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14 Of The Most Legendary Overclocking-Friendly CPUs

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July 18, 2013 9:16:43 PM

i had several years ago (2007?) an Pentium 2160 Oce'd all the way up to 3.4Ghz runing on an horrible "PcChips" P17g, later on moved to a C2Q q6600 and was oced to 3.6Ghz this in an Asus P45(?) (dont rememeber the model) both were cooled by an Silent Knight. before the 2160 i had an P4 Extreme Edition that was 2.8 and died on me being oc'd to 3.2 (first and only cpu i have burned ocing) i also had the 720 BE unlocked and oced to 3.8 on a 1.5vCore. (last year i posted some threads about what should i update to) and now im runing an fx 4100 oced to 4.8 cooled by a Noctua NH-D14.

Maybe next year i move to what SR brings.

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a b K Overclocking
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July 18, 2013 9:39:45 PM

There's an E8400 E0 stepping in my HTPC. 3.8GHz with no voltage increase...
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July 18, 2013 10:04:04 PM

Oh man I LOVED my Opteron 144 I'm glad she made the list. Could be my favorite CPU of all time. It was the best option to upgrade to a dual core on the 939 platform at the time, and I got it and a 8800 GTS 640 in order to run Crysis with decent settings. The thing I liked most aside from the generous overclocking, and what made this CPU legendary, is that as 939 dual cores became scarce, the price for these skyrocketed on online auction sites, marking the one and only time I made a Prophet on a used CPU.

Pun intended.
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July 18, 2013 10:17:25 PM

"Although it launched in the $850 range, the Q6600 dropped to $200 by 2010, making it popular with enthusiasts on a budget. By 2011, it was replaced by the Core 2 Quad Q9550, another CPU with a great overclocking reputation."
I think that needs either correction or clarification. I doubt I'm the only one that read it as saying that the Q9550 released in 2011 (it was actually released in March 2008) rather than the probably intended meaning of taking over the budget overclocking CPU position.
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July 18, 2013 11:00:29 PM

You're missing the rare hexa core AMD 960t, 4x 3ghz.
Unlockable to 6 cores, and overclockable to 4ghz!
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July 19, 2013 12:02:43 AM

Q6600 depended on if you purchased the correct stepping. I got the inferior stepping which had far less thermal headroom, forcing me to switch CPUs early when it started chugging midway through the current console generation.

Just when i7-920 was feeling slightly dated, game developers started making games more multi-threaded which gave this baby a new lease of life.
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July 19, 2013 12:08:26 AM

1999 (NO idea about overclocking)
Me - OK. I want that board (ΒΧ440) and I also want the Celleron 300A
Seller - With only 2000 more drachmas (6 euros) you can buy the faster 333A.
Me - I don't know, I don't want to spend more money.
Seller - It is worth it. It is faster and the difference in price small.
Me - OK put the 333A then in the order.


Almost 15 years latter I STILL HATE HIM
...lol
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July 19, 2013 12:45:36 AM

The king of overclockers was the 286. Implying the internal clock multiplier somehow makes it more overclocker friendly is pretty stupid, as it's got nothing to do with anything.

That was made popular by the first internal cache on x86 processors. Overclocking a chip without an internal cache had poor performance improvement. But, again, that doesn't relate to overclocking. It does relate to the fact that they were reaching a point where it was very difficult to make motherboards handle bus speeds as high as the processors (although Intel would return to that with the original Pentiums, never to return).

The 286 was a more complete overclock, since it increased the speed of everything. If you overclocked the 286 by 33%, everything ran 33% faster, even the system bus. That never happened again. Most implementations of the 386 (and even later releases of the 286) ran the AT-Bus (commonly erroneously called the ISA bus), at 8 or 10 MHz, regardless of CPU speed.

Overclocking the original PC/AT 139 was so common (from 6 Mhz to 8 Mhz), IBM put a timing loop in ROM for the 239 that prevented it. Eventually, the 339 ran at 8 MHz out of the box.

Overclocking these machines often required more skill than modern machines, as you'd have to buy a different crystal, desolder the old one, and solder the new one in. If the memory chips were close to timing, they'd have to come out too. Luckily, most were not soldered in. IBM's had a perverse piggybacked arrangement though, where they would put one 64K chip right on top of another, and they were soldered together. It looked horrible, but somehow worked like a 128Kb chip (which there never was, they went from 16K to 64K to 256K).

