AMD Overclocking Guide

Discussion in 'Processors and motherboards AMD' started by Psychlone, Jul 18, 2008.

  1. Psychlone

    Psychlone Ancient Guru

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    Radeon HD5970 Engineering
    Here's a TON of information collected and discovered over the course of many, many years on the AMD side.

    This guide will help you to understand not only the fundamentals of overclocking, but goes very in-depth into the process of overclocking the AMD platform.
    It was written using several 9850BE CPUs along with an M3A32-MVP Deluxe motherboard, but applies to ALL AMD processors from the old Athlon XP series* CPUs up to the current lineup of X6 processors.

    *The older CPUs (up to and including DDR1 systems) does require a little different mathematical equation than what's listed in this guide - if anyone needs to know how this works, please don't hesitate to post!! - Otherwise, the entirety of this guide is geared more towards the newer hardware (AthlonII Phenom/PhenomII, in all cores manufactured)

    DISCLAIMER: This tome of information is intended to be a guide, used as a template for YOUR overclocking adventure - in no way shall I be liable for any malfunction or damage as a result of using any of this information.
    Everything in this post is from my own personal experience embellished with links and facts from other's personal experiences. It was complied from 42 pages of hand-written notes spanning 4 different stepping Phenom 9850BE processors, along with prior knowledge of AMD architecture...nothing here is hearsay, it's all real-world experience of what has proven to be an effective overclock for some of MY setups.

    IN NO WAY do I mean for this guide to be followed to the letter - ALL components, even given the same exact stepping/lot #, sequential serial #'s, etc., will overclock the same.
    There is no guarantee. You paid for parts that will perform at their advertised specifications, and what you're doing by overclocking is getting *more* than what you paid for (hence the 'no guarantees' part.)
    What may work for one individual may or may not work for the next...even given the same exact components...just always remember this...sometimes you have to settle for less than what you originally expected - the way to make it 'ok' in your head is to remember the 'no guarantees''ve already got 'something' for 'nothing' if you've overclocked *at all*. ;)

    In overclocking, there are inherent risks. The very fact that you're playing with voltages and cycles translates into playing with fire - literally. More voltage = more heat. I can't stress enough the importance of proper temperature monitoring and some real good CPU cooling as well as excellent case cooling.

    Here's AMD's 'secret' overclocking formula (not discovered by me, but rewritten by me to be understandable by the masses: This equation is for the Phenom/AM2/AM2+ architecture, it's a bit different from the older (pre-K8) architecture in that our HT and NB are now a multiple of the FSB, as well as the divisor ratio is no longer rounded up when landing on a fraction (decimal) of a whole integer.

    AMD Overclocking Equation: (applies to K10 architecture - see below for the small changes for older Athlon XP CPUs)
    (CPU Multi) * (FSB) = (CPU Freq)
    (CPU Multi) / (Memory Divider) = (Divisor Ratio)
    (CPU Freq) / (Divisor Ratio) = (RAM MHz) (* 2 = DDR MHz)
    (NB Multi) * (FSB) = (NB Freq)

    (HT Multi) * (FSB) = (HT Freq) **
    **note: the HT Multi is usually shown as a MHz option rather than a multiplier of the FSB, but in fact, it is a default of 10X the FSB
    Also of note is that your HT *MUST* be < or = the resulting NB Frequency or you will not be stable.

    ** Equation for older AthlonXP up to socket 939 CPUs **
    (CPU Multi) * (FSB) = CPU Freq
    (CPU Multi) / (Memory Divider) = Divisor Ratio (ALWAYS ROUND UP ON SYSTEMS UP TO SOCKET 939)
    (CPU Freq) / (Divisor Ratio) = RAM Freq (* 2 = DDR)
    ON OLDER SYSTEMS, HT *MUST* BE EQUAL TO OR LESS THAN 2000MHz, which may require setting a lower HT (4x, 3x, etc. depending on the amount of FSB)

    Memory Dividers for use in the equation above (use the BLUE value at the end for the equation, use the corresponding value that matches your BIOS while in the BIOS of your motherboard

    I have included every conceivable way that these dividers can be displayed for every AM2/AM2+ BIOS. Use the DECIMAL value in the equation above and use one of the corresponding values for your specific BIOS. I've only included the 800MHz and the 1066MHz values, as this is what the majority of us are using.

    533 = 1066 = 16:6 = 8:3 = (8 / 3 = 2.6666666) = 2.6666666
    400 = 800 = 12:6 = 6:3 = (6 / 3 = 2) = 2

    ** Memory Dividers for use in socket 939 systems and older **

    200 = 400 = 1/1 = 1:1 = (1 / 1 = 1) = 1
    183 (or 180 on some motherboards) = 366 = 9/10 = 9:10 = (9 / 10 = .9) = .9
    166 = 333 = 5/6 = 5:6 = (5 / 6 = .833333) = .833333
    133 = 266 = 2/3 = 2:3 = (2 / 3 = .666666) = .666666
    100 = 200 = 1/2 = 1:2 = (1 / 2 = .5) = .5

    There are footnotes collected from my adventures at the bottom describing some of the more obscure functions and some of the hidden options. Read them carefully, test each config for yourself and decide what works for you.

    ASUS has a nifty little utility called PCProbe2 that comes on the CD that came with the motherboard... USE IT. I also found that CoreTemp gives a very close reading with the M3A32-MVP Deluxe.
    If your temps at *any* time reach into the mid 50*C range, STOP and readdress your CPU and case cooling before continuing any further. (High 60*C is the upper limit, but we don’t need to push it, right?)
    Just ensure that you're using *something* to monitor your temps while spending any time in the overclocking arena!

    There are loads of good aftermarket CPU cooling options out there...I personally have the ThermalRight Ultra-120 Extreme, and I'm very pleased with not only it's performance, but it's sound level as well (with 2 Scythe S-Flex fans).

