I recon I've built over a hundred systems in my time, never delved as deeply as some go, but know more than enough to build a stable well put together machine. I put effort into doing a good job, and am proud of the job at the end. And then it comes to my system. Mine. Then one that should be perfect. Well here we go anyway. As the title suggests.
"Right...that's it! I've had enough...! I'm sick and tired to my back teeth of this...! 'I'm going to give you the thrashing of a life time...!' You're done for now...! I can't stand it a second longer...! You've crashed for the last time...! You've let me down, you've let my housemate down, and you've let yourself down! Well no more! You are finished!"
And so it was. Mid restart, the power cable come out the back the monitor is turned off and it receives a good whack just to be sure. I stop a second, slightly shocked, like hitting a small child. Christ, I shouldn't do that. I feel a twinge of regret as some rouge thought of 'You might have damaged it' runs through my mind. This dose not linger though. It is promptly run through by a far more powerful thought along the lines of "IT ~@!#ING WELL DESERVED IT!". And so it did. It had cost me over 6 months of constant random restarts, crashes during software installation, and the general stability you would expect from a Yorkshire man on a stag do. From now and hence forth it shall be known as 'IT THAT SHALL NOT BE NAMED'!
My housemate looks over at me from behind the monitor of his perfectly stable computer that I built for him a year ago and he has deviously overclocked at bit. The smug swine! I thank him for his understanding in this scenario with a pack of smokes to the forehead. "Just you wait, my smug friend" I say to myself, "for tonight whilst you sleep, I shall commandeer your system through the admin account you haven't locked out, tut tut... and buy!"
And so I did, some hunting found the items I wanted on eBay and bought the things;
CPU: AMD AM2 Athlon Black Edition 6400+ (3.2 GHz - Windsor - 125w)
COOLER: Scythe - Not sure of model number. Blooming huge though, just fits in case.
MOBO: ASUS M2N-Sli Deluxe (570-Sli , HT-2000 MT/S , 4pin)
RAM: 2gig Corsair XMS2 C4 PC2-6400 (4-4-4-12 - 1.9v)
PSU: Coolmaster Real Power 620w Modular PSU
I decided to carry these bits over from....it! ;
VIDEO: 2x NVIDIA GeForce 7600GT 256mb (Sli Enabled)
OS: Windows XP Pro x64
HDD: 2x SATA 120g
Then I decided that it would be prudent to find out a few things about them. The quirks you usually get with all hardware. Ah...! It turns out the mobo I ordered it picky and can be unstable unless used with just the right kit. Great I think, just blooming fantastic. God *****. So I read on. By chance, it seams that I ordered the right RAM for the board, and that there weren't any visable complaints with the CPU. Excellent, might not be so bad then. So I wait a few days. Checking every now and then, getting a little more anxious that I had bought all the wrong stuff and it was going to be just as much of a mess as 'IT THAT SHALL NOT BE NAMED'. Then it all arrives in the same day, and by that afternoon, I've built it up and am installing windows. Everything goes ok, the floppy with the sata drivers actually had the x64 drivers, a personal first. Windows installs ok, and boots up for the first time. I always shut the system down here once for about a minute, old habit. I'm thinkg to myself, you're ok so far, but you have some way to go yet... 'IT THAT SHALL NOT BE NAMED' went this far, but will you carry the baton further?
So here I sit, finger poised over the power button, flashes of doubt from my last system flashing through my mind. "Please, please don't crash now" I say to myself. Click. I've already installed windows, just got to set it up now. I sit back, watching the windows Progress bar tick across. 1...2...3...4...5... Welcome to Windows! So I log straight onto the Admin account. Open D:\ and browse down to the drivers I downloaded that morning. First, AMD CPU Driver & Optimizer. Quick restart then the mobo drivers, another restart and on go the video drivers. Restart again and I install the sound card and the monitor drivers.
Now I check the event log and have a look for anything suspicious. Nothing to worry about so I pull up Device manager. Everything's loaded fine. No problems. Next I decide to have a look at the Mobo CD software. I install ASUS PC Probe and the AI Booster utilities. I open them both and have a look at how everything's running. The first thing that strikes me is the CPU temp. I already had looked at what temp I should be expecting, and I was looking for something around 35-45. Well, a nice surprise to see it hovering idle around 26! I admit to myself though that this is probably due to the fact I like keeping my study cool. However, I must mention this in a forum I think to myself, people often forget about the temp of the air into a system. I glance over all the options available to me, and am satisfied with the data provided.
