|AMD Athlon-II X2-260 Regor Processor|
|Reviews - Featured Reviews: Processors|
|Written by Hank Tolman|
|Monday, 07 June 2010|
Page 11 of 13
Now let's get into overclocking. Since the Athlon-II X2-260 is not a black edition CPU, I couldn't increase the multiplier to overclock it. Still, while the multiplier is stopped out at x16, it is important to note that it can still be decreased down as far as x4. Because of this, it is possible to decrease the multiplier and increase the bus speed and voltage and still maintain and stable overclock. To start off, however, I wanted to see how far I could get with the overclock of the Athlon-II X3-445 by just increasing the bus speed. Using the Biostar TA890GXB-HD motherboard I started at 200MHz on the bus speed and increased by 5 until I couldn't boot into Windows. I only reached 225MHz before the Auto voltage setting didn't give me enough power to boot the system. This put the X2-260 at 3.6GHz.
3.6GHz on a 3.2GHz CPU isn't a terrible overclock. It represents a 12.5% increase in processing power, and you can see the increase in performance in the test charts. I stressed this setup using the method you will read about in the Testing section. The 3.6GHz Athlon-II X2-260 withstood the stressing like a champ. I tried getting even higher by dropping the multiplier down as far as x13.5 and increasing the bus speed above 300MHz, but I wasn't ever able to achieve a stable setting higher on the Biostar TA890GXB-HD than the 3.6GHz I had already reached. All of my overclocking was done with air cooling only using the Scythe Mugen II CPU Cooler.
I must admit that I was a little disappointed by the overclocking up to this point. I have always been able to achieve much better results from the AMD Athlon-II series processors that I have worked with. Even the Athlon-II X2-255 was able to get up to 3.8GHz. In order to make sure that I hadn't reached the full potential of the Athlon-II X2-260 at 3.6GHz, I tried again using the ASUS M4A785TD-M EVO motherboard. I had reached 3.8GHz with the X2-255 on that motherboard, and I had reached 4.1GHz with the X3-445 on that motherboard. Sure enough, I was able to achieve a much better result using the ASUS motherboard when stressing the X2-260 as well.
Using the ASUS M4A785TD-M EVO, I was able to get up to 240MHz on the bus speed without even increasing the voltage. Extra voltage is often a big problem when it comes to overclocking, since it puts a lot of extra stress on the motherboard as well as the CPU. By increasing the voltage only slightly by 0.1 volts, I was able to reach a stable overclock at 3.9GHz, as you can see in the screenshot below.
With the Athlon-II X2-260 at a stable 3.9GHz, this represented over a 22% increase in power and was much closer to the results I have achieved with the other two AMD CPUs represented in this article. And that was at only 1.49V. After reaching that 3.9GHz, I decided to push the voltage as high as I was willing to go on the M4A785TD-M EVO, since I would not be using that motherboard as the test board; to 1.6V. At 1.6V I increased the Bus Speed to 260MHz and I was able to get into Windows, but the system would inevitably crash soon after I started stressing the CPU. This had the Athlon-II X2-260 at 4.16GHz. I started taking the Bus Speed down 1MHz at a time until I finally reached a stable overclock at a 253MHz bus speed. You can see on the screenshot below that this put the processor at 4.05GHz. After 12 hours of stressing, the CPU held strong at this level. This represents a 26% increase over stock speeds.
The difference between the overclock that I was able to reach with the ASUS M4A785TD-M EVO and the Biostar TA890GXB HD is not all that unusual. Even when using two different processors of the same make and model, or two of the same motherboard, they will likely result in different abilities as far as overclocking is concerned. I had hoped that the new 890GX chipset would provide some way for me to acheive a higher overclock, but in reality, that isn't very realistic. The mechanics of overclocking have more to do with the amount of voltage I can safely send to the CPU or through the northbridge. With both of these motherboards being entry-level products, neither has MOSFET heat sinks or even that large of a heatsink on the northbridge. So overall, I am not disappointed at all by either of them. Any way you look at it, getting the Athlon-II X3-445 to overclock from a stock 3.1GHz to 3.9GHz or 4.1GHz is a good deal. I hope you will all take the time to (carefully) test your own hardware to see how far you can safely stretch it. It certainly is a lot of fun.