Happy Q6600 build experience! Thanks tom! Details here..

These forums helped me design my build and I put it together this last week. Everything went quite well, some happy surprises, some small hitches but in the end, a happy experience! Now I have a Q6600 system OCed to 3.0 Ghz , Prime 95 stable with temperatures around 48 C after 12 hours of Prime 95 (voltage = 1.20 V!! Yes, that's stock voltage for 3.0 GhZ.. needless to say, a G0 stepping.)

I thought I'd document what I did here in case it helps people with builds in the next few months.

My config:
Intel Q6600 (from Amazon)

XIGMATEK HDT-S1283 120mm Rifle CPU Cooler - Retail
Item #: N82E16835233003

XIGMATEK ACK-I7751 Retention Bracket - Retail
Item #: N82E16835233019

SAMSUNG 20X DVD±R DVD Burner with LightScribe Black SATA Model SH-S203N - OEM
Item #: N82E16827151154

GIGABYTE GA-EP35-DS3R LGA 775 Intel P35 ATX Dynamic Energy Saver Ultra Durable II Intel Motherboard - Retail
Item #: N82E16813128086

XFX PVT84JUSD4 GeForce 8600 GT 256MB 128-bit GDDR3 PCI Express x16 HDCP Ready SLI Supported Video Card - Retail
Item #: N82E16814150258

OCZ StealthXStream OCZ600SXS 600W ATX12V / EPS12V Power Supply - Retail
Item #: N82E16817341010

Crucial Ballistix Tracer 2GB (2 x 1GB) 240-Pin DDR2 SDRAM DDR2 800 (PC2 6400) Dual Channel Kit Desktop Memory Model BL2KIT12864AL804 - Retail
Item #: N82E16820148076

Case: An older version of the Coolermaster Centurion 5 I got on Ebay.. but almost identical to the Centurion 5.

3 Scythe S-Flex fans (2 Fs and 1 E type) from Ebay.

I got most of this at good deals.. for example, the memory was free from Newegg because they messed up some other order for me. Otherwise I would buy better memory but this has given me no problems so far and it's free! The PSU was $40 as well after a rebate.. the video card is sufficient for me since I don't game.

Most details and pictures in posts to come.
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More about happy q6600 build experience details here
  1. First of all, everything physically fit.

    The giant Xigmatek, the giant NB cooler on the DS3R boards, the entire system within the Centurion 5 case, the video card, the PSU..

    The Xigmatek makes things a bit a tight around the CPU socket but in the end, I can still install memory in any of the sockets I wish.

    Installing the Xigmatek was a piece of cake with the retention bracket seen in the picture. You paste the black X shaped plate to the back of the mobo. and the Xigmatek heatsink screws on from the top. It is spring loaded and you increase the tension gradually by tightening the screws with the provided spanner.

    I remember building an AMD 6 years ago and having to push in the heatsink until something snapped into place was a horror.. I hear the present Intel LGA 775 push-pins are a similar nightmare. It is much easier to gradually increase tension by turning something..

    Some things to note:

    1. I placed the heatsink in an orientation so that it blows out the back of the case. I think in this config., the heatpipes at the bottom the heatsink also run across from core die to core die and this is probably better. (I get low temps. under load, see later)

    2. The PSU's fan cannot be underestimated. Mine has a 12 cm fan that can be seen right next to the heatsink. This is great!! Completely unexpected source of cooling for the CPU.. the PSU pulls in the warm air from the CPU and exhausts it out the back. I think the PSU doesn't mind this since the coils there probably run warmer than the 30 C air it probably pulls in from the Xigmatek.

    3. The Xigmatek fit well and the case could close comfortably.. well by 0.5 - 1 cm or so.

    4. Buy the Xigmatek retention bracket! $6 on Newegg..
  2. A close up of the Xigmatek mounting screws..

  3. Nice.
  4. Problems:

    The only real problem I had was my SATA DVD drive (a Samsung). For some reason, it wouldn't load my OS CD (Ubuntu Live CD) -- it would crash while loading the CD. I tried multiple copies of the Live CD and they would all crash at specific different parts of loading Linux.

    I took the drive over to a friend's place and it did the exact same thing there.. relieved that it wasn't a strange mobo problem, I sent it back to Newegg and got a new drive. Everything works but still, the new drive and this desktop seem more sensitive to errors on the CD than my laptop which finds no errors when I check the CD for faults. Strange.. but haven't really had a problem.

    Another hitch while building was understanding how the backplate of the Xigmatek went on to the motherboard.. The X shaped black plate had a plastic sheet on it as well as a sticker.. it wasn't clear how much of it should be removed. In the end, I stuck it on in the only way that the screws of the heatsink could reach hte backplate from the other side but kept the whitish translucent plastic sheet on.. not sure why it is needed. Looks like more than packaging for sure.. perhaps for insulation?

