In the Forums...
Posted: January 26, 2000
Written by: Keith "Farrel" McClellan
System Stability Testing
There are generally two types of testing that I perform on a newly overclocked system. One is an intensive integer/FPU test which keeps processor utilization up between 95 & 100% for upwards of a half an hour. If the CPU passes this test, the overclock on the CPU itself is stable. However, even if the system passes that test, I still run a gaming test. The gaming test determines how well the rest of the system responded to the overclock (this is particularly important when dealing with non-standard bus speeds and out-of-spec RAM. Another test that I recommend, if you own the software, is the SiSoft Sandra benchmarks, or alternatively, WinBench 2000. Both pieces of software do subsystem specific testing - something that can be very important, particularly if you are trying to determine which pieces of hardware within your system are causing a failed overclock.
The intensive integer/FPU test is aptly named Stability Test and can be downloaded at www.tweakfiles.com. To use this test, you need to configure it before you overclock. This test will not only keep CPU utilization up at 100%, it will also make sure that the system isn't making any mistakes. This test only takes about a half an hour to complete and is definitely worth the time. If your computer doesn't pass this test, first try to either add more cooling or up the chip voltage a little bit and see if it works - otherwise drop down to the troubleshooting section for a few tips.
The second test consists of either using Unreal in Flyby mode with everything turned on (OpenGL), or using 3Dmark 2000 in loop mode (D3D). You really should only use 3Dmark 2000 if your system's OpenGL drivers are less than satisfactory. If you don't have a copy of Unreal, but your computer has a robust OpenGL driver, another alternative would be to use the Q3 demo with xero's 'monkeycrusher' demo. If your system passes both the integer and gaming tests, you have got yourself a stable system. Congrats.
Troubleshooting a Failed Overclock
To do this kind of troubleshooting, your computer has to be booted into Windows. If it isn't, take the steps outlined above to increase the stability of your system. Once you are in Windows, you will need to either install a copy of SiSoft Sandra or Winbench 2000. Then take each of the subsystem tests and run them separately from each other. Make note of which subsystem tests cause the system to crash, and focus on those parts of the system. That may mean adding a hard drive fan, some RAM cooling, etc. Once you have focused on all of the parts of the system that cause a crash (this may include the processor itself as well), go back and go through the system stability tests once again. If you can't get the system to pass the tests now, you may need to go back and lower the speed of the processor.
If you still refuse to give up on your 'golden' speed, however, you may want to try the following things:
- Leave your computer's case open
- Put your computer closer to your air conditioner
- Move your computer farther away from any heating ducts
- Make sure the computer has at least 6" of breathing room (15 cm) between it and anything else.
- Put the computer closer to the floor and farther away from anything that creates heat (your subwoofer, monitor, etc)
- Immerse your system in supercooled Jell-O gelatin and avoid eating it's jiggly goodness (yes, that was a joke).