MOtherboard Bios

Most motherboards have a setup where if you press del key you can customize your computers Bios features. I notice that one of my options is changing the CPU Internal Core speed and the other was HDD S.M.A.R.T. Capability. What effect do these have on a computer?


Well, for the core speed, if your multiplier is unlocked, you can overclock your processor to a higher speed. If it is locked, you can raise the front side bus on some motherboards (Almost all retail boards that aren’t purchased with a computer) and still overclock the core.

If you don’t know, a computer reaches it’s clock speed by multiplying the front side bus clock by a number in .5 increments. For instance, an AthlonXP 1.47 GHz chip (rated 1700+) has an 11x multiplier on a 133MHz front side bus. 11x133.33=1466.66.
Since this multiplier is locked, I can only change the front side bus…say to 140MHz = 1540 MHz. So, I’ve gained an extra 74MHz by changing a setting. The only thing to watch is that your chip can handle the extra heat produced by the change, and that you don’t push your other components too far, because raising the front side bus will tax all the other components in a system.

If your processor is unlocked, you can change the multiplier and keep the other components in spec. So, change the multiplier to 12 on my chip, and I get 12x133.33MHz = 1600MHz. Etc.

Some people invest in major cooling solutions, such as watercooling, just so they can overclock their chips like mad. Me, I run my AthlonXP 1700+ (1.47GHz) just one speed grade up, at 140FSB = 1.54GHz, or 1800+.

Don’t know about the HD smart tech.

How’s the weather down there in Ashland?

Anyway, S.M.A.R.T = Self-Monitoring Analysis & Reporting Technology

Basically it allows your hard drive to monitor its own health and generate warning messages when something may go wrong.

You should leave it enabled.


Right & don’t mess with overclocking unless you know what you are doing.

Its snowing in Ashland! Why I don’t know.

I have an Intel III 550mhz. What should the clock speed be set at?

If overclocking is not a good thing, then why have the option to change the speed?

Who said overclocking is not a “good thing”? Like brain surgery it is definitely a “good thing”. I just don’t want the gardener doing brain surgery on me.

Oh, it’s not brain surgery.

Chances are the sweet spot for your PIII 550 is at 733 MHz. Your front side bus is currently 100 and your multiplier is 5.5. Knocking that FSB up to 133 should get you to 733. That’s a 33% boost right off the top. There are several things you need to do to get there.

First, you have to back everything up. One of the most common errors you will experience when overclocking too far is a disk-write error which oftentimes requires you to wipe the hard drive and reinstall everything. Hey, man, you’re making a new computer here anyway, right?

Second, you must adjust your core voltage upward. If you’re lucky enough to have an Abit or a Soyo motherboard, chances are you can do this within the BIOS settings. Otherwise, you’re going to have to determine what kind of motherboard you have, find a diagram for it, and find which jumpers need to be moved where. Hopefully, you have the manual for it. I think your default voltage is 1.50. You’ll probably want to kick it up to 1.60 for starters, and graduate it to 1.65 if you find your system to be unstable. Do not go above 1.8. That is well within the law of diminishing returns, and can permanently damage things.

Third, you must also adjust the front side bus up to 133. Even though your BIOS offers setting changes, you must make certain that you are adjusting the FSB and not the clock multiplier. Your multiplier is locked at 5.5 and cannot be changed. If 133 doesn’t work (probably because of your PCI devices), you can try using other, lower settings, if you have them.

Fourth, you must carefully monitor your PCI components. These are things like network cards, internal modems, a few graphics cards like some Voodoos, and sound cards. The PCI bus works by dividing the front side bus and defaults at 33 MHz. Therefore your PCI divider is currently set at 3. If you’re very lucky, you may be able to change the PCI divider to 4. Otherwise, you’re going to have to pray that everything holds together at 44 MHz. If it doesn’t, start by removing your network card and replace it with a good one or just toss it if you don’t use it. Cheap NICs are notorious for flaking out at high PCI bus speeds and bringing the whole system down, but the Intel NICs, which run around fifty bucks, are pretty stable.

Fourth, don’t take my word for it. Instead, go read up on how to overclock at places like the Ars Technica OpenForum, the cold, [H]ard, OCP, and of course, . The PIII 550E was a quite popular target for OCing for many moons, so you should find all sorts of good information in those places.

I have a chumpy little Celeron 533A which purrs along at 892 MHz and has for the past two years without any major problems (except that I can almost get it to 936, and every time I try I smoke all my data and have to reinstall Windows). It’s fun, you’ll learn a lot, and you’ll save a crapload of money on your next computer because there will be no way in hell that you will let anyone else build it but you.

Oh, and you’d better check my math, too. It looks like I can’t even count fo five.

Also, if you read your chip warrentee, overclocking voids it.

I checked my bios. The only thing I can change is the total MHz which changes the multiplier. The default is 350MHz. The Front side never changes. It remains at 100.