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Athlon XP 2400+ system not up to par

Last response: in Systems
October 2, 2006 4:52:22 AM

I built this computer orginally 5 years ago. I upgraded it from an XP 1700 with an ECS motherboard to an XP 2400 with a ASUS A7N8X-E Deluxe and from a MX400 to a 6600GT.

I recently was wondering if it'd be worth getting a better AGP card and asked 3lfk1ng if we could compare some benchmarking results.

3lfk1ng has an XP 2500 and an X850xt, so if his benchmarks were much greater than mine, then I figured it would be worth getting a new AGP card to salvage some more life out of my current PC.

My PC also has 1GB of memory like 3lfk1ng.

3dMark03 Benchmark

3lfk1ng: 10,521 Mine: 7,217

Looks like the CPU isn't a bottleneck and that I would be able to upgrade to a better AGP card and get a significant increase in performance.

I noticed on FutureMark that some systems like my build and without OC'ing the CPU or video card scored 400-600 higher than mine.

Anyone have any suggestions as to how I might be able to get some extra performance out of my current system before I upgrade the video card?

I did do a BIOS update (from 1.009 to 1.013), I updated the chipset drivers, I even installed an older set of NVidia video drivers so that they were "approved" by FutureMark.

Now, I do have a couple of questions about the BIOS that I never bothered with before. What does the FSB Spread Spectrum and AGP Spread Spectrum do for a computer? Default for me is 0.50% and disabled respectively. Should I change these settings?

Also, I do have DDR 400 memory but downclocked it to match my CPU FSB of 266. Should I change this?

I did do a little reading on OC'ing and my CPU is revision B0. I read that these are suppose to be good overclocking CPU's. I currently only have a generic aluminum heatsink. If I can OC this CPU, I would spend the 30 bucks and get a good copper heatsink. I was looking at the Spire Verticool or the Thermaltake RX or the Thermaltake Volcano 12. I would appreciate any opinions on these heatseaks. I am leaning towards the Spire since it has the heat pipes and a side fan even though the fins are aluminum. Though, it would of been nice if they were cu.

I noticed that PCMark mentioned that my CPU is currently clocked at 2.0 GHz but has an internal clock max of 3.0 GHz. Now, I haven't seen a 2400 OC'd to 3 GHz, I believe I've seen 2.5 GHz max. Does this mean that the CPU theoretically could achieve 3.0 GHz with the proper cooling. If liquid or phase-change cooling is necessary then I guess I won't achieve this "magical" place as the cost of such a contraption would warrant me getting a C2D system.

I did use CPU-Z to show my system, but I do not know how to post the screen shots in this thread. Could someone enlighten me?

Another question I have is about the sideband. As I upgraded to the 6600GT only 10 months ago, I guess I didn't know all there was to know about AGP. The CPU-Z test shows that my side band is disabled. Will enabling sideband improve my 6600GT performance? My BIOS does not have an option to enable it as I saw some BIOS' have this option. Is there someplace else to enable this function? Or does my BIOS just not support it?

I also have my Graphics Aperature Size set to 128MB as on my video card.

I think this should do for now.

Thanks in advance.

More about : athlon 2400 system par

October 2, 2006 7:08:46 PM

I would like to assist him by *bumping* this thread.
I've ran the benchmarks and I would like to help a fellow Athlon xp owner out.
Also, I too would like to see if I can get a little more of a performance boost out of my xp2500 just because I'm not building an entirely new system until mid december.

Wusy if your reading this, please give us some of your Athlon xp knowledge.

This picture shows my Athlon xp2500 as an Athlon xp2800, that's just because of the overclock.
This picture shows my voltage at the lowest point because it tends to fluctuate between 1.712 and 1.744.
October 2, 2006 7:32:26 PM

well i will give you the best advice that i could give you...
first of all you shouldnt really not care about 3D mark scores its not that important as long as you can play your games the way you like it the its ok.
as for the gf6600GT dont change it cus there are only a few other cards taht are better for AGP and it would be pointless because it would bottleneck your CPU even more.. my advice would be to clock your 2400+xp to around 2.2ghz and see how it is going..
and if not you can always find a nice second hand 3000+ or 3200+XP and just push your system to the max before you do a full upgrade.
Related resources
October 2, 2006 7:39:49 PM

w00t...go AthlonXP!
October 2, 2006 8:06:48 PM

After seeing first hand at what 3DMark03 does, I would say the numbers are relevant. They go through extensive FPS displays.

