|Intel Sandy Bridge Overclocking Guide|
|Articles - Featured Guides|
|Written by Servando Silva|
|Tuesday, 19 April 2011|
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Overclocking Applications & Utilities
Times when overclocking was done via BIOS or hardware modifications without having specific applications to test and control parameters have come to an end. 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 P67 platform 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 are 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 that your RAM is working in Dual Channel mode (unless you've got 1 DIMM only) and your OS is recognizing all of it. P67 motherboards don't have a Northbridge, thus, NB frequency is grayed out. 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 in case it isn't, it will mean you'll need to decrease the memory divider/multiplier. Sandy Bridge unlocked CPUs allow you to overclock your CPU without increasing a single MHz in your RAM frequency, leaving it out of the equation. This is good and bad at the same time, because it means you won't have head-aches while overclocking your PC because you don't know your RAM, and because it won't limit our final OC. However, this also means your RAM won't be overclocked and the memory Bandwidth won't increase as it did in other platforms. If you're an avid overclocker you'll overclock your RAM after getting to know your CPU to get some extra MHz as usual.
Since I'm using an ASUS motherboard I'll use ASUS AI Suite II as my support application. AI Suite is one of the best applications I've ever seen for enthusiasts. In this case, Turbo V EVO along with all the sensors will be very useful to check frequencies, temperatures, voltages and other configurations. Turbo V EVO also changes frequency and voltage values in real time without restarting or applying profiles that need to be loaded at windows start, so that's a nice plus. If you have another motherboard from a different brand, I recommend checking their official page in order to get their overclocking software.
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.