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Intel Xeon X3320 Overclocking
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Old 16th April 2008, 09:07   #1
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Default Intel Xeon X3320 Overclocking

We PC enthusiasts have been co-opting enterprise-class hardware for our own personal systems for years now. We got our first taste of the creamy smoothness of SMP on dual-socket workstation boards long before you could get two cores conveniently packaged on the same chip. Tempted by lightning-fast access times and 10K-RPM spindle speeds, we adopted Western Digital's Raptor hard drive. And who can forget AMD's Toledo-based dual-core Opterons—overclocking marvels compatible with the same 939-pin socket as Athlon 64 X2 desktop chips. I've had what was a relatively inexpensive Opteron 165 designed to run at 1.8GHz happily chugging away at 2.4GHz on a standard desktop motherboard for a couple of years now.

Although they share the same architecture and performance characteristics as their desktop counterparts, server and workstation processors like the Opteron typically undergo additional validation testing and run at lower operating voltages. In a sense, chips that make the grade for the enterprise world are the best of the breed. That doesn't guarantee overclocking success, but it at least hints at untapped potential. When that potential plugs into a standard desktop motherboard loaded with overclocking options, we just can't resist.

It's no wonder, then, that Intel's Xeon X3320 caught my eye recently. This LGA775 chip features a 45nm Yorkfield core running at 2.5GHz with 6MB of L2 cache, making it the Xeon equivalent of the Core 2 Quad Q9300. What's more, while the Q9300 has been in short supply of late, the X3320 has been more consistently available at roughly the same price.

Few things make us happier than forcing normally conservative enterprise-class hardware to jump through flaming enthusiast hoops, so we scored an off-the-shelf Xeon X3320 retail box from the folks at NCIX to see what kind of overclocking headroom we could find. Read on for the surprising results.
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