Overclocking Info/Guidance Request
So I am building a new system and now have enough of my parts in that I will be putting it together this weekend. This is the 5th system I have built and with this one I would like to do some actual overclocking. With my previous systems I did a little "overclocking" using stuff like AMD overdrive on auto, but this time I want to properly overclock. First what I have in the new system;
CASE> Antec 900 V1 (front 2 fans and rear fan as intake, side fan and top fan as exhaust)
PSU> Enermax 1000W (older long box style I forget the model number)
MOBO> ASUS Sabertooth 990FX
CPU> AMD 980 BE
COOLER> Zalman CNPS7X (using stock cooler for first week as this is on back order)
GPU> 2X Sapphire Radeon HD6950 2G DDR5 800mhz
RAM> Corsair Vengeance LP 16G (4x4G) DDR3-1600
HD> Western Digital Caviar Black 1TB 7200rpm 32m cache dual proc
HD> Seagate Barracuda 1TB 7200rpm 16m cache storage drive
HD> Western Digital Enterprise Storage 500G RE4 secure back-up
OS> Windows 7 Home Premium 64bit
MONITOR> 3X Acer S231HL
So since my cooler is not going to be here for another week I thought I would start with my GPUs and work on CPU/RAM second. Is this a bad idea should I wait and do CPU/RAM first or doing everything at once?
When it came to adjusting settings for a beginer like me what is better making the adjust right in the BIOS (the sabertooth is supposed to have a perfect BIOS interface for doing this) or use a program within windows?
If I use a program within windows I have looked at AMD Overdrive for the CPU/RAM and either MSI Afterburner or Sapphire TriXX. Are these good options? Since I am running Sapphire cards is it a better option to use their software?
Are there any good guides around for this that are not either focused on someone turning on a computer for the first time and bloated with unneeded bs or focused on experts expecting you to have a large amount of experience/knowledge?
I am really looking for a guide that will tell me which settings to adjust, in what increments and in what combinations with stability tests in between.
My basc knowledge has me thinking the following are the items I will be adjusting
CPU> Multiplier, FSB, Voltage
RAM> Frequency, Voltage
GPU> Clock speed, Shader rate, Voltage
What am I missing in that list? What items should be adjusted together and what what seperately between testing?
As you can see I basically have enough knowledge to be dangerous and that could be bad, so anything you guys can provide would truly be appreciated.
You can start overclocking with any component - just remember you ALWAYS only change one thing at a time. So if you start with GPUs, stabilize that first and then move on to CPU. Depending on how your cooling is set up, it's not bad to start with GPU because usually the GPU will heat the air around the upper part of the motherboard which will affect what you can do with the CPU and RAM. I know my computer is capable of a higher CPU overclock when the GPU is not loaded for instance.
I've always liked BIOS because you are able to use the POST and the OS boot as part of your stability test. I've had instances where I could pass Prime95 but restarting the computer breaks. Additionally, unless they changed stuff recently, AMD Overdrive and other CPU OCing software just crashed for me, stable OC or not.
I'll leave the rest of the questions to someone who overclocks AMDs more.
Your list of settings looks about right, except you're missing system RAM timings (e.g. the 9-9-9-24 or whatever your RAM says on the box) and GPU memory clock speed. Also the multipliers on AMDs are broken up into 3 separate multipliers:
You probably won't have to touch the "bus" because of your unlocked processor unless you want a really fine grain overclock (there really isn't a physical bus frequency to talk about ever since AMD K8 and Intel Nehalem).
EDIT: Generally PCI-E clock (keep that default, it doesn't give you any benefits) and voltage are the only ways to permanently kill components.
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