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Intel Sandy Bridge Overclocking Guide E-mail
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Written by Servando Silva   
Wednesday, 20 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

Intel Sandy Bridge Final Thoughts

I hope I've covered the basics of overclocking the Sandy Bridge platforms in this article, and even more, I hope to persuade you to try it with your PC, as you don't really have anything to lose, while you have a lot to gain. When someone starts overclocking, it becomes a passion at that moment, and you don't want to use your PC at stock settings again. This way, you not only understand your PC in a better way, but it works in practice, in order to help you identify bugs and errors in different setups. You'll get accustomed to identifying variables and fix both hardware and software errors and the best part is that you'll feel satisfied with yourself as you start knowing better, each part of your PC.SandyBridge_OC_Analysis_4.8.png

More than analyzing the enhanced performance of an overclocked system versus a stock one, I hope to have prepared the terrain for those who want to start overclocking, but are scared to try it with their PCs. The reason I did all the tests with each processor was I wanted to show you an example of what you can achieve by overclocking, and how this will impact your heat production and power consumption. Also, you might be able to achieve similar clocks with similar setups. Just remember every CPU/Motherboard is different, and that means you could get better results, as well as you could have disappointing results. But overall, I think this little analysis will help you to get to know with the most "common" values and limits of Sandy Bridge CPUs.

We are close to 0 extra versions to test as we don't have any other unlocked CPU at the moment. At the time I'm writing this article, there are some signs of the Z68 chipset, which will be some kind of a hybrid between P67 and H67, but until then, we're stuck with a P67 platform and the Core i5 2500K and the i7 2600K processors.

Intel Sandy Bridge Overclocking Guide Conclusion

I want to end this article by letting you know that I'm very impressed with the overclocking abilities of the new Sandy Bridge processors. Intel made the whole overclocking process easier, and the clocks we reach with the new processors are just insane! The bad thing is that we're now fully limited to certain chipset and processors to do so, while the rest of the CPUs are fully locked to their Turbo frequencies. In the past, getting a Core i3 and overclocking it like hell was very fun, as it represented a very competitive product in the low-mid market. With Sandy Bridge there won't be any more overclocked entry-level setups, or overclocked HTPCs.

Also, there's always the point of learning and having great skills to understand how different settings and variables work, but with Sandy Bridge all things are easier, and that means more people will be able to compete or achieve high clocks without reading and visiting multiple different sites and forums as they did before. It's just a win-lose paradigm, depending on which side of the road we are positioned. I must also add that sub-zero overclocking was pretty fun to do. Intel somehow killed this as it seems Sandy Bridge CPUs won't clock that high at subzero temperatures, and the difference is minimum.

We are all expecting to see new unlocked CPUs (perhaps a Core i3 unlocked edition) and the Z68 platform along with Ivy Bridge and the new 2011 socket to see where's the future going, but meanwhile, we can get some fun with air/water coolers and the actual Sandy Bridge CPUs now that the S-ATA bug is no longer on B3 revision motherboards.

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# 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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