I put together a system with:
Phenom II X3 720 BE
4 GB (2x2) Corsair XMS3 DDR3 1600 MHz RAM
Arctic Alumina + Coolermaster Hyper 212+
Coolermaster HAF 922
Intel X-25 G2 80 GB SSD
EVGA GeForce 512 MB 9800 GT
After assembly, everything POSTed, Windows loaded fine. I updated the SSD firmware to support TRIM. I ran Prime 95 for 16 hours with a max temp on core of 27 deg C (Ambient is 18), ran Memtest86+ for an hour or so with no errors, ran some other random tests like Passmark, and everything seemed kosher for a system running the X3, the 9800 GT, and the Corsair RAM at 1333 MHz (Stock for the Mobo)
So, of course, I tried updating the BIOS to 4.0, which was fine, then tried unlocking the 4th core. it POSTed, ran windows, and ran Prime95 on 4 threads for 16 hours with a max temp (not on core due to unlocking error) of 31 deg C. I decided to re-install Win7 Professional 64 bit, so I did and all was well. Ran Passmark and the benchmark looks similar, CPU-wise to other Phenom II x4 systems, so I think the 4th core is stable and working well.
Next step, I changed my RAM frequency from auto to manual and set it at 1600 MHz (did ratio to 1:4). All is well, though I don't see a major difference in Passmark. I then ran Memtest86+ and there were 8 errors after 8 minutes, all in a row. I stopped the test, and came on here. Memtest shows all correct data, including my CPU as Phenom II X4 20 (what the 720 looks like unlocked), the RAM at 800 MHz (1600 MHz)...but teh CAS is set at 9-11-11-29
Now, I'm a beginner, so I stopped there. I have a few questions:
1) is my RAM correctly set for frequency? If I plan on overclocking, should I keep it at 1333 so if.when I change the FSB, it has room to speed up? Should I change the CAS to 8-8-8-?? like I read a review on the XMS3 saying it was good to run at? Will that effect heat output? any ideas? Is Passmark a good indicator of performance?
2) For overclocking, my board has an "auto 20% overclock"...should I try that? if not or if yes, the current BIOS also has some auto-overclocking for the FSB...should I try that? there's no harm, right? if not, should I start with FSB, as per normal, or, since I have a black edition, should I go straight for the multiplier? What aboiut temperatures? are the temperature gauges on speedfan and HWMonitor correct enough to gauge CPU heat, what with the 4th core unlocked and a blank CPU heat gauge? Also, once I change something, is Prime95 a good enough test of stability and heat? Should PassMark be a good indicator of performance?
2) when you set anything to auto, you automatically lose fine control over the overclocking process. I'm not saying you shouldn't do it, but it will be harder to determine which settings are causing your OC setup to fail, if it is.
1)It looks like your RAM's default settings are 8-8-8-24 (tRC=30) @ 1600mhz with 1.65v. I would set it so it normally runs at 1333 or even lower so when you increase your FSB, the RAM's frequency should go from 1333->1600. It won't be going exactly to 1600, but it's best to keep it at the default timings and tighten them after you find your best FSB. Just stay around the rated voltage which is 1.65v and don't go more than 1.7v. Your RAM might not like the overvolting, so keep it as close to 1.65v as possible. You don't need to worry about heat since your RAM doesn't use up a lot of voltage.
After you find your perfect FSB, I would drop your timings by 1 (something like 7-7-7-20[tRC=27]), if you lowered the dividers to 1333 settings or lower.
2)As r_manic has mentioned, try to avoid the auto overclocking, as it will not overclock as well as your own overclock. Since you have a black edition, you can start by increasing the multipliers and leaving the FSB at 200. Find your highest multiplier and you can leave your RAM at 1600mhz 8-8-8-24-30 with 1.65v. Speedfan, HWMonitor, and AMD Overdrive have accurate temps, and your goal is to avoid going over 55°C.
3)If you do decide to go with increasing FSB, you will have to lower the multipliers for your NB-CPU(L3 cache) and HT Link. Try to keep them at default settings (ie. if it was at 1800mhz, keep it as close to 1800 as you can). Once you've found your desired FSB, you can try to OC these, but you'll have to increase the NB-CPU voltage and also the HT Link voltage. Also keep in mind my advice for question 1.
I would try to keep it simple and just go for the 200FSB and increase your multipliers method. You gain a better FPC when the FSB is lower, plus you don't have to worry about NB-CPU, HT Link, RAM settings/voltages.