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The All New Hardware & Overclocking FAQ

Discussion in 'Hardware' started by Tim S, 8 Feb 2004.

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  1. Tim S

    Tim S OG

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    Hardware & Overclocking FAQ

    After some recent discussion between myself and Will, we decided to merge together a lot of stickies which were at the top of this forum, for tidyness' sake. There are some parts which are outdated, and some parts which are just not required anymore. All authors will be credited for their posts, but we're just trying to consolidate it down. This will also remain a closed thread to keep it from becoming a thread of discussion. If you have anything that you think would be useful to add to the thread, please email us with your suggestions!

    I've also now updated the thread with a lot of updated information as the old information was getting a bit, well... old :)

    Hope this is of use to you guys :cooldude:

    Contents


    Useful Threads

    If you have any threads which you think would be useful to link to here, please don't hesitate to drop me an email/MSN, details are in my profile.
     
    Last edited: 4 Aug 2004
  2. Tim S

    Tim S OG

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    Basic FAQ - Part 1

    Heatsinks

    Q. "Is XXXXX heatsink any good?"
    A. Swiftech and Thermalright make very good if pricey heatsinks. The Swiftechs are generally accepted to run best with low-CFM fans, whereas the Thermalrights are best with high-CFM monsters such as the Vantec Tornado or Delta Screamer line. For those on a tighter budget, look at Coolermaster or Akasa. For the ultimate in good silent cooling, the leader is the Zalman CNPS7000A-Cu, performing very well for the noise level. Look out for those which are heavier than the limits set by AMD as to how heavy a heatsink can be used (those heavier risk breaking the socket lugs, writing off the motherboard and killing components either through the damage of the metal heatsink falling on them, or cooking the cpu, shorting the motherboard and so on, if it occurs whilst the PC is on), the major offender here is the Swiftech MCX-462-V, the heaviest heatsink ever to be only mountable via the lugs.

    Monitors

    Q. "Is XXXXX monitor any good?"
    A. If it isn't a good-quality Aperture Grille, probably not. Buy a monitor with a Sony Trinitron or Mitsubishi Diamondtron tube. Budget brands such as Relisys or AOC are just about acceptable for the average home user, but offer poorer image quality. Ask yourself - if you spend many hours a day staring at the screen, isn't it worth buying a top quality monitor?

    Q. "How big/what sort of monitor do I need?"
    A. I don't know, how big a monitor do you need? If you are in the habit of doing CAD, graphical design or photo editing, a 21" CRT is what you want. If you're doing an eclectic mix, a 19" will probably be a good choice. If you're just gaming and a little bit of web work, and some office apps, a 17" is fine. If you're in the habit of doing lots and lots of things at once, you probably want dual-head. If you don't game, and you don't do any graphical work, then maybe an LCD is for you.

    Q. "Dual monitors? How do I do that?"
    A. Two main ways. First is to use a dual-head card, which can have two monitors plugged into it. Most modern cards are (Matrox Parhelia, ATi Radeon 9X00 series, nVidia Geforce 4 MX/Ti and more recently the GeForce FX series). The second option is to put a second PCI graphics card into your computer. It doesn't need to be a 64MB 3d card because PCI can't cope with 3d, and very few games are set up for multiple screens anyway, so an 8MB PCI card will be fine (look for Matrox G200, Matrox Millenium II, Diamond Fire GL1000Pro, Appian Jeronimo, and any number of S3 Virge cards). You will, of course, need two screens also.

    Motherboards

    Q. "Is XXXXX motherboard any good?"
    A. There's lots of good motherboards out there. There's lots of bad motherboards out there. Stick to well-founded manufacturers with long reputations, such as Abit, Asus, and Gigabyte, and you can't go far wrong. Avoid the cheap (Jetway, PC Chips, etc) and the unknowns, and you'll be ok. Stick to the three mentioned above, and you'll be fine. Newer companies such as Albatron, DFI and Epox sometimes produce excellent motherboards, whilst others have been less good. Look over many hardware reviews before making your decision - your system is often only as good as the motherboard its based around.

    Best Socket A Motherboard
    Either the Abit NF7-S v2.0 or the DFI LANParty rev B for a combination of features and overclocking, I?d choose the DFI Infinity for out and out overclocking at the moment, and the NF7-S for fast stability.

    Best Intel Motherboard
    I would choose either the Abit IC7-MAX3 or the Asus P4C800 series motherboards for a current P4 processor, they both run on the Canterwood chipset and have a host of overclocking features.

    Best Athlon64 Motherboard
    At the present moment there are a few motherboards out that I?d have a look at. They are the Asus K8V and the Abit KV8-MAX3 on the VIA K8T800 chipset. On nForce3 150, I?d take a look at the Gigabyte K8NNXP or the Shuttle AN50R. All of these motherboards have a host of features available to them.

    CPUs

    Q. "How much can I overclock XXXXX CPU?"
    A. Overclocking is not an exact science, and the amount you can overclock varies with chip batches, and can be influenced by the smallest variations in the production process. The only answer is to find out for yourself. Motherboard is a big factor in how far a particular CPU will go also.

    Q. "Should I buy an Intel or an AMD?"
    A. That depends. If money is no object, go ahead and buy a very expensive, fast intel system. If money does have some value for you, and you wish to get the best for your dough, get an AMD.

    Hard Disks

    Q. "Is XXXXX hard disk any good?"
    A. Check out www.storagereview.com for good analysis.

    Q. "What is RAID?"
    A. Redundant Array of Inexpensive/Identical Disks. This is a way of using more than one hard disk at once to increase performance or reliability or both. To increase performance, you use striping (RAID 0), which writes half of the data to one disk and half to the other (assuming two disks are used), so that read and write speeds are almost doubled. To increase reliability, both disks contain the same information as one another (RAID 1), called mirroring, so that if one disk fails, the other still has all data on it. You can then combine the two (RAID 0+1), using four disks. Other RAID variations are also possible, the other common one being RAID 5, which is similar to RAID 0 but one disk (min of 3 required) contains parity data (different stripes are paritied to different drives), so that if any one drive fails, the data on the other two allows the data from the third to be recreated.

    Q - I have a Serial ATA hard drive, but when I try to install Windows 2000 or XP onto it, the installer can't see that the drive is there. What can I do?

    A - To install XP onto S-ATA drives, you will need to press F6 right at the start of the windows XP installation (almost immediately, when the blue screen comes in and it starts loading its own drivers for various sorts of hard drive controllers), and 'install an additional device' - namely the RAID controller, so that XP installation can see the hard drives attached to the RAID controllers.

    You have to install the drivers, because WindowsXP shipped before S-ATA was around and so it cannot load drivers automatically for S-ATA controllers (and so cannot detect any drives attached to the controller until the drivers are loaded). This holds true for some SCSI controllers as well.

