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Is overclocking safe?


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#1 Some Guy   Banned   -  Reputation: 100

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Posted 08 August 2001 - 06:36 PM

Many people buy or build computers and raise the voltage to the motors in their fans and drives to get more speed out of their machine. Just as well, many car racers connect a container of dry ice to their engine intake to make the air colder and get more horsepower, but this in the end will KILL your engine. So, with that analogy out of the way, I ask the question: In the end, is it safe to overclock your machine''s components? Does it damage your mobo or other parts? Is it really worth it? Granted there are other ways to overclock your computer-- in MaximumPC magazine, they had one guy who stuck pipes into his tower. That''s a good idea, I think. Before that, they had a guy who built his computer inside a fridge. Not so good. So what''s the safest way to overclock your computer, if it''s safe at all?

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#2 Drakonite   Members   -  Reputation: 215

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Posted 08 August 2001 - 08:25 PM

"Safely" overclocking your computer is an odd statement...
There really isn''t a "safe" way to overclock.

CPU manufactures will claim that any thing you do at all to increase speed will cause massive damage to your cpu. This isn''t neccisarily true.

The most common overclocking is to increase the FSB speed. Lower end celerons were popular for this, because they run at a 66mhz bus, and could be overclocked on a 100mhz bus.

Unfortunaly, the multiplies are high enough now, that this big of a jump would force the processor too fast. IE. a 400 mhz celeron, put on a 100mhz FSB, would run at 600mhz, this is a BIG jump.

Many brands of mobo''s now have a bios option to adjust the fsb by 1 mhz increases. This allows for smaller increments, but also causes PCI and AGP slots to overclock, which is more likely to cause damage than just overclocking the cpu (from my knowledge atleast)

I''ve heard it said that you can safely overclock by as much as 4mhz without worrying. I can''t verify this though.

Intel has often talked about excelerated electromigration (think that''s the word...) which is basicaly that when current is passed through the chip, the electical pathways can be altered.

There are some facts that are commonly circulated among pro overclockers:

Electromigration on a chip that is overclocked to X, should theoretically be the same as a chip clocked at X by Intel.

Electromigration takes many years, on the order of 5 to 10 i believe, to have an effect. Most people say they will have upgraded by then anyway so it doesn''t matter.

Cpu''s are made in large sheets, and a few from each sheet are effectivly torcher tested to see how fast they can run (better quality run faster), as all processors on the sheet will have approximatly the same quality they will be given a multiplier that is a conservative estimate as to the processors ability. So they should be capable of running faster.

There is a theory that companies like intel take some chips that could easily run at, say 800mhz, and lock the speed lower, say 600 mhz. Why this may seem insane to do, and intel has responed to these claims by saying so, there are valid reasons that I could explain, but this post is already long enough. If you want to know, say something.

There is other stuff, but this post is getting long so I''ll close with this:
Choosing to overclock is your own decision, but you need to take into consideration a lot of things. If you overclock and it causes something to go bad you''re stuck paying for it, as overclocking voids the warrenty. However, overclocking in the past has been a way of getting a faster processor out of a cheap chip (don''t expect miracles though...)



Drakonite

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#3 Jamie7   Members   -  Reputation: 127

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Posted 08 August 2001 - 08:40 PM

I think I''d rather pay the extra few bucks and get the faster one, rather than risk my whole hardware...

#4 -X-Modena-X-   Members   -  Reputation: 122

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Posted 09 August 2001 - 06:07 AM

What I did was o/c''ed my video card.. I strapped the fan off of an old 486 on my heat sink ( that thing with the lines sticking out of it on top of your cpu ) I got an extra 20 mhz out of my chip, and 15 on my ram. This gave me better frame rates, and if kept cool, I didn''t have an stability issues. The key factor is to o/c in small steps and watch for artifacts. If you get artifacts in your game ( small visual discreptinces that shouldn''t be their ) then step it back a little. Then run your machine doing something graphiclly intensive and make sure it doesn''t get too hot. If you take the proper steps and don''t go crazy it isn''t all that dangerous. Just make sure your hardware doesn''t get too hot.

