Enthusiast Culture: The most memorable overclocking-friendly CPUs

By Jos
Sep 29, 2016
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  1. pushing limits memorable cpus cpu history overclocking slideshow

    Enthusiasts have been pushing the limits of silicon for as long as microprocessors have existed. Early overclocking endeavors involved soldering and replacing crystal clock oscillators, but evolving standards brought options for changing system bus speeds via motherboard DIP switches and jumpers.

    Internal clock multipliers were introduced and just as swiftly locked as sellers removed official frequency ratings and applied their own faster markings. System buses and dividers became keys for most while the ultra-enthusiast would physically change electrical specifications through hard modding.

    The present landscape harks back to the advent of internal clock multipliers. System bus speeds have become increasingly regulated to maintain system stability, which has once again levelled the playing field for the competitive nature of overclocking. These are but a few of the landmark processors revered for their overclocking prowess.

    Read the complete article.

  2. Steve

    Steve TechSpot Editor Posts: 2,184   +1,215

    Another great read and stroll down memory lane.

    The Celeron 300A was used in the first PC I ever built. Then I went to the AMD Athlon 700 and stayed with AMD to the Athlon64 days.
  3. dividebyzero

    dividebyzero trainee n00b Posts: 4,891   +1,258

    The 300A must be at the top of the list for guaranteed overclockability. In today's era where whole databases are constructed to extrapolate likely "golden sample" candidates from production batch numbers for the modern processor, it is a far cry from having any 300A being able to produce a 50% OC.
    Reehahs, Phr3d, amstech and 1 other person like this.
  4. ET3D

    ET3D TechSpot Paladin Posts: 1,159   +67

    I never was a big overclocker but I bought the Celeron 300A and after it the Pentium 3 733MHz (100MHz bus) for their simple overclock. That was largely theoretical though. The normal speed was fine for my needs, and when it became too slow the overclock wasn't that much help.
    Julio Franco likes this.
  5. yRaz

    yRaz TS Evangelist Posts: 1,826   +877

    The first thing I overclocked was a 754 Sempron 64 2800+. Its stock speed was 1.6ghz and I ended up killing two motherboards because of it. I had a Gigabyte board that couldn't handle anything past 233mhz bus without frying itself and the IDE hard drives. Later I got an Asus board and a SATA drive that managed to make it up to 285x8 (2.28ghz).

    After that I got an Athlon 64 X2 4200+ with an Asus M2N32-SLi deluxe that I bought specifically for overclocking. This was my first high end computer so I remember almost everything about it. Stock speed was 2.2ghz (11 x 200) and I had it as high as 2.8ghz.

    The 720BE came out and I managed to get my hands on one ridiculously cheap. Someone bought it planning to unlock the 4th core but it wasn't stable. Disappointed, they sold it to me for $50 and bought the 940BE. The highest I remember having it was 3.7ghz but I kept a 24/7 OC of 3.5ghz.

    And that brings me to what I have today. I have an i7-3770k that I'm proud to say hit the 5ghz mark and I will go no further than that. In hitting 5ghz the automatic fan speed controller on my motherboard broke. Luckily whenever it broke it got stuck in the 100% on position. Adjusting the fan speed manually in the bios results in no change. I do not run an overclock on it at all now though. The thing is so fast that I don't NEED to OC it at all. If it starts to show its age in a few years I'll toy with the idea of running a 24/7 OC.

    All of these overclocks (aside from the Sempron 64) were done using the exact same Zalman 9700. I don't use the paste that comes with the fan though, I use AS5. I've overclocked ram, motherboards, hard drives, video cards and monitors. However, that's another discussion altogether.
    amstech and Julio Franco like this.
  6. Celeron 300A + Abit BH6.... Those were the days ;)
  7. This!^^^
  8. Still use my: Intel Core 2 Duo E8400 E0 Revision (Wolfdale-6M). And I have never felt the need to upgrade. The only bad thing is that it uses a LGA775 socket, as I may want to upgrade my motherboard to get SATA3 for SSDs to run at 6gbps. A modern motherboard would come with new socket types. :confused:
  9. I had that Celeron 300A running at 450Mhz, it was amazing for the price!
  10. They have missed one chip off the list... The Intel Q9650 3.0ghz, I have one and it is quite happily over clocked at 4.2ghz using air cooler fan sink, and works with DDR3 Ram. I have never had problems running new games using it, due to it having 12mb cache memory. Even on my mainboard I can get an over clock to around 4.6ghz.
  11. jd666

    jd666 TS Rookie

    Super article. Shared as well. I've been fortunate enough to own a number of processors on the list, and overclock them :D
    Intel 166 (207), AMD Duron (750 IIRC), AMD thunderbird, E2140 (Though it did a full 100% overclock, from 1.6 to 3.2. ). A friend's E2140 did 3.6 nearly, 3.4 stable for 24/7 usage. Pentium D and the highlight was the E8400, which did 3.6 stock out of the box and 4.0 with a minor bump in voltage. That chip is still running in my PC. Best clock was 4.6 ghz on the E8400 (on air).
    Reehahs, amstech and Julio Franco like this.
  12. Cryio