    To install the drivers for the S-ATA/RAID controller, you will need the floppy disk that came with your motherboard or PCI card (if your S-ATA controller is on a PCI card) that has the S-ATA/RAID drivers on it, and a floppy disk drive.

    Your motherboard or S-ATA card manual will explain this in perhaps more detail (some motherboards ship with a floppy disk that has drivers for multiple controllers, so you'll need to follow the manual to install the right drivers for your controller).
     
    Last edited by a moderator: 30 May 2004
  3. Tim S

    Tim S OG

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    Basic FAQ - Part 2

    Sound Cards

    Q. "Is XXXXX sound card any good?"
    A. The Sound Blaster Audigy 2 is presently the de-facto sound card, although Creative are perhaps not so dominant as they were in the early days of the Live!, and driver support can be questionable. Alternatives include the Turtle Beach/Pure Digital SonicXplosion and Hercules Fortissimo III 7.1.

    Most sound cards these days are pretty good, and will provide a better output than on-board setups, as well as lower CPU usage. For high end home PC solutions, look towards M-Audio and Terratecs offerings.

    Q. "Are XXXXX Speakers any good?"
    A. Speakers are very subjective indeed, as different people have ideas as to what sounds good. Generally, at a given price-point most computer speakers are much of a muchness. Look out for names like Cambridge Soundworks and Labtec.

    If you're thinking of spending more than £150 on speakers, think very hard indeed about what it is you want. If you're more interested in stereo than surround, go to your local hifi shop and see what you can get, because this will leave any computer speakers in the dust. Surround costs more and gives lower sound quality, but does of course give the surround effect. Any serious gamer, however, uses headphones....

    Q. "Are XXXXX Headphones any good?"
    A. Again, Headphones are very subjective. I use a pair of Grado Labs SR-80 headphones (which weigh in around £100), which are very uncomfortable, but sound truly incredible. Look to the big names, such as Sennheiser, Vivanco, Sony, and some of the smaller hifi makes (like Grado).

    Graphics Cards

    Q. "Is XXXXX Graphics card any good?"
    A. Most graphics cards these days are. All nVidia based cards are very very similar the FX5200 is bottom of the range and will offer performance comparing to a GeForce3, with limited directX 9 support; the FX5700 will offer a midrange performance with directX 9 support; the FX5950 is nVidia?s top dog at the moment. Watch out for cards like the FX5900XT, designed to be marketed using ATi?s naming method, it offers performance below the level of the 9700pro. It can be flashed to a 5950 with a softmod however, so in that sense, it?s a good budget card to buy if you?re a fan of nVidia graphics cards. nVidia cards at the moment have a different directX 9 codepath, which isn?t supported by many game developers as it takes around twice the time to code for.
    ATi based cards are similar with respect to their 3 lines of cards, the 9200 series is aimed to compete with the FX5200 and will offer similar features to that, limited directX 9 support and limited speed. The 9600 series is a good buy for bargain hunters, it?s a middle range card with one hell of a punch, full directX 9 support and it will run all titles at a reasonable FPS, look for the 9600XT it?s the top of the line 9600 series card, can be had for around £130 max in the UK. The top of the line card from ATi is the Radeon 9800XT, this offers full directX 9 support along with many other features, it?ll run every current game you throw at it at maximum details with a good playable FPS, it comes at a cost though at around £350 for the card.
    Matrox's cards have their own market place also, mainly in the 2d market where 3d performance is not necessary. Choosing between them can be tricky. For top 2d output, Matrox's Parhelia is king. For 3d, ATi's Radeon 9800XT is top at the moment.

    Q. "Should I get 64MB or 128MB?"
    A. 128Mb memory will be required to get the best performance from newer games. Indeed, 256MB cards are not that far away it seems... I would recommend not getting a 256Mb card when if you?re looking at getting an ATi 9600 series card, as they?ll not benefit from the extra memory with only having 128bit memory bus with 4 pixel pipelines. Manufacturers will also tend to use slower memory on these cards.

    Cases

    Q. "Is XXXXX Case any good?"
    A. Lately many cases have come along based on the Chieftec X-01 chassis. They include the Chieftec Dragon, Scorpio and Matrix, Antec SX-1030, Coolermaster ATC-710 and many others. These are all superb cases. Other good cases include Coolermaster and Lian-Li models, AOpen, Inwin and Supermicro.

    Power Supplies

    Q. "Is 550W going to be enough for my duron system?"
    A. Get real. 550W is more than enough to power a quad-CPU Athlon system (if such a thing existed). People are very keen to massively overspec their power-supplies, even when on a budget. The reality is that even a heavily overclocked, powerful system doesn't need more than a good quality 450W PSU. Many cheap PSUs are massively over-rated however, and so a cheap PSU rated at 550W may be no more powerful than a good 350W PSU. Good PSUs are available from many manufacturers nowadays just have a search on google for a few reviews of a power supply that you are looking at, those should be able to determine whether it?s a good buy or not.

    Memory

    Q. "Is 128MB DDR the same as 256MB SDR?"
    A. No, very definately not. There are two issues getting confused here, which are speed and size. Is a car with 4 seats going at 100mph the same as a bus with 8 seats going at 50mph? No, and the answer as to which is better depends on how many people you have to transport. If you need to move 4 people, the car is faster, but if you have to move more than 4, the bus will actually get the job done faster (work out the numbers, and you'll see the car takes half as long again as the bus). In reality, having too little memory results in a much greater performance hit than this example shows.

    Q. "How much memory do I need?"
    A. To put it very simply, more is better. Win2k could live, and even play games and run applications in 256MB. WinXP might also, but ideally 384MB or 512MB is better. I've had 512MB for a long time, and I have no real need to get more, even though I do editing of LARGE photographs. 1Gb is needed for extreme memory intensive apps such as very hi-res photo editing, and newer games are also starting to prefer it.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: 30 May 2004
  4. Tim S

    Tim S OG

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    Memory FAQ – Timings, what do they mean?

