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Pre-buy overclocking questions

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August 29, 2010 4:18:13 PM

I'm pricing together a new system. I have been building my own for many years, going all the way back to the days of 80386, but I've never done overclocking before.

I want my new system to outperform my current one significantly. Current system is a rather decent 2008 system: Intel E8400 3.0 GHz Core2Duo in an Intel G35 motherboard, 4 GB of DDR2-800 RAM, SATA 150 500 GB WD drive, a pair of DVD drives, and a HD4850 512MB DDR3 video card, and a probably overkill 600W OCZ power supply. Running Vista 32, meaning I only see about 3.3GB of RAM. All stock, no overclock

My new build is looking towards Phenom II build. probly a 955 BE to overclock at least to the 3.4GHz of a 965 and a GeForce GTX 460 in single-card, no plans to SLI. I replace systems every 2-3 years anyway, although old system should retain enough life to be hand-me-downed to my fiance or my sister, or used as a Linux box, depending on needs and get a further 2-3 years of life there -- I'd return to stock speeds after getting a new system.

I've basicaly decided, If I'm going to overclock to get a 965 performance out of it, I might as well see it through to a top-flight overclock.

I've generally been budget-minded all this time, and I know that budget parts which are good enough on a stock build are probably not good enough for a overclocking build, though I still want the best deal I can find. My usual instinct of lowest priced parts from a good company may not suit me well here.

That said, I have several 'givens and druthers' and some questions:

Givens & druthers:

System priority: Games, mostly MMOs, strategy & RPGs, I want the ability to play any game that might come out before 2013 however. Web use, movie viewing (though not Blu-Ray). 1680x1050 resolution.

The MMO I play that is the single biggest framerate hog is Second Life. a busy sim brings my current system to its knees, as few as 4 FPS at a part or concert with 40-80 avatars present.

Budget not to exceed $750, including taxes, shipping, etc, and pre-rebates (I never expect to see computer rebates). As such, AMD is the solution. Don't suggest an i5 build, please

System must, at stock, outperform my current system significantly, or its not worth the upgrade.

System must be a stable 24/7/365 type of OC that will last 2-3 years, and still have life left afterwards. We aren't going for record overclocking.

Air cooling only. Liquid cooling is a maintenance hassle I'd rather not deal with, no matter how self-contained.

the basic system I'm looking at is a 955BE, 4 GB of DDR3-1333 RAM, 1TB HDD, a geforce gtx 460 1GB (could drop to the 768 model as a cost saving) and a single basic dvd burner, win7 64-bit. PSU to power all this at 80+ cert or better, and a decent case. I've been eying Newegg's Rosewill Challenger and Destroyer cases.

any cooler I get should be able to mount on the stock mounting point on the motherboard, I don't want to have to change those if I don't have to. Its much easier to just snap onto the existing mounting bracket.

now to my questions:

How well can I overclock on the standard cooler with the 955?

Are there any good, relatively inexpensive coolers, (say, Under $30)?

Top flight coolers seem to be in the $60-up range, but remember my budget.

OEM versions of the AMD Phenom II X3 740BE are still available at newegg for $89. This is enough of a savings over the 955BE ($64) to buy a really nice cooler (like a Hyper 212 Plus), especialy since you have to get a fan anyway. How is it's performance in overclock, both with and without unlocking its 4th core?

What about going with an Athlon II X3 or X4? I worry that a stock Athlon II is not that significant a change over my current system, other than its DDR3 and graphics card upgrade. Am I right about that?
a b K Overclocking
August 29, 2010 4:32:46 PM

How well can I overclock on the standard cooler with the 955?
If your room temps are low to mid 20s 3.6 should be fine not much more though

Are there any good, relatively inexpensive coolers, (say, Under $30)?
The 212+ can be bought for under $30 The TX3 is OK for 2-3 core CPUs though

Top flight coolers seem to be in the $60-up range, but remember my budget.

OEM versions of the AMD Phenom II X3 740BE are still available at newegg for $89. This is enough of a savings over the 955BE ($64) to buy a really nice cooler (like a Hyper 212 Plus), especialy since you have to get a fan anyway. How is it's performance in overclock, both with and without unlocking its 4th core?
Without unlockng it should overclock better than a 4 core as less cores mean less temp. I got my unlocked 550BE to 4 core 3.7GHz while I think a 955BE would normally get 3.8-4GHz but some people struggle to get much overclock from unlocked CPUs but I have seen people get 4GHz.

What about going with an Athlon II X3 or X4? I worry that a stock Athlon II is not that significant a change over my current system, other than its DDR3 and graphics card upgrade. Am I right about that?
1 extra core will still make a good difference and they are good overclockers as well, if it gives you more money for the GPU its worth considering. The L3 cache missing on Athlons is worth 12-15% when gaming.
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August 30, 2010 3:59:53 PM

Thanks Simon.

I was hoping for more than just one opinion though :D 
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a b K Overclocking
August 31, 2010 2:14:37 AM

With what you are doing, gaming, watching movies etc. you would probably be better off spending $50 on a decent cpu cooler and just OC your E8400 to 4.0 - 4.2 Ghz and you wouldn't have a need to upgrade for a while yet.

I've got an i7 860 running at 4.0 Ghz and I still think my E8400 @ 4.165 Ghz runs snappier.

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