Today on Dev Hardware's OC Addiction, we're going to give you a little tutorial on overclocking your new 800FSB Pentium 4. It seems these types of systems are getting much more popular, and people are getting rather insane clock speeds out of their hardware. With the 2.4C's and i865PE / 875P boards, it's almost like a return to the days of the Celeron 300A and 440BX mobo's. Fifty percent overclocks are not exactly commonplace, but with the right hardware combinations, it's definitely achievable. So, without further ado, lets get this party started.
What Do I Need?
Well, all the basics need to be covered of course. You will need an 800 Front Side Bus (FSB) Intel Pentium 4 processor, these range from stock speeds of 2.4GHz to 3.2GHz. The lower ones (2.4 and 2.6) are usually the ones I recommend for air and water cooled setups, since they overclock to roughly the same area as the more expensive versions on that amount of cooling. However, for those running "extreme" temperatures, from either a Prometia/VapoChill, to a water cooling setup that has either a peltier element or chilled water, the higher multiplier ones (3.0 and 3.2) are going to be better options. Now I'll explain my reasoning.
With air or normal water cooling, heat is going to likely be the limiting factor in your overclock. Even if you had a 3.2GHz CPU to start with, you are likely going to be limited to the same 3.6GHz that a 2.4C can potentially get to. Now, when at equal clock speeds, the processor with the higher FSB will be the better performer, when you look at applications that involve more than just the CPU (ie most real apps). This is because there is more transactions with the memory, and therefore more theoretical bandwidth available. For example, lets think of that potential 3.6 GHz on both a 2.4 and 3.0 CPU. With the 12x multiplier of the 2.4C, that equates to 300MHz for the FSB at 3.6GHz. By comparison, the 3.0 is only turning 240MHz. I'm not going to get into memory selection right here (read below), but lets just leave it at the fact that the 2.4C, even with use of the 5:4 memory divider, will perform better than the 3.0 with 1:1 in most cases.
With insane cooling though, other factors come into play. While many motherboards can do 300FSB, beyond that is a bit of a crapshoot. Even if your 2.4C was capable of 4GHz, that would require your motherboard to operate at 333MHz for the front side bus. As well, you would be stuck using just about every memory out there with the 3:2 divider. A better option, is to get a 3.0/3.2, and attempt to run them up to that same 4GHz. That way, your FSB is at level that is more likely to be accomplished. As well, usually these more expensive processors are "binned" with the best silicon, and are more likely to accomplish higher overclocks when temperature is no longer the limiting factor.
Next, you need a motherboard to put this CPU into. The most accomplished overclocking boards are based around two chipsets, the Intel 865PE (Sprindale) and 875P (Canterwood). Some of the common boards that you see at the top of FutureMark's Online Result Browser (ORB) are the Asus P4C800/E, P4P800, and the ABIT IC7 Max3. Why did I look in the ORB to find my choice of motherboards? Because all of the highest scores in 3DMark2001 are achieved with very high system overclocks. The ones that can handle abuse from the folks that are using LN2 and modded Prometia's for cooling are certainly good options in my book. However, they aren't completely necessary. I myself have a very cheap i865PE motherboard, and it does the job well. It's just that if you are buying new, and have the money to spend, there are better boards that have more BIOS options and perform higher in benchmarks. (One caveat here: the ABIT seems to still have divider issues in some cases with certain memory modules. It really can be a toss up whether this board will limit your overclock or not.)
Memory is another factor where there are almost limitless options. At one end, are the very expensive PC4000 modules that are starting to populate the marketplace. These are meant to be run with the higher multiplier CPUs, in the 1:1 ratio. Obviously, they can be used in the lower 2.4C/2.6C, but I believe there are better performance options there. High end PC3200/3500 from the likes of Kingston, Corsair, Mushkin and OCZ are capable of running tight timings and at very high speeds, well beyond what they are rated at. It necessates using the 5:4 divider, but that can actually help you gain performance. PCStats has a great article showing their results comparing these two types of memory here. I however, will be showing the results that come from using the last option, cheap PC3200 that barely runs its rated speed. Yes, even with a budget system you can overclock. It's just that in my case, it means you are using the slowest memory option these chipsets offer, that being the 3:2 divider. With that, I'm clear up to 300MHz FSB, while running my RAM slower than it's rated specs. Again, this is just one way of doing it, the two above certainly are better (and therefore more expensive) performance options. Just make sure you are making use of the "dual channel" capabilities of the chipset. That allows you to do such things as run the memory slower than the FSB, and still retain decent performance.
The last piece of hardware that directly affects your system overclock, is something I've mentioned a few times already. That's cooling. This of course going to in most cases dictate how high your system is capable of getting to. The options here stretch from the retail aluminum heatsink that Intel provides with retail processors, all the way to elaborate refrigerant based systems like those commercially available from VapoChill and Prometia. I personally am running something in between, consisting of a custom water cooling setup made from a home made copper waterblock (thanks #Rotor), a transmission oil cooler, and a few other tidbits. This is something directly cost related, how ever much you want to spend determines the results you get back. The process I'm going to be explaining is the same for all types however.
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