    Cryio TS Booster Posts: 191   +57

    I expected to see the FX 6300 on this list. Stock 3.5 and OCs to 4.5-5. With 6 cores, the performance close to i5 2500k for a third of the price.
  13. Experimentongod

    Experimentongod TS Addict Posts: 209   +82

    I owned a Intel Core 2 Duo E8400 E0 Revision (Wolfdale-6M), it was trivial to run it at a moderate 3.6Ghz from the original 3.0Ghz and the performance boost was really noticeable even in games.
  14. LNCPapa

    LNCPapa TS Special Forces Posts: 4,202   +422

    I ran my Celeron 300A on an Abit BH6 @ 504 MHz for quite a long time using a Whopper Celery Sandwich HSF and it was rock solid the whole time. One day I decided to show someone how easy it was to set up the overclock and set my speed back to base... after that I was never able to hit 504 stable again and left it at 450. After that I ran most stuff at stock speeds till I built a Dual 733 SMP machine that I ran at 800+ (don't remember exactly what speed - just that 733 was the fastest available chip at the time and I was gonna go faster). That machine was also rock solid and served as both a gaming machine and my local gaming server... till I built my Dual 933 SMP machine which I also OC'd a bit but nothing like the 300A. Next thing I OC'd was an Athlon 2600+ but it didn't get much increase and then after that an E8400 which I only gave a tiny boost. Next was an i7 930 which I ran at 3.8 GHz and is still running at that speed in my daughter's machine. I'm currently still running an i7 2600K @ 4.6 GHz and it's been rock solid the entire time I've had it.
  15. amstech

    amstech TechSpot Enthusiast Posts: 1,436   +592

    I remember when I first got into overclocking the CPU I had at the time was a Pentium II 400MHz (cartridge FTW) Didn't really mess with the PII much but a little later my parents gave me their old HP Pavilion and that had a Celeron 533MHz. I bought a Pentium III 866MHz (one of the best CPU's at the time) but the mobo would only run it a 650MHz. I was so pissed!
    I learned hardware that year and with much determination, learning, $$$ and patience I got that biatch to run @ 900MHz on that same mobo... think I was around 14 years old, give or take. Been here since.

    Mind you, this was back when overclocking was actually difficult and people needed to know what they were doing, and I am not talking just basic shell commands and upping voltage.
  16. Steve

    Steve TechSpot Editor Posts: 2,184   +1,215

    The FX-6300 arrived almost two years after the 2500K and it was only half the price. The Core i5-3570K arrived 6 months before the FX-6300 and again it was just twice the price.

    The fact that you admit an overclocked FX-6300 at 4.5 – 5.0GHz almost matches a stock i5-2500K is the reason why it wasn’t included. Our game performance articles have often shown that the FX-8350 clocked at 4.5GHz struggles to outpace a Core i5/Core i7 processor at just 2.5GHz.

    However performance isn’t the biggest issue with an overclocked AMD FX processor. Power consumption is, rather than say the FX-6300 costs a third of the price you should have said the i5-2500K uses a third of the power.

    Sadly there isn’t an unlocked Core i3 processor as that would be the obvious choice here.
    Reehahs and dividebyzero like this.
  17. dividebyzero

    dividebyzero trainee n00b Posts: 4,891   +1,258

    Spot on Steve.
    If it were just a matter of compiling a list of the best overclockers, the FX 6300 might well justify a position (but then the same could be said for virtually the whole Core 2 lineup), but the feature is aimed at the whole ecosystem. A cheapish FX 6300 + 900 series chipset board might represent good value, but by the time it arrived you could also buy a 2500K/2550K + P68/Z68 setup second-hand (or discounted NOS) for very little cash outlay.