So now I sit back and think, what's the next step now? I need to test the stability of the system in comparison to 'IT THAT SHALL NOT BE NAMED!'. With that old infernal bringer of frustration, I would be lucky to install a game like QUAKE IV without it crashing. I glance to my left and look at the shiny rapper surrounding 'Hellgate London'. Well, it's probably as good a start as any other. In it goes... blah blah... yeah, agree... yes, default location... no, I don't want any desktop shortcuts... I pause for a moment before clicking Install. I take this moment to have a quite few words with my new system. "My patients runs dry. Believe me when I say to you, do, or die!". Install, and off she goes. So after this, I need to do what... the answer arrives in front of me in the form of a well needed cig and brew. Respect to the housemate. Ah, much better.
Ok the next steps obvious, play the game a bit, stick everything on full whack and see how it behaves. It installed ok. "Aha" I call aloud "victory may still be mine!". Pull my self a little closer and settle down to a bit of shooting. It was... well, ah... a little disappointing... The game that is. I stuck everything on full, not sure if I would be playable and was more then happy with the frame rate. Now I glance over at 'Crysis' sat there, also in its gleaming wrapper. "No, wait. Don't get too excited. Wait for the 8800GT's". Ok then, everything seams fine, 'IT THAT SHALL NOT BE NAMED' would have curled it scraggy tail and hid at the first sight of me wanting to actually DO anything. Right then, I'm happy enough performance wise, and the game can wait, so I exit. Right then, guess it's time to tweak things a little. Better sort windows out anyway. Change a bunch of settings so windows feels and looks more how I like, then take out some of the garbage. I change the windows shell to one I downloaded from wincustomize.com and then pull 3Dmark out and bang that on. Quick restart and then back into windows to clean up and defrag.
Whilst it's defragging, from nowhere at all I decide that on this system, I'm going to do some overclocking. Up come IE, and I check out a few things regarding the mobo and the CPU with overclocking. I discover that the mobo is pretty limited. It seams to be a combination of the 4-pin power and the high watt CPU. But then, I'm not the quickest of cats, and I pretty much call it an end there. I decide that I do know enough about the basic principles behind overclocking regarding the changes resulting from increasing the FSB, memory timings, and multiplier values. When the defrag is complete, I restart and enter the BIOS. Here I knock the External Frequency up to 210, check the multiplier is on 16, damned that is its limit, change the RAM voltage from auto to 1.9v. Then I stop and look at all the other settings. Hm, now I'm really not sure what voltage I should really tweak this setup to. I knew the RAM runs at 1.9v and some users reported issues regarding this in forums, but as for the processor, I just haven't looked before. Never needed. "Well, I'll run it like that and check those ASUS tools" I think.
After the boot up, I check and everything looks ok, play 'Hellgate' a bit, and do notice an improvement, not vast but seamed like there were a few extra frames per sec. I exit the game and look at the ASUS tools again. CPU Temp sitting at 29. Excellent...! (As Mr. Burns) ok everything looks stable so let's start tweaking External frequency through this tool. Just on increment at a time. 211...212...213...214...215...216...217 CRASH! Hmmm, ok then, to far it seams. Nearly 3.5 GHz. So I restart and in the BIOS set the External Frequency to 215 MHz, save and boot up. Back in windows and I open the ASUS tools again. I decide to make note of all the various voltage and control settings available. So the CPU is clocked at 3440 GHz , the FSB is at 1075.05. The CPU Vcore is ticking between 1.46 and 1.48 and the PCI-E voltage is set to 3.33v. The CPU is running at 28c ish and the Mobo is reporting 38c.
So then, I guess that my next step must be to go a little deeper into each of these settings. I look at the clock, 19:35, ah, plenty of time. I suggest to my friend that he check the settings, see if they look right to him. He suggests that I get the kettle on. As I make the brews I feel a little wave of optimism. A new branch to look into. I had always considered overclocking, but have never been displeased with the performance. I never bothered with 'IT THAT HSALL NOT BE NAMED' for frear of literally setting it on fire. But I am glad I have looked into this now, on something that feels stable enough to cope. Of course, this could mean yet more money. In fact, I can almost see a new mobo on the horizon.
If anyone feels that they could help guide me in the right direction then please post away to your hearts content. I'm looking for any advice really, it'll all be appreciated. I'll stick another little ramble up when the journey takes some new turns.
Author Icon - Unholy Trinity (The Pain Box) - Chad Michael Ward