Monday, January 22, 2007

Compy at Ludicrise Speed


Now there are many sounds that computer people don't like. High-pitched whines. Sizzling. Crunching. Grinding. For a few both lucky and unlucky few, even dripping. But without a doubt, silence is the worst.

Every modern PC over a certain level of computing power has moving parts. Hard drives spin. As do fans. Especially fans. So any time you don't hear something, there's a problem. A big one. And for awhile, my computer, post upgrade, was not making a single sound in response to pressing the power button. But, thankfully, after replugging half the motherboard, I got the beast to power up.

Well, everything worked. Relevant enhancements were the increase of my CPU multiplier from 9X to 12X, (1.8 GHz to 2.4GHz), and an improvement on my RAM timings to (2.5-3-3-5, 2T rate - strangely the RAM, despite having a 2.0 CAS, advertises itself as 2.5), of course, with twice the RAM as well. Even at that point, the speed difference was quite noticable, in boot, in WoW, and elsewhere. Sadly, my second core wasn't detected, but a quick BIOS update to 3.A and suddenly dual core is realized.

Of course, that's not enough for me though. The RAM was not even running at spec. So a quick update to 2-3-2-5 1T. Big difference? Well about an 8% improvement in memory latency says PCMark, but for actual real-world tests, not a big deal.

Then, lets take a look at the Front Side Bus speed. Stock is 200MHz. 210. 220. No problem. 225... still going. My processor is now running at 2.7GHz. I stopped at this point, noticing an observable increase in heat levels, though the processor took an hour of Prime95 (the premiere 'torture test' for CPUs) without any issues. And let me tell you, when it comes to making your computer faster, FSB is where it's at. EVERYTHING is tied into the FSB, so every bit you get out of your FSB is pure speed bonus. The speed increase is substantial, with major improvements in PCMark test scores across the board.

Right now, my CPU runs idle at about 42C. Heavy stress across components (Prime95 + WoW) boosted that to a warm 52C. Certainly not cool for this processor, but definitely nowhere close to tolerances; anything under 60C is generally considered a safe margin, and they're rated up to 70C. As a side note, my video card idles at 55C and got as hot as 72C in 3DMark.

Well, I've been pretty conservative of course - my 3000+ went as high as 240MHz FSB. But why stress the system unnecessarily? My plan is to wait until the peak of summer, then squeeze a few more MHz out of it. There I'll know how the heat is under worst case Seattle weather.

As a reminder, those interested can check out my compy page, where I'll post the actual stats; if I ever get off my lazy ass and update it. :D

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