OVERCLOCKING GUIDES: A Dummies Guide to Overclocking a Motherboard, RAM & CPU ... and all the joys this can bring

I knew nothing about overclocking a desktop PC, but over the last few weeks dearest Google has given me an education on how to overclock a motherboard, memory and CPU! I wanted to share what I’ve learned with others in this dummies guide to overclocking. Some of these tips are generic but others may be specific to my own PC. These are my old system specs:

Dummies Guide to Overclocking: System Specs

- OS: Windows 7 – 64-bit
- Asus P5QD Turbo motherboard
- Cooler Master Extreme Power PSU - 550w
- 4GB Corsair XMS2 Memory - DDR2-1066MHz ( pc2-8500 ), CL5, 2.1v
- TwinTech nVidia – 9800 GT - 1GD3E-HDMI-GE, GDDR3 256bit - PCI-E
- Intel Boxed Core2 Duo E8400 Processor - 3.00GHz Dual Core - Socket 775, 6MB cache, 1333MHz FSB

My memory is the latest upgrade and when it was first installed it was only reading as 800Mhz (rather than 1066Mhz). After fiddling with the AI Tweaker in the BIOS I managed to get it up to 999Mhz. Any other changes caused my system to crash – often my giving me the Blue Screen of Death.

After scouring the forums and trying several different things I found the following settings to work beautifully:

Considering that you have the latest BIOS (v.0301), try these:

Dummies Guide to Overclocking RAMSet AI Overclock Tuner to {Manual}
Set DRAM Frequency to {1066}
Set DRAM Static Read Control to {Disabled}
Set DRAM Read Training to { Disabled}
Set MEM OC Charger to {Enabled}
Set AI Clock Twister to {Light}*

Set DRAM Voltage to {2.1 - 2.2} [depending on the voltage sticker on the modules]
Set NB Voltage to {1.35 volts}
Set DRAM Timing Control to {Manual}
Set DRAM Timings to 5-5-5-18 (CL-TRCD-TRP-TRAS)
Set Row Refresh Cycle Time to {60 DRAM Clocks}

*NOTE: Setting the AI Clock Twister to anything above {light} may cause your system to crash when playing graphically-demanding games.

*NOTE 2: The above settings gave my ram a score of 7 in the Windows User Experience compared to a score of 6.7 when my ram was running at 800Mhz.

Problem: Memory Can't Run at Proper Frequency

The important things to know about memory are voltage (e.g. 2.1v) and timings or latency (represented as a string of numbers, e.g. 5-5-5-18). Tweaking RAM can be risky business if you attempt to set these values higher than what the manufacturer specifies. You can find your RAM values glued on the memory sticks themselves.

It is important to check that your BIOS is picking up the correct values else your RAM will not run at its full potential. If they are lower than what is specified, you can manually adjust your DRAM Timings under the AI Tweaking settings in your BIOS. Just make sure your type them in 100% correctly!

An Important Note From Tom's Hardware:

"After finishing the overclocking process you have to put your system through a tough and thorough testing procedure. If the system passes all the testing, only then can you talk of successful overclocking and feel confident that everything is working well ... Available freely on the web, Prime95's "torture test" has become the gold standard for CPU stability testing." - Tom

If things are still not working out for you, check if your memory supports Enhanced Performance Profiles (EPP). Alternatively, if the BIOS has a SPD setting for the memory, this should be used for the highest stability with your computer.

Dummies Guide to Overclocking: CPU Clock

Things can get a bit more complicated when having to tweak or overclock your CPU. This is where ratios and multipliers come into play.

For example, if you have a processor that has a CPU clock speed of 1.82GHz, the proper settings for the BIOS would be a bus speed of 166MHz and a multiplier of 11. (166MHz x 11 = 1.826 GHz).

If you need to run your ram 1066 @ 5-5-5-15 @ 2.1v and keep stock
CPU speed of 3.0Ghz, then you could use the following settings:

Dummies Guide to Overclocking a CPUSPD = 3.0
CPU FSB = 352
CPU Mult. = 8.5

Aftert setting your RAM voltage to 2.1v, the above settings should give you a CPU clock speed of 3.0ghz, and ram speed of DDR2-1056. However, many forumites argue that this is a wasted effort – resulting in wasted volts and unnecessary heat. You'd be better served overclocking your processor and running a 1:1 ratio (SPD = 2.0) while lowering voltage and timings.

Dummies Guide to Overclocking: Conclusions

Upping the voltage of your RAM and adjusting your memory timings seem to make all the difference to the number of Mhz you can set your ram at in the BIOS. FSB should also be set to manual with the highest possible setting selected (e.g. 400Mhz).

ASUS motherboards are notorious for being incompatible with certain brands of memory, so it may be wise to check what’s good to go on the ASUS support website before paying for any upgrades. Otherwise, if you have a similar system to mine I hope the above helps you to get the most out of your PC!

Related Article:

PCSTAT'S Guides: Overclocking the CPU, Motherboard & Memory

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