Thursday, October 24, 2002

Wadda mean it's on fire?

[Posted by Kevin:]

Two weeks ago I was tweaking my home computer a bit. See, I derive a perverse pleasure from streamlining my desktop, os, and machine settings as it is one of the very few things in my life I have total control over. Well, I was having some rebooting issues, so I downloaded a new Bios update, which, when installed, gave me the ability to change the speed of my processor.

Kids, that's called overclocking.... and should only be tried by trained professionals.

Since I was new to the practice of overclocking (I understood the concept very well, just not the actual implementation), I thought I'd just change that little setting, and tell my AMD 1200(1.2ghz) that it was running at 1.8ghz. Well, it didn't like being told what to do and promptly (on the order of milliseconds) fried itself.

Swearing aside, and with great admonishment from my disgruntled wife..."no honey, I don't know why I can't just leave things alone, no I don't know why I have to keep playing with stuff that’s working well enough"...I decided I had to replace my machines processor.

Kevin, I said...I call myself that...Kevin, if you are going to get a new processor, why not just get a faster one when you order it. Hey, if you are going to get a faster CPU, you'll need a new mother board, and, well, that new mother board will need faster ram. You know, all those components are going to make a lot of heat, maybe we should get a new heatsink, and fans, and case...ohh and you'll need a new power supply to drive it all. Hey, what about that 200 gig hd you've wanted....

So, for about 1100 dollars, I got an AMD Athlon XP 2200+, ASUS A7V8X MB, Corsair XMS 3200 DDR (1gb), a 431watt Enermax power supply, an Ahanix case with an external temperature monitor/fan control, and a 200gig Western Digital HD. The rest of the bits I pulled from my old machine.

Performance wise the machine lives up to its specifications with the glaring exception of the memory bandwidth. I didn't learn until after that AMD motherboards are limited to 2.1 Gb/s memory throughput, and I was expecting to get at least 2.9gb which is the rate the 3200 DDR would run at 400mhz. Having said that, I did overclock the machine (successfully) to a 185/370 MHZ FSB (from 133/which is actually 266 since AMD places data on both the leading and trailing edge of the pulse) and a 11 multiplier on the CPU which put it to 2024mhz (from 1.8ghz). I also aggressively tweaked the memory timings, and the total system speed jumped by about 1/3.

So for about $1100 dollars worth of parts (the 200gig hd was around $389, and actual machine stuff was around $750), it was a relatively cheap way to get a machine that is very close to the extremes of speed, albeit with a bit of overclocking. Which, by the way, is what got me a new machine in the first place. :)


  1. Cool. Where did you order your parts from? I've been tossing around the idea of buying a new machine but I have yet to justify the reasons why - maybe I'll just fry my old one.

  2. Let me get this straight, you fried one machine by overclocking it, and used it as an excuse to buy another machine which you again overclocked? And your wife let you back into your house?
    Has AMD improved their handling of overtemperature conditions? Having fried a 1ghz AMD when the fan driving it
    failed, I am biased against them. P4s will throttle down to keep their temperature within reasonable norms, which seems like a better solution.
    But what do I know, I still have my old Abit BP6 with dual 400 Celerons (running at 400Mhz, I'm a wimp.)

  3. Kevin, I'm a real novice with PC's but wondered if I should change the CMOS (bit you get into at startup pressing DEL?) settings for CPU Warning Temp from 'Disabled' to the highest temp, also with system temp setting. I've got an Athlon XP2200+ on an MSI board that has a DDR333 chipset, and after running IL2 flight sim for a bit (Ti4600 graphics card) the system temp was 50'C, CPU temp 63'C (39 & 53 on first start up). I think the fan is 'AKASA'. Worried about burning it out after reading your interesting PC build article! Cheers

  4. didachus@interfree.itDecember 11, 2002 at 4:29 PM

    Ehi, Scotts, my new XP 2000+ has the same temp of yours; the heatsink was an aluminium one, but it is required a copper heatsink for such a cpu (due to the little surface of thoro core). I'm managing to change it: it will lower the temp, sure. Another thing: if you have an ASUS A7V8x mb, you could download the last version of the BIOS (1010), fixing all thermal problems (you should gain about 10° C, they say).
    I suggest you to buy a copper heatsink (yours is surely an alu one) and to use Vcool, a great cooling software: in some minutes of idle cpu my temp lower from 62-63° C to 46-48° C (I have a mb temp of 30-32°C: yours is quite high!).