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For The CPU: SetFSB

Roundup: The Best Overclocking Software
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SetFSB is an easy way to overclock a processor. This little program lets you adjust the frequency of the FSB directly from Windows. It’s compatible with a wide range of motherboards and requires only that you know the PLL used by the board.

Our motherboard’s PLL

So What’s A PLL?

The Phase Locked Loop (PLL) is a chip on the motherboard that generates the frequencies for various components. On many of today’s motherboards, there are at least four reference frequencies: FSB, memory, PCI Express bus, and PCI bus; the PLL generates these frequencies. In practice, on the majority of boards, the FSB and memory frequencies are linked (with a ratio that can be chosen in the BIOS setup program), while the PCI Express and PCI frequencies are fixed (at 100 MHz and 33 MHz respectively). Certain motherboards, like the one used in the screenshot, also link the PCI Express and PCI bus speeds.

Tip: The PLL chip is usually made by a company called ICS. All you need to do is find the chip with that name on it to find out the PLL version.

SetFSB in action

Changing Frequencies

Once you know the model of your board’s, just select it in the drop-down menu and click “Get FSB.” The program should find the current FSB frequency and let you change it by moving the cursor along the graduated bar.

It’s important to keep two things in mind. First, avoid making excessive changes in frequency, or your computer will likely freeze up. Second, not all PLLs offer the same frequency ranges; some motherboards limit the available speeds. Note also that checking “Ultra” mode lets you access additional frequencies (depending on the PLL). Once you’ve selected the new frequency, you just click “Set FSB” to start using it—and hope your computer doesn’t crash. If it does, restart and try again. You’re not adjusting voltages here, so you won’t damage hardware, at least.

SetFSB is an indispensable overclocking tool, and it’s frequently updated to work with new PLL versions. You can check out the latest version of the software here.

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  • 6 Hide
    outlw6669 , November 6, 2008 8:10 AM
    Interesting read although I doubt any real enthusiast would chose to overclock their system through software. Much easier to get a higher stable overclock through the BIOS.
    Still, if you have a prebuilt machine with no BIOS overclocking functionality, some of this software is invaluable.

    Spot on with RivaTuner and ATI Tool.
    Both great apps for overclocking your GPU.

    Good work trying to get the masses intrested in overclocking!
  • 0 Hide
    randomizer , November 6, 2008 8:40 AM
    oulw6669Much easier to get a higher stable overclock through the BIOS.
    Strangely for me, the opposite was true. Windows would BSOD at 3.6GHz or higher on my E6600 even at 1.75V, yet it would be quite stable with much less voltage (although still alot more than most people would dare to try) if I OCed in Windows. I have no explanation for it. Perhaps somebody can explain this BSOD:

    "The Cryptographic Subsystem has failed a mandatory algorithm self-test in bootstrap." (Error code 0x000000123)

    Forget googling the error code, you'll only find me asking what that means and something else in Chinese.
  • 5 Hide
    Shadow703793 , November 6, 2008 10:08 AM
    I would NEVER recommend OCing Through Windows
  • 2 Hide
    00101010 , November 6, 2008 10:30 AM
    Randomizer,

    I don't know if this will help, but I found a couple things regarding the Cryptographic Subsystem:

    One article from IBM discusses it as part of their CPUs. The C.S. (Crypto Subsystem) on their chips runs at a certain clock speed.

    I'm including the google cache for word reference as well as the original article:

    http://64.233.183.104/search?q=cache:3hg9OcIMVpgJ:www.research.ibm.com/journal/rd/435/vanhuben.html+Cryptographic+Subsystem+algorithm+self-test&hl=en&ct=clnk&cd=8&gl=us)

    http://www.research.ibm.com/journal/rd/435/vanhuben.html

    Another thing I found was the detail of the C.S. in the patent which is "a secure subsystem to prevent unauthorized
    replacement of a storage device containing a boot-up executable code by
    establishing a secure path between a secure boot device and a host
    processor based on an electronic keying mechanism"

    http://www.patentstorm.us/patents/5937063/description.html

    Maybe somehow the C.S. was affected by the O.C. to the boot device?

