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Intel Sandy Bridge Overclocking Guide E-mail
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Written by Servando Silva   
Tuesday, 19 April 2011
Table of Contents: Page Index
Intel Sandy Bridge Overclocking Guide
Why Should I Overclock?
Overclocking Applications and Utilities
Processor Stability Testing
Understanding OC Variables
UEFI and Testing Methodology
Overclocking Frequency vs. Voltage
Overclock vs. Power Consumption
Overclock vs. Temperatures
Final Thoughts

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.

SandyBridge_OC_Analysis_Corei7_2600K.png

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.

SandyBridge_OC_Analysis_Mobo.png

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.

SandyBridge_OC_Analysis_RAM.png

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.

SandyBridge_OC_Analysis_TurboV-EVO.png

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.



 

Comments 

 
# RE: Intel Sandy Bridge Overclocking GuideJackNaylorPE 2011-04-21 12:37
Would have liked to see a comparison of setting the Turbo / Voltage to a fixed number versus using the Max turbo frequency / voltage offset method.
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# RE: RE: Intel Sandy Bridge Overclocking GuideServando Silva 2011-04-21 13:53
Hi Jack. Please check our forum as I've just explained why I didn't test that way. It would need another article just for that, or at least, a new set of tests.
Take care.
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# RE: Intel Sandy Bridge Overclocking GuideRobert17 2011-04-21 13:24
Nicely done. But you did make it seem like the "good old days" of mounting a PVC tank with a fish-tank pump feeding from an ice chest full of frigid water may be a thing of the past.

Not to get too far away from your core article regarding Sandy Bridge, but do you have any insight as to whether or not AMD will maintain OC potential in their new lineup?
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# RE: RE: Intel Sandy Bridge Overclocking GuideServando Silva 2011-04-21 13:57
Yeah. I've been overclocking for the last 10 years and I know many others who have been doing it for 15 years or so.
You know that phrase: "Like the old days". I'm not saying I don't like this new way of overclocking. Actually, I like not to pass several hours to find such a nasty or complex configuration for my PC, and doing it the the old way. New OC tools and features help a lot when what you just need is to bump your PC speed and get back to work, but sometimes it was funny to test and read a lot for that.
Also, sub-zero overclocking is quite fun, but with Sandy Bridge they somehow killed it.

Regarding the new AMD processors, I still have no information about them, so I'm anxious to test one.
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# RE: RE: RE: Intel Sandy Bridge Overclocking GuideDavid Ramsey 2011-04-21 14:30
The new way of overclocking-- raising the maximum multiplier use by Turbo Boost-- has one huge advantage over the old ways of increasing BCLK or the base multiplier: to wit, the processor can still downclock to low speeds when you don't need the performance. My 4.1gHz 980x always runs at 4.1gHz. A 4+gHz Sandy Bridge can idle at the same speed it does non-overclocked, saving a lot of power (and generating less heat).
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# RE: RE: RE: RE: Intel Sandy Bridge Overclocking GuideRobert17 2011-04-21 15:51
I'm not complaining. Maybe just pining a bit. I set up a simple OC on my MB, seldom vary it due to the stability, change to game, pretty much ignoring the power consumption. My bad. What limited understanding I have of UEFI seems to indicate that rebooting to change configs may become simpler.

And certainly the advantages of having a MB/CPU combo that is "self-monitoring" power, thrust, pitch and yaw outweigh the "good old days". And yes, I mostly like automatic transmissions over three-on-the-tree these days as well.
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# RE: RE: RE: RE: Intel Sandy Bridge Overclocking GuideServando Silva 2011-04-22 11:45
Completely true! As I've said. I'm not really complaining. I like the new way as it benefits final users. It's just they took away that "chilli spice" when overclocking. Also, they limited it to Unlocked processors and certain platforms.
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# RE: RE: RE: Intel Sandy Bridge Overclocking GuideOlle P 2011-04-22 10:30
"... sub-zero overclocking is quite fun, but with Sandy Bridge they somehow killed it."

You can say that again! I read somewhere that Sandy Bridge reach its peak performance at about 20C. If you cool it more than that it won't reach quite as high speeds.
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# RE: RE: RE: RE: Intel Sandy Bridge Overclocking GuideServando Silva 2011-04-22 11:48
Do you want me to say it louder? Yeah!
I've heard some processors do worst when going below 10-20C degrees. Again, it's good because now many users will be able to play and overclock without going extreme, but it won't be as interesting for extreme users.
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# RE: Intel Sandy Bridge Overclocking GuideJackNaylorPE 2011-04-24 15:35
One other thing I'd love to see addressed ... POITA ain't I :) ..... the 2600k I assume is running hotter cause of the HT..... Prior to reading the article, I cam to the same conclusion that 4.4 Ghz was the sweet spot for the 2600k for 24/7/365. Since this was a B'day build for Son No. 3, w/ Spring break and all I haven't been able to get near the thing in a week.....I used the Asus BIOS Profile feature to store OC Profiles from 4.0 to 4.8 GHz w/ these temps on the SIlver Arrow cooler:

Max Core Temps under (Idle - P95 load)

GHz..... 3.8 ... 4.00 ...... 4.2 ........ 4.4 ........ 4.6 ....... 4.80
Core 1 (51) (31 - 52) (29 - 54) (29 - 56) (31 - 62) (29 - 69)
Core 2 (53) (30 - 54) (30 - 56) (30 - 60) (31 - 66) (28 - 75)
Core 3 (53) (23 - 55) (22 - 57) (22 - 60) (31 - 68) (28 - 79)
Core 4 (51) (29 - 52) (28 - 55) (29 - 57) )31 - 65) (28 - 72)

Hope that formats well

What I am thinking now is making a "gaming profile" w/ HT turned off since I can prolly drop 7 - 10C at 4.8 Ghz ..... will give it a # when kid gets back in school but wondering if anyone's tried yet on SB.
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