Athlon XP Overclocking Guide

Discussion in 'Links' started by WildStyle, Jul 3, 2004.

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  1. WildStyle

    WildStyle Ancient Guru

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    First things first....

    "Can I kill my hardware through overclocking?"

    In a word, yes, but any overclocking will stress components. You are pushing them past their standard speeds and what they have been rated for. However generally the impact this has on the life-span of the component will be very small. Maybe your CPU would only last for 10 years instead of 20, but let's be honest, who keeps a CPU that long? When you increase voltage, this is where things start to get interesting. You can never tell which CPUs will die from 2v, and which will last forever. It absolutely depends on that particular CPU. Therefore I cannot tell you which voltage you will have to run for certain clocks, or which to run to get the most out of your chip, but I can certainly give you guidelines to stay within - nominal amounts which *shouldn't* damage on any Athlon XP CPU.

    Now, where was I... :p

    I have to just say that this is a guide to help you overclock, and the methods within should work fine, but if you break your hardware through overclocking then I accept no responsibility for that. I would suggest reading up on overclocking and associated topics before hand, so you have a good basic understanding of the concept, terms used, and risks taken before you start.

    I have helped many people successfully overclock, and though people will still ask questions about their individual overclocking-related problems, I thought I'd compile a <hopefully> useful thread about it, so that perhaps we won't see as many 'How do I overclock?' questions! This guide should be good for beginners. :)

    You have two ways of doing this... we'll start with the easiest. This is a generic guide, so if you're unsure of anything at all, or stuck, or your particular board has different options, then PM moi.

    Finally, remember that every bit of hardware has it's limits and that even if someone has the same components as you, expect different results. No two CPU's are exactly the same, and overclocking is essentially based on luck.

    Take notes along the way with pen and paper.

    Don't forget to watch temps at all times - Motherboard Monitor/MBM5 is good for this. ( http://mbm.livewiredev.com/ )
    Never let it get above 60°C. Good cooling is very important!


    Also watch your voltages.
    Overclocking will increase power consumption, so make sure your PSU is sufficient. Remember you need to stay within 5% +/- fluctuation of ATX tolerances on each rail.
    It will depend on your components as to how much voltage I'd recommend for them but for reference and safety, I'd say to stay below 1.9v vcore / 2.9v vdimm.


    For reference...
    vcore=CPU voltage,
    vdimm=RAM voltage,
    VDD=Chipset voltage.


    Let's begin...

    If you have an option for CPU Interface please enable it for best bandwidth. Running with it disabled really isn't worth it unless you're experiencing stability issues. Note this loss of bandwidth would equal about +25MHz FSB.

    Max CPU MHz

    1. Go into BIOS.
    2. Change Multiplier to 10x
    3. Reboot & go into windows
    4. Run Prime95 Torture Test "In place large FFTs" for 30mins (hopefully successfully.) (Options >> Torture Test)
    5. If you BSOD, Prime errors, or you can't boot into windows already then increase vcore 0.025v.
    6. If the settings work okay, up multiplier 0.5x again and start over.
    7. Repeat until you've maxed out the chip.

    You have the max MHz, but we want to achieve the same speed using a combination of high FSB/low multi. Why? Memory bandwidth. The higher the FSB that faster the CPU communicates with the mem controller and the faster the data is accessed.
    Why run 1:1 (FSB/RAM frequencies synchronised) ? Otherwise you will incur the wrath of a major latency penalty, killing performance.

    Max FSB

    1. Into BIOS. Divide your top speed so far by 166. Round to nearest single decimal place, and set your multiplier to that. Set your FSB to 166. Set RAM freq. to 3/3, 6/6 or 100% to ensure it's synched.
    2. Reboot, into Windows & Prime.
    3. Any problems back to BIOS, increase vdimm voltage, chipset voltage, try again.
    4. If no problems, then back to bios, and take that highest speed and divide it by 176. Set multiplier to the answer, and set FSB to 176. Back to #2
    5. Keep going!! Take the max CPU Speed, divide by 180, back to #2
    6. Divide by 196
    7. Divide by 200

    Now, you'll get to a point where that FSB just won't go any higher.... remember that number.

    Now you should now have written down on a piece of paper...

    1. Highest CPU Speed so far.
    2. Highest FSB Speed so far.
    3. vcore & vdimm voltages required to get those figures.
     