    Only a theory, but I hope the information helps.
  • 0 Hide
    neiroatopelcc , November 6, 2008 1:27 PM
    "We’ll end with a recommendation: it’s sometimes better to overclock via the BIOS setup program. This is true both because of effectiveness (some programs don’t display the frequencies well, for example) and because of operating system choice (the majority of the programs we’ve mentioned are only for Windows)."

    There are advantages to overclocking from windows too actually. Other than being lazy that is.
    When you're booting your system at an overclocked state, chances are your vrm's can't keep up at powerup for some reason I don't know. So your oc will fail. That I assume is the reason that gigabyte boards shutdown and restart when changing such settings - to avoid the problem.
    If you oc from windows, the changes being made are significantly less than from 0 to preset.

    Regarding the programs - I have some comments on them. They might be brilliant in some situations, but they don't nessecarily work.
    For instance on my work pc, a hp dc7800 with an e6750, setfsb can only read the fsb, it can't set it - no matter which of the 3 types I tried (mmt, slp and the other one). I suspect hp deliberately did something to prevent it from working. So on oem systems you may not find the solution you were looking for in software.
    And atitool didn't work very well with my 8800gtx. It could set the gpu and mem speed, but the artefact check isn't able to figure out if the shader speed is too high. So even though it'd run 20 minutes scanning for artefacts in atitool, a 3dmark test would crash at the nature scene when the lights were rendered. So don't rely on the button to automaticly find the best frequency if the shader is linked to the gpu speed.

    ps. on all ati hd48x0 cards I've seen so far, the max gpu setting available in overdrive (790 or so) seemed stable - no need to run the check :) 
  • 2 Hide
    dagger , November 6, 2008 2:23 PM
    OC that has trouble at bootup can't survive prime95 anyway. Software oc in Windows simply bypass the bootup by oc once it's already in Windows. It's bypassing the problem, not solving it. The oc is still unstable. For a solid oc, bios > software.
  • 0 Hide
    hellwig , November 6, 2008 2:26 PM
    When I purchased my first Motherboard back in 2006 (for the previous 6 years, I had been using a custom-built Alienware, and before that, a Compaq laptop, and before that, a Pentium 166 my dad put together, and before that, and Mac II Se), I didn't understand the point of software overclocking, especially since I had to redo the overclocking every time my machine started up. To me overclocking was changing the FSB jumper from 1x to 1.5x or, if I dared, 2x.

    Besides things like cool'n'quiet and whatever Intels version is (Speedstep?), why would chipset manufacturers even open-up software interfaces for overclocking, when for so many years they were completely against it? Now days anyone can click the "+" in Gigabytes Overdrive and gain a few extra percent. Must make it hard to sell processors in granularities of a couple hundred MHz when you can overcome that through software without any changes to voltage or mupltipliers.

    Anyway, good article. Its nice to see the 3rd-party software that can be used, especially if you have no options from the hardware vendor.
  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , November 6, 2008 2:51 PM
    one other thing about software overclocks. you can oc just when you need it (playing crysis) and set it back to stock speed (or even lower) when doing something not cpu intensive. kinda like poor mans' speed step. thats how i oc my 2.6 ghz p4 northwood in my (very modded) compaq
  • 0 Hide
    guyladouche , November 6, 2008 3:12 PM
    randomizerStrangely for me, the opposite was true. Windows would BSOD at 3.6GHz or higher on my E6600 even at 1.75V, yet it would be quite stable with much less voltage (although still alot more than most people would dare to try) if I OCed in Windows. I have no explanation for it. Perhaps somebody can explain this BSOD:"The Cryptographic Subsystem has failed a mandatory algorithm self-test in bootstrap." (Error code 0x000000123)Forget googling the error code, you'll only find me asking what that means and something else in Chinese.


