INFO: AMD/INTEL Optimal BIOS settings + Overclocking Guide
Originally posted by Marci:
This was all written for AMD based rigs, but skip the multiplier sections and run through your ratios to apply it to P4 loosely...
You have two ways of doing this... we'll start with the easiest. TAKE NOTES ALONG THE WAY WITH PEN & PAPER
DON't FORGET TO WATCH THE CPU TEMPS ALL THE TIME. NEVER GET ABOVE 55 IN MY OPINION ON AIR, OR 42 ON WATER.
For the best performance, on nForce2 boards keep the multiplier above 11x, and do the following with CPU Interface Enabled. For the highest clock speeds but lower performance in benchmarks, leave CPU Interface Disabled.
1. Go into Bios, SoftmenuII/III option...
2. Change Multiplier from AUTO to 10.5 (10.5x133=1400)
4. Back to Bios.
5. Increase multiplier one notch (10.5 to 11)
6. Reboot & go into windows
7. Run a Sandra CPU Burn-in & 3DMark 2k1 to check stability
8. If either of above bluescreen/crash, go back to bios and increase Cpu vCore voltage one notch.
9. If they don't bluescreen/crash, back to bios, increase multiplier one notch. back to [6.]
Round and round you go, until you get to the chips max Mhz...
Remember that figure. You could stop here and have a nicely overclocked chip on multiplier alone, but that makes you a wuss
Now you have the max Mhz, you need to do some maths. We wanna achieve the same speed that you topped out on above, but using a higher FSB and a lower multiplier.
1. Into BIOS. Divide your top speed so far by 166. Round to nearest single decimal place, and set your multiplier to that. Set your FSB to 166.
2. Reboot, into windows, benchmark / test
3. Any probs, bluescreen or crash, back to bios, increase Ram voltage, try again.
4. If no probs, then back to bios, and take that highest speed and divide it by 176. Set multiplier to the answer, and set FSB to 176. Back to 
5. Keep goin!! Take the speed, divide by 180, back to 
6. divide by 196
7. divide by 200
Now, you'll get to a point where that FSB just won't go any higher.... remember that number.
SO, you should now have written down on a piece of paper...
1: Highest CPU Speed so far.
2: Highest FSB Speed so far.
3: vCore & vMem voltages required to get those figures.
Next step, set FSB back to 133 and multiplier back to auto. Set the vMem voltage as high as it can go, then go to Advanced Chipset Features > DRam Settings.
In here, the aim is the lower the better.
First change every "from SPD" to Manual / 133 depending what options are available. This will allow you to tweak the other settings.
The ultimate aim is high memory bandwidth. From the top down are the best settings you can generally have:
Dram Clock: 133 (KT266a) 166 (KT333)
Cycle Length (Cas): 2
Bank Interleave: 4 Way (n/a on nForce2 boards)
Precharge>Active (Trp): 2
Active>Precharge (Tras): 5 (KTxxx) 2 (nF2)
Active to CMD: 2
DRAM Burst: 4 (n/a on nForce2 boards)
DRAM Queue: 2 (n/a on nForce2 boards)
DRAM Command Rate: 1T (n/a on nForce2 boards)
Write Recovery: 2T (n/a on nForce2 boards)
The above settings are more or less the best settings any AMD board has to offer at the moment, and provide maximum performance, BUT your ram is highly unlikely to be able to achieve these speeds at anything above your memory's stock speeds unless its good stuff. Here's where the choices come flooding in from Samsung to Geil to OCZ to Winbond to Kingmax to Corsair... everyone wants the best stick of ram to achieve the above settings at high fsbs such as 200.
So you now need to spend a lot of time getting your settings as close to these as possible at as high an FSB as possible.
Start off setting the following: (from top down) 2-4-3-6-3-4-4-2-2 9 (6-3-3-2 on nForce2 boards)
Reboot, run a sandra memory bench. If any probs, increase mem voltage.
Now, back in and try: 2-4-2-6-3-4-4-2-2. (6-3-2-2 on nForce2 boards)Reboot, sandra.
Next up: 2-4-2-6-2-4-4-2-2 (6-2-2-2 on nForce2 boards)
Next up: 2-4-2-5-3-4-4-2-2 (5-3-2-2 on nForce2 boards)
Next up: 2-4-2-5-2-4-4-2-2 (5-2-2-2 on nForce2 boards)
Then: 2-4-2-5-2-4-4-1-2 (n/a on nForce2 boards)
then: 2-4-2-5-2-4-3-1-2 (n/a on nForce2 boards)
and finally: 2-4-2-5-2-4-2-1-2 (n/a on nForce2 boards)
The further down that list you got, the better your memory bandWidth became.
So, you should now have an idea of what your ram can achieve at non-clocked speeds. So, first things first:
You need to merge EVERYTHING together, and get your system set to your highest FSB / multipler combo, all the voltages set, and set MEMORY voltage to it's MAX.
Just for a laugh, try the highest settings for mem bandwidth that you could get at non-clocked speeds. It'll probably no-post, so clear cmos. Now do you see why I told you to take notes??
