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Old 07-23-2010, 06:29 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Question General overclocking question

Hey, I was just thinking about something after I talked with a friend about overclocking. He was saying some things that I was confused about and I decided to ask you guys about this. First of all, he said that overclocking RAM is pointless because processors can't utilize more than 1033 or something. Also, he said that it's pointless to overclock a processor to say, 4 Ghz.

I guess his arguement is about performance rather than things like benchmarks, but my eral question is: Is there really a big increase in performance if you were to overclock a cpu to 4 ghz from say 2.8 or maybe overclock ram from lower settings to like 1600 to 2000?

I'm asking this because I am fairly new to the high performance computer world. I recently purchased all brand new parts for a new computer build (my first true computer build). Here's my build for those who are interested:

P6X58D Premium mobo
XFX 5850 Video Card
Core i7 930 @ stock (2.8 Ghz) cooled by a Zalman 9900ALED
G.Skill Ripjaws 3 x 2GB @ 1600 (801 Mhz)
Corsair HX750 Power Supply
Antec Twelve Hundred Full Tower Case

I'm just curious about this and I may want to eventually overclock my processor when I gain more knowledge and courage to do it (really my first big shell out of cash for a computer: $~1300)...

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Old 07-23-2010, 06:39 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Default Re: General overclocking question

Overclocking the i7 to 4 GHz or higher is helpful if you're doing a lot of constant intense processing on it, but for gaming and basic use it won't make a difference (as your CPU is already idling most of the time during these tasks). However, for compiling, rendering, multitasking, Folding@home, or other intensive processing applications overclocking will make a very noticeable difference. If it is capable of using 100% CPU then it will be noticeable. Also the CPU can use the RAM at however fast it is going. If you overclock the CPU and the RAM together the whole system will work better. This is generally how you do it as most overclocking involves raising the base clock (BCLK) or front-side bus (FSB). Raising this frequency affects nearly everything in your PC. To get the device clock you multiply the FSB or BCLK (depending on the system, Intel i series systems use BCLK, everything else uses FSB) by the device's multiplier (your CPU has a multiplier listed in the specifications, your RAM also has one set by the motherboard).

I got my 930 to 4.1GHz and it performs better on Folding@Home, a distributed computing project that studies protein folding. It can sometimes be considered a benchmark as people usually run it to compete their systems against others (for instance, on a forum like this) but Folding@Home uses a much more real-world computation system than most synthetic benchmarks and is probably a bit harder on RAM.

Other things where you would see improvement is program and 3d environment compiling, video editing, photo editing, 3d CPU rendering (as many professional level 3d apps do), and heavy multitasking. You also have more CPU room to run virtual systems using VirtualBox, VMWare, etc.


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Old 07-23-2010, 06:42 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Default Re: General overclocking question

Just earlier today I overclocked my 920 to 4GHz.

And yes, you should see a decent increase in performance. But it really depends on the game. I've noticed a solid increase in overall playability in Crysis and Crysis Warhead. I'm getting 5+ FPS more in certain situations, which doesn't sound like a lot, but it can make a big difference if the gameplay is hovering around the laggy side (late 20s early 30s FPS).

I then OC'd my 5870v2 and the games now run so much better. Rarely do I drop below 35FPS (usually hovering around 45) which means the gameplay is smooth and enjoyable.

OC'ing is definitely worth it. Just make sure you have your CPU and GPU cooled properly.

I recommend Real Temp for monitoring your CPU's temps and MSI Afterburner for overclocking your graphics card.

- Cooler Master HAF932
- Intel Core i7 920 @ 4.0ghz
- ASUS EAH5870 V2 @ 949/1335
- ASUS Rampage II Extreme
- 6GB Crucial Ballistix DDR3
- Windows 7 64bit
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Old 07-23-2010, 06:49 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Default Re: General overclocking question

Your friend is wrong, on everything.

You'll get a big performance boost going from 2.8GHz to 4GHz.

Your system looks pretty good. The Zalman Cooler was a waste of money though, you'll want to upgrade it before you try overclocking to 4 GHz. I'd say the Zalman is probably good for 3.6 GHz to 3.8 GHz max.

i7 Overclocking Guide
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