Sign in with
Sign up | Sign in

Basic Motherboard Configuration

Building Your Own PC, Part 1: Know-How for Do-It-Yourselfers

Many modern motherboards with integrated software configuration no longer require you to do anything prior to assembly. That means that you type your processor parameters directly in BIOS (Basic Input Output System). Most of the time, you access the BIOS menu by pressing the DEL key, F2 or F10, shortly after switching on the PC. Check your handbook to find out which key to use. The latest technology even recognizes the CPU automatically, a feature that is particularly useful for beginners. But making settings manually is still a must for anyone who wants to fine-tune his or her system.

Processor Settings: FSB And Multiplier

The external clock speed is usually referred to as the Front Side Bus (FSB), or system clock. Typical physical frequencies for system clocks are 100.00 and 133.33 MHz. The actual processor clock is calculated by multiplying the system clock with the multiplier. For example, a Front Side Bus of 133.33 MHz and multiplier of 13 results in a physical CPU clock speed of 1733 MHz. Some manufacturers provide "marketing" figures when Double Data Rate (DDR) or quad pumping raises effective bandwidth. Here's an example of such marketing figures, which have been placed in quotes:

Socket/ Slot Processors System Clock (FSB)
Socket 7 AMD K6-2,
Intel Pentium MMX
66, 100, 133 MHz
Slot 1 Intel Pentium III,
Intel Celeron
66, 100, 133 MHz
Slot A AMD Athlon (K7) 100 MHz (200 MHz DDR)
Socket 370 Intel Pentium III,
Intel Celeron,
100, 133 MHz
Socket A
(Socket 462)
AMD Athlon (Thunderbird),
AMD Athlon XP (Palomino),
AMD Athlon XP (Thoroughbred),
AMD Duron (Spitfire, Morgan)
100 MHz (200 MHz DDR),
133 MHz (266 MHz DDR)
Socket 423 Intel Pentium 4 (Willamette),
Intel Pentium 4 (Northwood)
100 MHz (400 MHz quad-pumped)
Socket 478 Intel Pentium 4 (Northwood),
Intel Celeron (Willamette)
100 MHz (400 MHz quad-pumped),
133 MHz / (533 MHz quad-pumped)

AMD also lists a so-called P-Rating, or Number Modeling, for marketing purposes. In other words, an AMD Athlon XP 2100+ actually only runs at a physical speed of 1733 MHz. "2100+" is merely a way of comparing the processor to an equivalent Intel Pentium 4. Put plainly, an AMD Athlon XP 2100+ is about as fast as a Pentium 4 2100.

React To This Article