    Also of importance is your case cooling. Every case I've ever had IS NOT pre-setup with what turns out to be the most efficient fan arrangement. It's up to YOU to decide what fan needs to be where, which direction it should be (pulling air IN or pushing it OUT) and what make/model/CFM/RPM you need. Just be aware that without fresh, cool air coming IN the case, all you've got is warmed air to circulate across your CPU's HS/f, and without adequate EXHAUST, you've really just shot yourself in the foot again - BOTH are paramount to a decent overclock (I really can't stress this enough - MOST people miss case cooling and concentrate solely on their CPU HS/f)

    All in all, by the very nature of overclocking, you need to know that you're taking a risk of exposing specific components to more voltage/heat/cycles than they're designed to take, which *could* or *may not* lead to their early or eventual demise.

    I'm sure most people that will read through all that crap already understand the's just pertinent for me to say...I can't be held liable for any kind of overclock gone wrong.

    Alrighty then...

    Some here's some terminology that we're going to be familiar with by the end of this post:


    AMD's HT: HyperTransport (HT), formerly known as Lightning Data Transport (LDT), is a bidirectional serial/parallel high-bandwidth, low-latency computer bus. The HyperTransport Technology Consortium is in charge of promoting and developing HyperTransport technology. The technology is used by AMD and Transmeta in x86 processors, PMC-Sierra and Broadcom in MIPS microprocessors, NVIDIA, Via, SiS, ULi/ALi, and AMD in PC chipsets, Apple Computer and HP in Desktops and notebooks, HP, Sun, IBM, and IWill in servers, Cray in supercomputers, and Cisco Systems in routers.

    HyperTransport runs at 200-5200 MHz (compared to PCI at either 33 or 66 MHz). It is also a DDR or "double-data-rate" bus, meaning it sends data on both the rising and falling edges of the 1400 MHz clock signal. This allows for a maximum data rate of 2600 MTransfers/s each direction. The frequency is auto-negotiated, but can be changed via a multiplier, which is a multiple of your FSB.

    HyperTransport supports auto-negotiated bus widths, from 2 (bidirectional serial, 1 bit each way) to 32-bit (16 each way) busses are allowed. The full-sized, full-speed 32-bit bus has a transfer rate of 22,400 MByte/s, making it much faster than existing standards. Busses of various widths can be mixed together in a single application, which allows for high speed busses between main memory and the CPU, and lower speed busses to peripherals, as appropriate. The technology also has much lower latency than other solutions.

    So, in a nutshell, HT is the bandwidth used between your memory and CPU and the CPU and other peripherals.

    AMD's HTT: (HyperTransport Technology (HTT) - I know, confusing!!!) The A64 has no FSB (or Front Side Bus) as we know it. That's because the memory controller is built-in to the CPU rather than being on the motherboard. Basically, HyperTransport replaces the FSB.
    So raising the HTT is how we raise the CPU's the amount of communication a CPU can push in a given amount of time.
    This has reverted (in terminology only) back to FSB with the new boards and new BIOS, probably to make it easier and less confusing. So, HTT = FSB on the new AM2/AM2+ boards.

    CPU Multiplier: The CPU multiplier is one way for processors to run much faster than the clock speed of the motherboard or RAM allows. For every tick of the front side bus (FSB) clock, a frequency multiplier causes the CPU to perform x cycles, where x is the multiplier.
    For example, if the FSB has a clock speed of 200 MHz and the CPU multiplier is 10x, then the processor would run at 2000MHz or 2.0GHz.
    One downside of the multiplier is that it only increases CPU speed. In the previous example there is a multiplier of 10x, but RAM still runs at 200 MHz, so the computer can only access memory at 1/10th of the processor speed, 200 MHz, the speed of the FSB. Because of this, many overclockers prefer to have lower multipliers with higher FSBs.
    With the Phenom systems (currently using the 790X and 790FX chipsets) - the CPU Multiplier is really the best way to increase your CPU Frequency. Adding FSB to an already high CPU Multiplier can improve CPU Frequency, but most times leads to instability without lots of voltage to help it out.

    Memory Divider: One popular way of overclocking your processor is to increase your FSB. This increases the processor bus, and memory bus equally. In the event that your processor still has the ability to increase in speed, but your memory is maxed out, you would use the memory divider to slow down your memory by running it at a fraction of it's rated speed. Example: You want to run your FSB at 300Mhz, but your memory maxes at 1066Mhz. Set the FSB to 300Mhz, and the memory divider to 1/2, and the memory will run at 533Mhz. (primitive example, but you should get the idea) – the point here is that running a memory divider *literally* runs your memory at a fraction of its original speed…this is a good thing as we’ll learn later.

    Now the fun parts:
    ** There are 2 ways of overclocking AMD CPUs effectively. We'll explore the FSB method in detail below, but the easiest way, and often times the most effective way, is by CPU Multiplier increase alone (which may require higher VCORE (CPU Voltage) but nothing else per se.

    Overclocking utilizing the CPU Multiplier method of overclocking is very simple:
    Increase your default CPU Multiplier until it won't pass POST, then you may increase the VCORE and try raising it some more. Really, the only thing that is imperative with this type of overclocking, is to ensure your CPU temperature is within normal full-load limits (again, upper 60*C range for Phenom architecture, lower 60*C range for PhenomII architecture)
    Very simple, yet effective.
    Some of you may find that overclocking via the CPU Multiplier method will yield better results than any other way, and some of you may find that overclocking via the FSB method will yield better results.
    It's really up to you to find out what type of overclocking gives the best results - testing with Everest's Cache and Memory Benchmark as well as SuperPI are very quick and dirty, but give you a decent idea of throughput vs. other settings.

    Here, we'll explore the FSB method of overclocking in depth:

    Finding your maximum values is the first step for a reason - without this base information, you have no idea what's going to cap out on you and where it's going to's like taking a stab in the dark without even a semblance of an educated guess.

    It's extremely important to find each of your component's maximum values before attempting any relevant overclock. Without such knowledge, it's all just a stab in the dark, but with the knowledge of where everything caps out, you have an excellent idea of what you can expect from each individual component.

