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SebringTech

Motherboard Limiting Overclock Potential?

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First thanks all who helped point me in the direction of getting a TRUE 120 Extreme to replace my Zalman 9700. That will be done as soon as I can get to the bottom of what component is currently limiting my overclock levels on my system. My guess, is that it's my lowly Gigabyte GA-G31M-S2L motherboard.

 

My setup is as follows:

CPU: Intel Q6600

CPU Cooler: Zalman 9700 LED (soon to be a TRUE 120 Extreme)

Motherboard: Gigabyte GA-G31M-S2L

Memory: OCZ Reaper DDR2 800mhz memory (2 x 2 gig since my motherboard is Micro ATX and only has 2 ram slots :( )

Power Supply: OCZ gameXstream 600 watt

Case: Antec Nine Hundred with all 120mm fans replaced with ~70cfm led fans

 

This was my first board that I've used to overclock my cpu, and for low overclocking it does do a good job. I have been able to get to 3.5ghz stable, but relatively warm with it idle at 38*c and full load was darn near 60*c. My motherboard's overclock features are limited to say the least, I can adjust multiplier, FSB, CPU volt, FSB volt (only will let me add voltage not specify an exact one), memory voltage (same as FSB won't let me specify a voltage exactly. will only let me add to what it thinks the voltage should be). When I was running my cpu at 3.5 I used the following settings:

 

Multiplier: 9x (I tried lowering it but the board/cpu won't boot on anything lower for some reason)

FSB: 389

CPU Volt: 1.44v (Compared to the stock voltage of 1.30)

Memory multiplier: 2.5 (if I lowered the mutiplier to 2 it'd be running underclocked..)

memory voltage: +0.2 volt

Memory speed: ~975mhz compared to the factory rated 800mhz

 

The system runs very stable, and I can run a burn in test for 2 hours at 100% load on all cores and 100% load on memory without a crash. My problem is I want to go further with my overclocking. I can get it to 3.57 ghz but anything over 3.5 it seems to be very unstable. I used CPUz to see if there was a voltage problem, but it seems that the voltage was 1.438 which is very close to what I set in bios. Is it possible that this motherboard just can't handle the high power demands once the cpu hits 100% load and then the cpu is no longer stable? I can easily get past 3.6 with only idle activity. It's just as soon as load is put on the processor it brings up the dreaded blue screen of death and reboots itself after it does a memory dump. The heat sinks that are on the NB and SB are quite sad also, which I thought maybe when the cpu hits load it could cause those to overheat. At any rate is it likely that my motherboard is the culprit here and if so is there a pretty good board that's somewhere under the $150 price range that may have better potential? I know Intel has made better chipsets, but I was also looking at the Nforce chipset line. I'm not sure if one overclocks or has more features than the other.

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I did some research and it seems that my chipset is old, and a newer Intel P35 chipset might improve my quad core performance over all. The only thing I don't want another micro atx board, they're too tiny and cramped. I'd also prefer to have SLI since my power supply should be able to handle a SLI setup in the future if I can find another one of my identical card. Also, good heatpipe/heatsink technology for the NB SB would be beneficial I'd imagine, I see this on a lot of Asus boards. My final requirement is 4 DDR2 slots for future ram expandability. 4 gig is good enough for now but who knows in the future.

Edited by SebringTech

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First thanks all who helped point me in the direction of getting a TRUE 120 Extreme to replace my Zalman 9700. That will be done as soon as I can get to the bottom of what component is currently limiting my overclock levels on my system. My guess, is that it's my lowly Gigabyte GA-G31M-S2L motherboard.

 

This was my first board that I've used to overclock my cpu, and for low overclocking it does do a good job. I have been able to get to 3.5ghz stable, ...

 

3.5 Ghz on a Q6600 is nothing to sneeze at. My first G0 Q6600 wouldn't do 3.2 Both of my current ones can get in the 3.8 neighborhood (one a little less - the other a little more)

 

Bump your NB to +.1 and feed a little more vcore to the chip. Most of the fellows I read in this forum seem to be pretty comfortable giving their Q6600s 1.5v. I have no idea if that will get you as far as you want to go... and I have no idea if your chip can go as far as you want it to under any circumstances, but you might give it a try.

