Overclocking newbie - how far could I overclock my system?

Hi everyone,

This is my first post at Tomshardware so I'd just like to introduce myself first off by saying it's all good informative crack here and you all seem like a good bunch of people.

Over the past month or two I've had a bit of a nightmare trying to get my PC to play back H264 high def material properly, my system only supports AGP so I went and bought an ATI HD2600Pro to try and hardware accelerate the HD content I was trying to play only to find that there is a major bug in the HD 2600 AGP cards that stops the hardware acceleration from working so I returned the card. Ho hum... so, I've decided to shell out a fair bit of cash and buy a nice new system capable of playing HD content and hopefully one that should last me a few years with a good upgrade path. Here's the spec of my new system from pcspecialist.co.uk.

Intel® Core™2 Duo E6850 (2 X 3.00GHz) 1333MHz FSB/4MB L2 Cache
ASUS® MAXIMUS EXTREME: The Ultimate Gaming/OC Platform
512MB RADEON HD 2600XT PCI Express + DVI
150GB WD Raptor® SATA 16MB CACHE (10000rpm)
800W Quiet Quad Rail PSU + 120mm Case Fan (£99)

Amongst other bits and bobs added on...

My questions is though....

The ASUS Max Extreme comes with all the necessary add-ons to attach a liquid cooling kit but as I'm a beginner at Overclocking, how far could I expect to overclock this system with the cooler I have - i.e. not using liquid cooling? Is it a case of keep going until the system becomes unstable and the retreat?

The PC will only be used as a HTPC hence the reason I went for a low end GFX card with HTPC capability.

Any help is greatly appreciated.

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  1. PS. Can someone please tell me if I'm working this out right.

    My DDR3 memory has a maximum speed of 1066.

    So my maximum FSB that the memory can handle will be 1066/3 355.

    Therefore, given the CPU has a mulitplier of 9 (3.00/(1333/4=333)=9. I will only be able to increase upto (9*355)=3.195Ghz before the memory starts to barf.

    Am I getting this totally wrong, or do I need to get faster memory for this system?
  2. No, you're fine. That's what memory dividers are for :)

    You can jack the FSB on the Maximus pretty high. I got a E6550 to 3.2 no problem. With a 7 multi, the FSB was 457. With that same FSB with a 6850, you would be sitting at 4.1. While that isn't likely, what it means for you is that you can set a lower FSB like 400. That would give you 3.6GHz and set the memory to your taste with the different speeds you'll be given to choose from under DDR Frequency. You'll notice that as you bump FSB, the available values in that field will change proportionately according to their assigned ratio. I'm glad Asus made that change. It is much easier to select your desired frequency than working out the ratio.

    By the way, this was all hypothetical... You may or may not do better or worse than the above scenario. Just helping you understand memory dividers :)

    Just make sure you set your DDR voltage manually. That board was pumping 2.3v into my Corsair Dominator on Auto. Most likely wouldn't have hurt it, but it performs fine at stock voltage :p

    PS As I learned on my last overclock. (Still semi new to this) Don't be afraid to underclock your memory a little if necessary. Find your sweet spot for FSB/CPU settings, then make your ram work around that. If your RAM ends up running at below 1066 then you can try tightening the timings a little.

    Again, I'm still semi new to this, but those bits of wisdom from other posters on this board helped me out a lot. My experience was with DDR2 as well, so someone let me know if DDR3 overclocking is a completely different ballgame.
  3. mcgeezer, don't exceed 1.5 Vcore, and at 22c ambient, don't exceed 65c CPU temperature and 75c Core temperatures during Prime95 Small FFT's stability testing, which is 100% workload. You may find the following Sticky's helpful:

    HOWTO: Overclock C2Q (Quads) and C2D (Duals) - A Guide v1.4 - http://www.tomshardware.com/forum/240001-29-howto-overclock-quads-duals-guide

    Core 2 Quad and Duo Temperature Guide - http://www.tomshardware.com/forum/221745-29-core-quad-temperature-guide

    Comp :sol:
  4. Many thanks for the info guys.

    When I get my new system I'll be sure to heed the rules stated in the guides above.

    I'll let you know how I get on.

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