    Last edited: Apr 11, 2005
  2. WildStyle

    WildStyle Ancient Guru

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    Tweaking your RAM

    Run your max FSB, set the vdimm voltage as high as it can go then go to Advanced Chipset Features > DRAM settings.

    First change every "from SPD" to "Manual" or "User Define" depending what options are available. This will allow you to tweak the other settings.

    The ultimate aim is high memory bandwidth. The lower the better. From the top down are the best settings you can generally have:

    Cycle Length (Cas): 2
    Bank Interleave: 4 Way (n/a on nForce2 boards)
    Precharge>Active (Trp): 2
    Active>Precharge (Tras): 5 (KTxxx) 11 (nF2)
    Active to CMD: 2
    DRAM Burst: 8 (n/a on nForce2 boards)
    DRAM Queue: 4 (n/a on nForce2 boards)
    DRAM Command Rate: 1T (n/a on nForce2 boards - 1T by default)
    Write Recovery: 2T for PC2100, 3T for PC2700/PC3200 (n/a on nForce2 boards)

    (The settings above will offer maximum performance, but you are unlikely to be able run them unless you have excellent RAM. Do not set all your BIOS options to how they are listed above and save/exit BIOS - I doubt you will even boot.)

    You now need to spend a lot of time getting your settings as close to these as possible at as high an FSB as possible. Once you have found them, you should write them down unless you have a photographic memory.

    Run a Sisoft Sandra memory bandwidth benchmark to see if the settings are better. If there are any problems, increase memory voltage, or relax timings again. Some RAM just won't do the best timings, and remember it's not the brand of the RAM, it's the type of IC used on it.

    If the system doesn't boot with the new timings, clear the CMOS and try again, all be it with different (looser) timings. Memtest is a good program to check stability of FSB/RAM settings BTW. ( http://www.memtest.org/ )

    Putting it all together

    You now need to merge EVERYTHING together, and set your system to your highest FSB/multiplier combo, with appropriate voltages and your fastest RAM settings.
    When you think your OC is finished, run Prime95 Torture Test (I suggest "In place Large FFTs") for a few hours (ideally 6 hours or more) and if it survives, great. If it runs for 30-60mins, then you're probably okay, but it may crash if you're doing something extremely intense. If it crashes after a couple mins you will have problems.
    (Prime95 can be downloaded from here: http://www.mersenne.org/freesoft.htm )
     
    Last edited: Apr 11, 2005
  3. WildStyle

    WildStyle Ancient Guru

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    Added notes...

    Multipliers

    If you have a pre 39/03 XP CPU which is factory unlocked, then all KT400, KT600, Nforce2 chipsets will unlock it automatically (providing your board support multi adjustments - majority do.)
    If you have a post 39/03 XP CPU then you won't be able to unlock it no matter what.
    The only reason "Speed-Strip" or connecting bridges, or other possible mods etc would be useful would be if you had a chipset that didn't unlock the CPU multi automatically, and if you wanted to you could use these methods to do it, providing it was made pre 39/03. Or if you had a Palomino.

    Palomino's OC badly due to their 0.18nm manufacturing process and 1.75v stock vcore. AMD had to redesign the core to get over 2100+, hence why the Tbred was introduced (0.13nm)

    Note: Palomino's are locked by default.

    Useful Tools

    Memtest86+ can be found at: http://www.memtest.org/

    MotherboardMonitor 5 can be found at: www.pcextreme.net/downloads.php

    SiSoft Sandra 2004 can be found at: http://downloads.guru3d.com/download.php?det=177

    Prime95 can be found at: http://www.mersenne.org/freesoft.htm

    CPU-Z can be found at: http://www.cpuid.com/cpuz.php

    ClockGen can be found at: http://www.cpuid.com/clockgen.php

    8RDAvcore can be found at: http://www.hasw.net/8rdavcore/

    SpeedFan can be found at: http://www.almico.com/speedfan.php

    Everest Home Edition can be found at: http://www.lavalys.com/products/overview.php?pid=1&lang=en&pageid=1

    SuperPi can be found at: http://files.extremeoverclocking.com/file.php?f=36

    XP-M/Nforce2/NF7 specific - For more advanced users.

