OC Newbie with questions (720 BE)

Hello! I built my new machine about a month ago with help from the forums. I'm very happy with it and it's been totally stable and awesome for me so far. I had planned to try my hand at some overclocking with this machine, my first attempt at OC'ing anything ever and I'm about ready to give it a shot, but I'm still a wee bit scared. So I have some dumb questions for you guys, and general request for advice.

I'm aiming to overclock my 720 BE from current stock settings and give it a nice bump. I think ~3.2 GHZ is a good goal to start with. My biggest concern is safety. The chip was OEM so it has no warranty anyway but I still want to make a very safe and stable overclock as possible.

I think my cooling hardware is in good shape. I have an Antec 900 case so there is pretty massive airflow from the intake fans, the rear fan and the big top fan. I purchased a Coolermaster 212+ and installed it with arctic silver 5.

I'm having some trouble making heads or tails of my speedfan readings but I'm pretty sure my cooling is working well. Specifically, I don't know which of these numbers is the one I should be paying attention to as my "cpu" temp. I'm guessing "Core" is the one I'm looking for.

It's showing at idle:

After running Prime95 for some time the temps seemed to cap out at:
Temp1: 38C

Here's what I've done so far. My multiplier had been set to auto by default, but I knew that the bus speed was 200MHZ, so I stepped it up a couple times starting at 14.5 and recorded the relevant changes from cpuz and speedfan. I stopped at 15 because the v.core looked like it was starting to get too high. Also, curiously at the end I manually set the multiplier to 14 since I knew that was the default multiplier and I got a BSOD when booting! Putting it back to auto resolved it. I thought that was really odd.

Here's my log~

14.5x, 1.334-1.337V, 22-24C idle
15x, 1.437V, 26-28C idle

So that's where I'm at. I think the max v.core rating is 1.425V so when I saw the 15x numbers I got scared and put it back. I'm not sure how to proceed from here.

Hardware recap:
Phenom II 720 BE (C2 version if relevant)
DDR3 1600 G.skill Ripjaw 2x2 (F3-12800CL9D-4GBRL)
M479XTD EVO mobo.

Advice appreciated!
2 answers Last reply
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  1. Huh. I don't understand why the Vcore changes, did you use some sort of automatic BIOS overclocking?

    So I would start by downloading AMD overdrive first.
    Here's a good primer:

    I would begin by upping the multiplier for the cpu first a half step at a time. in between test for stability, when it becomes unstable then back down to the last half step. Do this without adding additional voltage.
    Then I would go back to the original 14x multi. try bumping up the reference clock 1 Mhz at a time until reaching instability.
    Now you should know about how high you can clock the multi and reference withoout additional voltage.

    Then if you're feeling brave, you can begin adding voltage to gain stability at a little higher overclock.

    In my experience with the Phenom II's, you can get to 3.4Ghz pretty easily w/o additional voltage.

    I suggest AMD overdrive as it will save time from changing in the bios, booting into windows to check for stability, etc, ad nauseum. Once you have it dialed in pretty well, go into the bios and manually set you optimal clocks.
  2. I'm not aware of any overclocking bios features I've turned on. I disabled cool'n'quiet. I have "Ai Overclock Tuner" set to manual if that matters but the settings are at default (CPU bus freq @ 200). If anyone knows the m4a790xtd bios well and can tell me what to look for specifically that would be great.

    Otherwise all of my options under "CPU Ratio and Voltage" are set to Auto, except for the "ratio" multiplier when tweaking it.

    I've been loosely following this BE overclock guide and it seems to say that the voltage increases are to be expected if it's left on auto. http://www.tomshardware.com/forum/258573-29-black-edition-overclock-guide

    I have also unearthed another unpleasant problem. Going through the guides, I was reading that I needed to manually set my memory settings in the BIOS, and I discovered my automatic settings I'd been using were underclocking my memory from 1600 down to 1333. I looked up the timings and manually entered 9-9-9-24 T2 and manually set the frequency to 1600/1.5V. It successfully boot up at the correct 800mhz in cpuz, but Prime95 got fatal rounding errors within minutes and a game bench program started causing the computer to lock up. Setting the memory voltage and frequency back to auto makes me stable again but then it's still running at 1333.

    I googled around and saw this thread on the g.skill support forums. Is there a chance this is my problem or have I just done something wrong? http://www.gskill.us/forum/showthread.php?t=2977

    I will look into the overclocking tool, but correct me if I'm wrong that unless my memory is set correctly this will be a goose chase?
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