    Now then, here is what I do when beginning a new overclock:
    (We're going to try to find the limit for your motherboard's FSB first)

    Drop the CPU Multiplier to it's lowest setting
    Drop the HT Link Speed to it's lowest setting
    Drop the RAM divider to it's lowest setting

    Begin by raising the FSB (CPU Frequency) in 5 - 10MHz increments - rebooting to POST (Power On Self Test - it's the very first screen of text in black and white that you see when you first start your computer from an OFF state) in between each change - until it wont POST (Power On Self Test) - note the number as you've just found your motherboard's maximum FSB. This is important, as your motherboard really is a major determining factor on just how far you can overclock your CPU/RAM and other peripherals. I have found my M3A32-MVP Deluxe is capable of 286MHz FSB with all 4 Phenom 9850BE's that I've tested...I know that it would be different for a different architecture CPU.
    Drop it down to a comfortable stable level decided on from the equation above.
    (yep, we're going to be using that equation *a lot*, so just get used to it!!!)

    CPU Multiplier:
    Begin with your RAM at it's lowest setting, your HT at it's lowest setting, your NB at it's lowest setting and your FSB at 200, then begin raising your CPU Multiplier 1 step at a time, rebooting between each change until it fails POST. This is going to be the maximum CPU Multiplier that you're going to be able to use.

    NorthBridge: You can adjust your NB frequency using a multiplier in the BIOS - remember it's a multiple of the FSB. I've found mine to be completely stable at 2600MHz. You'll have to experiment with the NB voltage to find your full-speed maximum.
    Find this by raising it one level and rebooting all the way into Windows, repeating until it won't boot into Windows.

    HT Link Speed Remembering that it's actually a 10X multiple of your FSB, increasing the FSB also increases your HT. I've found mine stable at over 2400MHz, but in conjunction with the NB, it's stability is capped at 2400MHz when the NB is at 2400MHz or higher. Find this the same way as the NB.
    The secret for getting a higher MHz throughput out of the HT is because of the chipset and the options for it.
    Higher voltage helps in the stability for higher bandwidth - But you've GOT to pay attention to your motherboard temp now! Mine's sitting at 38*C right now, and doesn't really get much higher - this is due to adequate case cooling, which I suggest you definitely follow up on!!! (since the Northbridge on the M3A32-MVP Deluxe is passive, it really relies on good airflow around it to keep it cool! - if at any point you feel uncomfortable about the NB reaching into the mid 40*C range, you may want to check into an active cooling, or perhaps just removing the HS assembly and replacing the ASUS thermal gunk with a nice fresh layer of Arctic Silver5 or Ceramique) along with using the crap copper heatsink that came with the board...even though the memory cooling part is useless, the extra copper fins do help to dissipate a lot of the heat generated by the NB.

    You can begin playing with the equation above now that you know *most* of the variables and what all your individual component's maximum values are.
    If your temps are good (~50*C or below at FULL LOAD) and your motherboard temps are good (38-44*C) then you can start experimenting with other voltages (NB/HT/PCI PLL, etc.)
    (this really becomes nothing more than a balancing act at this point - and it takes time...have patience, take breaks - if you get too frustrated, stop for 10-15 minutes and do something else in a different room...I'm not kidding! I've been soooo close to putting my foot all the way through my case that it's not even funny, so I *know* what I'm talking about - TAKE BREAKS! - oh, and try not to drink alot of coffee, it only will agitate you and make it very aggravating!)

    If you've made it this far, you've just found a *comfortable* level from which to the hard part begins!

    RAM Overclocking:
    Raise ALL your RAM latencies to 3-4 notches (where possible) above stock SPD for the speed you've decided to run.
    Leave your voltage where the manufacturer recommends it (don't go higher - the BIOS text goes red for a reason!) - Later on, you can adjust it up to 2.50V (as a MAX), but you will not need it to be even .01 higher - The point of diminishing returns happens when you've exhausted all overclocking attempts and it will not increase no matter how much voltage you throw at it.
    Now, starting with the SECOND one (tRAS), drop it one notch and reboot to POST (and I *mean* [1] notch at a time - you do more than that, you'll find yourself resetting your CMOS twice a much as you're already going to!!!!), repeating until it will not pass the POST, clear the CMOS if you have to, and raise that one value one notch.
    Do the same for ALL the latencies (rebooting to POST in between EACH AND EVERY CHANGE) - leaving tREF at 127.5ns (this will help with stability at higher MHz)

    This is a *very* long and arduous process, but the benefit will be more than worth the effort you put into it!
    Once you've made it this far, try changing the CMD (Command Rate) Timing to 1T and see if it boots all the way into Windows - if not, change it back to 2T. (most sticks won't run at a 1T CMD Rate on AM2/AM2+, so don't feel bad - it was worth the try!)

    After you've found all the lowest latencies for the *comfortable* overclock, you can begin to see if there's any more...
    By raising the CPU voltage, (NEVER HIGHER THAN 1.55V) you can increase stability in your overclock - but it comes at a great price - HEAT. If your CPU gets above 50*C under full load (should be in the 35-42*C range for idle - but load temps are the most important!), you need better cooling, or need to settle on an overclock that utilizes less voltage (which means less FSB and/or higher multiplier and maybe even a different memory divider)

    Here are some links to software that you'll probably don't need it all as a few are redundant and overkill, but here they are nonetheless.

    I'd DEFINITELY pick up OCCT, Orthos, SuperPI, CPU RightMark and RMMA from the Benchmarking section, *everything* from the Monitoring section, then Memset and AMD Overdrive from the MISC section/

    Benchmarking Software:
    OCCT Perestroïka
    Orthos StressPRIME 2004
    SuperPI (use for quick and dirty bench tests to discover if what you did was faster or slower)
    SiSoft Sandra
    CPU RightMark
    MaxPi is a newer version of SuperPi coded for multiple core processors, and a relatively new addition to this list - it gives some interesting results, but a certain drawback is that it's written in Russian...(personally, I will use it once in a while, but when testing if what I changed in BIOS is better or worse for number crunching, I'll still use SuperPi - it's quicker and gives results in a language I can understand!)
    and then of course the FutureMark line of PC and GPU benchmark products - but I'd only get PCMark Vantage for this...and really, only if you want to. (or optionally, 3DMark Vantage, but then you're scoring more than just your CPU...)

    Monitoring Software:
    ASUS PCProbe 2
    Everest 4 - also contains a Cache and Memory Benchmark that I use all the time.

