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Overclocking 101 requested

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November 24, 2011 10:07:43 PM

I'm new to the world of overclocking and frankly...a little scared to melt my PC. Which is why I come to you my dear community, for a step-by-step basics to overclocking a CPU (and a GPU at some point).

Setup:
CPU: Intel Core 2 Duo E8400
RAM: G.SKILL 4GB (2 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1333
Graphics Card: SAPPHIRE 100312-3SR Radeon HD 6950 Dirt3 Edition 2GB
HDDx2: Western Digital Caviar Blue WD5000AAKS 500GB 7200 RPM SATA 3.0Gb/s 3.5
MOBO: Intel BOXDX48BT2 LGA 775 Intel X48 ATX Intel Motherboard
PSU: Thermaltake TR2 RX W0134RU 550W ATX12V Ver2.2

I should also mention that I'm using the stock fan that came with my processor. I understand that a higher quality cooling system is preferred for this process so that you can overclock the CPU even higher, but the process for finding a stable point for your CPU should be the same no matter what your cooling system is (right...?).

I just got done reading an older "101" guide to overclocking, which was indeed quite informative but still left me hesitant to start actually doing anything. One point of confusion for me was when the article talks about memory.

Quote:

DDR3-1333 (PC3-10666) 9-9-9-24
DDR3-1600 (PC3-12800) 7-7-7-20

The number after it is the data transfer rate. Simply divide it by 4 to get the maximum FSB speed for which the module is rated. Example: 1600/4 = 400 MHz. Therefore, DDR3-1600 can work on systems with a FSB of up to 400 MHz


If I understand this correctly, then I can't overclock my processor beyond its stock frequency. My RAM is DDR3-1333. 1333 divided by 4 equals ~333MHz, which my CPU Clock frequency is already set to, as well as its max Processor Multiplier of x9. 333MHz x 9 = 2997MHz or 3.0GHz, the stock processor speed.


Anyways, that's more getting into the specifics of things. What I really want to know is:

1) What all needs to "line up" when you're overclocking your processor? I was originally under the assumption that all that was required was to increase the clock frequency and you're good to go. But after a little research I find that you also need to make sure that your memory will work with your FSB frequency. In other words, what are all the variables you need to consider when you're inside the BIOS messing with the settings? Once you're about ready to exit the BIOS, what all should you make sure "add up?"

2) How do you know how much voltage to supply your CPU? Is it something you can calculate based off of the frequency you're using or is it something you just guess at? Is there a good 'starting point' for how much voltage to supply, like the stock amount? And how do you fine tune that when you're ready to? Is it a simple matter of seeing whether your PC will boot, or whether it crashes or not?

3) How can you gauge how much is "too much?" I presume that a CPU can run unstable and error out when put under stress, but still not be pushed to the point of permanent damage. Is it simply a matter of how hot your CPU is running, or are there other factors? What's the major factor in damaging the CPU when you're bumping up your numbers (voltage, frequency, etc.)?

4) I've read a few step-by-step guides that say to disable/enable a few features on the particular motherboard they're using. I don't personally see any of those settings on mine. For instance, according to the guide I mentioned earlier, on the Intel board they're using they mention to disable/enable things such as: Modify Ratio Support, Max CPUID Value Limit, Vanderpool Technology, CPU TM function, etc. Are these things I should be concerned about, or can I just ignore the things I don't seem to have an option to set (obviously I can't change anything that isn't an option for me to set)?

5) Once you've managed to boot into Windows successfully...now what? I have Prime95 installed and think I've figured it out more-or-less, and followed the instructions to have "Round off Checking" enabled so that "it will report an error and stop stressing the core that gave the error." So once I run that (or other, better, freeware options if there are any, that you are more than welcome to mention ;)  ), let's assume the worse - my PC locks up. What should I change? The clock frequency, the voltage. Both? Now let's assume everything is fine and I want to try to bump it up a little bit more. Do I just increase the clock frequency a little bit, or are there a host of other variables I need to change along with it?

I understand there's a loooot of questions here and I don't expect any one person to answer them all. If you could answer one or even a part of one, I would greatly appreciate it. You can either answer it in your own words or point me in the direction of some more research I can take a look at. But all the Googling and reading I've done thus far still leaves me hesitant to touch anything quite yet.

To boil everything down into a digestible chunk:
1) What are all the variables to consider when overclocking a CPU?
2) How do I make sure I'm not going to fry my CPU right off the bat?
3) What's the fine tuning process once everything (hopefully) works according to plan? What tools should be used and what am I looking for to make sure everything is running good?

Thank you SO much for your time and assistance, I do greatly appreciate it.

Also, if it helps, I took some pictures of my BIOS.

1) Processor Override menu:

2) Memory Configuration menu:

3) If it helps, the Bus Override menu:
November 28, 2011 3:42:13 AM

Thank you for the articles. I'm still reading through all of them but they've been helpful in further understanding the ins-and-outs of all of this.

Through more forum perusing I was able to find someone who plainly stated that voltage creates heat and heat is what kills your hardware. I understand that, and figured as much, but wanted to be completely certain that that was all I needed to be aware of; that my system can crash all it wants to while messing with frequencies. As long as it isn't overheating, no damage is being done (scrambling the HDD aside, perhaps). This helps with the last part of my 3rd question: "What's the major factor in damaging the CPU when you're bumping up your numbers (voltage, frequency, etc.)?" If I have misunderstood and this is not the case, by all means, let me know.

