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Overclocking Intel's Core 2 Quad Q8200

Guide: Overclocking AMD And Intel CPUs On A Budget

Intel’s value-priced Core 2 Quad Q8200 uses two of the same processor dice as the Pentium E5200, at a lower clock speed and a higher front side bus clock. The combination of moderate CPU frequency and higher FSB also requires a lower CPU multiplier, and Intel designs these so that the multiplier cannot be increased.

Intel typically uses a low FSB on mainstream processors to modulate performance and expand compatibility, so we’re not certain why the company chose FSB-1333 for its cheapest quad-core models. We do, however, know that many overclockers specifically select low-cost processors for the higher multiplier that typically accompanies a lower bus speed, so that its use of FSB-1333 for the Q8000-series has all but prevented its adoption amongst enthusiasts. After looking at the far higher prices of Q9000-series processors, we returned resolute to get big gains from the Q8200, viewing its lower multiplier as a challenge.

Unfortunately, the Q8200 would barely budge beyond its original 2.33 GHz frequency, regardless of how much voltage we applied to its core, reaching the same 2.5 GHz overclocked speed at core voltage settings from stock to 1.45 volts. The problem, it seems, is that FSB-1333 is almost the limit for these cores at stock FSB voltage.

Dual-die processors of this design use the front side bus for both CPU-to-chipset and die-to-die communication, and increasing the CPU FSB beyond 354 MHz (2.5 GHz CPU clock) would require an increase of the “VTT FSB Voltage” setting seen in the second screenshot below.

Our research showed that CPU FSB voltage had the same practical limit as core voltage: 1.45 volts peak and “something less” under load for continuous long-term use. As with the core voltage of the E5200, we chose 1.40 volts as a target voltage for Q8200’s FSB. We were then able to increase the FSB to 384 MHz, but the resulting 15% overclock is barely worth the risk and effort.

We really wanted to reach at least the next “Intel standard” FSB clock of 400 MHz, or FSB-1600, but getting there required far more “VTT FSB Voltage” than we can safely recommend. Further research into other far-more-successful Q8200 overclocks revealed that those units were actually cream-of-the-crop “Q8200S” models.

The CPU cores certainly wouldn’t need a full 1.40 volts at so low an overclock, so we began back-tracking. While “VTT FSB Voltage” remained at 1.40 volts for a stable 384 MHz FSB, we were able to drop the “CPU Voltage” setting to 1.30 volts. Anything less resulted in an eventual crash under Prime95 v25.8 build 4.

With the chipset’s maximum memory clock rate of twice the CPU FSB clock, the fastest selectable memory clock of 768 MHz provided a data rate of DDR3-1536. As with the E5200, we then began stability tests using Memtest86+ v1.70 at progressively lower DRAM latency settings until the best stable timings of 6-6-5-16 were determined.

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