I'm going to preface this by saying that this is my first time attempting to overclock, so I'm apologizing in advance for any hand-holding that will occur. I've done some measure of reading, but a lack of literature on my specific processor, plus my crippling fear of actually damaging any components prevents me from jumping right in before I've found some advice/clarification.
Around christmas time I bought this
processor and this
fan/heatsink because the stock fan seemed rather weak. Before I actually DO anything, I'd like to do some kind of stress test with default settings to see if my setup can even handle overclocking. I'm assuming it can, but like I said, crippling fear and all that.
To the more theoretical, from the reading I've done, I've seen overclocking explained as something as simple as changing the CPU multiplier/frequency, (I know most CPUs lock the multiplier, but I've heard the Black edition phenoms don't) and others as complicated as having to apply some ratio of overclocking the CPU to overclocking RAM in order to make it stable. And what about tweaking the voltage of each?
I know overclocking is usually done through the BIOS, but I'm wondering if any of those programs like the AMD Overdrive tool actually do the same job. There were certainly options for such when I poked around, but everything I've read/watched seems to point right to doing everything via the BIOS, so I'm not sure.
And lastly, is there any general consensus as to what the safe range for overclocking is? At 3.4 GHz I'd like to hit something 4.0+, but I'm not sure if I'm being overly ambitious.
Really, any direction is appreciated. It's a subject where I'm kind of starved for knowledge but when I read other articles/forums that deal with other processors I'm never sure if I'm misunderstanding the information given
A half hour of the AMD Overdrive Stability Test, followed by several hours of regular gaming. I'll probably run another test while I'm at work tomorrow, about 9 hours, as one last test, but so far it's been running pretty smooth. No problems so far with stability or speeds and temps are at about 38C idle and 50-52 under a stress test.
I assume since it's unlocked you did this through the multiplier then?
You should run some game benchmarks with the stock then the increased clocks. Just to see what kind of performance increase you have gotten. I'd avoid synthetic benchmarks when trying to determine that.
I found with my e8400, the difference between 4.0ghz and 4.5ghz was pretty negligible. I decided that running it at 4.5 wasn't ideal due to the large increases of voltage I had to pump through it in order to achieve that.
A mix of both, actually. Bumped the frequency from 200 to 230, and the multiplier from 17 to 17.5. I didn't even touch the voltage, which is only at about 1V idle, 1.2 stressed. Which seems pretty low, but I don't want to go fiddling around with that quite yet.
I'd give this little guide a once over to get a general idea of what you need to to be looking at and the different ways of achieving higher clocks.
And I've never had to overclock RAM to get stability in a CPU overclock. Whoever told you that seems misinformed.
As far as the Phenom II's overclockability? The sky is literally the limit. They're incredibly easy to clock and they keep damn cool with a good sink/fan. I've had my Phenom II X3 at 4.2ghz with a simple multiplier/voltage increase and Prime95 lasted 9 hours before finally crashing. And I don't think my CPU ever hit higher than 55 degrees.
Keep in mind, you can feed a processor a good amount of voltage and not put so much as a ding on it. It's the heat you have to worry about. As stated, watch your temps and you're fine.
And Prime95 is the best stability test out there. If you crash in Prime95 then you're not stable. (Run the "Blend" test for a few hours and if you don't crash then you're golden.)
My 965 BE idles at < 35 and tops out at 50 or so playing Crysis, but I only have the stock cooler. I do have a very well ventilated case with several fans, though I'm not sure how much difference it really makes. Wonder what I could get out of it.
That's good to know about the voltage. I kind of got the 'one false move' mentality in my head and wasn't really in a hurry to screw with anything that involved electricity and electronics. Now if only my GPU was as accomodating to a little encouragement
Multi GPU setups are often held back by CPUs. Even modern CPUs, as powerful as they are, hold those powerful rigs back more often than not.
I'm still in the process of testing and fine tuning, and once I get a day off plan on running a few benchmarks to see where I stand. I just got done trying out overclocking my GPU from a default core clock of 675 to about 840, and core memory from 900 to 1050, with no stability issues, yet, but I'm monitoring temperature and fan speed very closely. It's an ASUS, which apparently means I can actually change the voltage on the GPU, but I'm going to see how it runs first to see if I even need to do so.
I've always told people that if you need to overclock your card to make gakes playable then it's time to either get a new GPU or you bought the wrong one.
Not to mention, most cards aren't equipped with the proper cooling hardware and run hot enough at stock temps as t is. Unless you buy an aftermarket cooler then you're sacrificing lifespan for a few extra frames.
That said, you're going to hit a wall pretty quick with a single GTX 460.
I don't know, in frame rates at least, I've noticed a pretty drastic difference.
So I have a few questions to piggyback onto this thread.
1. Should I let the BIOS set the timings automatically?
I bought the RAM based on the low timings and a few personal recommendations for Mushkin. No complaints about performance, and in previous attempts it overclocked fairly well (1700-1800ish) without messing with the timings. Should I be manually setting the timings to 6-8-6-24 indefinitely, or should I be hands-off?
2. Is 1600mhz Intel-oriented RAM a good idea for an AM3 system?
A long, long time ago, I had heard that synchronizing the bus to the RAM speed can help performance. I know that things work differently from FSB now, but I'm uncertain how; I've also heard that synchronizing bus with RAM was bullshit and you should just go for the fastest RAM your motherboard will support. This is the advice I followed in buying my current RAM, which being 1600 is optimized for Intel platforms. So ultimately, is 1600 overkill, or otherwise inadvisable? Would I gain anything in terms of stability or overclockability from scaling back to 1333? Furthermore, should I worry about the fact that it was primarily designed and tested for Intel?
3. Should I be using ASUS's automatic overclock?
I've found it yields stable OCs, but I haven't experimented enough to figure out if they're any more stable than what I could do. Should I be incrementally increasing the clocks myself, or is an automatic OC generally indicative of what can reasonably be done?