Set overclock values in the config.txt document to give your Raspberry Pi Zero 2 W a speed increase.

The powerful Cortex-A53 quad-core CPU on the Raspberry Pi Zero 2 W runs at a default speed of 1GHz. It's possible to increase the speed to 1.2GHz or even 1.4GHz. The increased performance makes Raspberry Pi OS more responsive, which is important when setting up Zero 2 W projects that are more demanding and might benefit from a boost (such as image processing or retro gaming). However, there's a danger that the Raspberry Pi Zero 2 W will overheat and cut back the CPU, keeping it safe but slowing down Raspberry Pi OS.

Raspberry Pi Zero 2 W Overclocking - Boost Up To 1.2GHz, or even 1.4GHz

It's necessary to think about a cooling solution for the Raspberry Pi, as it is with any overclocking projects. However, overclocking is a lot of fun to play around with. So, let's spruce up Zero 2 W a little.

Zero 2 W should be kept cool.

We'll use a Raspberry Pi Zero Case to house the Raspberry Pi Zero 2 W. The heatsink is the metal casing. Attach a Heatsink for Zero 2 W  for a less expensive solution.

Barcode HAT for Raspberry Pi Pico

Raspberry Pi OS must be updated.

Make sure you have the most recent version of Raspberry Pi OS installed. Open a Terminal window and type the following commands:

sudo apt update  sudo apt full-upgrade

Restart the computer now.

sudo reboot 

Keep an eye on your speed.

Take a look at the default CPU speed before we start overclocking. Enter the following commands in a Terminal window.:

vcgencmd measure_clock arm

Most likely, the terminal will return 600000. The speed in MHz is obtained by multiplying this value by 1000. The basic frequency is 600MHz (or 0.6GHz). The kernel has requested this speed. The real CPU speed may be lower if your Raspberry Pi is throttled due to low voltage or overheating.

Raspberry Pi Zero 2 W Overclocking
Image Credit: TheMagPi

Change the configuration.

The config.txt file will be used to specify a new upper limit for the clock frequency. Create a new Terminal window and type in:

sudo nano /boot/config.txt

Scroll to the bottom of the page to the section labelled:

#uncomment to overclock the arm. 700 MHz is

the default.


Also, modify the options to:

# Overclock settings # over_voltage=6 arm_freq=1200

The over_voltage command changes the core CPU/ GPU voltage and supports values ranging from -16 to 8. 0 is the default value. We've kept over_ voltage commented out for now because the current firmware in Bullseye will try its best to figure out the right voltage for an overclock. Use CTRL+O to save the file (hit RETURN) and CTRL+X to leave.

Restart your Raspberry Pi if it hasn't already.

Restart your computer to use the changed settings.:

sudo reboot 

Watch vcgendcmd when the system restarts to see your new, faster clock speed in action.

watch -n 1 vcgencmd measure_clock arm

You'll notice speeds of approximately 1200000000 if you visit a few websites (or 1.20GHz).

Voltage monitoring

For dependable functioning, the supply voltage must be kept above 4.8 V. It's important to keep in mind that the voltage from some USB chargers/power supply might drop as low as 4.2 V. This is due to the fact that they are often built to charge a 3.7 V LiPo battery rather than provide 5 V to a computer.

You'll need a multimeter to measure between the VCC (5 V) and GND pins on the GPIO to monitor the Raspberry Pi's PSU voltage. The Raspberry Pi website has further information on power requirements:

Voltage Parameters

Let's try going a bit quicker this time. The ARM CPU should be set at 1.4GHz. Only by including the over_voltage parameter did we able to get our Zero 2 W to run at this speed. Make changes to the config.txt file.



# gpu_freq=700

 This is the maximum over_voltage we're going to go. When you reboot the Raspberry Pi, it will operate at 1.4GHz. To observe the new upper limit, run watch -n 1 vcgencmd measure clock arm again. You can also remove the gpu freq remark. Gpu freq is in charge of a number of parameters, including core freq, h264 freq, isp freq, and v3d freq. With higher gpu freq settings, all of the Zero 2 Ws we tested failed to boot.


> Language: Bash

001. # Overclock settings

002. over_voltage=6

003. arm_freq=1400

004. #gpu_freq=700

Problems with overclocking

The inability to startup is the most common symptom of overclocking. If this happens, keep the SHIFT key pressed on the next boot. This will turn off any overclocking for the time being, enabling you to successfully boot and then adjust your settings. Remove the microSD card from your Raspberry Pi and install it into another computer as an alternative. You'll be able to modify the settings by accessing the config.txt file. If everything else fails, install a fresh image of Raspberry Pi OS on the microSD card using Raspberry Pi Imager.

"If a Raspberry Pi fails to boot, the gpu freq parameter should be disabled."

Get rid of the black screen

We believe that arm freq=1200 is a good speed increase. The advantages of gpu_freq, according to our engineering staff, are negligible at best, and the gpu_freq parameter should be disabled if a Raspberry Pi fails to run. During overclocking, your Raspberry Pi is likely to fail to boot at some time. For additional information on recovery, see 'Overclocking issues' (above). Otherwise, have fun with your Raspberry Pi Zero 2 W computer and get the most out of it.

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