|Intel Core-i3/i5/i7 LGA1156 Overclocking Guide|
|Articles - Featured Guides|
|Written by Servando Silva|
|Tuesday, 24 August 2010|
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Overclocking Applications & Utilities
Times when overclock was done by BIOS or hardware modifications without having specific applications to test and control parameters are over. In fact, we have plenty of different applications where we can monitor all our components and utilities to test how stable our machine is after the changes. In our Overclocking Guide for Beginners , we already published a list of utilities and tools for overclocking. Two years later, things haven't changed a lot. In fact, we still use the same tools posted in that guide, which is good news for "new" overclockers or people who might want to re-try it after some years being out of action. I've chose some tools supporting the latest P55/H55 platforms because that's what we're testing today. Don't worry if you feel too overwhelmed with information, the whole list will be written in the CPU Testing Methodology section.
Our first tool is a "must" between the utilities used today. CPU-Z, developed by CPUID is a very simple, yet complete application to check our components. There're some labels I'd like to explain here as they will be key to monitor your advances. So, open CPUz.exe and the next window will appear in your monitor:
CPU tab will show you basic information of the installed CPU, and if you want to overclock it, here is where you'll be 90% of the time. Please notice you can check CPU model and Core voltage in real time. Below, you can check the Core Speed, CPU multiplier, Bus Speed (BCLK or DMI for LGA1156 motherboards) and QPI frequency. Those will be the most useful values after all, and they all contain necessary information to achieve the best overclock.
Let's jump to the third tab. This will show you the Motherboard's manufacturer and model. More important, it will show the chipset and the BIOS version. Check your BIOS version and your manufacturer's page in order to confirm you have the latest version available as it might include enhancements and features along with a wider support for CPUs/RAM.
The next tab is called "Memory", and it will be important as you can monitor RAM frequencies and timings. Check your RAM is working in Dual Channel mode (unless you've got 1 DIMM only) and your OS is recognizing all of it. NB frequency for LGA 1156 motherboards actually represents "Uncore frequency", so don't be fooled by CPU-Z, as P55 motherboards don't have a Northbridge. Finally, check your timings to match with those in the specifications (for beginners) and don't forget DRAM frequency actually represents Dual Data Rate MHz, so, if you're reading 800MHz it's actually 1600MHz. DRAM frequency will increase along with BCLK, so you'll need to monitor this frequency to keep it stable or incase it isn't, it will mean you'll need to decrease the memory divider/multiplier.
Additionally, if you prefer complex applications, you can use the latest version of CPU Tweaker. This tool works great in newest Intel platforms and it'll show you all the information showed by CPU-Z all in the same window. Also, you can expand it to show memory sub-timings which you can modify "on-the-fly" while testing in the OS. I use CPU Tweaker as my second tool because it shows everything I need, including Turbo or EIST technologies and Uncore frequency is not confused with NB frequency.
Many brands have developed their own overclocking tools and many of them work great while having friendly user interfaces. If you want to achieve the best compatibility with your motherboard, you should check the official manufacturer's page and look for their tools. Brands like Gigabyte, ASUStek, MSI, ASRock and Biostar have been working hard to offer you monitoring tools were you can overclock and check temperatures in a graphic/visual interface. Some other brands like Gigabyte and ASUStek have gone wild enabling some pretty interesting features like "hardware overclocking", on-board buttons, LCD posters and wireless monitoring utilities. Perhaps, an interesting utility is ASUS Turbo V, which I'll be using today with my ASUS Maximus III Formula, mainly because every setting changed here is applied directly into the BIOS profile instead of OS/SW profiles like many other tools. This means you can actually test stability on your operating system and change values directly on the BIOS without restarting. Pretty cool, isn't it?