As if I don’t have enough grief: overclocking!

My custom-built (for quiet) studio PC is based in an Intel Core 2 Quad Q6600 CPU (and an ASUS P5E motherboard). I have been completely contented with this for several months. I don’t really get the sense when I’m running my main applications (Live, Sonar, and Reason) that I need any more power.

But then you read in various forums and blogs about people with the Q6600 CPU running it at 3, 3.2, 3.4 and even higher GHz ratings (its standard “speed” is 2.4GHz). So I started reading up on what I could do to goose my system a bit. My goal is to run it at an effective speed of 3.0 Ghz which would give me a “free” 25% speed boost.

This turns out to be sort of a complicated operation. There are dozens of different parameters which determine how fast your computer processes data vs. its heat output (and therefore noise and longevity.)

Most of the posts I read in different forum are hobbyists who want to run on the bleeding edge, and get the most out of their CPUs possible. Many of them actually take and “lap” the CPU chip to improve the heat transfer to the heat sink. (This process is basically using a fine emery cloth to  polish the metal top of the CPU chip to a mirror like finish.) I don’t really want to go to those extremes.

One of the best simple guides to overclocking is a long article which appears in the OC Forums. (Try this link as of 7/08: http://www.ocforums.com/showthread.php?t=515316 (this guide was at version 1.7 when I wrote this). It explains in pretty simple language the considerations you need to take to do overclocking.)

From this, I believe I can simply make the adjustments to my system to run at a higher FSB (front side bus) rate than the default 267 MHz, check that my CPU voltage is adequate and just try it!

I’m going to try to be methodical about this and write down the changed settings each time so I can always go back. I’ll report here on whether this was a silly waste of time or not.

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