    Calculators and MISC tools:
    AMD Overdrive

    Below is my current overclock using BIOS 1102 - again, DO NOT just input these values into your own, either you'll not be stable (BEST case scenario) or you'll fry something altogether - you'll need to do the legwork yourself for YOUR components.

    Press F4 and we'll see some 'hidden' settings further in...
    (leave all these options at default)
    Legacy Diskette A [Disabled] Unless you use a Floppy Drive
    Primary IDE Master [Not Detected]
    Primary IDE Slave [Not Detected]
    SATA1 [Not Detected]
    SATA2 [Not Detected]
    SATA3 [Not Detected]
    SATA4 [Not Detected]
    Storage Configuration
    On Chip SATA Channel [Enabled]
    On Chip SATA Type [IDE]

    .JumperFree Configuration
    ..AI Overclocking [Manual]
    ..FSB Frequency [210]
    ..PCIE Frequency [110] (I wouldn't experiment much with this one, but some boards do have a 'sweet spot' between 100 and 115 usually)
    ..Processor Frequency Multiplier [15.00x]
    ..Processor Voltage [1.325] - which is actually 1.318 *see footnote 1
    ..Processor-NB Voltage [Auto] - this supplies extra voltage to the CPU and isn't necessary unless extreme suicidal overclocking!
    ..CPU VDDA Voltage [2.6v] (CPU voltage regulation circuits)
    ..CPU-NB HT Link Speed [2.4GHz] - this has to be proven stable before just jumping into it!
    ..DDR Voltage [2.10] - set this to your RAM's specific voltage requirement!
    ..Northbridge Voltage [Manual]
    ..Hyper Transport Volatge [Auto]
    ..Core/PCIe Voltage [Auto] - Voltage supplied to the NB chip itself
    ..NB PCIE PLL [Auto]
    ..Southbridge Voltage [Auto]
    ..Auto Xpress [Enabled]
    ..CPU Tweak [Enabled]

    Memory Configuration
    ..Bank Interleving [Auto]
    ..Channel Interleaving XOR of Address bits [20:16,9] - *ONLY* if you're running more than 2 banks of RAM, else [Disabled]
    ..MemClk Trisate C3/ATLVID [Disabled] *see footnotes
    ..Memory Hole Remaping [Enabled]
    ..DRAM Ganged Mode [Disabled] - you want to run UNganged, no matter what it's called in your BIOS
    ..Power Down Enable [Disabled]
    ..Read Delay [Auto]
    ..DCQ Bypass Maximum [Auto] - setting to 4 or 6 may help yield stability at high MHz values
    .DRAM Timing Configuration
    ..Memory Clock Mode [Manual]
    ..Memory Clock Value [1066 MHz]
    ..2T Mode [Enabled]
    ..DRAM Timing Mode [Both]
    ..CAS Latency (CL) [5 CLK]
    ..TCWL [5 CLK] - lower values equal faster writes, but will cause instability at high MHz
    ..TRCD [5 CLK]
    ..TRP [5 CLK]
    ..TRAS [18 CLK] - bios 1002 and up overrides this setting: If tRTP is set to Auto then -2 from what the setting is. Any other tRTP setting and this is 18 no matter what the setting is.
    ..tWR [4 CLK]
    ..tRFC0 [127.5 ns]
    ..tRFC1 [127.5 ns]
    ..tRFC2 [127.5 ns]
    ..tRFC3 [127.5 ns]
    ...TRC [26 CLK] - BIOS 1002 overrides this setting if tRTP is not on Auto. If tRTP is not on Auto this is 26.
    ..TRRD [2 CLK]
    ..tWTR [3 CLK] - BIOS 1002 orverrides this setting if tRTP is not on Auto, the resulting setting will be reduced by 1 otherwise.
    ..tRTP [2-4 CLK] In bios 0801 anything but auto and TRC and TRAS are overridden, BIOS 902 and higher, 2-4 CLK and TRAS will function as set.
    ..tRWTTO [4 CLK] - for my memory it is Auto or same as tWR or will not boot.
    ..tWRRD [Auto]
    ..tWRWR [Auto]
    ..tRDRD [Auto]
    ..PLL1 Spread Spectrum [Disabled]
    ..PLL2 Spread Spectrum [Disabled]
    ..AI Clock Skew for Channel A [Auto]
    ....Current Clock Skew Advance 300ps
    ..AI Clock Skew for Channel B [Auto]
    ....Current Clock Skew Advance 450ps
    **testing with clock skew will lead to a lot of BSOD's, but can give a little performance if you hit the sweet spots - ALL sticks will behave differently**

    AI Net 2
    ..Marvell Post LAN cable [Disabled]

    CPU Configuration
    ..GART Error Reporting [Disabled]
    ..Microcode Updation [Disabled]
    ..Secure Virtual Machine Mode [Disabled]
    ..AMD Cool 'n' Quiet Function [Enabled] - after extensive testing, I can overclock to my system's maximum and still have CnQ enabled
    ..ACPI SRAT Table [Enabled]
    ..Processor Downcore [Disabled] - this effectively shuts down between 1 and 3 cores
    ..AMD Live! [Disabled]

    ..Primary Video Controller [PCIE GFX0-GFX2-GPP] - this setting identifies the top blue slot as primary. GFX2 refers to the top black slot (Port #03)
    ..PCI Express Configuration
    ..GFX Dual Slot Configuration [Enabled]
    ..GFX Dual Slot Configuration [Disabled]
    ..Peer-to-Peer among GFX/GFX2 [Disabled] this setting is for running cards connected to the top blue and black slots on equal status for issuing requests and commands
    ..GPP Slots Power Limit, W [75] - Maximum wattage that can be supplied through the slot (0-250)
    ..Port #02 & #03 Features
    ....Gen2 High Speed Mode [Disabled] found this was the best setting for me according to 3DMark06 - may need to enable for CF
    ....Link ASPM [Disabled] - ASPM stands for Active State Power Mangement
    ....Slot Power Limit, W [75] - Maximum wattage that can be supplied through the slot (0-250)
    ..Port#04 through #10
    ....Gen2 High Speed Mode [Disabled]
    ....Link ASPM [Disabled]
    ..Port#11 Features Bottom blue slot
    ....Gen2 High Speed Mode [Disabled] - again, may need to be enabled for CF
    ....Link ASPM [Disabled]
    ....Link Width [x16]
    ....Slot Power Limit, W [25] - Maximum wattage that can be supplied through the slot (0-250)
    ..NB-SB Port Features
    ..NB-SB Link ASPM [Disabled]
    ..NP NB-SB VC1 Traffic Support [Enabled] (virtual channel 1) helps with Isochronous Flow-Control Mode or [Disabled] if not using Isochronous Flow Control, 2xCLK or UnitID Clumping * see footnotes

