Overclocking GuideDisclaimer: Overclock at your own risk!
Data and information provided in this guide are for informational and educational purposes only, and are not intended for trading purposes. Neither MSI nor any of this thread’s authors shall be liable for any errors or delays in the content or be held responsible for any damage caused by modifying or overclocking your computer. Manufacturers may or may not honor the warranty on any overclocked or modified computer components. Perform any modifications to your systems at your own risk.Why Overclock?
Today, overclocking is not any secret. It has become more popular and almost become an addiction to some people. The definition of Overclocking is simple: it means operating an Integrated Circuit beyond its specified clock speed
But why overclock? Some people say to get more out for the same money. “It’s there; why not get more out of it?”
However, the best business reason for overclocking is that it can make “out of date” equipments useful again. If the equipment is already out of warranty, the risk is very limited. (I personally suggest any beginners to overclock any out of date PC first
just to have some first time experience.)Know more about the Central Processing Unit (CPU)
Processor speed is based on two factors. The first is the interface between the motherboard and the front side bus (FSB)
. From http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Main_Page
(Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia), FSB is the speed at which the CPU communicates with RAM (memory). Many system components - including the PCI and AGP buses usually run at speeds derived from the frontside bus' speed. In general, a faster frontside bus means higher processing speeds and a faster computer. The other factor controlling a CPU's speed is the clock multiplier
. It defines the ratio of processor speed to the FSB.
The FSB on new processors ranges from 400 MHz to 800 MHz. These are not straight clock speeds but instead they are quad-clocked speeds. These processors actually transmit data four times per clock cycle, for example, 800 MHz FSB is actually four times the 200MHz clock (200 MHz x 4 = 800 MHz).
The core speed of the CPU is the product of the front side bus clock and the multiplier. A processor running at 3600MHz (i.e. 3.6 GHz) might be having 800 MHz FSB, this means there is a clock multiplier setting of 4, and thus the CPU is set to run at 4 times the MHz speed of the front side bus.
But we said earlier that they are quad-clocked speeds, so 3600 MHz actually came from 18 times 200 MHz (200 MHz x 18 = 3600 MHz).
Please note that not all processors have quad-clocked speed FSB. For example, the Intel Pentium 4 (Northwood core) has quad-clocked speed FSB. But for example, the Intel Pentium III, AMD Athlon XP and AMD Duron have dual-clocked speed FSB only.
To know more, please read:http://www.anandtech.com/cpuchipsets/showdoc.aspx?i=2178Let’s lock the clock multiplier
Few years ago, you could overclock processors by choosing a higher multiplier. This option was eliminated in order to fight CPU remarking. Counterfeit processors have regularly appeared in the market, as the CPU speed was only defined by your setting. Nowadays, the restriction to only one multiplier is both of overclocking and counterfeit prevention.
As you can see, the only way of overclocking today is choosing a higher front side bus clock
and the offer of small increments e.g. 1MHz in today's motherboards give us a great advantage in overclocking.
However, some CPUs nowadays are still unlocked
, for example, the AMD Athlon MP and AMD Athlon64 families. And some motherboard companies offer the chance to unlock the Pentium 4 (Socket 775 CPUs only) overclocking potential by using special bios, for more please read:http://www20.tomshardware.com/motherboard/20040916/index.htmlLook at your motherboard
Before you overclock anything, have a look if your motherboard can overclock CPU. Look at the CPU installation section in the motherboard manual. Normally you will find either BIOS setup options or jumpers on the motherboard that allow you to adjust the FSB, CPU voltage, PCI/AGP ratio etc.
If you have a computer that came from a major manufacturer like HP, it is likely that your motherboard does not provide any overclocking function although it is very rare nowadays.You need more Power!
This is also the time to check the power supply in your computer. Like a car, speed requires power, and unstable power inevitably leads to unstable processors, so I would recommend the power supply has to be at least 350 Watts
. You can find six power supply guides in this forum below:A Power Supply Guide
ANDPowersupplies(Written by Bas)
ANDChoosing The Right Power Supply
Both Intel and AMD processors are power hungry, consuming 40 to 100 watts (e.g. the new Prescott) of power. Also, your graphics card may take another 55 watts of power. Now you are consuming more than 100 watts of power for merely two components in your system.
