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SBM 4: Overclocking The Competitors

Overclocking The Mid-Range System

With the low-cost system out of the way, let's have a look at the mid-range system:

System Builder Marathon: Mid-range PC Component Costs
CPUCore 2 Quad Q6600$280
CPU CoolerThermalright Ultra-120 Extreme$65
CPU FanScythe S-Flex SFF21F$15
MotherboardMSI P6N SLI Platinum$140
RAMPatriot Extreme (low latency) 6400- 2 GB$110
GraphicsGeForce 8800GTX 768 MB$520
Hard DriveWestern Digital Caviar RE2 WD5000YS$155
PowerAeroCool ZERODBA-S620$125
DVD-RWSony NEC Optiarc 7170 SATA$35
Total Price$1545

Overclocking the mid-range system proved to be a more different challenge than we expected, mostly because we received an older stepping Intel Core 2 Quad Q6600 rather than the G0 revision we'd hoped for.

Typically, when overclocking, system voltages have to be increased a bit to keep the system stable. However, increasing voltages didn't seem to make much of a difference in our mid-range PC - instead, it seemed to increase the likelihood of crashes or a complete refusal to boot.

Because of this, we first tried to find the maximum stable voltage at stock clock speeds. From there we increased the front side bus speed. Using this method, we found a CPU voltage of 1.5 V afforded us the ability to raise the FSB to 347 MHz from the stock 266 MHz. This increased our CPU clock speed from the stock 2.4 GHz to our final stable overclock, 3.123 GHz. Not a record breaker, but no slouch for a quad-core CPU.

As far as our 8800 GTX video card, we managed to raise the stock 575 MHz core / 800 MHz memory to an overclocked 660 MHz core / 1100 MHz, but testing proved this speed a bit too high for stable operation. We settled for a stable 630 MHz core and 1050 MHz memory.

Although the experience wasn't incredibly rewarding, the price of this quad-core CPU is attractive enough that we aren't against trying. It might be worth it to invest in a water-cooling system for this CPU for those who are intrigued at the thought of taking the Q6600 farther.

Mid-Range Overclocked Component Settings
ProcessorIntel Core 2 Quad Q6600, 2.40 GHz, 1066 FSB, 8 MB Cache
Final Overclock3.123 GHz: 9x 347 MHz FSB, 1.5 Volts Core
MotherboardMSI P6N SLI Platinum, BIOS 1.4 (07/31/2007)
Final OverclockNorthbridge @ 1.25V
RAMPDP Patriot PC2-6400, 2x 1024 MB, CAS 4.0-4-4-12
Final Overclock837 MHz Data Rate, CAS 5.0-5-5-10, 1.9 Volts
Graphics CardEVGA GeForce 8800 GTX, 575 MHz GPU, 1800 MHz RAM
Final Overclock630 MHz GPU, 2080 MHz RAM