    Hyper Transport Configuration
    ..Isochronous Flow-Control Mode [Enabled] or [Disabled] if not used in conjunction with the other variables * see footnotes
    ..HT Link Tristate [CAD/CTL/CLK] or [Disabled] if not used in conjunction with the other variables * see footnotes
    ..UnitID Clumping [UnitID 2/3&B/C] or [Disabled] if not used in conjunction with the other variables * see footnotes
    ..2xLCLK Mode [Disabled]

    Onboard Devices Configuration
    ..Onboard Floppy Controller [Disabled] unless you use a Floppy Drive
    ..Floppy Drive Swap [Disabled] unless you use a Floppy Drive
    ..Serial Port1 Address [Disabled] unless you use a serial device
    ..HD Audio Azalia Device [Auto] left at default
    ..Front Panel Support Type [HD Audio] (neither of these 2 items need to be enabled if you're using a 3rd party sound card
    ..1394 [Disabled] unless you use a 1394 device
    ..WiFi [Disabled] unless you use the WiFi motherboard attachment
    ..Onboard LAN [Enable]
    ..Onboard LAN Boot ROM [Disabled]
    ..Marvell 6111 SATA Controller [Disabled] (found NO use for this and I have 6 HDDs)
    ..Marvell 6121 SATA Controller [Enable] (all HDDs/DVD drives use this channel)
    ..Marvell Option ROM [Disabled]
    ..Primary Display Adapter [PCI-E]

    PCI PnP
    ..Plug and Play OS [No] - let your motherboard decide IRQs for what's plugged into it, not Windows!
    ..PCI Latency Timer [64] - higher values may create more stability, but at the cost of increasing PCI bandwidth time
    ..Allocate IRQ to PCI VGA [Yes]
    ..Palette Snooping [Disabled]

    USB Configuration
    ..USB Functions [Enabled]
    ..USB 2.0 Controller [Enabled]
    ..USB 2.0 Controller Mode [HiSpeed]
    ..BIOS EHCI Hand-Off [Disabled] - Windows takes care of this for you
    ..Legacy USB Support [Auto] - no one uses any 1.0 USB anymore, but can cause the system to crash if disabled, Auto will automagically shut-down in the event no 1.0 USB device is found

    ..Suspend Mode [Auto]
    ..Report Video on S3 Resume [No] default
    ..ACPI 2.0 Support [Enabled] ACPI Power Management - Required for Cool n Quiet
    ..ACPI APIC Support [Enabled] ACPI APIC

    APM Configuration
    all settings left at default

    Hardware Monitor
    ..CPU Fan Warning Speed [Disabled]
    ..Smart Q-Fan Function [Disabled] this is what the fourth pin is for on four pin fan connectors, so if you use this function, set to [Enabled]

    ..Boot Device Priority
    ...1st Boot Device [(set to your OS HDD in 'Hard Disk Drives')]
    ...2nd Boot Device [Disabled]

    Boot Settings Configuration
    ..Quick Boot [Enabled] - only set to enabled AFTER you're done tweaking your overclock!
    ..Full Screen Logo [Disabled] - because I like to see the POST
    ..AddOn ROM Display Mode [Force BIOS]
    ..Bootup Num-Lock [On]
    ..Wait for 'F1' Error [Enabled] - waits for user input in the event of an overclock failure
    ..Hit 'DEL' Message Display [Enabled] - reminds you to push DEL to enter BIOS options
    ..Chassis Intrusion [Disabled] unless you use this feature with your case

    all settings left at default


    1) There is a small bug in every version of the M3A32-MVP Deluxe BIOS that UNDER-volts your input. At 1.3V in BIOS, read with any software application (not including AOD) - it will be 1.28V, and the difference increases with the increase in voltage.
    2) Isochronous Flow-Control Mode: This has to do with how information is passed between the CPU, the GPU and the RAM along the NorthBridge. It has been a part of the BIOS for HT since AGP 8X, but the option to enable or disable it is a fairly recent addition. When this option is enabled, it assigns the information a number, in the order it was received. Each bit of information is then processed in that order along the route. In toher words, there is no loss of information, but the processing in this orderly manner has drawbacks. If you choose to enable this feature, you will also need to enable UnitID Clumping and then under PCI-E COnfiguraiton and the NB-SB section of the BIOS, VC1 needs to be enabled as well.
    3) UnitID Clumping: Simply put, it accounts for not all devices being equally quick at processing information. This allows each device to support a longer waiting line. VC1 accounts for a major drawback of Isochronous Flow-Control mode in that the flow control mode does not allow any information to break line. Everything must wait it's turn. Therefore, if one piece of info is intended for the CPU and in front of it is info the for GPU, the info for the GPU needs to be processed before the CPU info is processed; plus, if there is a waiting line of info to be processed onthe GPU, the CPU info is held up all that much longer. VC1 comes to the rescue by letting the CPU info break line, bypassing the GPU info jam to join the CPU info queue.
    4) Tristating (in all forms): Tristating is a power saving feature in addition to ASPM linking. Whatever sections you want to enable Tristate in, you reduce the energy needed to run that area, but the downside is that you also reduce that area's performance.
    5) 2xLCLK: This setting only affects HT 3.0, so Phenom's may benefit from it while with Athlon's, it just does not apply. LCLK stands for Latency Clock. The 2x means that instead of one full bandwidth HT Link you are requesting two half bandwidth HT Links. For performance, at times it is better to have a two lane highway; traffic flowing in both directions at the same time along the same strip of asphalt at 50mph, than it is to have a single lane highway along the same strip of asphalt with traffic lights controlling the directional flow at 100mph.

