When it comes to competitive gaming, players are always looking for ways to improve their performance, even by a little a bit. One such way is by overclocking your controller, but what is it?
What is overclocking in your controller or mouse?
Unlike overclocking your monitor, which increases the refresh rate, overclocking a controller is all about the so-called clock or polling rate. Overclocking a controller is all about increasing the polling rate to decrease the input delay or lag.
The polling rate is the frequency in which your controller updates its status to your computer or console. If you have a refresh rate of 100 Hertz, the controller will communicate with the game 100 times every second. The lower the Hz the polling rate has, the more "input lag" your controller will experience, as it takes longer to communicate with your hardware.
The polling rate can also indicate how often the mouse will update its position relevant to your screen. The higher the polling rate, the more "responsive" the mouse is, as it´s constantly updating itself.
Different controllers and types of connections have different polling rates. USB or wired controllers are usually faster than those connecting wirelessly or with Bluetooth, for the reasons we discussed in the past.
A polling rate of 250 Hz can also be expressed as 4 ms, meaning that there is a delay of 4 microseconds between button press and the action. 1000 Hz is 1 ms, and 100 Hz is 10 ms of delay. The average ms delay on a controller usually ranges from 1 to 10 ms. The Ps4 controller, for example, clocks at 4 ms.
Why overclock your controller or mouse?
The main reason to overclock your controller is to reduce input lag. As you increase your polling rate, the delay between your inputs and the console/computer gets reduced by a couple of milliseconds.
Therefore, having a higher polling rate than your rivals can theoretically mean that your actions will have less delay, giving your a minuscule edge. As you can guess from the scale of the input lag in consideration, such an advantage will only be useful in very action-oriented games, where every frame can make a difference.
Another reason to overclock your controller or mouse might be because they already have a high degree of input lag. This is common for off-brand gamepads that only run on Bluetooth or wifi. If you can't plug in said controllers, then maybe overclocking can be a solution to make them more responsive.
Is overclocking your controller dangerous?
In theory, yes. Overclocking can damage your motherboard as it makes it prone to overheating its USB ports. That said, overclocking your mouse carries less risk than doing so to your PC itself, as it only messes with the polling rate.
You can mitigate this risk by having a cooling system on your PC, like this one. Or, you can keep an eye on the internal temperature of your PC and stop playing when it gets too high.
That said, it is very rare for a motherboard to overheat because you increase the polling rate. Unless you crank it up to really high levels (for example, more than 1000 Hz). For occasional use, it should be fine.
How to overclock your controller and mouse
To overclock your controller you need to download a driver that increases the polling rate of your USB ports. Here´s one such driver that you can install. GitHub already has some basic instructions on how to use the driver.
The short version is that all you need to do is download and extract the file, click on Setup, add your controller or mice to the programs, set the polling rate you want for that controller, and then click "install service".
And that's all you need to do to overclock your controller or mouse. Overclocking your controller can be a way to reduce input lag, but there are other slightly easier ways, check out our article here to learn how.