Leaving out the 286 is silly. It was really the first one commonly overclocked (I never hard of anyone overclocking an 8088, but someone probably did), and actually forced the largest computer company in the world to put in safeguards around it to prevent it. As strange as it sounds, my original 8 MHz Tandy 3000 showed a nice improvement going to 10 MHz. One SCSI card didn't like the faster bus, but everything else was fine. Adding in a zero wait state memory card from Cheetah also dramatically improved performance.

Even the 386 was commonly overclocked, and there were a lot of scandals because companies would buy lower clocked 386s from Intel, get rid of the silk screen, and than overclock them in the machines they would sell, without telling anyone. What a mess that was ...
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July 19, 2013 1:18:50 AM

ta152h said:
Even the 386 was commonly overclocked, and there were a lot of scandals because companies would buy lower clocked 386s from Intel, get rid of the silk screen, and than overclock them in the machines they would sell, without telling anyone. What a mess that was ...

Hence why they started locking the multipliers...
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July 19, 2013 2:20:16 AM

Pentium D 805? Crap i know but cheap 4+ghz out of the box
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July 19, 2013 2:23:23 AM

Pentium MMX overclocked to 250mhz? I had my Pentium MMX (P55C) running at 300/100 solid (Super socket 7 motherboard) - i do get the feeling that sample was a one-of-a-kind...
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July 19, 2013 2:25:10 AM

I remember a friend of mine with some AMD rig he had running on a water cooled loop - wake up every morning, dump a load of ice into an old fish tank and run that all day
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July 19, 2013 2:39:34 AM

Amiga 3000 overclocked using hardware components (Crystal oscillators), was my first OC experience. Today moderate OC have become mainstream, change a bios/uefi setting and wham - done.

One of the most fun OC was two Celerons on a Abit BP6 (Dual Socket), from poor to awesome (for the time) speed surpassing pretty much any system.

Hope intel will get some real competition again, it shows they know they lack competition and thus can be lazy and cheap when it comes to oc (the haswell's soldering is just one example)..
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July 19, 2013 2:53:59 AM


For newer CPUs, I'd include Clarkdale. The i3 550 oc's like an absolute
monster. Even on a pretty average P55 board, it'll easily reach 4.7 vs. its
stock 3.2. At 4.7 its performance is very good.

Ian.

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July 19, 2013 3:40:27 AM

The 920 was released almost 5 years ago already? That means the 4850 and 4870 are more than 5 years old. Damn. Shame CPU performance hasn't come on like GPU performance.
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July 19, 2013 4:01:32 AM

my 7 year old e2160 has lived on 2.5GHz for as long as I canmember
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July 19, 2013 5:17:47 AM

Q8400 = not good overclocker :( 
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July 19, 2013 5:17:52 AM

Well looks like I have to break out Firefox since the slideshows aren't working in IE9 on Win 7...
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July 19, 2013 5:20:28 AM

Never knew the i5-2500K had that much headroom. I'm still running that stock speed in my main machine - bought it because of a discount on newegg.
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July 19, 2013 5:41:12 AM

I had (or rather have it's just collecting dust now) a E4300 that actually overclocked by 100% stable and ran for years in such a state with liquid cooling. I've never done that with a CPU before and still have not to this day had such success since then. Going from 1.8gGHz to 3.6GHz was not only impressive itself but also quite handy as it had me stay the entire C2D generation sticking with it and running everything fine with a cheap budget CPU.
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July 19, 2013 6:48:02 AM

E6320 was the best overclocker.
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July 19, 2013 6:50:06 AM

I'm still running an i7-920 in stock config. I guess I should look into actually overclocking it at this point. Free vs $$ to upgrade.
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July 19, 2013 7:06:13 AM

The 300A slide should be updated to note hitting 450 was done with stock voltage and stock cooler. Easiest OC ever, just change the bus speed and enjoy.
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July 19, 2013 7:19:58 AM

A bit surprised that the Athlon Thoroughbred B chips havent been mentioned here! These were the redesigned cores that achieved further headroom and crazy overclocks. I had (if memory serves) an XP1700+ (1533 stock) OC'd all the way to 2500Mhz on air - with help of the "latest fashion" Coolermaster Aero cooler. Good days. Today I have 2x PhenomII 550's unlocked with all 4 cores happy at 4.0Ghz, as well as a 3570K at 4.4Ghz.
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July 19, 2013 7:25:47 AM

heltoupee said:
Never knew the i5-2500K had that much headroom. I'm still running that stock speed in my main machine - bought it because of a discount on newegg.