    Hopefully, there's enough information there to get some of you going, and certainly enough to read more than once, pulling something new each time it's read.

    Good luck to all! If there is any information that needs to be changed, added or removed, please pm me and I will take care of it.

    Last edited: Aug 7, 2010
    blitz72 likes this.
  2. Psychlone

    Psychlone Ancient Guru

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    Radeon HD5970 Engineering
    As I've stated in numerous posts, the actual stepping of your CPU is what determines it's overclockability.
    Unless you physically hand-pick one from a store shelf, you'll get whatever they send you...and that means whatever LOT number is sitting on a warehouse shelf, which has absolutely nothing to do with stepping at all. I've found that Newegg usually has the best steppings on hand, but that doesn't mean that you'll get one - I went through 4 from Newegg...1 of them was a decent overclocker, 2 of them were *horrible* (2.8GHz was their highest!), and 1 of them was excellent at overclocking (the one I'm still using, and it's reached 3.675GHz on this board) - not to mention the other 4 that I've tested to this only 4 of them in total were stable at 3GHz with 4 of them being unstable at much over 2.8GHz.
    I've found that Fry's Electronics often has an excellent selection that you can 'cherry-pick'...that's how I got the RAM I have in my rig...they just happened to have revision 1.3 Dominator 8500C5D's on their shelf (about 4 packages back) - these sticks are stable at well over 1200MHz, but Corsair quit making them a year only places that have the old stock in their warehouses are actually going to even have access to something like that.

    **There is NO way to tell the stepping of a CPU unless you literally pull the CPU out of the socket, clean off the thermal paste, and physically look at the IHS (Integrated Heat Sink) on the top of the CPU itself**
    There is no software that can poll this information because this series of numbers/letters is not embedded into any registers anywhere. So, what you've seen with CPUz or Everest or any other software - means absolutely nothing.
    When I'm talking about a CPU's stepping, it's really more than just a series of numbers/letters.
    You can break down the stepping numbers/letters on the top of the IHS so that it shows the date the actual chip rolled off the manufacturing line along with what core it has, and the color of the PCB (Printed Circuit Board). This is how important it is to know what you're getting; very few Phenoms with a stepping of 0810 or before have shown to overclock higher than 2.8GHz. Most good overclocking Phenoms (3.1GHz or above) come from weeks 16, 18, 19, 21, 22 and the weeks that I have skipped are Phenoms that have a rough time reaching 3GHz even with extreme voltage increases. Also, the steppings of AW, GW, and MW have shown to be in the top of the best overclocking CPUs. (highest MHz with the lowest voltage increase)

    What we call the 'Stepping' is really quite a lot more than that...we can group it into 5 categories from those numbers:

    * Core
    * Week
    * Stepping
    * Color of PCB
    * Revision

    The 2 that are imperative for the Phenom are the Week and the Stepping, the Week that it was created, probably due to the manufacturing process itself (like a 'Wednesday's Car' - a car built on Wednesday used to be the better car because during the middle of the week, no one was looking forward to the party at the end of the week and they had already nursed their hangover from the weekend before ;))

    In any case, if there's a way to physically hand-pick your CPU from a dealer, that's what you should do, even if it's more money - because there's no way to tell what you'll get from any online retailer.

    Last edited: Oct 31, 2008
  3. Tperk

    Tperk Member Guru

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    GTX580 Matrix
    wow, just wanted to thank you for all the time you took in doing this guide up. As a new 9850be owner I have a feeling i'll be spending alot of time on this page :)
  4. Psychlone

    Psychlone Ancient Guru

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    Radeon HD5970 Engineering
    Here's what's possible with a good stepping and this guide:
    (all stability tests were run BEFORE validating any CPUz...)




    Even though I'm *mostly* stable (10 hours of Orthos StressPrime, BSOD about 10 minutes after 8 hours) at 3.51GHz, it's far too hot due to 1.45V and summer (I suspect that this may end up being my winter 24/7 overclock)

    I started at 3.15GHz at 1.32V, then restarted my entire overclock from scratch, ending up with a very good overclock of 3.41GHz, then 3.485GHz (which is where I'll stay because of the 1.375V it takes to get here vs. the highest stable at 3.51GHz with 1.45V)

    This CPU is really kicking butt now! It took a bit for the AS5 to cure, but it's now running at 3.485GHz at 46*C idle and 55*C full load...(full load at 3.51GHz was 63*C - too high to be all the time, but again, stable at that speed)

    I seriously can't wait until the new 780G boards come out - at which point, after some experience with it, I'll update the guide to reflect any changes that pertain to the new chipset.

    Last edited: Jul 19, 2008

  5. Psychlone

    Psychlone Ancient Guru

    Likes Received:
    Radeon HD5970 Engineering
    I've had a brain malfunction...I've been going all around saying I have a stepping that doesn't actually exist.

    The correct stepping is JAAHB AA 0816 GPMW

    And, here's one with 3 of them together while the 4th (which is actually the 3rd one because I hadn't yet installed the current JAAHBAA0816GPMW stepping) was still in my computer:


    I'm now just over 15 hours stable at 3.485GHz and counting...(we're talking about the middle CPUz validation)

  6. MadGizmo

    MadGizmo Maha Guru

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    MSI R9 290X 8GB 2560*1440
    Just curious about some of the BIOS options. I was wondering what the "PLL1 Spread Spectrum" and "PPL2 Spread Spectrum" were used for. The manual didn't give me any clues. On the net I wasn't able to find something useful. Any ideas?
  7. Psychlone

    Psychlone Ancient Guru

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    Radeon HD5970 Engineering
    Spread-spectrum clocking schemes distribute the energy of the fundamental clock frequency to minimize peaking of energy at specific frequencies. This reduces the fundamental clock frequency EMI/RFI as well as the higher frequency harmonic components.

    In short, it spreads the voltage requirement across whatever hardware it's related to, as well as helping to resist interference with other electrical emitting devices, but in turn, reduces overclockability and ALWAYS has caused stability issues in everything I've tested.

