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Old 07-11-2007, 06:12 PM   #1
Sliver X
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Default Hell Froze Over

Ever since the Prescott era of the Pentium 4, I've been an advid Intel hater. They continued to pump out power hungry, poor performing processors until AMD's continual cock slaps to the face finally forced them to, you know, get innovative again.

However, I just recently built a rig and decided to get a Core 2 Duo E4300, and I can't sing its praises enough.

Here's my little tale...

Chapter 1: New Hardware Boner

I finally got the last components of my new PC yesterday. It's based around a Core 2 Duo E4300, which is the bottom of the barrel of the Core 2 line, but I've heard that the thing is very overclockable.

Being a somewhat brave (Stupid?) soul when it comes to abusing my PC hardware, I decided to give it a go...

This is what's in my system, for reference: http://panicus.googlepages.com/specs.htmlSpecs</a> (Total price, including a 19" CRT and shipping/taxes: $660)

I bumped the FSB up to 266MHz from 200MHz, which kept the RAM at its normal 533MHz. Since the E4300 has a x9 multiplier, this bumped it from 1.8GHz to 2.4GHz.

Not expecting much, I ran Everest to monitor the voltages and temperatures, the Prime95s torture tests to stress the CPU and RAM, the Uniengine Santuary demo to push the video card, and defragged 280GB of data on the hard drive. Then I went to bed.

I was expecting a crashed PC or big error log from Prime95 when I woke up, but surprisingly everything was still churning away (Except the defrag, which had finished). The temperatures were also well within acceptable limits, even with the stock cooler that came with the CPU.

Chapter 2: Oh Shit

However, apparently I went a little overboard... Despite the system passing all the torture tests I put it through, I started getting a strange side effect: If I did a soft reset, the SATA HDD wouldn't show up most of the time.

After doing a little research, I found out that the SATA controller is tied to the PCI-E bus, which means any changes to it affect it as well. I discovered that the PCI-E bus is FSB/2, and overclocking at the speed I did put the PCI-E bus at 133MHz.

Apparently this is far out of the SATA spec, which calls for 100MHz. If it goes too high you can start to get silent data corruption on disk writes, which would really suck, you know? Fortunately, my motherboard has the option to lock the PCI-E frequency to a given rate, and I started experimenting...

The two bus speeds have to increase as either goes up, or the system won't boot. Another nice feature of this MB is that if the settings result in not being able to boot, you just have to wait 8 seconds and it disables the frequency modify option back automatically, allowing you to go at it again (It leaves the bus speed choices intact, which is also nice: You just have to re-enable the change option).

I can set the FSB to 267MHz and the PCI-E bus to 120MHz and can gain a totally stable 2.4GHz (A 600MHz increase, which makes a *hell* of a difference on a Core 2 Duo). Upon more study, however, it seems that this is basically the limit you can go to before SATA drives start freaking out, so I decided to get a little more conservative, finally settling on a 245MHz FSB and 110MHz PCI-E bus, which results in 2.2GHz.

One last really nice feature of this MB is that you can pick the DDR multiplier to be 2 or 2.66 (x the FSB): Since I have budget RAM, it's critical that I don't go above the 533MHz rating (Running it at 2.4GHz exactly hits this). At 2.2GHz, the RAM is running slower at 490MHz, but I don't really see any penalty, and the CPU bump is well worth it.

So in conclusion, if you're wanting to build a decent gaming rig on the cheap, the E4300 is an excellent choice due to its overclockability. Just be sure to get a decent MB, and by decent I don't mean expensive, as the one I got was only $60.
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Old 07-11-2007, 06:33 PM   #2
CEpeep
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Default Re: Hell Froze Over

> So in conclusion, if you're wanting to build a decent gaming
> rig on the cheap, the E4300 is an excellent choice due to
> its overclockability. Just be sure to get a decent MB, and
> by decent I don't mean expensive, as the one I got was only
> $60.

Yeah, I would have recommended a 965 chipset board instead of the 945. The 945 is already showing its age and as such, your upgrade possibilities are going to be limited in the future. Other than that, though, sounds like you're enjoying your new system.
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Old 07-11-2007, 07:28 PM   #3
Lillymon
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Default Re: Hell Froze Over

> Ever since the Prescott era of the Pentium 4, I've been an
> advid Intel hater. They continued to pump out power hungry,
> poor performing processors until AMD's continual cock slaps
> to the face finally forced them to, you know, get innovative
> again.

I had a similar thing, but it started with the Willamette era. Upon seeing how crap it was, I promptly bought an Athlon XP Palomino, which served me fairly well for nearly five years.

I'm not a raving fangirl on this though, so the performance figures of the Core 2 have won me over. I'm using an AMD Sempron as a cheap replacement for the dead Athlon XP, but my next PC will almost certainly be Core 2 powered. We need to let Intel know when they've done it right.
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