see if you can sqweezz every last bit of performance out of it and make shore it is stable to
You don't need to squeeze every bit out of it, and you shouldn't if you are keeping the stock cooling. I rather find something stable that doesn't require a high voltage change. Compromise on it a bit.
to the OP: It won't hold it back per say. Everyone overuses the term "bottleneck" when it comes to Graphics Cards in a system with a certain CPU. The faster CPU you have the more FPS you will be able to squeeze out of a graphics card. Once you get to higher end CPUs the advantages drop off. With lower end CPU's small increases in performance yield more noticeable GPU performance results. With a C2D 4300 I don't see much of an issue, the 2xxx series would really cause an issue. I would give yourself a mild overclock and research before you do it. A mild increase won't require a big voltage change if any and it's much safer than being radical with it.
Hit Delete at the post screen to enter the BIOS, arrow to "MB Intelligent Tweaker", or something like that, turn the CPU clock control (or something like that) on, and change the 200 to 266. Change the memory multiplier to keep your RAM within spec and poof, that gets you effortlessly to 2.4Ghz, no voltage changes or anything.
There are plenty of guides for this of course, but I'm just trying to make a point of how easy it actually can be when done mildly to encourage you to try.
Thanks, JuiceJones. I had given the guide a bit of a look over last year when I built the system but it was a bit confusing. I wouldn't mind a mild overclock so if you could give me a little bit more info on what multipliers I'd need to be at for a 2.4GHz OC.
I agree with jay that a small zero to little voltage boost OC is a nice compromise; no need to go nuts. To be honest though your cpu at stock will not hurt your gameplay in most games. You would benchmark higher at lower res or synthetic benchmarks, but actual gameplay limitation would be lower minimum fps in cpu demanding areas such as lots of NPC's in Oblivion, massive physics effects in crysis, or a huge battle in supreme commander. As you crank resolution or enable fsaa, the limiting component will shift from cpu to gpu.
Take a look at this link: http://www.firingsquad.com/hardware/$500_gaming_pc_upgrade/page5.asp and notice in all three games you will see a GPU limitation with an 8800GT and your CPU at 1600x1200 with eye candy. Crysis it happens at 12x10 with 2xaa. So once you tweak your games, and especially at higher res, you will more often than not still be GPU limited not cpu limited. But again, this is more average fps, a slower cpu will have lower lows in some parts of the game.
Any way one of you could give me a small idiots guide on what numbers and multipliers I'd need to set to get a small OC? I play all my games at 1280x1024 and don't have much CPU slowdown but I'd like to get a small safe boost.
Ok, I have the exact motherboard as you, so this is going to be very easy.
Enter the BIOS, scroll down to MB Intelligent Tweaker and enter.
CPU Clock Ratio leave at 9x
CPU Host Clock Control [Enabled]
CPU Host Frequency change to 266
9 x 266 = 2400Mhz
System Memory Multiplier (SPD) change to 2.5
Memory Frequency should then say 667 (266 x 2.5)
F10 and you should be good to go. You'll still have lots of room to play around past 2.4GHz, even on the stock cooler. Upping the CPU Voltage Control to around 1.35 or 1.375 or so should allow to set the FSB to 333Mhz and memory multiplier to 2.00 for 3Ghz. Then I would recommend downloading Speedfan or some other temp measuring app and running Prime95 to stress both cores and making sure you're staying under the 70C mark, 60 preferable. If Prime95 fails, but temps are still acceptable, begin slowly upping the voltage until you're stable.
Ctrl+F1 gets us into the memory timings in the BIOS if you get more into it and decide to mess around with your RAM too.
Hmm, only thing I could think would be to try again with a slight increase in Vcore. 2.4Ghz is nothing special from an E4300, and our boards are solid overclockers, 266Mhz is actually not even an overclock for the north bridge as it's a standard strap. I'd been running mine at FSB 400 for nearly a year, and recently bumped it to 425.
If you do want to try again, slightly bump the CPU voltage up about .025 volts, maybe .05.