#5 Epolevne   Members   -  Reputation: 175

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Posted 09 August 2001 - 06:20 AM

Temperature is the main culprit in OCing. If you get a good case, with lots of venilation...then you should be able to OC a P3 1Ghz to 1.12 w/o issue.

An important thing to do when overclocking is burn-in. Basically run a highly proc-intensive App/Game (preferably in a non Win9x OS) if the computer locks or crashes after a couple days then step the speed back. If it doesn''t crap out...then you shouldn''t have problems running at that clock speed.

Also, a higher number isn''t always better...if compenents lose sync you can take a dramatic speed hit. Most of the time this happens with older harddrives...if you OC your FSB to high, your HDD can''t keep up...and your computer just crawls. So make sure that you run benchmarks to confirm that you''re actually recieving benifits from OCing.


Epolevne

#6 Succinct   Members   -  Reputation: 169

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Posted 09 August 2001 - 06:41 AM

Another thing to keep in mind are two of Intel''s marketing schemes:

Scheme 1) The Intel Celeron is just a normal Pentium with the math co-processor disabled. The original Celerons could actually have it re-enabled (if you knew what you were doing), causing the chip to function just like a Pentium. Intel has since started actually burning out the co-processor to prevent this. Why do any of this? It saves money by not having to engineer/develop/produce a new main die, which costs millions, and 2, it gives them a chance to sell "a new chip". Moral of the story - Just because Intel says it''s not capable of something doesn''t mean it''s necessarily true.

Scheme 2) They produce chips of certain capabilities, then disable some of these capabilities, such as multipliers. They then enable them with new releases and call them new chips, even though the circuitry is the same. This was with mainly with the older pentiums, though. Most of the new pIII''s and IV''s are multiplied to their max. Moral of the story - Read the documentation to make sure what you''re hearing is correct.


Thank you for your bandwidth.
-- Succinct
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#7 Dactylos   Members   -  Reputation: 122

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Posted 09 August 2001 - 06:49 AM

The most important thing when overclocking a processor is to have a really good heatsink and fan, as a faster processor Mhz invariable causes the processor to generate more heat (which is bad ).
The total speed in Mhz of the processor is calculated by multiplying the FSB speed with the processor multiplier (e.g. 100Mhz FSB * 8.5 multiplier = 850Mhz processor etc.)
Changing the multiplier is generally quite safe on modern processors. If you set it to high the processor will simply become unstable and either it won''t POST at all, or your computer will crash a lot. Lowering the multiplier to the default value will (generally) solve the problem. There is seldom any permanent damage to the processor. Note, that I say *seldom*. Neither me nor anyone I know that has overclocked has ever managed to kill a processor, though I guess it is possible.

Changing the speed of the FSB (Front Side Bus) is not as good an idea, since that will change the PCI and AGP speeds to, and many expansion cards don''t like that (as someone mentioned above). Besides, the FSB is pretty fast to begin with on modern computers.

If you raise the multiplier and/or FSB clock you might want to increase the voltage for the processor to increase the processors stability. Beware though, this can be a bit risky, and might destroy your processor if you set it too high, or at least shorten it''s lifespan considerably.

Generally though, the processors of today are pretty sturdy. Once I even ran my Athlon/Thunderbird without the fan connected (by accident ), it lasted for about 10 seconds, and then it completely hung. The heatsink was literally too hot to touch and I thought that I had fried it for sure, but as soon as it had cooled down it worked like a charm (and has worked ever since), though I probably took away a couple of years of it''s lifespan

I suggest reading as many overclocking articles and stuff that you can find about your processor before trying anything, and remember that you''re overclocking at your own risk...

Check out The Overclocking Guide at Tom''s Hardware Guide.