    CAS Latency
    The CAS latency is the delay, in clock cycles, between sending a READ command and the moment the first piece of data is available on the outputs.

    tWR - Write Recovery Time
    tWR is the number of clock cycles taken between writing data and issuing the precharge command. tWR is necessary to guarantee that all data in the write buffer can be safely written to the memory core.

    tRAS - Row Active Time
    tRAS is the number of clock cycles taken between a bank active command and issuing the precharge command.

    tRC - Row Cycle Time
    The minimum time interval between successive ACTIVE commands to the same bank is defined by tRC.
    tRC = tRAS + tRP

    tRCD - Row Address to Column Address Delay
    tRCD is the number of clock cycles taken between the issuing of the active command and the read/write command. In this time the internal row signal settles enough for the charge sensor to amplify it.

    tRP - Row Precharge Time
    tRP is the number of clock cycles taken between the issuing of the precharge command and the active command. In this time the sense amps charge and the bank is activated.

    tRRD - Row Active to Row Active Delay
    The minimum time interval between successive ACTIVE commands to the different banks is defined by tRRD.

    tCCD - Column Address to Column Address Delay

    tRD - Active to Read Delay

    tWTR - Internal Write to Read Command Delay
    tWTR is the delay that has to be inserted after sending the last data from a write operation to the memory and issuing a read command.

    tRDA - Read Delay Adjust
     
    Last edited: 8 Feb 2004
  5. Tim S

    Tim S OG

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    Memory FAQ – Timings and Latencies

    In this day in age there are normally four memory timings which can be adjusted in the BIOS, providing your BIOS allows you to do such things. The first is tRAS, or Row Access Strobe. It is the number of cycles that the RAM has to read the data from a block of memory. The space between a request for a block of data, and the actual reading operation is called tRCD. CAS latency is the number of cycles during which the exact portion of memory the system is looking for within the open memory bank is isolated. Finally tRP acts as sort of the ‘ending’ of the process; the time allowed for the memory to close the open bank and be ready for a new request. When discussing memory timings they are usually arranged in the following order: tRAS-tRCD-tRP-CAS. Thus I would tell you that my Mushkin Level 2 PC3500 is rated to run 6-2-2-2 at 217MHz..

    On every memory module there is a small microchip called the SPD (Serial Presence Detect) which stores the modules rated timings, as specified by the manufacturer. When your BIOS is set to ‘AUTO’ or ‘SPD’ timings it will read the timings from the SPD chip on the module. The first step towards taking control of your timings is to manual specify them yourself, this is usually termed ‘User Define’ or ‘Expert’ in your Advanced Chipset Features menu in BIOS. Just to be sure of what a safe or stable setting is for your memory module look on the manufacturer’s website for product specs. If you’re stuck finding the rated timings for your memory modules, don’t be afraid to ask someone.

    There are some tools which can read memory timings within windows, such as CPU-Z. Once you have obtained those go into the BIOS and manually specify the timings listed on the spec sheet. Typically BH-5 is rated at 6-2-2-2 at 200Mhz FSB and CH-5 is rated at 2-3-2-6 at 200Mhz FSB, these are the most common types of memory chips that you will come across in this day in age. Sadly BH-5 has been discontinued by Winbond, and supplies are running out, this is due to the high costs of producing these ultimate memory chips, able to run at the tightest of timings. The lower the timings are, the better your memory will perform. In practical terms, if a memory module can process X amount of data in Y cycles, it can fit more operations into a period of time T.

    If you are not planning on increasing the memory bus, then it is possible to keep the current speed and just lower the latencies for a nice performance gains, you might require a voltage increase to achieve lower timings than the SPD timings though. Here are a few guidelines you can follow while testing different settings:

    - tRCD and tRP are usually equal numbers.
    - CAS is the single most critical of the various timings; it affects performance the most noticeably.
    - tRCD and tRP are most often numbers between 2-4
    - CAS should be either 2, 2.5, or 3
    - tRAS should always be the largest number, see below

    tRAS is unique in that lowering it will not always increase performance this page on Mushkin’s website explains how the tightest possible setting for tRAS should be a sum of tRCD, CAS, and 2. At values lower than that theory would dictate a drop in performance, and at values higher an unnecessary wait will be introduced. For example, if you are using a tRCD of 3, and a CAS of 2 on your RAM, then you should set tRAS to 7. Read the linked article under the header ‘What is tRAS and why is it backwards and important at the same time?’ for a much more in depth look at tRAS.

    5-2-2-2 - impropper tRAS
    [​IMG]

    6-2-2-2 - correct tRAS
    [​IMG]

    6-2-2-2 - sandra
    [​IMG]

    11-2-2-2 - sandra
    [​IMG]

    6-3-3-2 - impropper tRAS
    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    7-3-3-2 - correct tRAS
    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]


    As you can see from the results above, there is a pattern forming from having an improper tRAS, it’s not huge, and not noticeable in day to day use, there is a performance loss from using an improper tRAS.

    The whole point of changing your own memory latencies is to tweak them for maximum stability, performance, and overclockability. I’ve mentioned it earlier that the lower your latencies, the higher the speed, in terms of the modules ‘reaction time’ when it comes to processing data. However, with tighter timings comes less ability to overclock and the possibility of instabilities. Thus, loosening off memory timings can increase a systems overclockability and stability, at the cost of pure speed. Quite often this additional bandwidth from an increase in Front Side Bus can allow you to counteract or even exceed the performance loss from loosening your memory timings. The only way to find out for what works best for your setup is to experiment for yourselves, every system is different, some boards prefer a higher tRAS and some prefer the ‘correct’ tRAS. High front side bus and loose timings, or low front side bus and tight timings. A recent trend is that Pentium 4 systems are best with high speeds and fairly loose timings due to their high bandwidth from the Quad-pumped system bus, however the tighter you can get them at high FSB, the better. On the other side of the fence, AMD systems perform best with super tight timings, loosening the timings can dramatically reduce the overall performance of the system, as the Athlon XP is saturated with bandwidth already when using a dual channel setup. It is also imperative that you keep an AMD system with synchronous memory bus and front side bus. Don’t be afraid to tweak, as I’ve mentioned, not every system is the same and some respond to a higher tRAS better than they do to the ‘correct’ tRAS, many nForce2 boards find that 11-2-2-2 works much more efficiently than 6-2-2-2. Try it and see for yourselves.

    When you are testing various configurations use benchmarks which are affected by the memory subsystem. Benchmarks such as SuperPI, Sisoft Sandra and 3DMark2001SE will also work for testing, particularly the Lobby tests are good benchmarks for testing memory performance. If you are having problems finding out the best configuration for your particular system, don’t be afraid to ask on the forums, someone will be able to suggest some more guidelines to you in addition to this rather general guide. It may take you a long time to work out exactly what is best for your particular setup, but the hard work will pay off in the long run.
     
    Last edited: 4 Aug 2004
  6. Tim S

    Tim S OG

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    Voltages – What do they mean?

