How do I overclock a Xeon E5440, is it Possible, and How?

Hi, I'm running a E5440 with a GTX680, I would like to play Overwatch with Ultra settings but I had to turn the settings down a bit because of the CPU bottleneck.

Now, I have never overclocked a CPU before, and all the other resources I found don't seem to apply to my situation. I heard that Xeons would not benefit much if they are overclocked, but I was hoping I could experience a ~10% difference. I tried to find a LGA775 CPU I could replace the Xeon with but I don't think their price would justify the upgrade.

I have a spare Ultra 120 Extreme cooler I could use, I think that should be fine for overclocking if I manage to, and I have an old Seasonic 750W so I think that would be fine.

Could anyone tell me if an E5440 could be overclocked, and how I could go about doing it? Thanks in advance, any help would be appreciated.

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  1. Best answer
    It so happens that I recently set up the very same board with a S771 Xeon. It overclocks just like any S775 quad (duals are far less limiting on FSB) in that the limit is how much FSB the chip will take, especially as your multiplier of 8.5 is relatively low. However there are some peculiarities:

    In order to avoid any errata and the error message about an unsupported CPU on bootup, it is best to flash a BIOS with Xeon microcodes (generally these remove the Pentium 4 microcodes to make room but all the regular C2D and C2Q microcodes are still there). I was too lazy to mod the BIOS myself by inserting the microcodes (and had no need for any Fernando AHCI or SLIC type BIOS mod), so found two premodded F9 BIOSes by Googling: a Polish one from that apparently has temperature reporting (and thermal shutdown) problems, and from some random guy named schuck6566 which works just fine. You won't get far overclocking with a BIOS that incorrectly reports overheating.

    After that it's just like any other S775 overclock--if you have good RAM it's limited by only the CPU.
    In order to minimize stress on the memory while determining the CPU's limits it's best to set the RAM multiplier at one of the lowest 2.0 settings (I used 2.00D).
    Leave everything else at auto and enable CPU Host Clock Control, then gradually raise CPU Host Frequency from 333.
    If things start to get a little unstable, raise the CPU Vcore a little then try raising the FSB some more.
    Eventually you should reach a maximum stable FSB somewhere around 400-450 without going over 1.45v Vcore.
    If you do get to 3.8GHz at 450, the chip will be using in the neighborhood of 160W or double its rated TDP for the extra 1GHz. Some people seem strangely concerned about the 4-pin CPU power connector but it's good for 240w.

    At this point you will test the memory latency and find it is shockingly poor, which is normal with a 45nm chip on a 40-series chipset even if you have DDR2-1066 5-5-5 or DDR2-800 4-4-4 (unless you run the memory at 6:5 or 5:4 which is pointless without an IGP considering the FSB bottleneck). The magic setting is under Advanced Timing Control under the individual Channel A and Channel B timing settings, and called Static tRead Value. If you can get it down to ~8 or so then latency will be as good as the defaults on 30-series chipsets. This may require some voltage increase for the MCH core and DRAM.

    By the time of the 40-series chipsets at the end of the Core 2 era, most of the other BIOS settings were well ironed out at defaults, so aren't really worth tinkering with. This is really vintage overclocking and nothing at all like modern turbo multiplier-only overclocking.
  2. Yeah, overclocking a 775/771 Xeon isn't different from the other chips from the platform.

    I actually have one of them in my secondary rig:
    X5460 @ 4.1 GHz (9.0x * 456 MHz) with 1.392v @ full load/ 1.408v @ idle (Coled with a Hyper 212 EVO, 72°C under full load)
    8 GB (4x 2GB) DDR2 @ 912 CL6-6-6-21 2T tRD=9 @2.1v
    GA-P35-DS3R Rev 2.1 / modded BIOS with Xeon microcodes, pencilmod to counter vdroop.
    Geforce GTX 550 Ti @ 1202 MHZ Boost/ 3290 MHz Memory

    Used bios setting:
    vCore: 1,45625 (reports 1.424v in idle and 1.392v under full load)
    DRAM: +0.3v (results in 2.1v)
    FSB: +0.2
    MCH: +0.2
    Power saving features disabled. (C1E, EIST, etc.)
    Spread Spectrum disabled.

    Make sure you have the newest BIOS updates and decent cooling and power supply. Also take into consideration that some of the boards droop alot of vCore under load.
    Those P35/X38/P45/X48 boards are easy to get beyond 500 MHz FSB with the right chip and setting. So the motherboard won't hold you back there. It would either be the voltages, cooling, memory clock, or just the FSB wall for that chip.
    Read though a guide, better even more than one.
  3. Those X38/X48/Q33/Q35/Q43/Q45 don't actually work with Xeons, unfortunately, not even the LGA775 ones.
  4. with good p35/p45 board you can oc it pretty good with fsb raising up. multiplier is locked,it will reset after each restart.
  5. set fsb is another solution,if you have buggy bios/board.
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