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BIOS And Overclocking

System Builder Marathon, May '09: $2,500 Performance PC

We immediately noticed that the stock Intel CPU cooler wasn’t going to be adequate in such a confined space when our build began thermal-throttling during stress tests at default settings. Reducing the processor to 1.025 V eliminated the heat issue while increasing efficiency.

CPU power-saving features and Intel Turbo mode were also enabled, and RAM was set to its rated DDR3-1600 CAS 7-8-7-20 at 1.65 V.

The system was now stable at its rated speeds, but how could we possibly overclock? Fortunately, our Core i7 920 had some overclocking headroom even at lower-than-default voltage levels.

Power-savings features and Turbo mode were retained to allow automatic adjustment of speed and voltage in response to changes in load and temperature.

A heat-related limit of 1.0375 V to the CPU core was responsible for our maximum stable speed of 3.25 GHz, while a slight memory underclock allowed us to set tighter 7-7-6-14 memory timings.

Similar heat issues prevented super-high graphics overclocks, but the resulting settings are still fast, and more importantly, they are super-stable at an ambient temperature of 24.5 degrees Celsius.

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