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In the SOHC design, the camshaft operates the valves directly, traditionally via a bucket tappet; or via an intermediary rocker arm.

SOHC cylinder heads are generally less expensive to manufacture than double overhead camshaft (DOHC) cylinder heads.

V6, V8 — where two cylinder banks meet to form a 'V') with two camshafts in total remain SOHC, unless each cylinder bank has two camshafts; these latter are DOHC, and are often known as 'quad cam'.

Although the term "twin cam" is often used to refer to a DOHC engine, it is imprecise, as it includes designs with two block-mounted camshafts.

The terms "multivalve" and "DOHC" are separate distinctions; not all multivalve engines are DOHC and not all DOHC engines are multivalve.

(This exchange is sometimes known as 'engine breathing'.

) Another performance advantage is gained as a result of the better optimised port configurations made possible with overhead camshaft designs.

Timing belt replacement can be easier since there are fewer camshaft drive sprockets that need to be aligned during the replacement procedure.

SOHC designs offer reduced complexity compared to overhead valve designs — when used for multivalve cylinder heads, in which each cylinder has more than two valves.

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Examples of DOHC engines with two valves per cylinder include the Alfa Romeo Twin Cam engine and the Jaguar XK6 engine.

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