    My guess is this--your FSB chipset has different timings/subtimings (like ram does) that are invoked when setting the FSB in the BIOS depending on what frequency is set, and these are referred to as "strappings" (I don't know exactly why, but the reference to "bootstrap" in your error code makes me think this is referring to these "strappings")--some timings/subtimings that work at one frequency (one strapping) are too tight for higher frequencies (in another strapping), so as the FSB is changed in the BIOS, a new strapping is used for the new FSB--it might be that when OC'ing your CPU in the BIOS, you got into a regime in your FSB where the timings just don't mesh well for whatever reason (like there's no good set of timings on the FSB), and some errors are encountered relating to the strapping, spitting out that error code. When you OC in windows, the strapping for the FSB initially set in the BIOS is used, regardless of how the FSB is changed in the software (i.e. the timings of the FSB chipset are not changed at all when increasing the FSB in the software since the FSB was not changed in the BIOS at all)--my guess is that the strapping corresponding to the FSB in the BIOS just happens to work better for your clocks, which is counter-intuitive to me, but then again, nothing works exactly like you'd expect... That's my best guess...
  • 5 Hide
    homerdog , November 6, 2008 3:12 PM
    Shadow703793I would NEVER recommend OCing Through Windows

    +1, but I would change this to "I would NEVER recommend CPU OCing Through Windows". RivaTuner is a Godsend for GPU tweaking.
  • 0 Hide
    wkcar , November 6, 2008 3:15 PM
    Good to see a review of overclocking software. Many OEM companies lock down their BIOS so software is the only alternative. I've used SetFSB on my dell laptop to bump up the motherboard frequency from 100 mhz to 120 mhz and ATItool to OC my card ~30%. It doesn't matter what you overclock, just keep the temperatures in check.
  • 0 Hide
    guyladouche , November 6, 2008 3:32 PM
    Randomizer--this might also help, though it's more geared at optimizing performance rather than getting around strapping-related errors. http://www.xtremesystems.org/forums/showthread.php?t=128913
  • 1 Hide
    Shadow703793 , November 6, 2008 3:45 PM
    homerdog+1, but I would change this to "I would NEVER recommend CPU OCing Through Windows". RivaTuner is a Godsend for GPU tweaking.

    :lol:  True. Totally forgot about ATITool/Riva. Too bad I can't edit it.
  • 1 Hide
    garyf919 , November 6, 2008 4:14 PM
    Does this O/C software work with Dell machines that dont allow overclocking from the BIOS?
  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , November 6, 2008 4:42 PM
    I use RMClock or Crystalcpuid to overclock within Windows, automatically, my AMD dual and single core CPUs, and I have founded GREAT those tools. The same for ATItool, great program to under/overclock my video boards automatically on 2D or 3D loads. Never a complaint or instability or so, once you have tuned the right parameter those tools rocks! Especially if you well tune some parameter in motherboard Bios (memory and buses clock, multipliers) with RMClock or Crystalcpuid you may obtain a very powerful machine, when power is needed, and a very quiet and power bill saver machine on low workloads, automatically.
  • 0 Hide
    chiadog , November 6, 2008 7:05 PM
    @P2B picture's caption.
    Spot on! When I saw the picture, I immediately recognized it :D  Warm fuzzy memories of yesteryears. I remember pulling apart the SECC package and jerry rigging a cooler then zip tying a 80mm fan to cool the processor. Wasn't pretty but it worked!
  • 0 Hide
    caamsa , November 6, 2008 10:40 PM
    I actually think that OC with software is a cool idea. It is easier to use than going in and out of the bios numerous times and you can overclock as needed.

    I personally don't OC my system because my AM2 6000+ is pretty much at its limits running stock. But if I were to overclock I would certainly give a software OC tool a try.

    I remember switching the jumpers on my Shuttle board to make my K6-2 go from 400 mhz to 450 mhz.
  • -1 Hide
    chookman , November 7, 2008 12:18 AM
    +1 for outlaw and shadow...

    I found this article rather redundant. I can see the use for people that are just starting out, but please make sure you READ ALOT of material before doing anything to do with overclocking.
  • 1 Hide
    garyf919 , November 7, 2008 2:32 AM
    I'm still waiting to see if I should start trying to learn/start O/C at all!? There still is no response to my question about whether any of this O/C software will O/C a Dell machine. I know it cant be done from the BIOS, but what about these windows O/C programs described in this article. Should I bother or no? Everybody has to start somewhere. I have a 2.6 GHZ Intel Core 2 Duo system that is about 2 1/2 years old.
  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , November 7, 2008 2:38 AM
    ok how can i overclock my DELL Optiplex GX 150 it's 1ghz. with 256 Ram. is there a software that can make my PC Overclock it self? and my bios has CPU and RAM but i can't click on it yet?

    but can you help me?
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