    All the CPUs listed earned their performance plaudits against the then current processors of the day higher up the pricing ladder.
  18. Adhmuz

    Adhmuz TechSpot Paladin Posts: 1,617   +494

    I've owned, own, overclocked a couple of the CPU's on that list. Good memories, solid systems, and overclocks. Still have my i7 920 in a server build at a modest 3.2 GHz, back in the day I had it at 4.2 GHz all day long, it's still just as reliable, the motherboard, not so much. The first gen i7s were so simple to overclock , really a joy compared to previous builds.
  19. veLa

    veLa TS Evangelist Posts: 699   +164

    Ah yes. So many good memories overclocking AMD Athlon, Duron, and FX chips. I took my Thunderbird to hell and back way back in the day. AMD chips are always the most fun to overclock.
  20. St1ckM4n

    St1ckM4n TS Evangelist Posts: 2,920   +627

    Ahh, I love my i7 920 D0. :) Coupled with a Noctua cooler, it's an easy 27/7 OC. I don't see a need to upgrade any time soon, until at least 6-core chips and DDR4 before affordable.
  21. tipstir

    tipstir TS Ambassador Posts: 2,383   +105

    AMD was known more for OC = Overclocking. But even today the APU like A4 can be overclocked using their software UI from 2.8 GHz to 3.0 GHz under Windows 7. I have one system that runs the A4. Works out nice on online games 3D Games. Other than that I don't really need to overclock any longer on higher end APU and Intel new breed.

    Of course with Windows OS you do have the option to put the system into High Power mode thus using full CPU power. By default OS puts in a Balance Power Mode so the CPU will operate lower to save power.
  22. MadClocker

    MadClocker TS Rookie

    I have clocked a few on that list, but I didn't see one of the very best values and that was the PIII 700E. I have never seen anybody that got a dud when it came to overclocking the 700E.
    Almost all would do 1050mhz right out of the box without any heatsink mods. I have the Alpha P3 125S heatsink for slot one and with that and original Arctic Silver, I managed to run my PIII at would post at 1150, but would not load windows and at 35c temps were so low that if I could feed some more volts to it, I could probably squeeze a dew more megahertz out of it, but for a board/proc that is supposed to run at 100mhz natively pushing past 163mhz fsb is taking all your peripherals way beyond limits.

    Before the PII and PIII days the biggest risk of overclocking was scrambling your harddrive, because they didn't like being pushed past 33mhz on the pci bus.

    My fav's are Pentium OD @ 83mhz, DX4-75 @100, K5 133 @ 150, 700E @1136, and Q6600@3.0ghz...So many fond memories I had to join just to post a thank you for a trip down memory lane.
    dividebyzero likes this.
  23. Cryio

    Cryio TS Booster Posts: 191   +57

    This is one of the things I dislike in the way you test Intel and AMD CPUs. For example, the FX lineup is meant to be tested at 4 GHz+. Intel is more 3 GHz+. Yet you test them both in ranges from 2.5 GHz to 4.5. The thing is, the current top AMD CPU, the 9590, operatest at 4.7 stock and boosts up to 5, but this is nowhere shown in the breakdown performance on AMD's chart by frequency since your chart tops at 4.5 Ghz.

    By all means, please shift the gears by 500 MHz for Intel and AMD. Test CPUs at frequencies from 3 GHz to 5 GHz please. At least it would should everything AMD's top performer could do, even if slower than Intel.

    Where games favor Intel, it shows. Where games favor single core performance it shows again, because Intel has separate cache for each core where AMD has share cache for every 2 cores. I don't expect miracles, I know the reality of things. I just like to great the clearest picture on AMD's 3 years old now CPU performance at the highest possible freq.
  24. cliffordcooley

    cliffordcooley TS Guardian Fighter Posts: 8,430   +2,822

    So you want to compare an Intel over-clock to AMD standard clock? Even if it is impossible to clock Intel as high on a stock cooler? I guess you are also wanting the test done with liquid Ice to achieve such results. Do you honestly think a few extra clock cycles will show a difference outside the results already shown?
    Burty117 and dividebyzero like this.
  25. dividebyzero

    dividebyzero trainee n00b Posts: 4,891   +1,258

    Firstly, the 9590 is tested at its default 4.7GHz frequency in Steve's game graphics and CPU performance reviews. It is only the scaling portion that is tops out at 4.5GHz.
    I'd also point out that the 9590 has far from universal motherboard support, so making that SKU an indicator of the whole is flawed.
    200, 500MHz in general makes little overall impact as any competent 9590 review would note in a direct comparison with both its competition and against its own µarch - the increment just isn't large enough to produce a relevant margin of difference. I'd point you towards any OC review, such as this OCC 9590 review ( 9590 clocked at 5GHz, IB/Haswell at 4.6GHz - both speeds incidentally are the average OC attained in HWBot submissions for the SKUs), as an indicator of the speedup gained by the OC's in question vs stock- the difference in a few hundred MHz isn't monumental by any means.

    On a second point, this thread isn't really the forum for decrying the testing methodology of an entirely different series of articles. You might be better served reserving your argument for an article thread where it is more relevant.
    Burty117 and cliffordcooley like this.

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