    In the computer enthusiast world the terms are not fully defined. The most used meanings are following:
    VCore: The core supply voltage of an 'important' chip like your CPU or GPU, usually not the Northbridge. Most frequently used to indicate CPU voltage. Pentium 4’s and Athlon’s behave differently with an increase in voltage; AMD processors can handle a lot of voltage providing you have the cooling on both your processor and on your motherboard in the important areas. Intel processors have a deep pipeline which is greatly affected by voltage; I wouldn’t suggest going more than 0.15v above the default core voltage for the processor as these pipelines are very sensitive to overvolting.
    VDD: The supply voltage to your Northbridge chip or the supply voltage for the input buffers and core logic of your memory chips (mostly on graphic cards). An increase in voltage can sometimes lead to a much more stable, higher FSB. However I would recommend changing from the stock cooling on the Northbridge if you plan to over-volt this area of your motherboard.
    VDDQ: The supply voltage to the output buffers of a memory chip.
    VTT: Tracking Termination Voltage. Usually it is the same voltage as VRef.
    VMem: Supply voltage to a memory chip.
    VDDR, VDIMM: Supply voltage to the memory on your motherboard. Stock voltage is typically 2.6v; however TwinMOS is one company which rates their memory at a higher VDIMM, typically 2.8v. You’re fine running your memory around 0.2v above specs to keep your warranty intact.
    VRef: Reference voltage for the input lines of a chip that determines the voltage level at which the threshold between a logical 1 and a logical 0 occurs. Usually 1/2 VDD (Samsung says VDDQ, why that? - is it input and output?).
    VGPU: The supply voltage to your graphic card's processor.

    Electrical Engineering Information
    Positive voltages:
    Vcc - Positive supply voltage of a Bipolar Junction Transistor.
    Vdd - Positive supply voltage of A Field Effect Transistor
    Negative voltages/ground:
    Vee - Negative supply voltage of a Bipolar Junction Transistor.
    Vss - Negative supply voltage of A Field Effect Transistor.

    The letters c, d, e and s originated from the name of the legs of the transistors Collector, Drain, Emitter and Source.
    The absolute distinction between these common supply terms has since been blurred by the interchangeable application of TTL and CMOS logic families. Most CMOS (74HC / AC, etc.) IC data sheets now use Vcc and Gnd to designate the positive and negative supply pins.
    The doubled suffix indicates that the voltage is "common", i.e. it is the supply voltage to one or more collectors (in the case of cc) and not just the voltage at a specific collector. Similarly, Vee is a common voltage for all emitters etc.
     
  7. Tim S

    Tim S OG

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    AMD CPU Steppings Guide

    Here is a list of all the models and steppings going back to the old Duron spitfire. Hope this helps Btw all this isnt mine i found it on another forum, so I brought it here for you guys! I thought it would be beneficial to bit-forums users.

    If anyone has any information about something that is missing on this guide please email me and i will add it into the thread.

    I put the steppings in order of the best overclockers, from worst to best.

    Information source - information presented here from there by Bigz!

    Disclaimer

    I will not be held responsible for any damage you cause to your System, motherboard, CPU by attemping to unlock it, or indeed overclock it


    STEPPINGS

    The stepping code is a 4 or 5 letter string printed on the CPU either on the core (on Durons, Athlons and Athlons XP with Palomino core), or on a black label near the core (on the Athlons XP Tbred core or Bartons) . Every stepping indicates a revision/change in the CPU manufacturing process, which usually has an impact on the overclockability and on the temperature of the CPU.

    Duron Spitfire:

    600-800mhz: AKAA < AKCA < AKBA
    800-950mhz: AKCA < ALCA < AMCA = ANCA < ANDA

    Duron Morgan:

    1000-1400mhz: AHHAA < AHLCA < AHLDA
    "9" < "Z" <" Y"

    Athlon Thunderbird :

    1000-1400mhz: AXHA = ALUM < AQGA = AGGA = ASHHA < ADFA < AJFA = ARGA < AXIA = BXIA = AVIA = AXIAR < AVHA = BVHA < AYHJA = EYHJA < AYHJAR
    "9" < "K" < "Y"

    Athlon Palomino:

    AGKFA < AGKGA < ARKGA < AGLHA < AGNGA < AGOGA < AGOIA < AROIA < AROGA
    "9" < "4" < "K" < "F" < "Y"

    Athlon Thoroughbred :

    Revision A : AIRCA < AIRDA < AIRGA < RIRGA < RIWGA < RIUGA < AIUGA < AJUGA

    Revision B :
    1700+ and 1800+ : JIUCB < JIUGB < JIUHB < JIXHB < NIUHB < JIXIB
    over 2000+ : AIUAB < AIUCB < AIUGB < AIUHB < AIXIB

    Athlon Barton :

    AIUAA < AQUCA < AQXCA < AQXDA < AQXEA < AQZEA < AQXFA < AQFZA < AQYFA < AQYHA < AQZFA

    Duron Applebred :

    MIUHB < MIXHB < MIXIB

    AMD started locking processors after week 39, see the unlocking section for more details.


    PROCESSOR CHARACTERISTICS


    Palomino - 0.18 microns , model 6 , FSB 266 , cache : 128K Level1 , 256K Level2
    Code:
    Name Mult X FSB MHZ Vcore Power
    
    1500+ 10.0 X 133 1330MHz 1.75V 53.8W
    1600+ 10.5 X 133 1400MHz 1.75V 55.6W
    1700+ 11.0 X 133 1470MHz 1.75V 57.4W
    1800+ 11.5 X 133 1530MHz 1.75V 59.2W
    1900+ 12.0 X 133 1600MHz 1.75V 61.4W
    2000+ 12.5 X 133 1670MHz 1.75V 62.8W
    2100+ 13.0 X 133 1730MHz 1.75V 63.5W
    Thoroughbred A - 0.13 microns, model 8 CPUID 680 , FSB 266 , cache : 128K Level1 , 256K Level2

    Code:
    Name Mult X FSB MHZ Vcore Power
    
    1700+ 11.0 X 133 1470MHz 1.50V 44.9W
    1800+ 11.5 X 133 1530MHz 1.50V 46.3W
    1900+ 12.0 X 133 1600MHz 1.50V 47.7W
    2000+ 12.5 X 133 1670MHz 1.60V 54.7W
    2100+ 13.0 X 133 1730MHz 1.60V 56.4W
    2200+ 13.5 X 133 1800MHz 1.65V 61.7W
    Thoroughbred B - 0.13 microns, model 8 CPUID 681 , FSB 266 , cache : 128K Level1 , 256K Level2

    Code:
    Name Mult X FSB MHz Vcore Power
    
    1700+ 11.0 X 133 1470MHz "DLT 1.50V 44.9W" "DUT 1.60V ????W"
    1800+ 11.5 X 133 1530MHz "DLT 1.50V 46.3W" "DUT 1.60V ????W"
    2000+ 12.5 X 133 1670MHz 1.60V 54.7W
    2100+ 13.0 X 133 1730MHz 1.60V 55.9W
    2200+ 13.5 X 133 1800MHz 1.60V 57.0W
    2400+ 15.0 X 133 2000MHz 1.65V 62.0W
    2600+ 16.0 X 133 2133MHz 1.65V 64.0W
    
    Thoroughbred B - 0.13 microns , model 8 CPUID 681 , FSB 333 , cache : 128K Level1 , 256K Level2