You can also voltmod your Power Supply Unit, for more please read:http://www.xbitlabs.com/articles/other/display/psu-voltmodding.htmlUsing higher voltages
Today, almost each processor can be run faster than the speed it was labeled for. This applies even more if you raise the core voltage a little bit. This is just like a car running at higher speed requires more power. But this is one of the “riskiest” aspects of overclocking - by using too much power you could burn your CPU. You should always raise the voltage step by step and never go higher than 15%
beyond the specification. This way it is quite easy to get a faster system without risking the processor. Apart from raising the voltage of the CPU, similarly you can raise the voltage of memory as well. One problem is of course the increasing chip temperature, so cooling is very important
. We will cover that later.Memory Speed
Memory speed is often tied to the FSB. For example, a Double Data Rate (DDR) 400 memory has frequency 200MHz and the module rating is PC3200. Half the performance increase you may see from overclocking a CPU comes from increasing the speed at which the processor can talk to the memory.
When you buy memory, you may see it has label 2-3-3-7-1T. And you may also hear people saying my memory is a 2-3-3-7 one. But what does it mean? The answer is:
CAS Latency = 2 clock cycles
tRCD = RAS to CAS delay = 3 clock cycles
tRP = RAS Precharge = 3 clock cycles
tRAS = Active to Precharge = 7 clock cycles
Command Rate = 1 clock cycle
Different motherboards may call the above differently and not all of them will appear in the BIOS. You may need to check with your motherboard’s support team and the motherboard manual. If you have any option above in your BIOS, you can also start to adjust them. Obviously, the smaller the number the faster the memory will be.
To know more about memory please read:http://www.corsairmicro.com/corsair/products/tech/memory_basics/153707/index.html
To overclock video card, we need a third party utility
to overclock the card. Although increasing numbers of manufacturers include utilities to allow customers to overclock their cards in their drivers or through an extra application, most of them do not provide this facility. Simply because overclocking stresses the system and voids manufacturer warranties. Third party utilities tend to be universal that they work on different cards irrespective of manufacturers.
Some utilities and the places to download included:
1. OMEGA Drivershttp://www.omegacorner.com/
2. StarStorm Drivers (Nvidia cards only)http://downloads.guru3d.com/download.php?id=10
5. Rage3D Tweak (ATI cards only)http://www.rage3d.com/index.php?node=r3dtweak
6. RadLinker (ATI cards only)http://www28.brinkster.com/chrisww1942/
7. ATITool (ATI cards only)http://atitool.ocfaq.com/
Please read their own manuals in their corresponding web pages. Also, if you want to be able to have the hidden functions in Nvidia card, create a file with notepad and put this in it (thanks for Deathstalker to provide this source):
Windows Registry Editor Version 5.00
Save it as agpsetting.reg to your desktop or anywhere you like. Then run it and it will give you all the hidden options from Nvidia which include extra resolution settings for your desktop and overclocking for both the memory and core.
For ATI Radeon X800 Pro softmod, please read (link provided by mopey):http://www.ocforums.com/showindex.php?t=312063
For ATI Radeon X800 Pro voltage mod, please read (link provided by NovJoe):http://www.vr-zone.com.sg/?i=817&s=1
For ATI Radeon 9800 XT voltage mod, please read (link provided by NovJoe):http://www.vr-zone.com.sg/?i=760&s=1
To can change your Radeon 9800 Pro 256MB graphic card to Radeon 9800XT card, please read (in English):http://www.rojakpot.com/(jiljtv55hwgq5uabzft0f5re)/default.aspx?location=3&var1=92&var2=0
To change your GeForceFX 5900 graphic card to GeForceFX 5900 Ultra, please read (in Traditional Chinese):http://www.oc.com.tw/article/0403/readocarticle.asp?id=2410
To change your GeForceFX 5700 Ultra graphic card to QuadroFX 1100, please read (in Traditional Chinese):http://www.oc.com.tw/article/0403/readiyarticle.asp?id=2387Get the temperature down
Cooling is probably the most important aspect of overclocking. Overclocking causes circuits to cycle faster, generating more heat. If the CPU is not cooled properly, your CPU will not run reliably and there is a very good chance that you will permanently damage your CPU.