    Modded BIOS - http://forums.guru3d.com/showthread.php?s=&threadid=123079

    XP-M - http://forums.guru3d.com/showthread.php?s=&threadid=107802

    L12 mod - http://forums.guru3d.com/showthread.php?s=&threadid=109505

    CPC - http://forums.guru3d.com/showthread.php?s=&threadid=117760&perpage=10&pagenumber=3


    Searching my posts will net you more info on stuff related to the above.. amongst all the other random junk I've posted in my time. :D
     
    Last edited: Apr 13, 2005
  4. Kenshai

    Kenshai Master Guru

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    go wildstyle ;)
    sure this will help the beginners
     

  5. AJ²06

    AJ²06 Ancient Guru

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    Im poking this with a stick... :p I thought it was helpful. Wish I had this one back when I oced my first CPU ... It was a desktop 2400+... :D
     
    Last edited: Jul 6, 2004
  6. manothehour

    manothehour Master Guru

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    sticky this. i hate it when people go through all this work and after a few days it goes to the 2nd page and everyone forgets about it.
     
  7. WildStyle

    WildStyle Ancient Guru

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    Thank you manothehour, we are on the same wavelength. :thumbup:
     
  8. PhonyEye

    PhonyEye Maha Guru

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    i have a fairly stupid question but which disturbs me a lot... :)

    i have a 266mhz ram sticks, if i OC my FSB to above 133, does it affect the RAM too (giving it a higher mhz)?
    if not, isn't the ram bottlenecking me (FSB is at let's say 140mhz and the ram is still 133mhz)?
    am i not going to burn the RAM because it can only run at 133mhz?

    it seems i don't understand the relationship between the FSB and the RAM.
     
  9. WildStyle

    WildStyle Ancient Guru

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    Yes, because your RAM and FSB are the same frequency, when you raise the FSB, you will be overclocking your RAM too (as it's best to keep them in sync.)
    RAM will overclock okay, and you should be able to get 10-20MHz out of it okay, and perhaps more if you increase vdimm and loosen timings too. You won't burn the RAM, as it doesn't physically get hot enough, and if you overclock too far, it'll just be unstable, or not boot, you won't damage it.
    The only way you can damage cheaper RAM is to give it too much vdimm, which is why in my guide I recommend to stay @2.8v or under.
     
  10. PhonyEye

    PhonyEye Maha Guru

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    kay, great! thanks.. :)

    so i understand that pc3500 and above are simply better OCers eh?
    they can reach higher FSB and still be stable?

    would it be stupid buying a 500mhz ram and have only a 200mhz FSB system?
     

  11. WildStyle

    WildStyle Ancient Guru

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    PC3500 RAM is useful because it allows you to raise the FSB on your CPU, without the RAM limiting you. They are designed to go to 217FSB, where as slower RAM would have to be overclocked to get that high, or may not get there at all.

    Yeah it would be a bit stupid getting PC4000 RAM on an Athlon XP setup, because you'd need to get to 250FSB to use the RAM's full potential, and in most cases, this just isn't possible.
     
  12. PhonyEye

    PhonyEye Maha Guru

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    i didn't understand the CL timings in this paragraph :) sorry...
    why suddenly 11-2-2-2 is better? i thought the lower the better..
    11? isn't it should be something like 3,2.5,2?

    can you explain this again pleeeease.....?
     
  13. WildStyle

    WildStyle Ancient Guru

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    Well, as always the 2-2-2 is the best, but on nforce2 boards, the tRAS should be set to 11 for best performance (It doesn't make a huge difference, but it's there.)
     
  14. PhonyEye

    PhonyEye Maha Guru

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    tras to 11? not the CL? okay. i thought it's CL 11 and the rest is 2-2-2...

    so i should read it 2-2-2-11 i see... aight?
     
  15. WildStyle

    WildStyle Ancient Guru

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    Sorry, yeah it was the wrong way round. :confused: (Edited now)
    It goes in order from CL, right the way through to tRAS.
    The tRAS equals 11 in this case, and yes you should read it 2-2-2-11. I have it listed that way in my specs too.
    Read my Latency Guide in General Hardware if you want to improve your understanding.
     

  16. Toxic Worrier

    Toxic Worrier Master Guru

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    Man you are really hittin me with the numbers, Wild ! ...Try to bare with me please. I'm thinking of getting either the Abit NF7S, or the Epox EP-8RDA3I.
    Only 61.00 at newegg..
    I have a xp2400+. I don't know what speed memory to buy.. I't's gonna be Corsair value or similar. You're saying it's better to use pc3500 tops with AMD ? right ? or maybe even pc2700? Thats what I'm understanding here, but hey, Im lost when it comes to the timings and stuff, Any help at all would be great, Everything else listed on the right in my specs is being used, Just a new mobo and a gig of ? memory.
    Thanks my friend.....feal free to make any suggestions on mobos too please.
    T.W.
     