 

You said your vid is 1.325, so I have to say that the majority of overclockers in this and other forums I've read seem to think the 1.325 vid chips have a lot less potential than lower vid chips. My first was a 1.325 and as I mentioned, I couldn't get it completely stable at 3.2. My second one is also a 1.325 and I couldn't go any farther than 3.75. Really, 3.75 was pushing it really hard and there is no way I would leave it there for a 24/7 OC. My newest one is a 1.1625 vid and I'm still messing with it. I've been a little over 3.8 ghz, but I don't know yet what its max is going to be or where I will run it 24/7.

 

So, back to my point: 3.5 may be as far as that chip goes no matter what board it is in. And, don't forget the fact that an 1100 mhz overclock is amazing no matter how you look at it. You described it as low overclocking. No it's not. That may not be the highest mhz I've seen a 6600 at, but that's still a crazy sick OC. You are pushing 4 cores more than a ghz higher than Intel sold it to you stock.

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So essentially, If its stable at 3.5 I should accept that and consider myself lucky? The cpu breezes to 3.2 and will idle at 28*c... right now it's clocked to the 3.6 and is idle at 32*c but it not stable for anything other than internet :P If the chip itself could be the limiting factor, I do still want to look into a different board that will support SLI and more memory. I've been confused though when I look on Newegg and see how the SLI boards I see have one that it says is 16x so your standard PCI-E, and the other slot is electrically 4x... I don't know if this is just the case with the lower end SLI boards, but it didn't make sense to me. Why would you market a board as SLI if it can only run the second card at 1/4 the speed? :blink: I'll have to discuss that elsewhere tho I imagine since this is not the proper place for a video question.

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3.5ghz is a good number but you can go higher with a different board i think, like you said your guessing what the volts should be in the bios(thats never fun). a G0 is limited to 3.5-.38ghz for aircooling.

 

 

check out the 775 thread with the super high OCs, look at screen shots and it might point you in the right direction. i'm also kinda surprised you almost hit 400fsb with that board, so yeah your boards is the large limiting factor but anything newer/better is at most gonna yeild 200mhz increase for the avg user. maybe a 24/7 stable?

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So with the next generation of Intel CPU's, and with it running stable as a 24/7 at 3.5 I should probably just stay put. The extra 200mhz won't likely give me much more performance, so I might instead of upgrading the motherboard, look to upgrading the cooling so I can hopefully go to the liquid side. To keep my cpu stable I have a mad ammount of 120mm fans that make my computer resemble the sound of a car radiator fan. I'm not too timid about mixing water and electronics, as I know with the proper precaution and maintenance it works very well compared to air cooling. My idle temps are obviously fine, but the load temps get me scared when I see them creep up to 60*c. I know this is after 2 hours of stress, but still that's pretty darn hot. I'm going to look at the water cooling guide that's stickied here, because last time I looked it contained a great collection of information, especially to someone new like me.

 

So far the few things I know I need to do, is keep the system 1 metal to help eliminate the possibility for corrosion or need of corrosion inhibitors. I know to get atleast 3/8 ID tubing, but was looking to go 1/2 inch. I've determined I probably want a Black Ice radiator of some sort, mounting it to the rear of my case using the "Rad Box" product. Probably the biggest lesson I learned in my few days of researching is don't buy a Big Water kit :P I'll admit, when I first looked into water cooling the kits looked very appealing, everything you need for just over $100. Then I looked at how much quality parts cost and it seemed most pumps were around $70, more than half the price of the mid level Big Water kit. I think it was kind of like comparing a store bought Dell tower to a custom assembled PC. The quality will never be the same as hand selected parts.

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So essentially, If its stable at 3.5 I should accept that and consider myself lucky?

