Overclocking the Sub-$4000 PC
Here’s a quick reminder of our $4,000 PC’s component list and their prices.
|CPU||Intel Core 2 Extreme QX9650||1,050|
|CPU Cooler||Swiftech H20-120 Compact Cooler Kit||140|
|Swiftech MCR220 2x120mm Radiator||36|
|Swiftech Chrome 3/8-Inch Fittings, 2-pack||5|
|Swiftech Plastic Hose Clamps, 4-pack||6|
|2x Swiftech 3/8-Inch Neoprene Tubing Packs||26|
|2x Scythe S-Flex SFF21E 120 mm Fan||30|
|Motherboard||Asus Striker II Extreme||450|
|RAM||Patriot Extreme Performance DDR3-1333 - 4GB||315|
|Graphics||2x Gigabyte GeForce 9800 GX2 GV-NX98X1GHI-B||1040|
|Hard Drive||Samsung Spinpoint F1 HD753LJ (750GB) x2||240|
|Sound||ASUS Xonar DX 7.1||90|
|Case||Silverstone Temjin TJ09BW||250|
|Power||Coolermaster RS850-EMBA 850W||180|
|DVD-RW||Toshiba Samsung Storage Technology SH-203B||30|
|Auxiliary Fan||Antec SpotCool Motherboard Cooling Fan||15|
|Floppy Drive||NEC 1.44 MB Floppy Drive||9|
Inspired by our previous 4.35 GHz overclock using the same Intel Core 2 Duo QX9650 processor, we wondered how much farther the newer nForce 790i SLI on the Asus Striker II Extreme could take us. Our March marathon had, after all, relied on the 780i SLI equipped Striker II Formula, and everyone knows that the 780i is nothing more than an aging 680i with a PCI Express 2.0 hub attached. Surely the new chipset would have a positive effect.
Changes to this month’s $4,000 build were the motherboard, memory, audio card, graphics, and hard drive. Of these, only the motherboard could limit CPU overclocking, because the memory speed can be decreased far below its frequency limit, and the other components are supposed to be on fixed-frequency busses. We used the same 1.45V core voltage limit to aid in system longevity, along with the same 1.50V front side bus and Northbridge voltages. We also slowed the memory well below its rated speed for initial CPU stability tests, raising it only after finding the CPU limit. These precautions yielded the following maximum speed.