#8 Martee   Members   -  Reputation: 476

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Posted 09 August 2001 - 07:31 AM

Succinct: Math co-processor?
???
The Celeron is a Pentium without the cache (or, with less cache).

~~~~~~~~~~
Martee

#9 Some Guy   Banned   -  Reputation: 100

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Posted 09 August 2001 - 07:38 AM

So Intel is out to make a profit by selling "new chips" that are really older chips with capabilities that now enabled, which were disabled in the original. Makes sense. I''d do it if I were the CEO of Intel.

But I run an AMD Athlon-- do they do any of that schematic crap? And please let''s not turn this into a useless flame war over Intel. I have better things to do than read my posts as they become badger-fests.

And thanx for the link, Dactylos.

And if anyone is having a hard time understanding this techie talk: http://www.howstuffworks.com/ You can read up on this there.

#10 noparity   Members   -  Reputation: 122

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Posted 09 August 2001 - 07:50 AM

Cooling the intake charge to your engine to create more HP will not kill your engine.

#11 Some Guy   Banned   -  Reputation: 100

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Posted 09 August 2001 - 08:31 AM

"Cooling the intake charge to your engine to create more HP will not kill your engine." --noparity


You''re replying to THAT??? It was an analogy...

No, cooling the intake to your engine may not cause any damage at all to your engine, but leaking dry ice into it to accomplish this surely will. It freezes the top of your engine, while all the action is going on in the bottom. Pretty soon, you''ll have to buy a whole new engine, which everyone knows doesn''t come cheap.

No more offtopics-- this thread is about overclocking your computer, not car engines and dry ice. I used that as an analogy simply to say that, most of the time (though not all), striving to squeeze out as much speed and power of something eventually breaks it down.

#12 gmcbay   Members   -  Reputation: 130

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Posted 09 August 2001 - 08:50 AM

Overclocking can often be done safely, but its becoming of limited use these days. The range of prices between low and high end processors is pretty slim right now. Sure, the VERY newest and best processor (1.7ghz, or whatever this weeks flavor is) are often marked up a ridiculous amount, but often you will pay like $20 or so to get a CPU that is 10-20% faster than the next lowest one. The economics these days are such that its usually cheaper to buy the next-highested-rated processor than to buy the equipment you need to overclock safely.

Most OCers spend a fortune on crazy cooling systems, top of the line motherboards with many OC-friendly features, etc, etc, when they could have just bought a CPU at the speed they are overclocking to for a much cheaper price, saved themselves the hassle of avoiding the OC-unfriendly features CPU makers are using these days, etc. Mostly I think they just like to ''stick it to the man'' more than get more value for their money. I guess if you are constantly upgrading CPUs you can make use of the OC hardware each time, so it comes close to evening out, but all in all I still think it doesnt make nearly as much sense as it used to.


#13 Drakonite   Members   -  Reputation: 215

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Posted 09 August 2001 - 11:01 AM

Someone said that raising the multiplier is safer than raising the fsb... yes it is. very much so. however there is one problem -- you can''t always change the multiplier.

I know it is especially true on intel chips.

There is a multiplier lock on many chips now, that pervents changes in the multiplier. Some web sites show ways on how to get rid of it by covering a pin on the chip... but that''s a little far to go, since it may not be right.



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#14 conundrum07   Members   -  Reputation: 122

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Posted 09 August 2001 - 03:37 PM

Drakonite is right about Intel locking their chips. I have a PIII and I tried raising the multiplier from 5.5 to 6, but after the change the computer wouldn't boot until I changed it back. What a pain in the butt.

Edited by - conundrum07 on August 9, 2001 10:38:14 PM

#15 Martee   Members   -  Reputation: 476

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Posted 09 August 2001 - 03:50 PM

It''s nice having an unlocked TBird

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#16 CheeseGrater   Members   -  Reputation: 122

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Posted 10 August 2001 - 02:30 AM

A moderately widely known fact: Sometimes when you buy a chip ''rated'' at say 1 Ghz, you stand a decent chance of actually getting one that can safely go faster.

Intel and AMD don''t have manufacturing lines going all the time to produce the upteen million different speed ratings they sell. Because production costs are often so close, at some points in the year they are just lowering the multiplier/bus speed and shipping a fast processor in a slower processor''s box.

Anyways, if you''re going to overclock, make sure that your memory/AGP cards, etc can handle it. Memory does _not_ overlock well, so if you''re upping the bus speed to 133, make sure you have PC133 memory. Don''t worry about PCI/ISA cards - motherboards now have a separate bus for these (at least mine does)