    Last edited: Jul 28, 2008
  8. MadGizmo

    MadGizmo Maha Guru

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    MSI R9 290X 8GB 2560*1440
    Ah... That's why my graphics card got reset when I tried it. ;)

    Thanks for the explanation and your very well written guide.
  9. vbetts

    vbetts Don Vincenzo Staff Member

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    GTX 1080 Ti
    O_O Jesus, that's an insane overclock! I hope that this goes well for you. :D
  10. Psychlone

    Psychlone Ancient Guru

    Likes Received:
    Radeon HD5970 Engineering
    So...anyone out there interested in some help overclocking their Phenoms?? AM2+ boards with X2 BEs? Anyone?

    The entire reason I posted this huge amount of information wasn't to scare people off, it was to combine my accumulated knowledge of the Phenom architecture and the new AM2+ boards along with my previous knowledge of all things AMD, and to use that information to HELP PEOPLE with their overclocks - it's kinda my thing! ;)

    So, if anyone has any questions, please don't hesitate to pm me, or to post in this thread - I'd be glad to help you out! (no matter what AMD you've got - I've still got a killer A64/X2 guide that I can tweak from my A8R32-MVP Deluxe guide that reflects the math for YOUR system!)


  11. vbetts

    vbetts Don Vincenzo Staff Member

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    GTX 1080 Ti
    I do actually have a question.

    I don't know if you have the resources to know this, but about how far of an average are the tri core phenom series gaining out of an overclock?
  12. Psychlone

    Psychlone Ancient Guru

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    Radeon HD5970 Engineering
    When testing "Kuma Mode" on any of my Phenom 9850BE's (by disabling 1 core in BIOS) - I've still had the same success in overclocking, just lower scores in benchmarks compared to all 4 cores at overclocked value.

    Although, currently, and surprisingly (to me) - there isn't even 1 single entry in the Phenom overclocking database for any Tri-Core Phenom...could be because the people that are purchasing them aren't into overclocking, or just suspect that because they've purchased a CPU thats less than the top model, that they don't overclock well at all...

    In any case, I do know that quite a few of the Kuma tri-cores were manufactured at the same exact time as quite a few of the Agena quad-cores, giving them the same week of manufacture...which should mean that, given it's the same exact manufacture process as the Agena quads, that some of the Kuma Tri's should by no doubt hit 3GHz+, and my testing with Kuma, albeit on 4 different Agena 9850BE CPUs, has shown that using 3 cores of the Agena (which should be identical to the Kuma in power consumption and throughput, etc.) works just like it's quad-core big brother, the Agena Phenom 9850, and is just as overclockable as the Phenom 9850 as well - some won't clock more than 100MHz, some will pull close to a GHz, and this time around, compared to the older AMD architecture, stepping doesn't seem to play such an all important role as does the chipset that's communicating with it, but stepping does indeed still determine how much voltage is needed to perform.

    From all my testing, the common denominator is that any stepping that will run Windows with LOWER voltage than stock (1.3V) without errors in stress programs for at least 10 hours, will also overclock to a higher MHz.
    My current stepping, JAAHB AA 0816 GPMW, is 24 hour Orthos Stressprime Blend priority10 stable at 1.07V at the stock 2.5GHz CPU/2GHz HT/2GHz NB...this is part of why I can get 3.5GHz out of it, and the reason I believe that the lower the voltage for a stable stock speed, the better overclocker you have on your hands.
    I also believe this to be true to the Kuma as well - since they share the same exact manufacturing process and the same exact architecture, they'd have to exhibit the same traits.

  13. vbetts

    vbetts Don Vincenzo Staff Member

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    GTX 1080 Ti
    So then at the cost of a core then, overclocking on these can be pretty decent? Though is it worth disabling one core for applications that use multiple cores?
  14. Psychlone

    Psychlone Ancient Guru

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    Radeon HD5970 Engineering
    I haven't found any use for more than 2 cores yet - I don't Photoshop, I don't transcode video, I don't do anything like that, all I really do is overclock and help other people overclock, playing an occasional game in between sometimes, but none of those are coded for 4 cores, so like I said, absolutely nothing I do requires 4 cores, so I've yet to see anything aside from a benchmark that 4 cores offers over 3 or even 2 for that matter.
    This is just personal observation, it may be different for those that do more with their rigs, like transcoding, etc...but not me.

  15. gosh

    gosh Member

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    I have some questions here that probably are hard to answer.

    1: What is the general difference in latency between the Front Side Bus on Intel computers and the Hypertransport on AMD computers?

    2: Hypertransport 3 has huge bandwidth but how much of that can actually be used buy the 790FX or 790GX motherboards. Is 790GX motherboards faster than 790FX (sb600 compared to sb750) sending I/O data?

    3: They are often calculating memory performance on computers and not performance sending data to video card. When Intel computers sends data to the video card there is some sort of switching logic that redirects information to PCI Express instead of memory (I think). Is there any information on the latency for sending data to the video card using the FSB and how much time each operation needs on the way to the video card?

    4: Running more than one thread on AMD one thread could read or write data to memory and another thread can write to the video card at the same time. But if these threads are doing this at the same time does one that have any effect on the performance for the other transfer? What I mean is that if hypertransport traffic has any effect on memory traffic or is it completely separated.

    5: Does it exist any benchmarking on the internet where they have performed mesurments on total performance comparing the FSB vs IMC/Hypertransport to video card? What I mean is if there exist some test where one application starts two threads and these threads are sending data, one to the memory and one to the video card and how they differ in time comparing AMD and Intel. This type of performance should be very important for multithreaded games comparing both processors.
    Last edited: Aug 17, 2008

  16. Psychlone

    Psychlone Ancient Guru

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    Radeon HD5970 Engineering
    1. Can't tell you because I have *no* experience with Intel at all...

    2. HT3 is a standard, so it's a cap of how fast it can run - but the cap appears on individual CPUs. Phenom CPUs utilize the highest amount, but it's not the full 7200MHz.

    3. I'm not sure how to answer this one other than to tell you that the new SB750 motherboards have been linked directly to the CPU via 2 previously unused pins on the Phenoms...this new communication has very little latency (not sure what it actually is) and higher throughput as well (not sure what that is either)

    4. What you're talking about here has to do with the HT itself, and when you're talking about HT (HyperTransport) - it has 2 lanes of equal speed, so if your HT is running at 2000MHz, it's actually 2000MHz in EACH DIRECTION (2000MHz up and 2000MHz down) - they're completely separate bandwidth lanes.

