Help me understand overclocking and what these numbers mean

I have a Gigabyte mobo that says right on the box it has a 333MHz fsb. My cpu is AMD Athlon XP 2200. I have 512 MB DDR pc3200.

So i want to overclock this hardware to the max. I use Gigabyte’s overclocking EasyTune4 software but i’m puzzled by it. The motherboard has a jumper block for the multiplier and i have that set to auto, same with the fsb jumper. If i right click on My Computer>manage>Gigabyte it tells me I have an AMD that is running at 1733MHz and it’s max is 2800 MHz.

I use ET4 to increase my fsb. The limit it displays is 235 for the fsb. I can’t go any higher than 140 (which gives me 1820 MHz accoring to ET4) without the computer freezing/rebooting/turning off. I know it’s not a problem with heat b/c my case and chip are liquid-cooled. So what can i do with all these numbers to make W2K run at 2800?

Here is a screenshot of the ET4 program.

Well the fastest available AMD XP is the 3200+ and it only runs at 2200MHz. I’m not sure what 2800 would be but it would be super fast. A 140MHz FSB is pretty fast, but you are correct in that with liquid cooling setup you should be able to see speeds faster than that. I still bet its a heat issue though. Who set up your liquid cooling system?

Oh, and you are going to have increase your voltage’s(core?) to get anywhere near 2800MHz.

Brainchild876 and I set up our liquid cooling systems. Any idea what kind of voltage i’ll have to adjust to?

That is the system we bought.

Overclocking is a dicey business. You must know that doing so generally vilates all of your warranties. There is a very real possibility of frying your system and the manufacturer will not take responsibility for your doing so. It is partly for this reason that Dell (which only sells Intel) and Gateway and other such mass-market PC sellers don’t sell systems with a BIOS that allows this sort of twiddling (they don’t want the support headache from people screwing their machines up).

That said I am unfamiliar with the overclocking utilities you are using. In my experience all overclocking needs to be done via the BIOS or on the hardware itself (some video cards allow overclocking within their settings). Of course that doesn’t mean that it can’t and/or isn’t done this way but I’d be cautious of those utilities. If you’re serious about overclocking dig into the guts if the system and do it there (I’ll explain more why later).

Your CPU speed is a combination of the Front Side Bus (FSB which is what talks to the memory) and the core multiplier setting of the CPU. Unforunately I haven’t done this for awhile so my memnory of this stuff is from pre-DDR-RAM days. It used to be that, say, a 1.3Ghz CPU was a combo of a 133Mhz FSB linked to a core multiplier of 10 (10*133=1330Mhz or 1.33Ghz). I suspect that this is still the case even in a DDR system so you have to use the base speed of the FSB (minus the double or triple pump that gets you to 333Mhz FSB) but I honestly don’t know for certain. Hopefully someone else will be along to set this straight.

The problem you get when overclocking is two-fold. You can manage the FSB speed but the core multiplier is locked on most CPUs. In the case of Intel it is totally locked down. AMD chips however did have a trick to get around this but I again do not know if it still exists (it did 1.5 years ago). On the top of the AMD CPUs you’d see a series of gold dots. With nothing more than a #2 pencil you could ‘connect’ these dots by scribbling between them with the #2 pencil. Doing so would unlock the core multiplier so you could change it (the pencil lead established a circuit). I had a link that detailed which dots needed connecting but having just checked it the link is dead. If you’re really interested I can look for new links (assuming this trick still works…I hope so as I think leaving this ‘backdoor’ is one of the things that made AMD chips popular with enthusiasts).

Even if you manage to unlock the multipler the other piece you need is voltage control. Different speeds require different voltages. There’s overlap here but it is something you have to fiddle with if you push the system. The downside here is this is the place where you can really blow-up your CPU and needs to be approached with extreme caution. Given that you have a liquid-cooled system helps but it’s still a BIG concern of you do it wrong.

All of that said lockups while overclocking are not uncommon. It takes a lot of fiddling if you hope for max speed. You have three variables (FSB, multiplier and voltage) that can affect performance and wiggling them all to the top takes some work.

Finally, if you decide to do all of this realize that you should have all of your expansion cards out of the system. It is possible that some cards may hold down the max speed you strive for. If you pop a card in (one at a time) and the system chokes you either need to back down your system or buy a new card.

Best of luck but don’t bitch at me if you toast your system!

You need to jump straight to 166Mhz. Depending on the chipset the motherboard uses, running at non-standard speeds (Standard are 100, 133, 166, and on some systems, 200Mhz) will result in overloading the PCI and AGP buses. XP 2200+ CPUs generally overclock very poorly, so your best bet would be trying 11166, which will get you 1833Mhz. You can try tweaking the FSB beyond that, or try 11.5166 and higher to see what your particular CPU can get.