Overclocking Processor and FSB

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Over Clocking - Processor and FSB

Over Clocking your computer is a cheap way to speed it up but one wrong step and it will be expensive...

When you overclock a processor the increase may damage it, proceed with caution!

A how to "overclock" your processor with out burning it, the memory,  and the motherboard up!

Use the over clock of a processor or the FSB (Front Side Bus) to gain an increase in processor or FSB speed.

Over the last couple of months I have had a lot of inquires about 'over clocking' or 'overclocking'. So I think it is time I tried to explain this phenomenon in Layman's terms.

First some technology about processors. Processors work by a change of electrical polarity. In other words positive or negative, yes or no, on or off. The electrical voltage present in a transistor is one(1), on, positive, or yes. The lack of voltage is zero (0), off, negative, or no. (This definition applies only to Intel processors!)

Now that is only part of the story, another part is the frequency that the voltage changes, and we call that the speed! Ah-ha, now we are getting somewhere.

There is a circuit on the motherboard that controls the frequency, it has a crystal, sometimes two or three, that sets up the 'clock frequency' for the motherboard and the processor. The processor gets the frequency from this circuit, so does the FSB.

So we want to increase the speed of the processor and / or the FSB to get a performance boost from the computer. Simple!

Well yes and no. It is simple to do but it is not a thing to do lightly, you could damage your processor, memory, and motherboard. So think about it before you overclock your system.

As with all technology you should research the subject, do not become knowledgeable, become an expert.

When the manufacture designs and produces a processor they go through a testing stage. They know from experience approximately how fast the frequency of processor is by the design.

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Then through this testing they find the minimum and maximum clock speed of the given design. So when you buy your computer or build your own you know the processor speed is x.x GHz. Normally processor speed it rated 20% above minimum and 30% below maximum.

These are general guidelines, some processors may be at the safety limit of their heat tolerance when they are produced. One I remember in particular was the original Celerons, the 486 33MHz Celerons could not be over clocked unless you wanted to buy another one in a couple of weeks.

There are a couple of reasons why people over clock their systems. One is they have the fastest processor available [been there, done that] or they can't afford the fastest processor at the time [yup, me too!] or they are waiting for the next generation and don't want to upgrade just yet [gee you guys know me!].

"Speed Up My PC!" Scenario:

You have a good processor and don't want to upgrade to the latest and greatest because there is a new processor about to be released. So you say to yourself -'Self, why not over clock this processor until the new one comes out?' So Self says 'Ya! Why NOT? GO FOR IT!'

Well there is danger Will Robinson! You could fry a whole bunch of stuff by not heading the warnings about using the overclock process!

Because the processor and memory work on voltage and amperage changes it creates heat, sometimes lots of heat! An increase of 0.012 volts (That is 0.012 volts) will increase the heat output of your processor by 10 degrees Fahrenheit - 5 degrees or so Celsius.

Lets say you bump (increase) your processor speed by 500 MHz. How much heat would that produce above the normal operating temperature? Unknown. Each processor has a set operating temperature that you will have to find from the manufacture.

First thing you want to be sure of doing is INCREASE the amount of cooling that the motherboard and processor get. This is fairly cheap and easy to do, although it may raise the noise level of the computer, by adding fans.

One or two fans will increase the cooling air moving through the computer enough to lower the overall temperature by 10 to 30 degrees depending on the temperature in the room where the computer is located.

Next you will want to increase the size of the heat sink, the standard heat sink that comes with a processor is only good for an increase of 5 to 10%. If your processor is running at 115 degrees Fahrenheit then 10% would only give you 11 degrees leeway.

You need to increase the cooling capacity of the heat sink BEFORE you even consider over clocking the processor. You also need to know what the operating temperature of the motherboard is before you do any changes.

Warning: Excessive heat will cause the materials of the motherboard, processor, and memory to degrade faster.

Now you know that the processor's original clock speed is say 2.4 GHz, and the temperature is about 127 degrees Fahrenheit, the motherboard is running at about 95 degrees Fahrenheit.

Lets bump that to 2.8 GHz and see what we get - 147 for the processor and 108 for the motherboard. That is about 20 degrees Fahrenheit for 400 MHz speed. (these numbers are from my desktop that is an ASUS P4B motherboard with a 2.4 GHz 533 FSB processor) I also have a larger heat sink with a faster fan on the processor. There are five fans (not including the power supply fan) in the system. To find out the temperature range of your system you will have to research the motherboard, processor, and memory from the manufacture.

The ASUS motherboard that I use (above example) states the maximum operating temperature is 135 degrees Fahrenheit and the processor is 165 degrees Fahrenheit. So I am pushing the heat factor by over clocking the system.

Every motherboard manufacture that produces a motherboard that can be over clocked will have a chart for the processor and FSB.

Be aware that the processor and memory have to match, you can not put a 533 FSB processor and 667 FSB memory on the same motherboard, it will not run, in fact it will not power up!

Note: At the time this article was written the motherboard manufactures were "matching" processor and FSB clock speeds, this has changed, you can use memory that is faster than the rated FSB of the processor and realize a performance gain. In fact some newer memory modules will give you a faster clock speed for your processor with out changing any BIOS settings, the heat warnings still apply!

Now you have a processor of say 3.0 GHz and a FSB of 800 MHz, you want to over clock it to say 3.6 or 3.8. The motherboard and processor may take this speed, then again it may start up and then shut down, it may even burn up the processor!

So in closing I will say if you want to Overclock your processor and / or memory do the research! Or you will be getting out your wallet!

Note:  After the Core 2 and Hyperthreading and the advent of dual channel memory you can now mix memory FSB speeds. You can have a set of memory modules that run at 400 MHz and another set of memory modules that run at 800MHz by using dual channel memory and the over all memory FSB will 667MHz. Please note this will only work on the newer systems with dual cannel memory.Thermaltake WATER 2.0 Performer Closed-Loop All In One Liquid CPU Cooler

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If you are interested in learning more about over clocking your processor, memory, or FSB I have written a six part e-course.





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