With this in mind I went ahead and bumped my "Host Clock Frequency (Mhz)" up from 333 to 380. My machine booted into Windows just fine. I was able to load up Core Temp and Prime95. I noticed my CPU temp was headed towards 70ºC so I went ahead and restarted my machine and set the clock back down to 333. I decided it would be a good idea to go ahead and run Prime95 for a while before messing with anything in the BIOS (go figure), so I went ahead and did that. I noticed that with my CPU clock speed back down to stock its temperature was still around 75º-77ºC while Prime95 was running, so I decided to go ahead and bump it back up to 380Mhz. When I did this the 2nd time I was able to get to the login screen of Windows before it freaked out and rebooted itself. I went ahead and set the clock rate down 10Mhz to 370Mhz. Restarted. Booted into Windows just fine. Since then I have been running Prime95's Torture Test without any errors for the past 40 minutes with a steady CPU temp of ~77ºC. I read that the Intel E8400 'max' temp is 65ºC. This is why I freaked out the first time I bumped the frequency up to 380Mhz and saw that the temp was in the 70s. But checking the temp after setting the clock speed back down to stock it would appear that it has been running that hot this whole time, so I'm not too worried about it.

In the forum post I linked the person mentions something about a CPU 'VID.' I was wondering what that was.

As far as changing my CPU's voltage, I'm not entirely sure how to achieve that inside of my BIOS. Taking a look at the first image of my original post, I have "Front Side Bus Voltage Override" and " MCH/ICH Voltage Override" I can mess with. There is "Current Processor Voltage" right underneath "Processor Speed" that displays 1.325V, but I can't seem to change that number (which kind of makes sense if it's simply telling me what the current voltage is for my CPU). I'm not sure how to change my "vcore" :/  I was thinking maybe if I could bump it up a little then I could hit 380Mhz without Windows crashing.

Anyways, that's my progress thus far. Please let me know what you think; I appreciate the input.
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November 28, 2011 6:29:46 AM
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1. mainly their are 5 variables
a)cl
b)trcd
c)trp
d)tras
e)cr

2. you need to do some stability tests, if the speed is stable then no need to increase voltage otherwise you have to do it.
voltage increase is only to stabilize system.
it is simply a matter of stability.
as i know their is no formula to calculate this.

3. overheating is the major factor. you need to constantly keep a track of temps. other factors like voltage, frequency cannot harm till heat is under control.

4. you can ignore the settings that are not on your board/bios
(like on mine i can only change ram timings and nothing else like pci lock, ratio, voltage etc.)
but you need to disable some settings like the settings that controls emi interference, controls throttle, we need to lock pci etc.
CAN YOU POST ALL THE FEATURES THAT YOU SEE IN YOUR BIOS

5. you need to be slow and steady to make it out to the maximum and still stable.
you need to change other variables too when the system is not stable


i)all the variables are (mainly)
a). ram timings (see ans 1.)
b). other features (like in ans 4.)
c). cpu (voltage, frequency, nb, ht)
d). TEMPERATURE (main thing)

ii) if temperatures are under 60'C (dead end is 70'C) under stress then you are not going to fry your cpu or other components. you need to worry when it is beyond 65'C (since it is all the time this may be due to bad cooling)

iii) you can use cpu tweaker to change some settings without rebooting every time, USE A TEMPS MONITORING SOFTWARE like hwmonitor, hwinfo32 etc also use cpuid cpuz to keep an eye on modifications. these are the softwares that are necessary when you are over clocking.

steps
(if you cannot get to bios after changing some settings then clear the cmos)
important:- keep an eye on temps, do not allow it to go deyond 70 (always)
1). first of all relax ram timings a much as you can (just increase all timings to their max value including command rate). also decrease ram speed to minimum.

2). lock down pci, nb , ht emi reduction and any other hardware (unnecessary) settings that you can.

3). increase multiplier (0.5 or 1.0 if you can) otherwise increase fsb (host clock frequency) of cpu a little (maximum 5)
(if you can raise the multiplier then do not raise hcf untill you get the maximum multiplier (after every stability test))

4). then run prime95 (10 min will be ok for a start) if it is stable then keep increasing multiplier/fsb till it is stable.
when it becomes unstable then the previous settings for your cpu are maximum (note down these settings)

5). (come back to the settings that are upto step 2)
then it comes to ram
either
change speed of ram first (1 step at a time) till you reach default or beyond default with stability.
or
change timings. change (decrease) them as a standard timings, that means 9-9-9-27-36 are default for your 1333mhz ram and you can get 1600mhz by timings 10-10-10-30-40, or for 1066 minimum timings will be 8-8-8-24-32. hope you got it.other timings do not need any change.

it depends on you that what you want more speed/less delay (i prefer more speed)

when stability issue occur then the previous speed/delay of your ram is maximum/minimum.

6). restore settings to step 2
then max out your cpu
after that it comes to ram, increase it slightly every time you boot and tests

then the final stable settings will be your stable overclock
December 2, 2011 10:40:02 PM

I've decided to back off from overclocking for right now. I might come back to it once I get a better heat sink and have a little more free time to play around with it. The articles posted helped better understand this process, as did the steps posted by truegenius. What I really wanted to pull away from this was the precautions I needed to take in order not to fry any of my hardware. That boils down to heat, and heat is produced through voltage. Don't touch the voltage (until you're ready to) and disable the motherboard from auto-incrementing it, too, and you should be fine. Thanks for the help, I appreciate it :) 
December 9, 2011 10:55:17 PM

Best answer selected by runtonion.
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