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Is it worth overclocking my system?

By Thalin · 15 replies
Mar 19, 2007
  1. Hello,

    Firstly, my specs -

    Athlon XP 3000+ (I think the 333FSB version)
    A7N8X Deluxe motherboard 400MHz FSB version
    1.5gb ram
    XFX 7800GS graphics card
    Audigy 2 sound card
    Recent addition : Antec Truepower 550W

    And I was wondering whether people thought it was worth bothering to overclocking my system or whether I may as well just upgrade considering it's getting on quite a bit now. I'm currently running on the stock speeds - 2.17GHz for the CPU, i'm tempted to try and overclock but a) I don't know if I have one of the 'unlocked' CPUs, b) it is likely to decrease its value when it makes its way onto Ebay, and c) I have the stock heatsink and fan, although if it's any help I have one of the case fans at the top of the case, and the side case I don't bother having on anyway.
    Also, I 'stole' 1gb worth of ram from my sister's machine as she knows nothing about PCs and definately didn't need that amount for what she does, and these two 512mb sticks are the Swissbit brand, which I can find nothing about. They state PC3200, the other is a Crucial stick. Is there anything more I can do with these? These two Swissbit sticks are in the two blue slots, the single on is in the black one, which makes me think they are running in their dual-channel mode (which I know nothing really about), although CPU-Z says these two Swissbit sticks are in slot 1 and slot 3, is this right? Here are some screens from CPU-Z if it helps anyone -





    So yeah, basically I was just wondering whether I may as well just upgrade, or maybe there is something more I can do with my machine.
  2. Thalin

    Thalin TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 60

    Just an update, I touched up the Ram Timings in BIOS to 120% which gave a resulting frequency of 200MHz, is this the correct setting for a ram that according to CPU-Z has a 'max bandwidth' of 200MHz, and will I see any significant boost in performance?
    Also, I upped the CPU multiple thingy to 13.5, but after checking CPU-Z it still says the multiplier is at 13.0. Am I right in thinking therefore that the CPU is locked? If so, then I won't bother to try and unlock it.

    Edit :

    Sorry, this probably should be in the cooling forum, could a mod please move it?

    AFAIK, the fact CPU-Z states I am running at 1 : 1 FSB : DRAM is a good thing. My motherboard however states it supports 400HMz, and it appears from CPU-Z that the max badwidth for the Swissbit ram is 200HMz (400MHz FSB right), so shouldn't the rated FSB in CPU-Z be higher than 334MHz? OR maybe I would need to play around with the CPU o/c settings to get to this setting? Also, the one 512mb Crucial stick is apparently rated at 166MHz, so would changing the Memory Frequency in BIOS also change this stick, possibly causing damage to it? Maybe it is best to leave the settings as they are then, as I would obviously only want to run the two Swissbit PC3200 200HMz sticks at the higher value.

    Yet another update (sorry) :

    I realise now that the things it says are correct, as the CPU runs at 333fsb, and therefore the ram is correctly in sync at about 333fsb as well. I was getting confused with the motherboard FSB. But seeing as my mobo supports 400MHz FSB, is it worth putting up the ram to run at 400MHz rather than 333FSB? Obviously it will therefore be out of sync with the CPU (would have been much better to have gotten the 400MHz version of the XP3000 lol) Am I likely to see any difference if I upped the ram settings?

    For anyone who has made it to this stage in my thread without falling asleep, I commend you.
  3. Thalin

    Thalin TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 60

    Sorry this should be the last post. I just tried o/c, I managed to get to 170 FSB but anything higher became unstable. Doubt i'll see any difference with such a small increase but I suppose its better. I'm tempted to increase the voltage (currently set to auto and running at 1.69V) and try again, but i'm thinking I may as well stick as it is.
  4. kitty500cat

    kitty500cat TS Evangelist Posts: 1,391   +6

    That's cool. I never tried overclocking because I can't do it in the BIOS on this computer, and I can't get the case side panel off to see if there's any jumpers on the motherboard or anything :eek:

    I'm planning to get a laptop sometime soon; maybe if it has good cooling I should try OCing.
  5. Thalin

    Thalin TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 60

    Good luck with that :)

    I've done some research on VCore settings, and it seems the 1.69 that mine runs at is actually pretty high, am I correct? It's odd because this is the lowest setting in the BIOS :/
  6. nickc

    nickc TechSpot Paladin Posts: 921   +11

    kitty500cat, if u do not know how to even get the side panel off the computer, u have no business over clocking as u are going to screw something up good and a laptop is not the place to start.
  7. CMH

    CMH TechSpot Chancellor Posts: 2,038   +9

    If you don't know, you've got a locked one. But that just means the multiplier's locked. You can still overclock.

    It will definately decrease its value on eBAY if you mentioned that you've overclocked it. Given that there's no real way to tell if it was overclocked or not....

    If you took the side off your case and ran your comp like that, any amount of case fans will have negligible effect on your CPU cooling, if any at all. I'd prefer to have the side panel on, and structure the airflow in the case instead. Fans at strategic spots would do wonders to your comp as a whole.

    As for whether its worth overclocking, its covered in the overclocking guide I wrote, which is linked on my sig. Whether or not you overclock depends on a few factors which should be covered there.

