Thursday, June 22, 2006

My New PC: Overclocking the Lazy Way

Now that the assembly is finished, and the hardware is working (and windows is installed and running... no need to go into those details)... What about overclocking.

I pulled out the ASUS motherboard manual and skip to the chapter on the BIOS settings for Overclocking.

This is pretty cool. It's a relatively low end motherboard, but it has a couple of very interesting features. It has an AI NOS overclocking mode that sets a maximum overclocking threshold. In NOS mode, the motherboard determines when the CPU is busy and isntantly boosts the clock rate. This allows the CPU to remain power and heat efficient when it is not being heavily used, but kick in the afterburners when it needs to.

That sounds really cool, but looking in the actual BIOS settings the threshold is limited to 5%, 10% or 15%. OK, that's good, but I wouldn't mind a bit more.

Next section. Standard AI mode overclocking. OK, here we go. AI Mode overclocking allows me to set a specific percentage to overclock and it automatically adjusts the CPU, FSB and memory timings. The settings in the BIOS are similar to AI NOS mode, except that it also had a 20% option. That's it, that is the option I read about on the Newegg forum for a "free" 20%. I click on the 20% button, save my settings and restart.

Poof, it comes up, and now the machine reports that the CPU is 3.19 GHZ instead of 2.667. Cool, it really was a click of a button to get a 20% overclock. The memory is also reporting 20% faster.

OK, can I do bette? To the next section of the manual... Yes, I can do better, but it may require a lot of tweaking with FSB settings, Memory latency settings... This is already the fastest machine I've worked with, and I'm just not going to spend that kind of time on it.

I know I'm being lazy, but 20% is pretty good, and I have't needed to push the voltage. I decided to take my winnings off the table and call it a day.

Now, it has been a week since the machine was built and it has been rock solid. We have run Oblivion in shifts for several hours in a row, and it hasn't blinked.

We are all very pleased with the result. It's very fast, completely stable and pretty quiet. I've not yet spent much time monitoring ingternal temparatures. But the ANTEX power supply has a second fan that kicks on when temperatures start to rise, and it almost never kicks on, so we are doing ok. When I have some down time, I'll do something a bit more scientific, but for now I'm off to play Oblivion.

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