Unless you happen to already have a good cooler, something cheap like this (used TRUE):

http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=2310...

will easily let you run it at 4.5GHz minimum. I bought a used 2500K, won a TRUE for 10 UKP,
4.7GHz with just 3 minutes effort in the BIOS.

Ian.

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July 19, 2013 7:30:38 AM

*Hides in corner with my 920 and Q6600* It is amazing how my 920@3.7 is still performing quite well, even while the world of graphics cards has progressed so much, some 5 year old CPUs can really still get the job done well.. @aggroboy The majority of Q6600's people bought were G0s but the B3s could still get to 3.4 with some effort. Still, the legendary Opteron 144 (I still don't regret getting my 3200+ :lol: ) and Celeron 300A really do take the crown IMO.
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July 19, 2013 7:58:18 AM

no mention of the AMD 939 FX-60?
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July 19, 2013 8:04:13 AM

Neuspeed said:
no mention of the AMD 939 FX-60?


That wasn't really anything special when it came to overclocking.
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July 19, 2013 8:09:33 AM

rantoc said:
Amiga 3000 overclocked using hardware components (Crystal oscillators), was my first OC experience. Today moderate OC have become mainstream, change a bios/uefi setting and wham - done.

One of the most fun OC was two Celerons on a Abit BP6 (Dual Socket), from poor to awesome (for the time) speed surpassing pretty much any system.

Hope intel will get some real competition again, it shows they know they lack competition and thus can be lazy and cheap when it comes to oc (the haswell's soldering is just one example)..


I have one with golden orb coolers, dual 500 cel. Want to buy it ? 50 bucks including max ram of 756mb
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July 19, 2013 8:49:04 AM

Ah the old Celeron 300A matched with a pair of Voodoo cards in SLI. Quake II Nirvana! I think that was the last system I bothered to OC, but was also one of my last gaming systems. I also got to upgrade from a modem to DSL for the first time on this system. But it was simple! Stock cooling and a change in the BIOS and it just worked, and continued to work for many years.

Thanks for reminding me of those days.
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July 19, 2013 9:18:22 AM

Shame there's no mention of the Intel Xeon LV 1.6Ghz back when there was a big sale and Folding@Home was really picking up steam. A pair of the D1 stepping Xeons could overclock from 1.6Ghz to 3.2Ghz on an ASUS PC-DL motherboard with ease.
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July 19, 2013 9:49:08 AM

AMD Athlon 64 X2 5000+ Brisbane Black Edition was an awesome chip for overclocking. Mine is still running 24/7 in my home security system... still mildly OC'ed to 3.1 GHz, running iSPY and BOINC.
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July 19, 2013 12:51:52 PM

I'd like to nominate my Intel i5-750! I overclocked it to 4GHz within 10 minutes of booting the system up. Been stable @ 4GHz ever since with a very slight change in voltage. I've heard many others easily hit 4GHz as well which is why I got this one.
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July 19, 2013 1:05:19 PM

yannigr said:
1999 (NO idea about overclocking)
Me - OK. I want that board (ΒΧ440) and I also want the Celleron 300A
Seller - With only 2000 more drachmas (6 euros) you can buy the faster 333A.
Me - I don't know, I don't want to spend more money.
Seller - It is worth it. It is faster and the difference in price small.
Me - OK put the 333A then in the order.


Almost 15 years latter I STILL HATE HIM
...lol

Ahh, the legendary BX440 board. Such a lovely product to use. I still have my old PIII 450 Katmai on a P2B, TNT2 32MB, and 12MB Voodoo2. I think I got it up to 600 MHz once, but dropped it back cause I was scared I'd fry it at the time ( young and inexperienced. ) I pull it out every now and then when I want to do some Win98 retro gaming.


barryv88 said:
A bit surprised that the Athlon Thoroughbred B chips havent been mentioned here! These were the redesigned cores that achieved further headroom and crazy overclocks. I had (if memory serves) an XP1700+ (1533 stock) OC'd all the way to 2500Mhz on air - with help of the "latest fashion" Coolermaster Aero cooler. Good days.