    Code:
    Name Mult X FSB MHz Vcore Power
    
    2600+ 12.5 X 166 2075MHz 1.65V 64.0W
    2700+ 13.0 X 166 2160MHz 1.65V 64.0W
    
    Barton - 0.13 microns , model 10 , FSB 333 , cache : 128K Level1 , 512K Level2
    Code:
    Name Mult X FSB MHz Vcore Power 
    
    2500+ 11.0 X 166 1830MHz 1.65V 53.7W
    2600+ 11.5 x 166 1920MHz 1.65V 54.3W 
    2800+ 12.5 X 166 2080MHz 1.65V 55.9W 
    3000+ 13.0 X 166 2160MHz 1.65V 58.4W  
    
    Barton - 0.13 microns , model 10 , FSB 400 , cache : 128K Level1 , 512K Level2

    Code:
    Name Mult X FSB MHz Vcore Power
    
    3200+ 11.0 X 200 2200MHz 1.65V 58.4W 
    
    Applebred - 0.13microns , model 8 , FSB266 , cache : 128K level1 , 64K Level2

    Code:
    Name Mult X FSB Speed Vcore Power
    
    1400 10.5 X 133 1400Mhz 1.50V 00.0W
    1600 12.0 X 133 1600Mhz 1.50V 00.0W
    1800 13.5 X 133 1800Mhz 1.50V 00.0W
    

    UNLOCKING

    The Duron, Athlon Thunderbird, Athlon XP Palomino processors have the multiplier locked from the factory, and to unlock it you must connect the L1 bridges. It will unlock all the multipliers in the 5X-12.5X range, except for the XP2100+ and XP2200+ with Palomino core, wich will have the 13X-18.5X range available. On any CPU you can toggle between the multiplier ranges (5-12.5X to 13X-18.5X) by changing the connection of the L10 bridges (cut one and connect the other).

    The Athlon XP Thoroughbred core and Barton processors have the multiplier unlocked from the factory, so any motherboard that has the option for multiplier setting cand adjust it. The processors under 2000+ have the 5X-12.5X range available, and the 2100+ and higher have the 13X-18.5X range available. The exceptions are XP2600+ / 333FSB and Barton 2500+, wich have the 5X-12.5X range available. To toggle between ranges, you need to connect/cut the rightmost L3 bridge.

    AMD started locking the multiplier on their CPUs after week 39; while some of the CPUs made during weeks 39-42 are still unlocked, all the ones from week 43 and later come multiplier locked. The only method discovered so far to set the multiplier on locked CPU's is explained here.

    Known locked steppings :

    PQZEA 0332
    AIXHB 0340
    AQFZA 0341 XPMW
    AQXCA 0340
    AQXEA 0341 MPMW
    AQXFA 0339
    AQXFA 0341 WPMW
    AQXFA 0342 RPMW
    AQYFA 0341
    AQYFA 0342
    AQZEA 0341
    AQZFA 0339 UPMW
    AQZFA 0341 XPMW
    AQZFA 0342 TPMW
    AQZFA 0342 UPMW

    Known unlocked steppings :

    AQZEA 0339 UPMW
    AQZFA 0340
    AQZFA 0342 TPMW
    IQYFA **** ****

    The AQZFA 0342 UPMW and the AQYFA 0340 are on both locked and unlocked chips.

    If you have knowledge of a stepping not listed here, feel free to shoot me an email.

    -------

    Q - My cpu has letters such as 'AXDA' at the start of the stepping code - what do they mean?

    A - The "AXDA" coding on a CPU is actually the processor core architecture or brand name, as shown in this picture here:

    [​IMG]

    The stepping code is on the second line of the label on the CPU, here is a slightly blurry picture of mine.

    [​IMG]

    ____________________________

    Furthermore, on the processor core architecture, the following is a guide to what each different code actually means.

    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: 24 Feb 2004
  8. Tim S

    Tim S OG

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    RAID Information
    Information originally posted by Kevo

    Something that might be useful that was posted some time ago here

    - RAID 0 -

    The first but not necessarily the most basic RAID type is RAID 0, or striping. The main purpose of RAID 0 is to provide speed, not fault-tolerence as other RAID configurations offer. Requiring two or more physical drives, RAID 0 works in the following manner.

    RAID 0 uses an algorithm to break files into smaller files of the user defined size called the stripe size. Once a file is broken down into these stripes, each drive in the array receives one or more of these fragments. For example, if there are two drives in a RAID 0 array with a 64KB stripe size and the RAID controller gets a command to write a single 128KB file, the file is broken down into two 64KB stripes. Next, one of the two stripes is sent to disk 1 and the other to disk 2 simultaneously This completes the write process.

    [​IMG]

    Naturally, this decreases the time required to write a file since more than one disk is working to store the information. In our example above the time associated with writing our 128KB file turns out to be the time required to write a single 64KB file, since this is what is what occurs simultaneously on both disks in the array.

    The speed of reading a file back is also increased with a sufficiently large file. Let's use our 128KB file on a two disk RAID 0 array with a 64KB stripe size for example again. After the data is stored on both drives in the array, it can be read back by reading the two 64KB files from each drive at the same time. Thus, once again, the time required to read back our 128KB file is actually only the time required to read a single 64KB file.

    In some situations, when a file is smaller than the stripe, the file is not broken up and instead is written to the array as is. This results in no speed improvement over a non RAID 0 setup because the drives on the array are not working together when reading or writing.

    At the same time, an extremely small stripe size makes a drive do more work than it can handle and can significantly slow down RAID 0 performance as well. For example, if we had a 1KB stripe size and a 128KB file, each drive would have to be written to 64 times to store 64 different 1KB files. This creates a bottleneck as the drive attempts to read or write a large number of times for a single file.
     
  9. Tim S

    Tim S OG

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    DECIBELS
    Information originally posted by Isaac Sibson.

    Decibels are not a linear scale, so if you have an increase in sound level of 3dB, that is in fact a doubling of the sound level. Thus 43dB is twice as loud as 40dB. 6dB increase is four times as loud, 9dB is eight times and 10dB ten times. That way even small differences in sound level in dB between fans are quite big in real use. You can also work out how loud a combination of fans is, so two 40dB fans together are 43dB, since two together is obviously twice as loud.

    A two source decibel Calculator - Information originally posted by reg36.

    http://www.csgnetwork.com/decibelamplificationcalc.html
     
  10. Tim S

    Tim S OG

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    TFT Monitors FAQ
    Information originally posted by Will

    Q - Do TFTs only have one resolution?

    TFTs have a native resolution, i.e. one which suits them best, but thas not to say you can only run that resolution.

    TFTs use a method called scaling to allow TFTs to display certain resolutions other than their native ones, but clarity/focus and sharpness of image and colour reproduction will be poorer at a scaled (non-native) resolution. Basically, they can work at more than 1 resolution, just not very well, and though the scaling techniques are improved on newer models, there is only 1 resolution I think you'd really be happy with using for long amounts of time and thats the native one.