 

You are already approaching the upper limits for the majority of 1.325 vid Q6600s on air. If you drop $150 on a new board and never achieve whatever it is you consider to be a reasonable overclock, will you be disappointed that you didn't just save the money towards a whole new rig? It is an interesting time in the roadmaps right now. The 45nm chips have been out for a while and seem to be proving their worth. A whole new architecture from intel is only a few weeks from showing itself. The DDR2 vs DDR3 battle is starting to bring down the price of DDR3...

 

Who knows. Maybe you've got a golden chip that will crack 4ghz with a better board under it.

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I'll just add a ditto to most everything that Six has already posted.

 

3.5Ghz on a Q6600 on air is a very good result for stable 24/7 operation.

 

If I were you I'd stay pat and save your money for the next generation of hardware that's right around the corner. Heck your Q6600 @ 3.5Ghz should be tearing through anything you throw at it anyway.

 

Nice clocks!

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I'll just add a ditto to most everything that Six has already posted.

 

3.5Ghz on a Q6600 on air is a very good result for stable 24/7 operation.

 

If I were you I'd stay pat and save your money for the next generation of hardware that right around the corner. Heck your Q6600 @ 3.5Ghz should be tearing through anything you throw at it anyway.

 

Nice clocks!

I'd go with what wevsspot says here. 3.5GHz stable is good for 24/7 and although I've seen 3.8GHz stable 24/7 those clocks are few and far between. I know I'm saving my money for the next gen stuff minus these HD4870's I'm getting.

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Would it be a poor decision to invest in a quality water cooling setup? I can say for sure I'm pleased with the 3.5 ghz speed after seeing all your input, but I just would like to get away from having all these fans running really loud. I was under the impression that if I get the kit with good quality parts and piece together the system, if the socket changes I should be able to just swap out the water block. As all technology normally is, I'm sure the new Intel chips will command a pretty good price, so I probably won't be able to get one for some time. I think if I could get my load temps down using water my system would stay cooler and be more stable. It's not 100% stable at 3.5 ghz. It will run a burn in test for two hours, but open software like Photoshop CS3 and it locks up almost instantly. Right now my ability to get the high clocks on air is probably due to my "cold room". I rent a house with a bedroom dedicated to my computers, so it's kept at about a constant 60*f which is nice n cool. It gets colder at night but I couldn't give an exact temperature. I will likely need to move elsewhere tho, where I may not have a dedicated room. In that scenario the pc may end up in the bedroom, which may or may not be able to be air conditioned to an ice cold temp.

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lowering the temps might work but i have a strong feeling that little heatsink covering the nortbridge is the real factor is keeping anything from being stable. as for the water cooling socket change, yeah you can do it with ease, but i would look more into keeping that nortbridge cooler. i might go as far to say that boards not meant to overclock at all with FSB333 being stock for some cpus i can see that being stable but not much more past that.

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I was going to use a 3 x 120mm radiator to cool a loop consisting of the CPU block, NB, then to the VGA GPU. I've seen many northbridge coolers for water cooling.. and yea I've thought of the NB cooler being a problem too. The problem is with my massive Zalman, there's no room above the NB to mount a better cooler for it. If I went to water cooling there would be no massive Zalman in the way, just the cooling loop. My goal with the water cooling was not higher overclock, since I've come to accept that I should be quite happy with what I achieved on air cooling. My goal is to make the temps more stable on load. the whole near 60*c thing scares me a bit. I know that's still by most people considered "hot but okay", I think Intel only rated them to 62*c ((I think I read this, not claiming it as 100% fact)). Right now I have the CPU clocked down to 3.2 to keep the temps better for now and improve stability.

 

With the common knowledge that kick butt Intel chips are around the corner I don't think it'd make sense to upgrade my motherboard that wouldn't work with the new CPU's. I didn't do enough reading to discover if they changed the socket for these new chips, but if so then even upgrading to better air cooling might need to be replaced or makeshift some sort of different mounting bracket.

Edited by SebringTech

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