I should start by saying that I'm brand new to overclocking and the computer I set up last night is only the second I've ever built. Normally, I wouldn't risk overclocking because I'm a photographer and have to rely on my computer all the time. But the 2500 seems to have a good reputation for safe and stable OC'ing that I thought it might be worth trying. I'd like to describe my system and what I did, to find out what I should watch out for, etc. in terms of possible data corruption, instability, etc. I tried to do my homework and build my system "by the book" so to speak according to what I've learned surfing the web for the last week. System:
Antec Sonata case with stock 120mm rear fan plus 120mm front fan
Asus A7N8X Deluxe MoBo
Athlon XP 2500
Thermalright SK800U, using Ceramique grease, with Panaflo 32CFM fan (Panaflo 39 CFM fan arriving later this week, then I'll swap)
Crucial PC3200 RAM, one 512MB stick (another 512MB stick on its way soon)
Matrox G550 card (I'm not a gamer at all and have used Matrox cards for years because I love the 2-D quality with photographs)
Maxtor 6Y120MO 120GB SATA 1.5 hard drive (I'll also add my ATA Maxtor 80GB drive into this unit once I've finished testing it)
I wanted to bring my FSB to 200 to match the RAM and was going to work my way up to that slowly, testing as I went to 170, 180, 190 then 200. Unfortunately, my bios only allows a jump from 166 to 200 - nothing in between. So right now I'm running at a bus speed of 200 with the normal 11X multiplier at 1.65 volts. I'm wondering if it would be wise to bring the voltage up a touch to 1.7 just in case...???
I ran some Sandra tests which looked good and am, as I write this from another computer, running a Sandra burn in at 100% on the XP2500 to watch temps and check stability. Idle temps were 31 CPU, 22 MoBo - so far the peak temps under load have been 36 CPU, 26 MoBo but then seem to have settled at about 34/24. Room temp here is about 20C/68F. Those temps seem pretty good to me so far which is one reason I think I could risk the temp gain from a jump to 1.7 volts as "stability insurance". Does that make sense? Or, is it true that if it was going to lose stability at 1.65 volts, the Sandra burn in at 100% would likely do the trick? In other words, is it unnecessary to bump the voltage up.
I can see how overclocking could get to be an addictive hobby, like hotrodding cars. In my case, however, what I really need is max stability and data security. The speed I need because I'm working with 30-80 MB TIFF files routinely. But I can't run the risk of my data being corrupted because of the overclock. Running a business as I do, it's more risk than I can take. What do you think? Any data corruption risks likely? Is there a way of testing that?
It's my understanding that an FSB overclock also speeds up the memory, PCI and AGP speeds which could be good or bad depending on what happens. With PC3200 I think my RAM will do just fine but am I running much risk of cooking my Matrox or modem or firewire card, etc? Also, being pretty ignorant about this I'm not yet clear on why an overclocked XP2500 at 200bus/400FSB would push the system harder than a XP3200 with a stock 200bus/400FSB? In other words, what am I doing to my system with the overclocked 2500 (other than increasing the heat) that I wouldn't be doing if I installed a 3200?
Many thanks in advance for any thoughts and advice.
I just bumped the voltage up to 1.7 to test temps. The CPU/MB went to 33/23 at idle but now they seem to be running even cooler (under Sandra Burn In) than they were at 1.65 volts. Is that possible? They haven't moved from 33/23 even under full load. ???
Well, it must be possible because it's pretty consistent now. Both the cpu and MoBo run 1-2 degrees C cooler (at 100% load from Sandra burn in) at a manually set 1.7 volts core than at an auto setting of 1.65 volts. This is news to me.
Thanks for the reply. I'm on the new computer right now and it's been running at 11 x 200 @ 7 volts all day, often at 100% CPU in Sandra burn in. So far so good and the temperatures are staying low. Right now I'm going to leave it right here and enjoy my $90 XP 3200!