The heat sink and fan unit that Intel and AMD ship with its CPU are fairy good. However, for maximum stability, we need to get something better than that. For example, for CPU fans, we have Vantec Tornado, Thermaltake volcano 7+, CoolerMaster Aero 4 and Zalman CNPS7000A-AlCu etc.
Be sure that the cooling solution you choose is specifically designed for your processor. Improperly mounting a heat sink, using the wrong model can damage your processor.
Also, the airflow in the case is very important. If heat cannot escape the case, the CPU is still at risk. Thus, more case fans are needed apart from the power supply's exhaust fan. Tidying up the cables inside the case can help too. In addition, clearing the dust in the case by using canned compressed air can enhance the airflow but never use vacuum cleaner as it may generate electrostatic and harm the IC components.
For more about cooling, you can also read these:http://www.antec-inc.com/pdf/article/info_DIYArticle3.html
ANDCooling guide(Written by J*A*G)
For more about CPU fan, please read:BEST Overclockers CPU cooler????
For more about Water Cooling, please read:Water cooling...Keep the Noise Down
Unless your computer is cooled by a water cooling system, it will be pretty noisy. To keep the noise down, please read this:http://www.antec-inc.com/pdf/article/info_DIYArticle_quiet_computing.htmlOverclocking Process
Essentially, overclocking processors consists of increasing the FSB in the BIOS, booting the computer, and then testing for stability
. You repeat the process until you identify the maximum stable speed.
In case your board offer 1 MHz-increments (which most of your boards do), you have the chance to find out the maximum clock speed by slowly closing in on the final limit MHz for MHz. Of course this cannot be done in an hour, but you will have to spend one or two days just playing with different clock speed settings. In the end you should have your CPU running at the highest possible core speed. The Most important thing to remember is that you must go Slowly
Also, you can overclock the processor by using software although it may not be as effective as overclocking using the motherboard BIOS. Such software includes:
Here is a thread that talks about overclocking an Intel Pentium 4 2.4cGHz to 3.0GHz using Intel 865PE chipsets. (You may treat it as an example of overclocking.):Best 865PE Overclock for 2.4C to 3.0+
Changing the FSB is a relatively simple matter of entering the computer's BIOS setup screen, switching from automatic to manual configuration and selecting the FSB speed you want. Here are some utilities that you can check your computer’s setting, especially CPU speed:
2. WCPUID (Linux supported)http://www.h-oda.com
4. PC Wizardhttp://www.cpuid.com/
6. Motherboard Monitorhttp://mbm.livewiredev.com/
7. HWiNFO and HWiNFO32http://www.hwinfo.com/
9. Motherboard Monitorhttp://mbm.livewiredev.com/http://mbm.livewiredev.com/download.html
10. Intel Processor Frequency ID Utility (Intel CPU only)http://support.intel.com/support/processors/tools/frequencyid/
11. AMD CPU Information Display Utility (AMD CPU only)http://www.amd.com/us-en/Processors/TechnicalResources/0,,30_182_871,00.html
For more, you can go to the following to have a browse:http://www.3degs.net/
Bear in mind that if the processor is capable of a 20-percent or more speed increase say, it is unlikely that your video card or memory can have the same amount of increase. And the one thing that you must remember to do if you overclock the FSB is to Set (i.e. Lock) your AGP/PCI Buses
, to as close to their Default Frequencies as Possible (to PCI bus at 33 MHz and the AGP port at 66 MHz for example), or you will most definitely experience problems across the whole board e.g. your graphics card, onboard sound and IDE channels may start giving you data and other errors.Test for Stability and Benchmarking
The purpose of testing is to apply a heavy workload to every aspect of your system to ensure that there are no hidden problems and stability issue
. You can do testing by using special testing suites, software and games. The aim of benchmarking is to measure the performance of your system. In overclocking, benchmarking can tell you how far the system’s performance has increased when you adjust certain settings.