Before I updated my BIOS, chipset drivers, etc, my 3DMark03 was 2550. I was seeing framerates less than 10 in some of the benchmarked games. After my updates, I saw FPS increase to 40 and 50 in some cases. Clearly, something wasn't right and the benchmark helped me to notice this.

Because of this, I ran across some terminology that I didn't pay attention to and would like to understand this more.

And to boot, I never OC'd before, so I might else well learn on this system. I wouldn't want to try and OC a new system just to find out there was some critical piece of information that I was missing.

As far as OC'ing, my motherboard only supports 1.875 volts as max. I did increase my FSB by 1 MHz at a time to see if the computer would post. The max I could get was 160 and it would POST but it would not go to Windows. I am assuming that the heatsink can't keep up with the thermal output.

I bumped the FSB down to 150 and it's been running since. The temperatuer that I am getting is around 59 C or 138 F. Max core I saw is 85 C. Because there is 25 C to spare, I am wondering if it was really thermal issues that kept the computer from going to windows when I had the FSB at 160 MHz.

Now, I didn't fiddle with the Multiplier yet. Ideally, I would like the CPU to match my memory speed (200 MHz). Should I change the FSB to 200 and set the multiplier to around 8 and the voltage back to default of 1.65 and go from there by increasing the multiplier. Is this the best route to do this.

Anyone think that if I get one of the better heatsinks I mentioned that I would be able to maintain this FSB of 160 with a multiplier of 15? 2.4GHz has a nice ring to it.

If I remember correctly, I saw some 6600GT's being OC'd to nearly 1200 MHz for the memory and nearly 600 MHz for the core clock. Now, I am assuming some serious cooling will be needed to achieve this. I would be interested in replacing the heatsink/fan on my video card if I can get results like this if the cost for the heatsink/fan is reasonable.

Oh, my 3DMark03 was 7427 after I OC'd the XP 2400+ from 2.0 GHz to 2.255 GHz.
October 2, 2006 8:08:03 PM

w00t...go AthlonXP!

HAHA :lol:  i loved my sempron 2200+ it was a wonderful cpu... but i had to upgrade
October 2, 2006 8:13:51 PM


HAHA Laughing i loved my sempron 2200+ it was a wonderful cpu... but i had to upgrade

I understand. :lol:  I'll probably be moving on to Core2Duo, Vista, and DX10 next year.
October 2, 2006 8:20:45 PM


HAHA Laughing i loved my sempron 2200+ it was a wonderful cpu... but i had to upgrade

I understand. :lol:  I'll probably be moving on to Core2Duo, Vista, and DX10 next year.
lucky bastard haha.. i just upgraded this last summer.. and it was worth it but by next summer i hope to have enough cash to upgrade at least eh VGA
October 2, 2006 8:36:26 PM


HAHA Laughing i loved my sempron 2200+ it was a wonderful cpu... but i had to upgrade

I understand. :lol:  I'll probably be moving on to Core2Duo, Vista, and DX10 next year.
lucky bastard haha.. i just upgraded this last summer.. and it was worth it but by next summer i hope to have enough cash to upgrade at least eh VGA

C'mon guys, don't go off subject. This guy wants some help, contribute or move on please.
October 2, 2006 8:37:05 PM

From what I could remember testing stuff about two years ago, the Athlon XP 2400+ at stock speeds and using Doom3 as a test maxed out at about 45 frames per second for both the nVidia 6800 gt and ATI 9800xt, which is well short of their maxium capability. The 2400+ is most definitely a limiter on performance, for the 6600GT given that it benchmarks almost on par with the 9800xt. That is when I decided to upgrade to the A64. And BTW So getting a better video card will not help, because you will be capped by the 2400+ Athlon XP.
October 2, 2006 8:43:59 PM

So getting a better video card will not help, because you will be capped by the 2400+ Athlon XP.

I don't know if you read the OP or not but both of us compared our machines to eachothers using 3dmark 01 and 03 to see if there were any problems with either of our machines compareed to similar benchmarks. My machine is using a 256mb x850xt compared to his 128mb 6600gt. His machine is at 2.255ghz mines at 2.087ghz. His scored 7,217 mine scored 10,521 so clearly the processors arent creating a bottleneck quite yet.
October 2, 2006 8:49:09 PM

Look 3Dmark03 will report those wonderful scores with a CeleronD346. I've done the tests. But try playing half life 2 on a D346 and you'd be lucky to get 20 fps on a x1600xt, much less a 660gt. 3dMark03 accurately characterizes the video card but not the overall system performance.
October 2, 2006 8:55:50 PM

Look 3Dmark03 will report those wonderful scores with a CeleronD346. I've done the tests. But try playing half life 2 on a D346 and you'd be lucky to get 20 fps on a x1600xt, much less a 660gt. 3dMark03 accurately characterizes the video card but not the overall system performance.