    Q - So what resolutions can I expect the native resolution to be?

    A 15' TFT 1024x768 is a good native res and 1280x1024 for a 17'. Be aware that with TFTs the quoted screen size is the viewable size, not like CRTs where its the size of the tube but the actual screen can be about an inch less!

    There are other sizes of TFT out there that will feature different resolutions, generally 18' and 19' screens will have a native resolution of 1280x1024, so think carefully about spending a lot more for a 19' over a 17 or 18 - does the extra size (for with the same resolution, you're not going to fit any more on the screen, it'll just be bigger) warrant the extra cost? Many 20 inch displays, which are becoming more and more common, offer resolutions of 1600x1200, but these come with a hefty pricetag!

    As always, check the manufacturers specs for native resolutions, but those mentioned here are a rough guide.

    Q - I see a TFT with specifications that says the refresh rate is 75Hz or 60Hz with DVI? Won't it flicker?

    TFTs do not flicker like CRTs, even at 60Hz. 60Hz on a CRT will make my eyes hurt after 2 minutes, but theres no discernible flicker on a TFT with 60Hz.

    Q - What are dead pixels? How Annoying are they?

    Dead pixels are pixels that are stuck to a particular colour, rather than changing to represent the colour that they should to make up the image. As for how annoying, they can be barely noticeable to damned annoying, depending on the location of the dead pixel on the screen (the edge or bang in the middle) and the colour it is stuck on.

    Dead pixels can develop over time or be there from the time the panel is made, and are generally not repairable, but I have heard some ppl saying very gently rubbing the affected area remedied the problem...be careful though anyone that tries this!

    The industry rules that govern what allows you to RMA a monitor with dead pixels are a bit odd, and most state that one dead pixel is not enough of a fault to be RMA'able. Check manufacturers policies on dead pixels as some are better than others - some will only RMA a panel if it has 5 or more dead pixels, or 2 together, whilst some more expensive brands like Formac will offer a 'no dead pixels for 3 years' warranty, though displays with this standard of warranty command a price premium as getting panels to be fault free rather than with 1-2 dead pixels reduces the 'good' yield and increases manufacturing waste.

    If you're in the UK and want to be sure of getting a TFT with no dead pixels, I believe www.digi-uk.com will perform a test on any TFT you order from them to ensure that you get one with no dead pixels (initially, for dead pixels can develop over time), for a cost of £10.

    Q - TFT monitors specifications include a response time. What does this mean?

    The response time is the time taken for the pixels of the TFT display to change colours, to represent the image they are supposed to.

    Having a high response time will lead to 'ghosting' of the image in fast moving sequences, like DVD films or fast games like Quake 3, as it is unable to respond quickly enough to change its pixels colour to represent the image properly.

    Perception of ghosting varies from person to person, some say a screen with a 30ms response time has no ghosting, but as far as I am concerned, they lie! :p Its all very subjective though. Think of the ghosting like a far less exaggerated 'mouse trails' effect on everything and anything moving on the screen at fastish speeds. Its hard to explain really. Older panels used to ghost really badly, indeed on one I used simply scrolling a web page quickly would induce obvious ghosting.

    If you are a gamer I would not consider anything more than 25ms, and lower (16-20ms) like some of the newer 17' screens offer would be even better.

    When looking at specs, be careful. Be wary of companies stating things like 'r15ms/f10ms response time', as this is the rise and fall time, where as a true measure of response time is the *total* of the rise and fall times.

    Q - What is DVI or 'digital display connection'?

    DVI stand for digital video interface, and can be used to hook up your TFT screen to your video card in preference to the normal 15 pin D-Sub cable present on most monitors. DVI offers a way to connect TFTs in a way that will provide pixel perfect, digitally managed screen geometry, and also, depending on the screen in question, a slightly sharper image.

    Often with DVI, the maximum refresh rate is less, because of the current DVI specs limit the maximum resolutions and refresh rates (this is why you'll rarely see a 20 inch, 1600x1200 TFT display with a digital connection, as most cards with DVI are simply unable to drive the monitor digitally due to the limitations of DVI), but as explained previously, refresh rates are of less importance in terms of any flicker you may see than with CRT monitors.

    To use DVI for your flat panel, you must have:

    1) A TFT screen with a DVI input (panels are rarely just DVI, they are likely to offer D-Sub 15 pin VGA connector and a DVI connector if they will have DVIm rather than DVI alone).

    2) A DVI cable (these are not always included with your screen, even if the TFT can use DVI - it pays to check beforehand as DVI cables can cost a fair bit, like all monitor cables).

    3) A video card with DVI output. This will usually be on the same backplane as the video card, next to the blue coloured 15 pin VGA connector. The DVI connector will usually be white in colour, and will at the video card end be female.

    It is explained in more detail, should you need it, here, with a picture to show what a DVI output on your video card looks like, just in case you don't know if you have DVI output or not, yet have a TFT screen or are going to buy a screen that you can use with DVI.
     
  11. Tim S

    Tim S OG

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    Overclocking Basics (this is not a how to guide)
    Information originally posted by Yodasarmpit and edited by bigZ

    Disclaimer: Overclocking components in your PC is a high-risk pursuit. It invalidates warranties of your components and can considerably shorten their life span. System instability can occur and in extreme circumstances irreparable damage can occur. With this in mind, bit-tech or myself cannot be held responsible for any damage done as a direct result of following this guide, this is based on my own and many other forum members’ experiences. Your own components may behave differently to the ones that we have used.

    What is Overclocking?

    Overclocking is when you run one or more components in your PC at a higher speed/frequency than the manufacturer intended.


    What can I overclock?

    The answer is pretty much everything, but the most common is the processor.
    This can be achieved by increasing the Front Side Bus (FSB) and/or the multiplier.

    The core speed of the processor is the product of the FSB and multiplier.
    FSB = 133Mhz
    Multiplier = 12.5
    Core speed = FSB*Multiplier = 133*12.5 = 1662.5Mhz

    So as you can see by increasing either the FSB or the Multiplier the core speed increases (Overclocked)

    Intel Processors can only be overclocked using the front side bus, as they come multiplier locked, there is no way to unlock them. On the other side of the market we have AMD, who have a slightly different approach, all Athlon XP processors produced before week 39/03 can be overclocked via the multiplier as well as front side bus, anything after week 39/03 is limited to front side bus only. This is due to a marketing strategy to promote their 64 bit series of processors.

    The Athlon 64 is multiplier locked, and works a bit differently to conventional overclocking. The Athlon 64 FX, AMD's flagship processor comes multiplier unlocked, along with a whopping 1Mb L2 cache onboard.

