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AMD Athlon XP 2400+: The 2800+ may be faster at stock speeds, but you'll be surprised what this "budget" CPU can do at a fraction of the price. Oh, it also overclocks like a champ.
 
 
Date: February 3, 2003
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Overclocking

As you may know, the TBred "B" CPUs have been overclocking like champs around the web. Not wanting to hold anything back, I slapped the biggest 80mm fan I had, a Delta SHE 68CFM, on our Swiftech MCX462+ and proceeded to testing.

The Epox 8RDA+ used for testing allows for PCI/AGP locking (which we did) as well as lowering the memory speed, percentage-wise in relation to the FSB. Although this may not be the best environment for maximum performance, our goal is to test the CPU's OC ability... not the ram. This is actually a technique that should be practiced, as once you've determined the maximum overclock of the CPU/motherboard, you can start tweaking the ram to get the right balance.

The first step will to simply see what we can do out of the box. The default multiplier is 15, and the default FSB is 133. Our first attempt was to go for a 166FSB.

Posting at 166FSB wasn't a problem, but booting into windows was a whole other story. We were successful at 165FSB though. Thumbnails are clickable...


15x165

A 487MHz overclock was pretty satisfying, although I was hoping for a 500MHz+ OC. Just in case you're wondering, vCore was at 1.95v. We ran though our usual gamut of benchmarks without any issues, and the system was rock solid. Not wanting to rest at 2.487GHz, it's time to unlock the multipliers, and push the FSB harder.

Unlocking a TBred requires connecting the L3, #5 bridge. This will unlock multipliers 12.5 and under. I should also note that the Epox 8RDA+ unlocks TBreds without modifications. We managed to hit 12.5x201, but Windows simply refused to POST. We started dropping 1MHz at a time before settling on 12.5x198.


12.5x198

The resulting overclock is 486MHz over stock, which is about the same as we got with 15x165. Perhaps an even bigger cooler may have netted us more success, but considering the more expensive 2800+ is clocked at 2.241GHz, we were generally satisfied with our end result.

Test Setup

Athlon XP 2400+, 2.0GHz (Provided by )
Epox 8RDA+ nForce2 Motherboard
2 x 256 Crucial PC2700 Ram
ATi Radeon 9700 Pro
120GB Western Digital SE 8MB Cache

As will all our reviews related to benchmarking, a reformat and reinstall of Windows XP SP1 is done. The OS is a default installation, with no optimizations, in order to easily maintain a consistent test bed, and for you, the readers, to know what our settings are, should you wish to compare your results. The same with drivers, no tweaking is done.

Ed. Note: There seems to be some confusion about the last paragraph. We do run the latest drivers and OS updates with all benchmarks. We also disable all unnecessary background apps. What we don't do is turn off dozens of Windows services, and tweak video drivers to best performance (we leave it at balanced). We don't do this because everyone has their own way of doing it, so your numbers may be higher or lower than ours.

That being said, motherboard settings are configured as optimal as allowed by the BIOS. If the system is unstable, we'll drop a setting back, but we do this mostly to show motherboard/CPUs in their best light.

Drivers used will be the most recent as of this writing (ex: Catalyst 3.0 for Radeon).

Test software will be:

SiSoft Sandra 2003
PC Mark 2002
3D Mark 2001SE
Unreal Tournament 2003
Quake 3: Arena
Jedi Knight 2

Except for 3D Mark, all game tests are done at 640x480 to eliminate the video card as a possible bottleneck (though the Radeon 9700 will not likely have any problems at any resolution). Quake 3 and Jedi Knight 2 were run at "Fastest" settings.

For the benchmarks, we will be demonstrating stock 15x133FSB (2400+), and an overclocked bus @ 12x166 (2400+). We will be adding in some Pentium 4 2.4B (Shuttle XPC SS51) numbers for the heck of it, since I'm sure many of you would like to see comparative scores.

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