So, set everything back to highest FSB/multi/voltages etc as found out earlier on, and start tweaking that bandwidth down the list above until you find the fastest it'll achieve. Remember to run a sandra memory bench after each tweak to burn in the memory as you go and to check the bandwidth. Write your scores down as you go, or better still get a screencap and name it something to remind you of what it is etc. Combine all of this lot together to get your system to it's MAx. When stability goes flaky, start try dropping the FSB slightly to allow you to raise the bandwidth tweaks, as often better timings will increase your scores better than a higher fsb... Macci once pointed out to me that his mem bandwidth scores at 166 fsb floored mine at 200fsb, and that's when I learned that the timings were everything for good 3dmarkscores etc.
You'll find a point where Sandra will run but 3DMark won't. Make the decision, what are you trying to achieve. Is the overclock just so you can have a faster PC, or are you using your overclocking skills to gain you a reputation and earn respect of others? If the answer is the latter, then it's irrelevant. You'll spend one day getting the best CPU Mhz you can. Another day devoted to getting a screencap of the best Mem Bandwidth you can. Another day getting the highest 3DMark score you can, another day getting the fastest HardDrive transfer rates you can.... screencaps of the lot, post em in the forums, let the fans worship & adore you (until they beat you!!). Hardcore clockers spend weeks devoted to bettering each individual score, then when they've got the best scores they can, they sell off that component and try to find one that'll do even better... On and on we go...
Barton CPUs - get a damn site hotter than Thoroughbred CPUs, and need more voltage to get good overclocks. Average top out on Promi Mk II - 2.7Ghz for average stepping. 3Ghz for super stepping. You won't get as high as TOTAL overclock out of a barton as you would out of (for example) a Thoroughbred 1700+ DLT3C, however, a Barton at 2.4Ghz can match and beat a Thoroughbred at 2.6Ghz... usually....
2500+ is the most popular choice. These hit 2.6/2.7Ghz with about 2.1v on a Prometeia. On water expect to top out at around 2.5Ghz or 2.6Ghz... They'll do 2.3Ghz with ease at 1.9v usually.
Thoroughbred CPUs - Steppings count. Look for CPUs with a DLT3C JIUHB stepping (usually XP1700, 1800 & 1900 CPUs). The 1700+ CPUs can go to 3Ghz if you have a REALLY good one, or 2.8Ghz if you have an average one. These chips run at a lower default voltage, so run cooler, and need less juice to go fast.... so when you give em LOTS of juice, they go REALLY fast! On NF7 boards, these chips tend to top out on voltage... they rarely post at 2v without setting sirens and alarms off, but that's down to the way the board handles power.
Average OC? On air, about 2.4Ghz, on water about 2.6Ghz, on pelts around 2.7Ghz, on Promi about 2.8Ghz.
Most of you have good memory, but also, a lot of you have it for bragging rights and don't put it to use. If you have anything above PC2700 speeds, and you DON'T have a Barton 3000+ or 3200+, and you'r enot overclocking, then your ram is merely an attempted willy-extension that works in reverse to those in the know, and actually halfs the size of your willy.
Background - CPU FSBs....
Athlon XP Palomino and Thoroughbred CPUs - default FSB 133 (PC2100)
Athlon XP Barton CPUs - default FSB 166 (PC2700) or 200 (PC3200)
So, unless you set your ram to run at it's rated speed (thus overclocking the FSB of your CPU usually) then you've forked out for summat pointless... here's what FSB you should be running at...
PC2100 - 133FSB (DDR266)
PC2700 - 166FSB (DDR333)
PC3200 - 200FSB (DDR400 for AMD, QDR800 for INTEL)
PC3500 - 217FSB (DDR433)
PC3700 - 233FSB (DDR466)
PC4000 - 250FSB (DDR500)
PC4200 - 266FSB (DDR533)
Now, anything ABOVE 3500 tends to work out to be a duff buy for AMD users. Once you hit 3700, default rated CAS timings get ridiculously slow - usually Cas3, and as soon as you try to make them faster - Cas2 - you can't achieve rated FSB, let alone overclocked FSB... For AMD users it is much harder to run ultrafast FSBs like the P4 boys do, so we rely more on Ram timings to kep us on their heels.... 3500 and below is generally rated at Cas2 by default, and 9/10 times will tighten up to 11-2-2-2 on an nForce2 board without problems. Most AMD Boards and processors will struggle to run at 233FSB anyways, therefore 3700 is a bit pointless... and when you DO get it up there, with the slower CAS timings that you'll need you'll find that running at 217FSB with 3500 at a faster CAS Timing actually offers much better performance.
Now, BUYING memory... we've just gone thru which is best to buy.... anything at 3500 and below for AMD users. What you want to be looking for is the highest rated speed at the lowest rated CAS Timings.... ie: PC3500 rated at 6-3-3-2 is a better buy than PC3500 rated at 7-3-3-2. By dropping the 6-3-3-2 stick's timings to 7-3-3-2, you're practically guaranteeing another 5Mhz on top of rated speeds for that ram. The best stuff to find is ram rated at 5-3-3-2 or 5-2-2-2 at 1T Command. This was around in the days of the KT333 chipset, where there were a lot more options available to you in the bios for tweaking your ram. The nForce2 chipset, with it's much more aggressive approach to memory, meant that suppliers had to slow down their CAS ratings to get their memory to work properly with the chipset and it's Dual Channel Architecture, hence why we see more and more memory coming onto the market rated at 8-4-4-2.
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