    Increasing the Multiplier

    Overclocking by increasing the Multiplier is the best way to find out the limits of your processor as the multiplier only affects the processor, whereas increasing the FSB you start to affect the whole system.
    This is all dependent on whether you CPU can be unlocked to allow multiplier changes and the motherboard has a facility for changing the multiplier.

    Increasing the FSB (front side bus)

    This is where things get more complicated, as you now begin to affect other aspects of your computer.

    What will be affected?
    i. The processor
    ii. Memory (RAM)
    iii. AGP
    iv. PCI

    Why does this matter?
    It matters a great deal because when you overclock you are running the components at a higher rated speed than the manufacturer has guaranteed, it therefore may no longer function as it should, you may also end up with a PC that wont BOOT.

    Speeds

    There are a few common speeds that systems run at.

    Processors usually have a FSB speed of 100Mhz, 133Mhz, 166Mhz and 200Mhz

    In terms of memory speeds, you are looking at the same default speeds of 100Mhz, 133Mhz, 166Mhz and 200Mhz

    AGP (advanced graphics port) the default speed here is 66Mhz

    PCI this runs at a speed of 33Mhz at default.

    These speeds are acquired as a division of the FSB speed whereas the CPU is from a multiplication of the FSB.
    These are the speeds you will change when overclocking.

    Take a system running at 166Mhz FSB:

    FSB = 166
    CPU = 2075 (166*12.5)
    RAM = 166 (166* 1/1)
    APG = 66 (166* 2/5) 2 fifths divider
    PCI = 33 (166* 1/5) 1 fifth divider

    Let’s now increase the FSB to see how this affects the system:

    FSB = 175
    CPU = 2187.5 (175*12.5)
    RAM = 175 (175* 1/1)
    APG = 70 (175* 2/5) 2 fifths divider
    PCI = 35 (175* 1/5) 1 fifth divider

    As you can see by increasing the FSB the whole system is now running faster, you are now placing a greater stress on every component, more things to fail, but greater results than just increasing the speed of the processor.


    Dividers
    The dividers for the AGP and PCI bus on the vast majority of motherboards are controlled automatically.
    The APG bus will run at a 2 fifths divider i.e. 166* 2/5 = 66
    The PCI bus will run at a 1 fifth divider i.e. 166* 1/5 = 33

    Newer faster motherboards will employ a 1 sixth divider
    The APG bus will run at a 2 fifths divider i.e. 200* 2/6 = 66
    The PCI bus will run at a 1 fifth divider i.e. 200* 1/6 = 33

    The RAM runs at a speed derived from the FSB also, it is best to run in sync with the CPU
    i.e. CPU = 166, RAM = 166

    It is possible for the RAM to run faster than the CPU
    i.e. CPU = 133, RAM = 166 ratio 5:4 (133* 5/4)
    At higher speeds this would be very uncommon as the RAM would usually fail.



    Limits
    When overclocking you will invariably come up against a components limit, you have to see how far you can go.
    Usually the limit will be with the Processor or the RAM, when increasing the FSB you may come across the processors limit, it is now time to reduce the multiplier.

    Example (CPU Limit)

    System stable
    FSB = 175
    CPU = 2187.5 (175*12.5)
    RAM = 175 (175* 1/1) RAM in sync with CPU
    APG = 70 (175* 2/5) 2 fifths divider
    PCI = 35 (175* 1/5) 1 fifth divider

    System won’t BOOT or might crash
    FSB = 180
    CPU = 2250 (180*12.5)
    RAM = 180 (180* 1/1) RAM in sync with CPU
    APG = 72 (180* 2/5) 2 fifths divider
    PCI = 36 (180* 1/5) 1 fifth divider

    System stable reduced multiplier
    FSB = 180
    CPU = 2160 (180*12) 12 x multiplier
    RAM = 180 (180* 1/1) RAM in sync with CPU
    APG = 72 (180* 2/5) 2 fifths divider
    PCI = 36 (180* 1/5) 1 fifth divider

    As you can see the whole system is running faster but the processor back to a similar speed as it was at 175 FSB


    Example (RAM Limit)

    System stable
    FSB = 166
    CPU = 2075 (166*12.5)
    RAM = 207.5 (166* 5/4)
    APG = 66 (166* 2/5) 2 fifths divider
    PCI = 33 (166* 1/5) 1 fifth divider

    System won’t BOOT or might crash
    FSB = 175
    CPU = 2187.5 (175*12.5)
    RAM = 219 (175* 5/4)
    APG = 70 (175* 2/5) 2 fifths divider
    PCI = 35 (175* 1/5) 1 fifth divider

    System stable reduced RAM ratio
    FSB = 180
    CPU = 2187.5 (175*12.5)
    RAM = 175 (175* 1/1) RAM in sync with CPU
    APG = 70 (175* 2/5) 2 fifths divider
    PCI = 35 (175* 1/5) 1 fifth divider

    This time the CPU is running fast but we have had to reduce the RAM speed, the other alternative it’s to purchase a faster rated RAM.
    For FSB overclocking it is always advisable to have the fastest RAM possible as this the most common failure, the CPU can always have the multiplier reduced (except post week39 AthlonXP Barton chips) without loosing performance but as you can see above by running the RAM at a lower ratio there is a greater loss in performance terms.


    Example (AGP/PCI Limit)

    Usually caused with PCI network cards.

    System stable
    FSB = 166
    CPU = 2187.5 (166*12.5)
    RAM = 166 (166* 1/1) RAM in sync with CPU
    APG = 66 (166* 2/5) 2 fifths divider
    PCI = 33 (166* 1/5) 1 fifth divider

    System won’t BOOT or might crash
    FSB = 180
    CPU = 2250 (180*12.5)
    RAM = 180 (180* 1/1) RAM in sync with CPU
    APG = 72 (180* 2/5) 2 fifths divider
    PCI = 36 (180* 1/5) 1 fifth divider

    System stable (AGP/PCI back in sync)
    FSB = 200
    CPU = 2250 (200*11)
    RAM = 200 (200* 1/1) RAM in sync with CPU
    APG = 66 (200* 2/6) 2 sixths divider
    PCI = 33 (200* 1/6) 1 sixths divider

    This last example is dependent on a few factors,
    a. The CPU can handle the FSB
    b. The CPU allows multiplier changes
    c. The RAM can handle the FSB
    d. The motherboard supports 1 sixth divider


    Voltages - more information here

    When you find the limit of either the RAM or the CPU or even the AGP bus there is a chance to take it a little further, that is by increasing the voltage supply to these components.
    This option is solely dependent on the motherboard; some motherboards will have a jumper, dip-switch or option in the BIOS to control the voltage to each or some of the components.
    This will allow that extra few Mhz to be squeezed out of your system.
    Only advisable for running benchmarks not long term use (upping the voltage can seriously decrease the lifespan of a component).