  17. WildStyle

    WildStyle Ancient Guru

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    Is your 2400+ multiplier unlocked? If it isn't, then you're going to be stuck. When did you get it? If it was a while ago, then the nforce2 boards will automatically unlock it, but if you got it recently then it will be hard locked by AMD.
    Really, the RAM you get depends on how far you wish to push the FSB. I would think for you, PC3200 of the Corsair Value stuff you mentioned would be fine. You could then do 200x?? on your 2400+XP. (Providing it is unlocked.) You could always overclock the mem too, and I'm sure it would make it to 210FSB.

    I hope that helped, if you want anything else answered, post back.
     
  18. Toxic Worrier

    Toxic Worrier Master Guru

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    Acording to a couple of articles I've read on the speed strip, used to unlock the bridge on my chip, I seem to have gotten lucky. they say that if the chip starts with AXDA then I'm all set. My chip ID# or pin# is,,,,,

    AXDA 2400 KV3C
    AIXI B 0349 XPMW
    Can you tell when the chip was made by something in that number ? please do tell..lol...Also since my first post in this thread I bought an
    Epox EP-8RDA3+ I'll have it by the end of the week. Now considering the nforce 2 will unlock the 2400+ and I get pc3200, aren't there certain ways to install the dimms ? Like 2-256 dimms installed in the first and third banks, or maybe, 2-512's in the first and third banks. in other words doesn't the placement of the dimms determine whether it's dual channel or not ? Man I could ask you an encyclopedia sized batch of questions here but I'm gonna spare you the grief and round things off to maybe 1 or 2 more questions. If I can't unlock the chip,,,how to setup 1 gig of memory. If I CAN unlock the chip with or without the help of the board, how to setup a gig of memory then. Lastly, what brand would you recommend ? and what do I need to know about dual channel ? It's a shame, I can't get a darn Barton right this minute so the 2400+ is going to have to do the job. This the first DDR system I'm building, and I want to get the most out of that bad a$$ mobo...Thank you so much,,,,in advance ,,,,for your time. You're an ACE.
     
    Last edited: Jul 14, 2004
  19. WildStyle

    WildStyle Ancient Guru

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    Right, yes I can tell when your CPU was made. 0349 means the date, in this case the 49th week of 2003. Unfortunately for you, AMD started hard locking their CPU's on the 39th week of 2003, so your multi will be locked, and there's nothing you can do to unlock it. This means you won't make full use of your new PC3200 of the capabilities of your board, because you wil probably only get to about 150FSB or maybe a little more before the chip won't take any more clock speed, even with loads of vcore.

    Dual channel.... pretty useless on Socket A's... gives about 3 or 4% extra bandwidth. To use dual channel, you just need two sticks preferably same size, timings, brand and put one stick in the offset slot, and the other in whichever other slot you want - just remember one always has to go in the offset slot.

    Finally, sure you can't get a new CPU? It would be good to get an XP-M, with an unlocked multi. So then you can max out your FSB, and get top performance from that... with your current CPU, you're not realising the full use of your quality parts really. Don't get me wrong though, a 2400+ @150-160FSBx15 isn't slow, it's just a shame you can't push the FSB more to get better performance. You see the CPU is limited to overall clock speed determined by the multi and FSB times together. Ideally you want to lower the multi and raise the FSB, but you can't change yours, so once you get to 150FSB or more, the CPU will either need one hell of a lot of vcore to be stable, or it won't be able to handle the kind of clock speed you are trying. It's a bummer that the 2400+ has a multi of 15x, anything less would be much easier.

    I'm an ace am I? :D Thanks, that's nice.
     
  20. Toxic Worrier

    Toxic Worrier Master Guru

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    Man this really do suck eggs. I mean I would gladly use the speedstrip doohicky, to close the bridge, or I would even do it the hard way and get an unlocking kit. "rear window defogger repair" but AMD changed something that even makes that impossible. I've read in several places that you can unlockem, using those methods....I can't get over this, Is this some fairly recent findings ?
     
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