Topic Title: APU FM2 Endurance Overclocking
Topic Summary: Get more out of your APU with a moderate OC
Created On: 10/07/2013 05:00 AM
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 10/07/2013 05:00 AM
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APU FM2 Endurance Overclocking
by rhoydec

As you would quickly pick-up reading below, my key objective in overclocking is to come up with an endurance configuration which will be good for long term use. For e.g., the A8-5600K could give 4.5 GHz CPU and 1,250 MHz iGPU but going there will certainly shorten the life span of the rig and would require high end coolers. You will see I’ve subjected the rig to over twelve hours of torture and stability tests whilst maintaining that the 63C temp barrier is not breached during that entire period

I also wanted that the setting below will be good using normal aftermarket air coolers only. I wanted this template accessible for a budget build as putting high end liquid coolers may not sound sensible to some APU builders

Final results, 3DMark11 scores -
1,181 (Baseline) - Stock <click here for link>
1,314 (111%) - Overclock, DDR3 1,600 <click here for link>
1,410 (119%) - Overclock, DDR3 2,000+ <click here for link>

Overclocking objectives -
- Consideration for economically available aftermarket air coolers
- Moderation in target frequencies for long term use and rig durability
- Promotes undervolting where possible and secures that 63C temp barrier is not exceeded even during several hours of rig torture tests
- Minimizes TDP by enabling the APU power saving features whilst maintaining stability
- BIOS based overclock and not software based for precision and stability

Stability and temperature tests <click here for link>
Prime95 - 10+ continuous hours of Blend mode, passed with 0 warning and 0 error
Memtest86+ - 3 continuous hours, 3 passes, 0 error
Maximum recorded temp in 10+ continuous hours of Prime95 torture test - 62C
Average on load temp during 10+ continuous hours of Prime95 torture test - 56~59C
Casing closed, not in air conditioned room and no electric fan assistance

Main components - <click here for link>
APU - AMD A8-5600K, 3.6/3.9 GHz base/turbo
Mobo - Gigabyte GA-F2A85XN-WIFI rev 1.0, BIOS ver F2
Memory - 2 x 4GB Corsair Vengeance DDR3 1600 MHz CL9,
HDD - 1 TB Western Digital Blue SATA 3

Power, casing and cooling components -
PSU - Cooler Master Thunder M 520 modular, modded
Casing - Cooler Master Elite 120, modded
Liquid cooling - Cooler Master Seidon 120V
Case fans - Cooler Master, 1 off 120mm + 1 off 80 mm included in Elite 120 casing, modded
Fan power hub - Deepcool
VRM heatsink - Thermaltake HR-09 passive cooled, modded
NB heatsink - Thermaltake HR-05 passive cooled

Discreet graphics card - Not relevant on this topic

Final key settings -
CPU - 3.97/4.08 GHz base/turbo at 37/38 multipliers, 1.3375V undervolt (was 3.6/3.9 GHz base/turbo, 1.375V)
iGPU - HD 7560D, 900+ MHz (was 760 MHz)
NB - 2,000+ MHz, 1.2625V (was 1,800 MHz)
DRAM - DDR3 2,000+, Timings 9-10-9-27-2T, 1.62V (was 1600, Timings 9-9-9-24-2T, 1.5V)
BCLK - 107 MHz (was 100 MHz)
SATA - AHCI still set and full features of SSD can still be used

Power saving features settings -
Turbo - Enabled, see CPU multipliers above
Cool and Quiet - Enabled, verified that P state settings are actually functioning in Windows
C6 mode - Enabled
APM - Enabled, AMD application power management

Other relevant settings -
Fan speed mode - just Normal, i.e. adjusts speed automatically with temp and not forced to always at full speed, good for fan life and energy efficiency
XMP and AMP, Extreme and AMD memory profiles - Disabled
Memory multiplier - 18.66, i.e. 18.66 x 107 = est 2,000 MHz
CPU core control - Automatic which is the default

My suggestions and secrets (not anymore)

Your suggestions are most welcome. Please feel free to suggest adjustments to this posts and I will edit it. I meant this information to be used by those who are still trying to learn to overclock

While I have endeavoured to personally provide valid test results, the risks of rig and component failure reside with the individual
Minimum overclocking tool kit - CPUz, GPUz, Prime95, Memtest86+ in USB, HWMonitor and 3DMark11

The AMD stock air cooler for the APU is simply not meant and not good enough for overclocking. With about $30, you could buy a decent aftermarket air cooler
Prefer mobo’s with more VRM channels and heat sinks on these as the APU is known to generate a lot of heat there. While MOSFETs and chokes are designed to sustain high temps, I have personally seen them melt in the past.
Aftermarket heat sinks for the VRM and NB are good investments because these are inexpensive and could be reused in your next build <click here for link>
Know the absolute maximum temperature you do not want to breach and hold steadfast on them even if the opportunity and temptation to increase GPU and iGPU frequencies are there. In my case, I use 63C
Know your absolute maximum voltages. It’s a difficult call because if you go to published information, these wildly vary. Start with the manufacturer’s recommendation. In my case, I use, CPU 1.4V, NB 1.275V, DRAM 1.63V
Do keep a close watch of temps during the overclocking process

A good sequence for overclocking the APU is - iGPU first, CPU second, NB third and DRAM last. Record the stable voltages against target frequencies for the iGPU and CPU as these data will be very important when you adjust the NB and DRAM <click here for link> <click here for link>
During voltage tuning for the iGPU and CPU, determine at which voltage level where voltage bumps is providing diminishing support to increasing the frequency. I recommend that the target frequency be quite lower than this voltage of diminishing support

BCLK default is at 100 MHz, before increasing it, ensure that you temporarily lower the multipliers and frequencies first for the CPU, DRAM and iGPU to safe levels. E.g., too high DRAM frequency can corrupt HDD
SATA setting to AHCI mode is needed for SSD to function. The BCLK cannot be raised too high if AHCI is enabled. The range where AHCI functionality is lost wildly varies and I’ve seen 105~110 MHz BCLK published. However, my AHCI is stable up to 112 MHz BCLK in my A85x mobo
If you need to use a high BCLK, set SATA to IDE mode and you can go up to 130+ MHz. This is useful if you do not have a Black edition or K APU where the multipliers cannot be set higher and can only set lower
The NB frequency by default is at 1,800 MHz. There is only slight increase in performance if this is raised to just above 2,000 MHz. However, I found that this supports memory overclock stability
When buying memory, opt for low stock CAS latency and voltage. This increases your chance to overclock it higher. To save time, Google the particular model of your memory and locate the technical reviews as this will likely contain settings for overclock. It’s quite complex to tweak memory timings

As the last round of fine tuning, I recommend applying the AMD power saving features as I’ve seen this results to lower TDP and temperatures. Be prepared to carry out a second set of voltage fine tuning for the CPU and NB when you enable power savings features such as CnQ, Turbo and APM. See items 12 and 13 of this link - <click here for link>
With the power saving features disabled, even if the voltages are Prime95 stable, these will likely fail Prime95 when these power saving features are enabled. In my case, a couple of voltage bumps achieved the stability
Go to Windows Control Panel to change power setting from Maximum to Balanced to enable CnQ and possibly Turbo. Use CPUz to verify if the CPU frequency is auto adjusting to a much lower frequency and voltage when the rig is idle
The CPU multiplier/frequency for Turbo is the target for CPU voltage setting

Edited: 10/08/2013 at 12:20 AM by rhoydec
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