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Pentium 4 Overclocking (Page 1/8)

Posted: June 22th, 2001
Written by: Tuan "Solace" Nguyen


Youíve been sitting around with that Celeron for almost two years and you finally decided to upgrade to a shiny new Pentium 4 system. You wanted to go with an Athlon, but horror stories about chips breaking and incompatibility issues bogged you down. You feel you need to stick to tried and true tactics so Intel was your best bet. But now that your systemís up and running, you feel that itís not quite up there with the Jonesí. Donít fret. This article will guide you through the process of whipping your system into shape.

Currently, there are a few flavors of the Pentium 4 on sale at your local computer store with the 1.7GHz version being the mightiest. Weíre going to be working with the 1.7GHz version because Intel has cut its prices for Pentium 4 processors by a significant amount, making high-end Intel purchases possible.

Hereís what weíll be taking a look at in this article:

Replacing the current CPU to a shiny new 1.7GHz Pentium 4,
Optimizing the heatsink for better performance,
Replacing the heatsinks on the video card,
Overclocking the CPU,
Overclocking the video card,
Optimizing the system for game performance,
Benchmarking the system.

If you havenít read my guide on the Pentium 4ís core technology, please read it before continuing as it will explain a few points about what Iíll be doing in this article, and why.

Optimization Friendly

The Pentium 4 is one of the best processors out there to optimize because of its long pipelines. Having deeper pipelines with more stages means that the Pentium 4 can increase in speed rather easily.

A pipeline is like an assembly line. Chunks of data pass through the pipeline going through stages. In the P6 architecture, there were 10 stages. In Intelís new Hyper Pipeline Technology, there are 20 stages. What does this all have to do with increasing processor speed? Well, to increase processor speed, you have to make it do less per clock cycle, that is, per Hz. You may now be asking, ďWell doesnít a 10-stage pipeline have to do less work than a 20-stage pipeline?Ē The quick answer is no, it doesnít.

What I mean by doing less work is that since the pipeline is longer, it will also take longer for instructions to be processed all the way to the end of the pipeline. With the P6 pipeline, the processor could do, letís say 3 stages per clock cycle. Now letís say with Hyper Pipeline, the Pentium 4 also can do 3 stages per cycle. The Pentium 4 now does 3 out of 20 whereas the P6 did 3 out of 10 -- 50% work per clock cycle. If you design a processor to do less per clock cycle, it is able to reach much higher speeds than processors that do more per clock cycle. This is the reason why Intel released the Pentium 4 at such high speeds. If they were releasing another Pentium III processor, it would likely be only around 1.2GHz. Obviously Intel has the capabilities to create multi GHz processors -- evident with the Pentium 4 -- it's just that the P6 architecture has reached its limits.

Now that we know why the Pentium 4 can reach high speeds, weíll attempt to put that theory to practice.

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