    5. I'm not aware of any bench that can do that...this kind of a benchmark program would clearly outline the differences between AMD and Intel and perhaps someone should make one! There are theoretical limits for each of the bandwidth lanes that you're speaking of for AMD and for Intel, but I have not researched this sufficiently enough to give you an answer. I'd like to know this as well.

    Sorry I couldn't be of more help on a couple of those...that was indeed hard! ;)


    EDIT: I've read your post over at XS and you know more than I do about a couple of these things...I'm going to quote your post from there just to help answer those questions that I couldn't.
    P.S. - @Gosh - I don't care what 'they' think about what's been said - I believe you're right!
    Last edited: Aug 17, 2008
  17. MetalMX6

    MetalMX6 New Member

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    ATI Radeon HD3870 512 (2)
    Nice info here. But I'm still a bit stumped. I have 4 1gb sticks of Crucial Ballistix Tracer 1066Mhz.

    I've set the DDR voltage to 2.20v (as per Crucial's specs for these sticks), set the 5-5-5-15 timings right, but it's still running at 800Mhz. If I force the speed to 1067Mhz in the BIOS (there are no 1066Mhz setting at all), I get no post. Also, AMD Overdrive reports DDR voltage of 1.80v. I don't know which to believe. AMD Overdrive or the BIOS?

    ASUS M3A32-MVP DELUXE (no wi-fi)
    AMD Phenom X4 9850 Black Edition
    4 x 1Gb Crucial Ballistix Tracer BL2KIT12864AL1065 (2.2v)
    2 x ASUS ATI Radeon HD3870 CF (512Mb each)

    In fact, my bios is set to 5-5-5-17, and the tRTP setting is 2-4 CLK, so I effectively get a tRAS of 15 CLK (according to AOD).

    Any help would be greatly appreciated, I would like to be able to run my RAM at the speed rating it was made to run at.

    Thank you
  18. Psychlone

    Psychlone Ancient Guru

    Likes Received:
    Radeon HD5970 Engineering
    Believe AOD - it's polling the registers, but don't necessarily believe it for all the voltages, there's a bit of a discrepancy on the CPU/NB voltages by about ~.024V.

    One thing that I know for certain is that with all 4 banks populated, you're going to run into limitations right from the start - try pulling banks 2 and 4 and retry your overclock.

    Another thing that I've noticed, is that this board doesn't like Ballistix Tracers...there's a couple people that solved it with the new 1202 BIOS, and a few others that are still stuck. I'm sure that it probably has something to do with the specific revision of ICs that are on those sticks, but I can't find a common denominator.

  19. MetalMX6

    MetalMX6 New Member

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    ATI Radeon HD3870 512 (2)
    I'm already at BIOS revision 1202, thanks. No luck.

    And, is it actually an overclock to try to get those sticks to run at the frequency they're supposed to run?

    I could retry forcing the DRAM speed to 1067Mhz, but I fear I have to take out the box again to reset the CMOS again ehehhe :)

    Anyways, thanks for your tips, I'll try and get a last shot before contacting my vendor and try to get them replace my memory sticks with something else. Any recommendations? OCZ? Corsair?

    Again, thank you.
  20. Psychlone

    Psychlone Ancient Guru

    Likes Received:
    Radeon HD5970 Engineering
    I'm betting it's the Crucial sticks that aren't jiving with the M3A32-MVP - there are loads of people with this exact problem with Tracers and the M3A32-MVP.

    As for a replacement set, you REALLY, REALLY need to do a bit of research before just making a purchase - and if you have access to a BestBuy or Fry's or equivalent, you can physically "Hand-pick" the cherry sticks yourself.
    I suggest reading up a bit on the D9 Buyer's Guide here at Guru3D and then use RAMLIST to find the exact sticks that you want, then literally go and hand-pick them from a can't do that online, but there is a trick - if you go through one of the lesser known e-tailers (which may or may not be a bag of worms in itself), there's a chance that they may have some old-stock of sticks that they don't know are D9's, and could quite possibly send you some.
    A close buddy ordered a set of 2 X 2GB 8500C5D Dominators from and ended up with version 1.1...same as in my rig, but I hand-picked mine. Now, Corsair stopped making these sticks with the Micron D9 ICs quite some time ago, and I lucked into them on a shelf at a Fry's, but logically, some of these online e-tailers obviously still have stock that they're trying to get rid of.

    I've been using Corsair for years, never had any problems with any of their sticks (no DOA's, no defects, no RMA's ever!) and will stick with Corsair sticks not only because of that, but because if you have a question, you go to their forums, make a post, and a tech that works for Corsair will respond direct to your post with more information that you need.
    The Corsair Dominator 8500C5D version 1.1 to 1.3 (I believe) are the ones to get - capable of over 1200MHz overclock at STOCK VOLTAGE AND LATENCIES...all because of the D9 ICs on them.

    All things aside, D9 ICs, no matter what make/model/brand you decide to go for, are the specific sticks that you want. - Use the links provided above to do a bit of research before jumping the gun on any RAM purchase.

    I've been overclocking since long before overclocking was 'mainstream' (looking at 15+ years) and I can tell you from experience helping others, that a RAM purchase is *THE* most common denominator between most people that can't get a decent overclock. Everyone always buys RAM based on the lowest latencies available, not taking overclocking into consideration, and through many, many years of experience, I can tell you that the lowest latencies is NOT what it's's about the lowest latencies you can achieve for the HIGHEST OVERCLOCK that's stable. This is why I have the section in my guide that shows how to get there by loosening the latencies to really high values, overclocking the crap out of the RAM, then tightening them back up as tight as they're stable for the new MHz. - In my experience, higher MHz with the lowest latencies stable for that speed will ALWAYS win compared to the lowest latencies possible and a moderate MHz's just the way it always works.

    Anyway, hope that helps you out - using those 2 links, you'll find something that's going to work better than what you've got - GUARANTEED! ;)


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