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Overclocking an Athlon II X3 445 (unlocked 4th core)

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December 3, 2010 12:34:25 PM

Hey everybody! Just put together this system based on recommendations from the home build forums, and now I'm trying to squeeze some extra juice out of my CPU.

The build:
CPU: AMD Athlon II X3 445 3.1GHz w/ Cooler Master Hyper 212+
MoB: ASRock 870 Extreme3
RAM: G.SKILL Ripjaw 4GB (2x2GB) DDR3 1600 (PC3 12800)
GPU: SAPPHIRE Radeon HD 5770 (Juniper XT) 1GB
PSU: OCZ ModXStream Pro OCZ500MXSP 500W ATX12V V2.2 / EPS12V

The motherboard has a built in auto-unlock, auto-overclock mode that I turned on just to see how it did. It successfully unlocked the 4th core (CPU reported as a Phenom II X4 Deneb), but did not unlock the L3 cache as far as I can tell. It seemed stable running at around 3.33GHz (215 x 15.5) under max load at 1.4V, but it was running a little hot. I saw the temperature getting up around 60C, so I shut down the test. That's when I went out and bought the Hyper 212+. Now it's barely hitting 45C under max load with the built-in OCing.

So, I reset the BIOS and started to try to overclock it manually. Default settings start at 200 CPU Frequency and x15.5 multiplier. I was able to get a 10% or so increase to 3.4GHz or so, but after that the system wasn't stable. The only changes that I was making were to the FSB, the CPU voltage and I dropped the HT Link speed down so that it stayed around 2100.

Now, I've heard of people running this processor up at around 3.9-4.0, which is what I'd like to hit if possible. However, I do not know if people were hitting those sorts of speeds with the 4th core unlocked, or just with 3 cores.

I don't think that heat is the problem. With the new cooler, I haven't seen the temperature go over 45C no matter what I do, so I'm pretty sure it's something else. I know that cranking the FSB up so high also messes with the RAM, so maybe that is the problem? That part is a little bit over my head... I'm not sure what settings I should be changing to make sure the memory stays stable.

So any advice that I can get would be awesome. Please let me know if I'm not giving enough info or if more is needed. I feel like I have a pretty decent understanding of how OCing works, but I need some help over the last mile to make things really sing =)
a b K Overclocking
December 3, 2010 2:37:42 PM

Set your HT Link to 2000. Set your memory timings in the BIOS. You are probably looking at a voltage closer to 1.5v (but NOT over) to reach those high(er) frequencies. Leave the FSB at 200 and just change the multiplier. Shoot for 3.6GHz - 3.8GHz. Not everyone will get to that 4.0GHz level...

Your friend => http://www.tomshardware.com/forum/258573-29-black-editi...
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December 3, 2010 2:42:37 PM

Hey sadams04 thanks for the reply.

My HY Link is around 2000. I just step it down to whatever will put it in the 2000-2200 range. I will try stepping up the voltage a little higher to see if that helps.

Unfortunately I cannot change the multiplier any higher than x15.5, so changing the clock speed is the only method I have.

As far as setting memory timings, I'm not really certain how to do this. I mean, I see a plethora of settings for memory timings in the bios, but I'm not sure what I should be changing or what I should be changing things to, if that makes sense.
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December 3, 2010 4:12:17 PM

I've been reading all morning, and I definitely think my expectations have been too lofty. I'm going to be aiming for the 3.6-3.8 range now, definitely. Not sure where I got the impression that 4.0 was going to be easy =P

At any rate, since my multiplier is 15.5x max, I'm going to need a "FSB" speed of 235-245 to achieve these speeds.

The info you linked on memory is interesting, but it doesn't really help to answer my question, which is what kinds of things I need to consider when changing the FSB. I know that it effects the timing of the RAM, but I don't quite understand how, or what I'd do to correct it. So if anybody can help me in that area, that would be awesome. Thanks!
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a b K Overclocking
December 3, 2010 6:07:00 PM

With default BIOS settings, when you change the FSB you are also adjusting the speed at which the CPU connects with the main memory and other components within the computer. When changing the FSB from 200 to 230+ the memory scales as well and goes beyond its limits (unless you bought memory meant to run at those OC speeds). The HT Link is the same way...

Most people will change their BIOS from AUTO to a manual setting that won't allow the memory to run past their designed speeds (AKA - setting the timings, voltage, etc per the manufacturers specs). This will allow you to up the increase the CPU speed, via the FSB, and NOT impact the memory speed. Manually setting the HT Link to 2000 is a good idea also. Same premise... CPU goes up while the HT stays flat and within spec.

Hope this helps. Keep asking questions if you have them...

Since you are reading today... This Wiki explains how memory speed is determined using the FSB. Use for REFERENCE only => http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/DDR3_SDRAM
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December 3, 2010 9:18:12 PM

Here are screenshots of CPUZ with completely stock settings, under load:


With these settings, the temperature never rose above 29C

Now here is a screenshot with just the 4th core unlocked (no overclocking):


Memory status was unchanged.

Now here is where I start to get confused as to what is happening. This is with a 12% overclock:


Now first of all, I only set the voltage to 1.475 in the BIOS so I don't know why it registers that high in CPUZ. Also, regarding the memory, it's still set on Auto in the BIOS. It looks like it's running at a lower frequency, but with faster timings. Is this better or worse? When I attempted the same overclock with manual RAM settings at 1333, 9-9-9-24, the system wouldn't boot.
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December 14, 2010 3:50:00 PM

Well here is where I ended up:


I haven't seen any temperatures over 50C so far. If I try to go any higher than that, I get blue screens or it won't boot at all. Here are stats from the bios:

CPU Freq: 235
PCIe Freq: 100
CPU VOltage: 1.475
NB Freq Multiplier: x9 (2115 MHz)
NB Volt: 1.175
Mem Clock: 626 MHz (1253) -- (my options here are 940, 1253, 1566, 1880)
DRAM Volt: 1.603V

Does anybody see anything wrong with this, or have suggestions? Or any recommended next steps? Thanks!
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a b À AMD
a b K Overclocking
December 16, 2010 9:36:38 PM

I think your volts are too high. You should be good at 1.4v or less.

Try this: In the BIOS you should manually set the RAMs speed to 667MHz. With the clock at 240MHz your DDR3 will be running spec 1600. Set the HT Link multiplier to 8x. Set the NB/IMC multiplier to 10x (1.175v should be fine).
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Best solution

January 8, 2011 2:58:09 PM

I have the same CPU and cooler with a Biostar TA880GB+ mobo, and easily get 3.9Ghz. My X3 445 didn't have a working 4th core, but did have the 6MB L3 cache.

I think you need to increase your CPU-NB voltage. I believe stock is 1.1500V. I added +0.050 V offset to get things stable.

These are the settings I used:

HT Ref Clock: 254
CPU: 254 x 15.5 multiplier = 3937MHz [1.50V]
CPU-NB: 254 x 10 mult. = 2540 [1.22V]
HT Link: 254 x 9 mult. = 2286 [1.25V]
RAM: Mushkin DDR3-1333 2x2GB set to DDR3-1066 (8:3 ratio) and 9,9,9,24,33,1T timings [1.55V]

Prime95 24+ hours stable and IntelBurnTest Max 30 runs stable

Edit - The unlocking of your 4th core may be limiting your overclocking results. It might need a little more voltage with the extra core enabled.. I wouldn't go more than 1.55 Vcore
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a b K Overclocking
January 8, 2011 3:31:23 PM

Just set your RAM as slow as it will go until you have got the processor as far as it will go then try to get the ram higher
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