I can run max settings @ 1280x1024 without aa in Counterstrike: Source and still stay over 60fps constant thank you very much, same goes for HL2. I don't know if its the same purdueguy's system though.
October 2, 2006 8:58:38 PM

Look 3Dmark03 will report those wonderful scores with a CeleronD346. I've done the tests. But try playing half life 2 on a D346 and you'd be lucky to get 20 fps on a x1600xt, much less a 660gt. 3dMark03 accurately characterizes the video card but not the overall system performance.

EXACTLY what i was saying.... does it really matter if your getting 10points on 3D mark 03 if you are playing the games you want and they are at the fps that you want the screw the benchmarks... i got a horrible 3dmark 05 score... but i play Hl2 ep1 at around 35FPs and its perfect for me...
October 2, 2006 9:06:46 PM

As your ram is DDR400 you could try increasing the CPU FSB. Try it with the cooler you have at present and check the core temp. Chances are you can some gain on this for free. If the core temp starts to get high then get a better cooler.

Rob Murphy
October 2, 2006 9:35:49 PM

3lfk1ng, thanks for trying to keep people to the subject at hand.

I can't say anything about Counterstrike: Source or HL2 as I'm more into RPG games. I do have Splinter Cell. Is it possible to see how many FPS I am getting with this game? I'd like to do some benches with my system at the normal 2.0GHz speed, then at 2.255GHz. If I get a better cooler and can get it stable at 2.4GHz then do some benches on that as well.

Then I would do the same if I can OC my video card. Then I can compare everything and truely see if the 2400+ is the bottleneck.

A la everyone else:

To get back to the subject at hand. I would appreciate feedback to the questions I have posted. If you don't have anything positive to say, please go somewhere else. And to the few of you who tried to "steal" this thread, thanks. I'll keep you in mind if you have any questions. NOT.

I'm not looking to see how high I can get 3DMark or any other benchmarking tool. I'm trying to understand my system. If I can OC, good. If I could change a video card, good. If I can tweak some parameter, good.

To ask one of my ealier questions again, does anyone know if sideband means anything? Oh, and since I learned about ImageShack today, I'll be posting my CPU-Z info and other tidbits.

Any comments to the 3 heatsinks/fans I mentioned earlier?
October 2, 2006 9:41:39 PM

I am not sure I saw which Athlon XP Core you were using in the rig. If it's a Barton core then you probably can get a 200 x 8,9,10,11,12 multiplier set up. I am pretty certain your motherboard would allow for a voltage of something like 1.65 or similar. (If it's a Thoroughbred core then I doubt you'll have much luck overclocking it).

The big issue I have had with Overclocking Athlon XP's is heat. I still have a 2.2Ghz Athlon XP-M running with 1Gb DDR400 and a 6800gt OC'd and although it performs very well, it needs some screaming fans and a large solid copper cpu cooler to keep the temps down.

As for the sidebanding issue. I haven't seen a big difference with it on or off on the 6800gt or 6800xt, although I remember one driver release that used to crash my PC with sidebanding and fast writes enabled.

As for the 3Dmark 2003 scores... I think they sound about right. The rig I mentioned above will pull in around 11500 on a good day. And that's heavily overclocked. Your slower CPU and 128bit card probably do have a serious affect on performance.

I agree with some of the other posts that a cheap (ebay?) Athlon XP or Sempron (socket A) may be the way to go. For $40 you may pick up a Barton core unit with 512kb secondary cache.

Now... alternatively... why not pick up a 939 board and an Athlon 64 or Opteron. You can keep the memory and the AGP card with the right motherboard purchase. You should see a massive improvement and probably only outlay about $150. Then just ebay the motherboard and CPU to recover some of the costs.

I hope the info helps.
October 2, 2006 9:56:53 PM

Thanks for the suggestion.

I have been looking at Ebay for a 3000+ or 3200+ with the 400 MHz FSB. But they themselves have been selling for the price of a A64 and mobo. And I'll be damned if I spend that kind of money for one of those XP's. If I could get a used one for 40 or 50 bucks, I'd do it. I just haven't found a good deal yet.