For a test suite, you may try Winbench, which you can download from:http://www.etestinglabs.com/benchmarks/winbench/winbench.asp
Special software for testing and benchmarking included:
1. CPU Burn (Linux supported)http://users.bigpond.net.au/cpuburn/
2. PCMark 04http://www.futuremark.com/
3. Aquamark 3http://www.aquamark3.com/
4. SiSoftware Sandra Standard 2004 http://www.sisoftware.net/
5. Prime95 (Linux supported)http://www.mersenne.org/
(For more about Prime95, please read: how to use prime 95 properly
6. Memtest86 (Linux supported)http://www.memtest86.com/
7. Memtest86+ (Linux supported)http://www.memtest.org/
8. Super PI (Linux supported)http://pw1.netcom.com/~hjsmith/Pi/Super_Pi.html
10. SETI @home (Linux supported)http://setiathome.ssl.berkeley.edu/
For testing video card, you can run Games like Quake 3 and Unreal Tournament demo mode and left running in loops. You should be able to run a game in a loop for at least two hours after a reboot without a problem. Also, you can use 3DMark05 from FUTUREMARK (download from http://www.futuremark.com/
1. Unreal Tournament (Linux supported)http://www.unrealtournament.com/
2. Wolfenstein: Enemy Territory (Linux supported)http://games.activision.com/games/wolfenstein/
3. Quake (Linux supported)http://www.idsoftware.com/games/quake/
4. Call Of Dutyhttp://www.callofduty.com/index.asp
- The Threadhttp://www.egosoft.com/
6. Colin McRae Rally 4http://www.codemasters.co.uk/colinmcraerally04/uk/colinmcraerally04.php
7. Nascar Thunder 2004http://www.easports.com/games/thunder2004/home.jsp
11. Doom 3 (Linux supported)http://www.doom3.com/
Tips: The benchmark can be performed by using “demo1” which ships with Doom 3. Open the console (Windows: Ctrl+Alt+~; Linux: ~) and type “timedemo demo1”.
12. Battlefield Vietnamhttp://www.eagames.com/official/battlefield/vietnam/us/home.jsp
13. Serious Samhttp://www.serioussam.com/
14. Tomb Raider: The Angel of Darknesshttp://www.tombraider.com/
16. Tom Clancy's Splinter Cellhttp://www.splintercell.com/ Conclusion
I suggest you to read this guide one more time
before you overclock to make sure that you have not missed anything. Wish you have a good overclocking experience, have fun!
Here is also another guide to make your have a Happier and Healthier System:http://www.antec-inc.com/pdf/article/info_DIYArticle4.html
The following teaches you how to change an AMD Athlon XP 1700+ to an Athlon MP 1700+ (in Traditional Chinese):http://www.oc.com.tw/article/0304/readocarticle.asp?id=1390
Also, for a Step By Step Overclocking Guide
and other overclocking guides
, you can go to:
1. General overclocking tips
2. more overclocking help
3. Hardware & Overclocking FAQ in bit-techhttp://forums.bit-tech.net/showindex.php?t=51323
4. Overclocking Guide in OC Forumshttp://www.ocforums.com/showindex.php?t=263753
5. Link Guide for anyone new to Overclocking in PC Perspectivehttp://forums.pcper.com/showindex.php?t=173635
6. Overclocking Guide in Help Overclockinghttp://www.helpoverclocking.com/english/index.htm
7. AMD Optimal BIOS settings + Overclocking Guidehttp://www.madshrimps.be/?action=gethowto&howtoID=43
8. Tom's Hardware CPU Overclocking Forum (contains a few overclocking guides)http://www.community.tomshardware.com/forum/postlist.m?Cat=&Board=over_cpu
9. Tom's Hardware Graphic Cards Overclocking Forum (contains a few overclocking guides)http://www.community.tomshardware.com/forum/postlist.m?Cat=&Board=over_graphics
(for Graphic Cards)
For a guide on Modding Tools, please read:Modding ToolsPlease post any comment and/or suggestion as well as dead link of this guide (Version 1.49) at the following thread:Overclocking Guide Suggestion/CommentI would like to thank for the help and support from Bas and Wonkanoby as well as advice from Raven_, Slimbooyphat and The Fellow in setting up this guide.