I'm surprised at this omission as well. Most nForce2 boards would force unlock the multiplier, yielding some great results. If memory serves, you could also use conductive ink to do the same thing. My old WinXP box started as an XP1800+ and slowly upgraded to a XP2600+.
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July 19, 2013 2:31:27 PM

Your dates on the Q6600 are a bit off. I got my Q6600 G0 off newegg for $250 in 2007 (built the system for The Orange Box) and the Q9550 came out in Q1 of 2008, not 2011. 2011 was when Sandy Bridge came out and became the OCing king for Intel with the 2500K (4.5GHz easy on decent air cooling.

You also forgot to mention that the G0 stepping of the Q6600 was well known for OCing to 3GHz by two methods; 1: a pencil mod to the underside of the CPU forcing the CPU to show as a 333MHz FSB or just raising the FSB to 333MHz in a decent motherboard BIOS. Those both worked stable on stock voltage. B3 steppings needed slight voltage upping.
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July 19, 2013 2:48:53 PM

My first PC had a Celeron D. I pushed it to 4.3, on air, and burnt out the system. Hey, I was 12 and I was dumb, but I sure had fun doing it.
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July 19, 2013 2:52:21 PM

heltoupee said:
Never knew the i5-2500K had that much headroom. I'm still running that stock speed in my main machine - bought it because of a discount on newegg.

Not all of them do – mine doesn't, for example.
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July 19, 2013 4:07:06 PM

Now I lay me down to sleep.
I pray to Nehalem, my overclock to keep.
If my i7 920 should die before I wake,
I pray to Intel for another i7 920, to bake.

=)
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July 19, 2013 4:45:28 PM

Never been a heavy overclocker (usually only go for a few MHz), i really didn't start dabbling with clock speeds until i had my i7 920. I remember everyone wanted the D0 steppings of these chips and they certainly did tend to clock easily. People obsessed over the Q6600 steppings as well if i remember, but either way they were great chips in there era.
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July 19, 2013 5:00:34 PM

I loved my Q6600 it was such a great chip it's still chugging away in a friends PC today ! I agree with the 960T mention. $100 for an X4 that can easily hit 4+ Ghz and also has about a 75% chance to unlock to an X6 that will most likely clock past 3.8 !
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July 19, 2013 5:02:27 PM

Great Intel article ... really.

Except for the early Athlon days I see no mention of any AMD chips. There were a number that could be overclocked quite easily. Although not overclocking per se I see that no mention is made of the fact that for a while it was RIDICULOUSLY easy to unlock cores on AMD cpus not just Phenom IIs. I still have a 3 core Athlon II I unlocked and use as a 4 core processor.
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July 19, 2013 5:13:41 PM

I loved my Q6600 it was such a great chip it's still chugging away in a friends PC today ! I agree with the 960T mention. $100 for an X4 that can easily hit 4+ Ghz and also has about a 75% chance to unlock to an X6 that will most likely clock past 3.8 !
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July 19, 2013 5:31:07 PM

I've never really been one much for overclocking. My Pentium 150 I pushed to 166, and from time to time I might have pushed my Athlon XP1800+ and 2700+s to fiures they could easily achieve on air with no custom coolers.
But when you talk history of overclocking, my mind will always go back to the Celeron 300. Most everyone would run them around 433/450/466, and 500+ wasn't unheard of.

I few(?) years later the best you could really hope for out of a 2.4GHz Pentium 4 HT was 2.8 to 2.9.
These days I don't even see it worth my time/money to overclock. The risk versus reward is just not there. a Pentium 920 lasted me what, 4 years, and was only upgraded to the non-overclockable 3770 because the motherboard died - nothing to do with CPU performance.
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July 19, 2013 6:13:54 PM

heltoupee said:
Never knew the i5-2500K had that much headroom. I'm still running that stock speed in my main machine - bought it because of a discount on newegg.


Wow really? It's been known since day one the Sandy i5s are killer overclockers. I've been running mine at 4.8GHz for two years now (on top notch air). Now you have to remember that the Ivy Bridge i5 (3570K) is about 10% faster at the same baseline speed as is the Haswell i5 (4570K) over the Ivy, so overclocking that high means less and less with each new generation (that offers less overclocking headroom).

To put it another way, my 4.8GHz Sandy may be equal to a Haswell running at 4.2GHz, depending on apps.

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!