Also, expect your PC not to last as long as it would otherwise. But if you''re only planning on keeping your Processor/Motherboard for 2-3 years, you probably won''t have any problems.

And don''t expect your warranty to cover _anything_ once you''ve overlocked.

#17 MadKeithV   Moderators   -  Reputation: 971

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Posted 10 August 2001 - 03:25 AM

quote:
Original post by CheeseGrater
Intel and AMD don''t have manufacturing lines going all the time to produce the upteen million different speed ratings they sell. Because production costs are often so close, at some points in the year they are just lowering the multiplier/bus speed and shipping a fast processor in a slower processor''s box.



Not entirely accurate: They have only ONE production line, but the products are "binned" according to the speed grade they can reach. Speed grade depends on the quality of the processor - cleaner processors go faster - but because there is a lot of variance on this that''s hard to control, they are just produced and then binned afterwards.
USUALLY, slower speed grade bins fill up faster than higher speed grade bins, but not all the time. AMD had this during the early production stages of the Athlon: they were producing Athlons that were consistently capable of reaching 800+ MHz, but they had more demand for the lower speed grades. So they just shipped the 800Mhz chips at 500Mhz - and these were perfect overclockers! (They weren''t locked back then either.)

However, you can kill your processor when overclocking - if you don''t have adequate cooling. I''ve heard horror stories of people trying to OC their AXIA Athlon ( you know what I mean if you''re into AMD stuff ), getting the copper shim in wrong, and frying the CPU in less time than it takes to notice that the PC isn''t booting up.
I nearly fried my TBird 800 when I OCd it, but letting it cool down for a while allowed me to boot for long enough to turn the multiplier back down.

So: be careful, and if you notice it''s not booting, TURN THE PC OFF INSTANTLY!





People might not remember what you said, or what you did, but they will always remember how you made them feel.
Mad Keith the V.

#18 Anonymous Poster_Anonymous Poster_*   Guests   -  Reputation:

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Posted 10 August 2001 - 03:57 AM

quote:
Original post by MadKeithV
I''ve heard horror stories of people trying to OC their AXIA Athlon ( you know what I mean if you''re into AMD stuff ), getting the copper shim in wrong, and frying the CPU in less time than it takes to notice that the PC isn''t booting up.

People might not remember what you said, or what you did, but they will always remember how you made them feel.
Mad Keith the V.


Yeah, that''s been known to happen. I had a TBird (pre-AXIA), which worked nicely and even overclocked a little with poor cooling (950 @1050 with crappy no-name HSF). Unfornately, I hauled it over to a friends house for a LAN party, and somehow the HSF clips broke. From there, everything went downhill. Sure, it booted fine for 5 seconds, but afterword she died promptly. RIP little Athlon.



#19 Drakonite   Members   -  Reputation: 215

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Posted 10 August 2001 - 10:14 AM

quote:
Original post by MadKeithV
Not entirely accurate: They have only ONE production line, but the products are "binned" according to the speed grade they can reach. Speed grade depends on the quality of the processor - cleaner processors go faster - but because there is a lot of variance on this that''s hard to control, they are just produced and then binned afterwards.
USUALLY, slower speed grade bins fill up faster than higher speed grade bins, but not all the time. AMD had this during the early production stages of the Athlon: they were producing Athlons that were consistently capable of reaching 800+ MHz, but they had more demand for the lower speed grades. So they just shipped the 800Mhz chips at 500Mhz - and these were perfect overclockers! (They weren''t locked back then either.)



You are also not entirely accurate... When they first started the new line, the slower bins filled up faster, however they have gotten (too) good at making processors and it is said that nearly all of the processors they make go to the high quality bin. Some of the high quality chips are then locked at slower speeds to keep an abundance of chips in the lower end market.

Intel denies this, saying that it makes no sense, however it does actually make good business sense for them. If all chips were sold at the speed they are capable of, there would be a lack of lower end chips, causing the price of low end chips to rise to where they cost more than higher end chips (or atleast almost as much) and there would be an over abundance of high end chips, causing the price to drop substantially. Thus intel losing money.

This is the type of thing that has happened to ram -- they got good enough at making ram that there became too much of it, and the price plummeted. And if you don''t believe that high end chips can cost less than low end, take a look at ram-pc133 ram costs the same as pc100 in most brands.



Drakonite

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