    Pleasant surprises:

    Memtest found no errors in the memory (7 - 8 hours)..

    The Hard drive - the 640 GB Western Digital is great!! It is incredibly fast and quiet and reasonably cool as well.

    Stays at 33 C with a case fan blowing almost directly on its profile.. without the fan, it rises to 38 C. I guess that's not a bad temp. either?

    The Video card promised a quiet Zalman fan.. it is reasonably so.

    One thing I wish I had changed
    The loudest fan in the case is definitely the Xigmatek heatsink stock fan. My 3 case fans as Scythe S-Flex fans which are really quiet.. but this doesn't matter if you have one louder fan.

    Now I wanted a REALLY quiet computer.. most people may not mind the Xigmatek stock fan.. but it is louder than S-Flex fans.

    Unfortunately, the fan is not easy to take off from the heatsink.. it was a pain to put on with some crazy rubber stoppers I had to struggle with. Trying to take it off now could dislodge the heatsink or damage the motherboard if I am not careful.

    I wish I had thrown away the stock fan and installed a quiet 120 mm fan on the heatsink in the first place.. but I thought "Let me give the stock fan a chance.." bad idea. Too much work to change it unless you are willing to simply cut off Xigmatek's fancy rubber attachment devices and use a rubber band with the new fan.
  5. Try to enable fan speed control in the bios(its with the hardware monitor). It will quiet down the CPU fan at idle by a good amount. If your fan is 4 pin use PWM as the control method if its 3 pin use dc voltage.
  6. My finished case with a simple cabling job. I just used a bunch of velcro strips to bunch up the (MANY MANY) unused cables from the PSU, some duct tape to hold cables in out of the way places and a bunch of cable ties to tidy things up.

    Maybe the amount of excess cables in a PSU is something to watch out for... I bought this Stealth Stream 600 W because it was a great deal at $40 after rebate. I knew it was way more than I needed with 2 CPU support etc but I didn't realize all the unused cables would be taking up so much space inside the case. Not a serious problem once I used velcro and duct tape though.

    The crazy Tracer memory! (I'm no fan of the LEDs but I got these sticks for free from Newegg, so I'm not complaining)

    Unseen: One Scythe S-FLEX fan in the 5.25 drive bay .. but suspended a few inches back from the front of the case using cable ties. This way it blows some air forcefully onto the memory sticks and the Xigmatek heatsink and still seems to suck air from outside as a piece of paper shows.
  7. My overclock:

    I've only been doing this since yesterday but so far, I have 3.01 Ghz ( ~ 335 FSB) with the 9x multiplier. I'm running the DDR2 memory at 1:1 i.e as DDR2-670.

    Best news -- I only need 1.20626 Volts to be Prime stable for about 12 hours!

    The temperature under 12 hours of Prime 95 stabilized around 48 - 49 C on each core.. the screenshots below show 50 C because I opened up a photo manipulator (GIMP) to edit these images, remove private info, zoom in etc.

    The basic stats.. temperatures, voltages, up time..

    http://i538.photobucket.com/albums/ff350/quaduser/Screenshot-gkrellm.png " class="img lazy">

    While Prime was still running on my computer 10 mins ago..

    One puzzle is that Vcor2, which seems to be the RAM voltage is only at ~ 2.0 Volts. Currently the RAM voltage is being managed by the mobo. Crucial RAM is rated at 2.2 V with timings like 4-4-4-something.. my timings are 5-5-5.. do I really have to set DDR voltage to manual and set it to +0.4 V like it says in the guides?? 0.4 V seems like a lot when the mobo auto setting feeds it only +0.2 V..

    Is there an advantage of undervolting the RAM?

    Anyway, I'm happy with my OC.. 3.01 Ghz load temps -- 50,50,48,48 (12 hrs of Prime) , idle temps -- 38,38,36,36 . I guess the idle could be lower.. don't know what the problem is.

    I am about to fiddle with the tRD and other memory settings..

    Thanks to everyone who helped decide on what parts to buy and gave other advice!

    @nukemaster, I do have CPU fan speed control enabled.. and I do see it spin down to 1000 RPM from about 1200 RPM at load.. makes somewhat of a difference, less so after OCing. Still wish I'd spent another $10 and installed a Scythe S-Flex fan on it.
  8. Looks to be working very well.

    If they rate the ram at 2.2 then it should be safe to do so.

    Undervolting may let the ram run cooler, but the difference is minimal IMO.
  9. I noticed that many people who bought Crucial complained on Newegg that the voltage needed was 2.2 V.. I decided not to push it so much since I hear it is a stress on the mobo as well.

    I kept it at 2.0 V and still managed to get my timings down to 4-4-4-14.. good enough for me.