I also have so much crap on my hard drive that I'm not in the mood to do a new WinXP install then do all of the service pack updates as I have the original released version. On top of that my wife has the entire set of the .net framework on it. Took long enough to install. The other thing, I just became a dad of twins 4 months ago. Talk about not having time to almost do anything. The only reason I got to mess with my system lately is that I have sacrificed some sleep and stayed up until 2 am that last couple of days. But it's been worth it.

Now, grant it, I had to do reinstall WinXP when I upgraded my mobo to the ASUS A7N8X-E Deluxe but my ECS mobo only had USB 1.1 (Zzzzzzzz) and on top of that, one of them shorted out and I only had one working USB port. Aarrrggghhhh.

Going to the ASUS board was for me the natural choice. Believe me, I have been thinking about getting a 939 and new mobo, but like I said, to completely reinstall WinXP and programs is not something I would like to do or have time at the moment.

I find OC'ing more interesting at the moment. Anybody have any comments on NVTweak or any other S/W to change my video card GPU and memory settings?
October 2, 2006 10:06:00 PM

A further thought or two.

I have the same motherboard as you, and I turned the spread spectrum off on both. I read something somewhere about it, but I think it's of minor importance.

The Volcano cooler is meant to be a good unit, I use an Coolermaster Aero7+ with a different fan (the original fan failed). My aero and the volcano both howl. My newest rig uses a Zalman and is considerably quieter.

Your friend may have a different CPU core to you... perhaps he has more L2 cache. This will make a difference in performance.

For an extra boost disable unused onboard I/O ports. If you have a USB printer then disable those parallel and serial ports. They are just some extra thing the CPU has to look at once in a while.

Defrag your hard drive, if the drive is almost full then get a new one. New drives are significantly faster, and as a drive becomes full... the slower the access times become.

Okay.... the more I think about this, the more I think to myself... hhhmmm you are on the way to building a new PC here. Adding a faster CPU, new hard drive and better graphics card is part of the way there. It's always important to keep in perspective that a new PC may be the best way to go.
October 2, 2006 10:06:37 PM

i agree with Gavin... the best option would be to get a 939 mobo and CPU and i do understand what a pain in the @ss it will be to reinstall windows and so on and so on. but in the long run it will pay off, and that is the most important thing right?
as for a 3000+/3200+ xp
they are total rip offs right now its really really sad
October 2, 2006 10:19:16 PM

I used the Coolbits2 registry hack from Guru3D to tweak my video drivers. I am not sure if it still works now with the newest Nvidia drivers, but it's worth a try. Once you install it you get an extra line in the advanced driver page and it allows you to turn up the memory and gpu frequency. You should get 10-20% increase if you are lucky.

With all the important things on your PC you might want to consider a new hard drive. A 320gb seagate will be less than $100, and then use a free utility like HDCLONE to duplicate all the old configuration. Turn your old drive into a backup space, or reformat and use as a data store or even move your windows swap file over there.

My A7N8X-E machine has been a great unit and has run 24/7 for the past 14 months or so ( the machine is actually 2 1/2 years old ). The only issues arise when the machine gets dusty and occassionaly the OS hiccups. Luckily a parallel install of windows has always allowed me to log back on and repair the main install when issues arrive. And of course I take the machine apart and blow out the dust bunnies about every 4 months.

Congrats on the children, but say goodbye to any spare cash for your computer projects... you better make this one last :) 
October 2, 2006 11:15:02 PM

With all of the new stuff coming out next year, that's exactly what I plan on doing. Building a computer that will last me several years.

I've seen the new Seagate Barracuda 7200.10 and they look pretty sweet.

Yeah, I haven't defragged for awhile. Not the most important thing to do on my list. I plan on doing that before I go to sleep.

Thanks for the advice.
October 2, 2006 11:46:49 PM

My wife's 2500+ barton chip has the FSB set to 200 and it is running as a 3200+ now. Running DDR 400 memory. It is stable on a msi board. In regards to the 2400+ you might be able to set the FSB to 166 but I don't think you will get much more out of it.

I suggest saving your money and doing an upgrade next year in the spring 07. Hopefully by then you will be seeing the new directx10 video cards and prices of the dual core cpu's should continue to drop. The problem with trying to stick with the xp is the availability of parts.

If my wifes mother board goes up then finding a good board may be difficult. NewEgg only carries like 4-5 socket A mother boards and only one of them has a decent chipset that will run your memory in dual channel and offers any kind of overclocking.

I have a 939 system and it appears that the support for that chip is dwindling away and/or the prices will start to creep back up for parts. That is the problem with today gone tomorrow.
October 3, 2006 2:19:42 AM

On the point of support there is a question of whether there will be Vista support for these older motherboards. Probably an A7N8X which uses Nforce 2 will have support, but I remember having a SIS chipset board before XP came out and although the board was only 4 months old they never made XP drivers. But then I am sure that XP will be around for several years more.

