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Overclocking Details

$500 Gaming PC: Day 2, Testing & Analysis

The Antec NSK4480B easily swallowed all of our components with room to spare, the extra space allowing air to move freely within. Cooling is an extremely important factor towards achieving a good overclock, and a 120mm exhaust fan behind the processor pulls air past the Cooler Master Hyper TX2 CPU cooler.

The Pentium Dual-Core E2160 starts out at a pathetic 1.80 GHz, using a 9x multiplier and 200 MHz FSB clock.

Detected memory timings were almost as bad as the CPU speed, with latencies of 5.0-5-5-18 at a slow 2T command rate.

The E2160 didn’t go far at stock voltage, so we tried 1.45 volts for the CPU core, FSB, and Northbridge (MCH). That got us over 3.0 GHz, without overheating, using the processor’s stock 9x multiplier.

Increasing the CPU core voltage to 1.55 volts allowed stable operation at 3.20 GHz, but limited memory ratios and an inability to overclock the modules beyond DDR2-850 forced us to use a low data rate of DDR2-712.

The solution was to drop our CPU multiplier to 8x. This gave us a 3.20 GHz CPU clock speed at FSB-1600 (400MHz FSB Clock) and allowed the memory to run at its rated DDR2-800 speed. An added benefit of dropping the CPU multiplier and increasing its FSB comes in the form of higher FSB bandwidth.

Dual-Channel mode gives DDR2-800 the same theoretical bandwidth as FSB-1600, but we’ve often found slight performance increases from using higher memory speeds. But without the ability to overclock our RAM, we instead looked for a performance increase through lower latency settings. Our low-cost Wintec modules worked perfectly at CAS 5-4-4-10 and 2.1V, but we were still stuck at a 2T command rate.

Test technician Shelton Romhanyi was unable to try overclocking the 8800GS graphics card due to time constraints, but we will consider re-using the card in future budget-overclocking articles.

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