    Meanwhile, I threw in another fan at the back in front of all the unused PCI slots .. it encourages some air in through some side vents and made a big difference -- my idle temperatures are around 35,35,34,34 now and the other two temps reported by my computer are 31 and 29 C!

    (not sure what they are .. one must be some mobo temp and the second is related to the CPU.. when I load the CPU to 100% and the core temp rises to 48 C, the second temperature rises fast to 40 C while the first rises only to 35 C or so.. any ideas?)

    They are read out by the IT8718 chipset.. but in linux, it's hard to figure out what's what.
  10. If you get the right timings and its stable on less voltage, its a plus. I do not think extra voltage is hard on the motherboard. i have been meaning to tweak my memory voltage too.

    40c is most likely Tcase(should be the same as the bios temp) and the other is some kind of ambient temperature(best guess).

    For more info on Tcase, check the core2 temp guide linked in my sig.
  11. did you order the q6600 from amazon for a reason??

    g0 stepping?? is newegg still shipping non g0's, i think they are b3's??
  12. One more thing: If you are running at 2v I strongly recommend you run the Blend Test in Prime95 to check for possible RAM issues.
  13. @nuke, thanks for all the tips!

    Here is the behavior of the temperature that you think is Tcase: At idle, it is REALLY low -- 28 - 29 C in a room at 26 C. The core temperature is typically 35 - 36 C. (The one other temperature reported is 30 C).

    When I load it with prime, the other reported temperature stays at 30 C while the first temperature climbs rapidly from 28 - 29 C to something like 40 C.. while the core temperature is 48 C.

    I guess that sounds like Tcase since it is lower than Tcore and follows it.. but 8 C lower?? and to idle at 28 C??

    I'm guessing the two common temperatures outside of Core temps are Tcase and some mobo temperature? I heard that the Gigabyte boards don't have NB and SB sensors though.. so not sure where exactly it could be measuring.

    @ Bigsur

    I got the Q6600 from Amazon because Amazon charges no tax (which can be $20 on a processor). Their prices are really low too -- they usually keep up with Newegg (though Newegg's OEM processors in the end work out to the same as Amazon's retail box).

    Amazon guaranteed G0s on their website but I hear Newegg ships only G0s now anyway.

    If I were doing it again though, I might buy from Newegg. Their service is really great (had to return a faulty DVD drive).. never had to deal with Amazon returns so far.
  14. Mine is 12c cooler then my hottest core(load), this is not uncommon. They attempt to calibrate this sensor, but it can cary from board to board and even bios revision to bios revision.

    Core temps should not change unless the TJ max is changed in the app(the bios can not effect it).

    I have no clue where the other sensor is. on my board its 40c at full load in a room temp of 25. Almost seems cool for the chipset, but intel chipsets run fairly cool. Next time i get my hands on a thermal laser diode thingy i may have to check(i thought it was in the high 40s last time i checked, that would leave the chipset near 50+). As with all sensors there is a certain amount of calibration done that may not line up with another sensor.
  15. I tried blowing air from a compressed air canister on the northbridge during a heavy Prime 95 run but it wouldn't change any of these temperatures.. consistent with what I've heard that GA-P35 boards don't have NB or SB sensors??

    To make sure we are on the same page, these are the readings from lm-sensor.. it reads it from a chip called it8718-isa-0290 (while the core temps come from coretemp-isa-0000)

    temp1: +31.0°C (low = +127.0°C, high = +127.0°C) sensor = transistor
    temp2: +29.0°C (low = +127.0°C, high = +60.0°C) sensor = thermal diode
    temp3: -4.0°C (low = +127.0°C, high = +127.0°C) sensor = transistor
  16. it8718 is the hardware monitoring chip that the bios uses. I am not sure how fast it updates. It is very possible that there is just a thermal sensor on the board somewhere.
    coretemp is the sensors built into the cpu. Those are the more accurate ones.

    I only see 2 of them, used to have 1 3rd but software has since just said its not connected and now it does not even show up.

    Either way here is what i get

    My board is not quite the same. P35 DS3R. I feel ripped off, your nb heatsink has a back support, mine is just pegged in.
  17. Well, mine is a DS3R as well.. maybe you mean the EP35 vs P35?

    Either way, if you were talking about the black X plate behind my mobo, that's the Xigmatek mounting bracket I pasted on to the backside.. it is a mount to support the heatsink, not the NB.
  18. yeah the EP part is for boards with extra power savings(i assume they are about 99% the same). My lower temp was down to 35 when the room temp dropped to 23c

    I am talking about the straight bracket. Some users complained about there chipset coolers dislodging and coming loose in shipping. I guess gigabyte decided to fix this on the new boards.

    My 9500 has a backplate too. just makes the cooler more secure
  19. I heard the P35 and EP35 boards are identical in energy-saving respects.. EP35 just comes with energy saving software you can choose not to install in the first place.

    (I now know which back plate you are talking about.)
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