I doubt buying a copy of Vista will be worth it if you have an older machine anyway... I mean would you want to take the chance ?
October 3, 2006 3:32:58 AM

As promised.

And the tour de force. At least for my computer.

I think I'm set for awhile. I still plan on getting the Spire Heatpipe. If I can push the CPU FSB to at least 166 with the cooler, I'd be happy. Will update when the time comes.
October 3, 2006 2:08:01 PM

Purdueguy, I see from the CPU-Z postings that you are using a Thoroughbred core Athlon XP. From my experience they don't overclock very well at all. I used to have an XP 2100+ that would not go more than 2% faster than stock speeds ( even with good cooling ). You would really do better trying to get and Barton Core Athlon XP. Even if you only get a Barton 2500+ you'll see a big improvement. The Barton's have twice the L2 Cache (512Kb) and it made them seem a lot faster. Buying that new heatpipe cooler may make no difference to your overclock scores as the thoroughbreds just weren't that good at overclocking.

If you can find a Barton Core 2800+ or a Sempron 3000+ socket A (the Semprons had different cores too... so be careful) you'll probably be a lot happier than trying to overclock that chip.
October 3, 2006 2:48:10 PM

Looking more closely at your CPU-Z posts I am wondering if you shouldn't be trying to start off with a FSB of 166. And the see what multiplier you can get from there. Okay I looked on and they say your CPU normally runs 133x15 and so your overclock is pretty good. But that CPU voltage pretty high at 1.88v !!!

Running a lower FSB with a higher multiplier means that although you get a faster processor you are cutting the memory bandwidth down. A frequency of 200 x 10 (2000Mhz) is a better than a 150 x 15 (2250Mhz) even though the actuall Mhz is lower.

Of course your multiplier may be locked... but there are ways around that is you look online. There's the pencil line trick and the copper wire trick too. But you'll need to google them., oh here's a good link:

Lots of potential fun, but also a lot of heatsink removal and replacing and potential issues too. Oh and in my experience if that CPU goes over 60 degrees C you are in trouble... I prefer it in the high 40's as a maximum.
October 3, 2006 2:53:50 PM

Yeap, I'm keeping my eye open at Ebay for a 2500 or 2800. If I can get one cheap, then I'll buy one.

If you look again at my CPU-Z posting, you will notice that my Thoroughbred core is running at 2.22 GHz. This is just over a 11% OC. It was running at 2.255 GHz (almost 13% improvement) but Windows froze on me so I reduced the FSB down to 148MHz from 150MHz and it's been fine ever since.

My 6600GT OC'd to 1150 MHz memory and 580 MHz GPU. I did get it to work momentarily above 1200 and 600 respectively, but it froze during 3DMark03. I'm sure if I added some more cooling fans that I could get better overclocking but I'm satisfied with the GPU results.

I'm still planning on getting the Spire heatsink as I'll use it for the 2500 or 2800.
October 3, 2006 3:12:44 PM

Actually, I did try running a 166 FSB with a lower multiplier and it wouldn't post. Maybe I didn't try low enough and just bump it up from there.

I'll try this again just to be sure. I would like the FSB to be 200 and use a different multiplier but I don't think the Thoroughbred core will handle it.

I remember reading about those tricks a few years back when the 2400 was the latest and greatest. If I feel up to removing the heatsink, I may just try this for the heck of it.

Thanks again for the advice.
October 3, 2006 3:43:18 PM

That thoroughbred overclock is really good. Perhaps I just got a bad stepping version and that's the reason for the terrible 2%. I hope with extra tweaking you can get that 3dmark over 10000.

I've really enjoyed overclocking my Athlon XP's, although I am currently working with a Pentium D 805. I managed to overclocking it from 2.66GHz to 3.6GHz and the dual cores have been great. It's been really good with my Adobe Premier Elements software - which won't run on an Athlon XP :(  (SSE issues).

My wife still uses the Athlon everyday for email and online gaming too, and we use it for movie playback and internet radio at night (the PC never sleeps). I also have a Sempron 3000 on an MSI board that I use as a second PC. It plays HL2 and CS-Source really well. In fact I should use it more often, or at least add some extra storage and use it as a network file / print server and skype box. I can't see throwing these AMD boxes out for a few years.

Good luck in your endeavours, I hope you find a 2800+ or similar.