Fast Computer On The Cheap? The Sempron 3100+ On Overdrive

Overclocking Low-Cost Processors

There are several reasons we chose Sempron as the guinea pig for an overclocking project. The main one is that both AMD's and Intel's low-end processors have proven to be very overclockable. Intel's Celeron at 2 GHz was the first low-cost processor manufactured using Intel's 130 nm process, back in 2002. As a result, reaching clock speeds of 50% over specification has been possible. Just think about the Celeron 300, which was able to cope with 450 MHz easily, or the Celeron 2 GHz that could sometimes be driven all the way to 3 GHz by raising the FSB from 100 to 150 MHz. On the AMD side, there have been similar success reports in overclocking Applebred or Thoroughbred B based CPUs.

In addition to overclocking easily, prices for low-cost processors are also usually pretty low. So are the thermal specifications for lower-end processors, as system integrators do not want to spend much money on cooling solutions. When you add together high overclockability, low prices and low thermal profiles, you get an overclocker's dream.

With average prices of $ 110 and a TDP (thermal design power) of 62 W maximum, the Sempron 3100+ at 1.8 GHz seems to be a reasonable choice for overclocking. It is a particularly interesting choice as it offers both the NX (non-execute) bit, and AMD's power-saving Cool & Quiet feature (even though AMD does not officially support it). Finally, many users had good overclocking experience with single-channel Athlon64 processors on Socket 754. Again, Sempron seems to be very interesting, as the smaller cache size paired with the simple memory interface seems to reduce complexity in a way that opens the door for a great overclocking margin.