but shows 480p quite fine), as a spare system for coding.
The resolution makes 16MB of Vram more than enough, freeing up more RAM memory.
Since it can't really display video anyway (YouTube via browser), it might be almost the perfect marriage.

I think, with an overclock, despite the longer loading times, the PI 0 W is still a capable micro desktop replacement. I can code, read books, even browse some (mostly mobile) sites!

ProDigit
Posts: 374
Joined: Tue Aug 30, 2011 1:24 am

Re: Overclocking pi zero

Wed Aug 21, 2019 3:10 am

Ok, the hat needs 32MB of Vram,

Anyone experiences Overclocking instability with hats?
It appears my overclock is lower, despite higher overvolt settings.

Jamescoop
Posts: 15
Joined: Tue May 26, 2015 8:06 pm

Re: UPDATED: Overclocking pi zero W

Thu Feb 27, 2020 5:09 pm

Any other configs out there? Havent played with this much, but I could only get this to be stable with over_voltage=6 or higher

Return to “Advanced users”