    There's always stuff you can do with old machines. They're still good for office work, servers, etc. Don't just dump a good comp just because its old, I'm sure there are places around which will accept the donation of an old computer thats still in working condition.
  8. Thalin

    Thalin TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 60

    As I mentioned, anything higher than 170 FSB is unstable, however i'm not sure whether thats because I don't have enough voltage. As previously mentioned, it runs on auto, at about 1.69V, is this too high to put up anymore, and if I did increase it just to try and see if it allowed me to o/c more, i'm worried it might damage my CPU. As long as I just increase it very slightly it should be OK right?
  9. CMH

    CMH TechSpot Chancellor Posts: 2,038   +9

    you shouldn't have any problems at all in terms of CPU damage if you don't touch your voltages.

    But all overclocking has risks, you've got about a 1% chance that your CPU will have permanent damage. Not sure if that figure's accurate, but I've seen it quoted enough times...
  10. kitty500cat

    kitty500cat TS Evangelist Posts: 1,391   +6

    Yeah, I know a laptop isn't a good place to start; most don't have good enough cooling. It's true that I can't figure out how to get the side panel off :eek:, but I didn't build it in the first place. I just pulled a panel off another computer last night, but I still can't get this one off. :eek:
  11. CMH

    CMH TechSpot Chancellor Posts: 2,038   +9

    If you knew that a laptop isn't a good place to start, don't even suggest it.

    Hell, I don't even want to try laptop overclocking, laptops are pretty dangerous territory, besides, its supposed to be a workhorse, not a gaming station imo. I'd settle for something that'll boot windows in less than 5 mins, and loads Word in less than 1 minute. And it'll have to match the amount of space google gives me on the net.

    Panel's aren't that hard to remove. All you need is to find the screws..... I've opened up 15 year old comps, and they aren't meant to be user friendly....
  12. Thalin

    Thalin TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 60

    I'm now having a new problem, well it's probably old actually. Last weekend, after my first try with the new PSU and no overclocking, it kept freezing in Battlefield 2 after about an hour, and the sound would go haywire. I think this was caused by overheating, pretty silly really, I should have dealt with that problem before attempting overclocking.

    Anyway, I thought taking the side case off would sort out the problem, but I just got it again with the overclock. This makes me think maybe the PSU is just too much and is heating up everything, maybe? To be honest, I never thought about this when buying it, I just though, hey, excess power, who cares? Atleast I know everything's getting enough power, now it seems its getting too much?

    Looks like I should go back to my measley 350W PSU, which I never really liked using, i'd prefer something along the lines of 450W, but i've seen no difference in performance with the new PSU anyway.
  13. CMH

    CMH TechSpot Chancellor Posts: 2,038   +9

    Uhm.... you can't cause overheating from getting a bigger PSU. The computer draws as much power as it needs, and nothing more....

    you might have something else thats overheating. When you removed the cover, you might have caused cold air to get there, solving that problem. Now that you've overclocked, this caused more heat to be generated.

    I'd say you might have a CPU thats overheating. checking your temps might be a good idea.
  14. Thalin

    Thalin TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 60

    But this started happening since I got the new PSU, before I began overclocking, and when the case was on as well.

    Oh, and the CPU is running at about an average of 50* when overclocked and 'inactive', moving up to about 53* when gaming. Not overclocked it's about 43* inactive, up to about 48-50 when gaming.
  15. KingCody

    KingCody TS Evangelist Posts: 964   +8

    Hi Thalin,

    • TEMPS: if those temps are accurate, then you're fine. athlonXP's have a max operating temp of 95°C, so you're well within the safe operating range. but that doesn't mean that your other components are not overheating, check the temps for your chipset and video card as well.

    • PSU: as far as PSU's are concerned... there's no such thing as too much power. the wattage rating on a PSU is the maximum amount that it can provide. as CMH already mentioned, your PSU will only provide what the system needs and nothing more.

    • OVERCLOCKING: let me start by saying; leave your CPU voltage [VCORE] alone! (at least until you learn more about overclocking ;)). too much voltage is what will fry your CPU, and you certainly don't need to increase voltage at only a 4MHz FSB overclock.

      the XP 3000+ is only 1 step below the fastest XP model (the 3200+). the best overclockers are the slow CPUs. since you have one of the fastest Athlon-XPs, don't expect it to overclock very far because it's already near it's maximum speed (all models that use the same core/stepping will have a similar overclock ceiling)

      when you raise the FSB, you raise the speed of everything in your system. if you can't even overclock past 170MHz FSB then either your PCI/AGP BUS speed or your RAM speed is holding you back. i believe the A7N8X locks the PCI/AGP BUS by default unless manually changed, so my guess is your RAM.

      RAM will only run at the speed of the slowest stick, in your case the 166MHz PC2700 stick. chances are that [if overclocked] it will not run much faster than 166MHz so when raising the FSB you will need to use a memory divider/ratio to keep the RAM speed at or below 166MHz. for example, if you raise your FSB to 200MHz, then you would need to use a ratio of 5:4 which would run your RAM at 160MHz.

  16. Thalin

    Thalin TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 60

    OK, thanks for that helpful post. I think i've gathered that there's not really any point to overclocking it :)

    As for the strange crashing problem, maybe its just a bad PSU?

    Oh, and by the way, when I say 'unstable' with anything past 170 FSB, I mean 175 caused a quick BSOD at start up and a restart, 174 (I think it was), just wouldn't load Windows, and 172 just gave me a slower BSOD as I was running Windows.
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