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  • Overclocking For The End User
    January 2000
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    I have been building systems for at least five years, and until recently would not build an overclocked system for a client. I was asked to build an ABIT BP6 dual processor system, which will be used as a Linux server. A client had heard of overclocking and wanted his system to be overclocked. I explained that I normally don’t build overclocked systems for my clients as it voids the warrantee for just about everything in the machine. He persisted, and I finally agreed to build the system, as long as he signed a statement saying that this is an overclocked system, and absolutely no warrantee will be given. I asked him why he wanted an overclocked system; his answer was simple “Overclocked, sounds cool”. This client is a genius when it comes to programming and OS “manipulation”, but is all thumbs when it comes to hardware, BIOS is a scary thing. From here we will follow the development of his new computer, and my new computer, first a little background.

    What Is Overclocking?

    Overclocking is the process of increasing the clock speed of a processor beyond its listed clock speed, in short overclocking makes your CPU “go faster”. Overclocking is achieved via bus speed manipulation and CPU multiplier manipulation. There are many pages on the Internet dedicated to overclocking. Here is a look at the pros and cons of overclocking.

    Increased System Performance
    Reduced CPU Life
    Increased CPU Heat
    System heat build up
    Reduced system stability (Crashes/Lockups)

    It seems that the Cons out weight the Pros, but with the right approach and quality components the cons can be reduced. Lets discuss the cons, what they really mean and what can be done to reduce them.

    Reduced CPU life – A normal CPU is designed to last between 10 to 20 years. If the life of the CPU is reduced by 50%, the CPU will last between 5 and 10 years, at the rate that technology is advancing; how useful will that system be in 5 years? (Given my clients past record this system will be used for about 2 years) So in reality, you will not have to worry about this that much because of the lifetime of a computer these days.

    Increased CPU heat – All CPUs produce excess heat; a heat sink is used to dissipate this heat. An overclocked CPU produces more heat than normal, the solution for this problem is to use a larger heat sink / fan combo. Heat is also the largest contributor to loss of CPU life; therefore a cool CPU will last longer than a hot CPU. An over heated CPU will cause system lockups and crashes.

    System Heat Buildup – The environment inside a computer case is fairly warm, an overclocked system makes that environment even hotter. The solution to this is to modify the case, to provide increased fresh airflow and increased internal air circulation. Most stock cases today provide marginal ventilation.

    Reduced System Stability – Crashes and Lockups unfortunately are a “normal” occurrence. Overclocking a system can increase the occurrence of crashes, however this can be greatly reduced, to the point of “normal” and actually below normal. The following techniques can be used in the build up of a stock system. First and foremost, use quality components, this will ensure that the hardware is up to the overclocking task. Second, get the latest drivers for your components. Third, make sure you have the most current/all “patches” installed for both the software and OS on your computer. Also you will need to make sure you have the latest BIOS update for your motherboard.

    Now that we have tools to reduce the cons of overclocking, is an overclocked system suitable for the end user? Yes, when conservative overclocking practices are used. The following section describes the construction of two identical systems, they will have one major difference, one will be an extreme overclocker, and the other is for the end user who wants an “overclocked” system.

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    1. Intro/What Is Overclocking?
    2. Construction Of 2 Systems
    3. Installing OS/Comparison
    4. Stability/Benchmark/ Conclusion
    Article Info
    Author: Mike Worley
    Company: N/A
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