    RAM Timing – more indepth information can be found here and here

    The last gasp desperate effort to gain extra speed.
    When the RAM is moving data arround it does so on clock cycles, if you happen to reduce the number of clock cycles that the RAM waits before moving the data it will do so more quickly.

    The most common are (found in the BIOS)
    CAS# Latency
    RAS# to CAS# Delay
    RAS# Precharge
    Cycle Time

    Each of these will have a number (clock cycles) next to it, from whithin the BIOS you should have the option to change these to a lower figure.

    You may not find a great improvement in overall speed and theres more chance that the sysem might become unstable.
    You can combat that with increasing the voltage, but be warned that also has its dangers.


    Heat
    Increased voltage just like increased speed will create more heat, and heat is the enemy of overclocking.
    Too much heat and the CPU, RAM etc will literally melt, or at least the semiconductor material will.
    If things are getting a little too warm your system will become unstable, it may crash and you will find out what a BSOD is.

    If overclocking you seriously need to consider how you will cool thing down, you can use fans, lots of fans or for some peace and quiet and a cooler temp you can consider water cooling.
    There are alternatives for the serious overclocker but they require a serious cash investment (i.e. phase change)
     
  12. Tim S

    Tim S OG

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    Overclocked Processor Wattage Calculator

    Overclocked Power Output = Default Power Output * ( Overclocked Core Speed / Default Core Speed ) * ( Overclocked Voltage / Default Voltage )²

    'C/W Calculator

    'C/W Value = ( CPU Temp - Ambient Temp ) / CPU Power Output
     
  13. Tim S

    Tim S OG

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    Basic PC Diagnostics
    information originally posted by Xen0phobiak

    **NOTE** This guide is for systems that were working.


    Problem 1: No power

    Change the power lead going to the pc, the fuse may have blown.

    Unplug the large atx lead from the psu (power supply), short the green pin with a black one (using a paper clip, the voltage between these two pins is safe) and the psu should power up if it works. which pins to short. If this does not work then try another psu in the system.

    If neither of those two methods worked then try another motherboard.

    Problem 2: No display when pc should boot up.

    Unplug all unnecessary components, i.e. all drives, cathodes etc...
    Remove all cards apart from graphics.
    remove any USB devices
    clear the cmos: using the motherboard manual, follow the steps for clearing the cmos, remove the power from the system, locate the cmos jumper, usually known as JP1, and move it over to short the middle pin along with the pin it wasn’t shorting before. Leave it a few seconds then place the jumper in its original position and reconnect the power. Some motherboards require you to remove the cmos battery while the jumper has been moved.
    some jumpers

    You should be left with the: CPU, motherboard, ram, graphics card (or onboard graphics), heatsink, fan, power supply and front panel connected.

    Try booting the system again. If it doesn’t boot you should get one of three types of bleep code:

    a short one (2 beeps or so): graphics, reseat the card or try a different one, it may be helpful to try a pci one if available.

    a long one (a continuous pattern): memory, reseat the memory, try different slots, if you have more than one stick try each stick on its own, try different memory.

    A siren: probably temperature related or otherwise, check the motherboard manual.

    If you do not get a beep code then it is likely that either the CPU or motherboard is faulty, try replacing them.

    Problem 3: my system is unstable

    remove all overclocks.

    check your temperatures, they should all be below 50 at idle, case temp should be ~30, northbridge ~40. Hard disk drives should not be too hot to touch after 30mins or so of running. If the temperatures are too warm, clean the system, especially the heatsinks and fans, thoroughly! If you have fans that are getting on a bit the bearings may be going, you can either replace the fans or lubricate them, i regularly lubricate mine using a teflon based lubricant from radioshack, order code 64-2301, it comes in an ideal applicator.

    Run a program called memtest which will stress test your system memory. One error is too many. At the top of the screen there are two progress meters, the top one is the overall progress. Let the test run completely. If the memory passes then move on. Piccy the data down the bottom half of the screen is errors.

    Remove all unneeded cards again. Run the system. If it normally hangs/malfunctions during a certain task, do that task now.

    put all the cards back in. format and reload windows, installing all the latest drivers from scratch, make sure that windows is up to date. Do not install any utilities such as Norton.

    Remove any unnecessary drives (i.e. cdroms) run the system. If it normally hangs/malfunctions during a certain task, do that task now.

    Run several stability tests, such as superpi, prime 95 and CPU burn; these can be found in the post below. These will give you a definitive guide as to whether your processor is stable at a given speed, the longer you leave them running, the better indication you will get of how stable the system is.
     
    Last edited: 4 Aug 2004
  14. Tim S

    Tim S OG

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  15. Tim S

    Tim S OG

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    Useful Benchmarks

    SuperPI
    Tests memory bandwidth and CPU speed and overall system stability, however it’s not as good as either CPU Burn or Prime 95 for testing system stability.
    Take part in the bit-tech SuperPI challenge: http://forums.bit-tech.net/showthread.php?t=39994

    CPU-Z
    This is not an actual benchmark but it tells you useful information about your processor and memory, it’s also something used for posting suicide screenshots of your highest attainable CPU speed, so I guess it’s a benchmark in that sense.

    Hexus PiFast
    Another benchmark similar to SuperPI, calculates PI to a certain number of decimal places, it’s a good test of system bandwidth and CPU speed.

    CPUBench 2003
    Useful benchmark for benchmarking your CPU. It’s slightly synthetic though, so results are not often all that comparable.

    SiSoft Sandra 2004 (989)
    Seems to be the standard benchmark that many people use for benchmarking CPU’s, however it’s very synthetic and tends to favor Intel processors. It also has a memory bandwidth benchmark which can be quite useful.

    Aquamark3
    Aquamark is based around a game, and can test the latest high-level effects in an intense environment. However, while it's based on a real game engine, the actual tests are designed to identify weaknesses in your system.
    These are split into categories such as "Large Scale Vegetation Rendering", "Massive Overdraw" and "3D Volumetric Fog", which may show how efficient the graphics card drivers are in certain areas, but they won't give you a true indication of overall game performance.

    3DMark03
    This benchmark is a strictly synthetic DirectX 9 benchmark, however it after a recent bout of controversy surrounding it and various “optimizations” that graphics card manufacturers were making to their drivers, it can no longer be relied upon as being a reliable indication of how your graphics card will perform. It’s still very popular though.

    3DMark 2001 SE
    This benchmark is a DirectX 8.1 reasonably synthetic benchmark based on the Max Payne game engine. It gives a much more rounded system performance rather than an intense graphics card workout, it’s very hard to return the same result time after time. Quite possibly more popular with extreme overclockers than it’s younger brother, 3DMark03 due to it being a much more rounded system benchmark.

    That should give you enough benchmarks to run on with for a while :)
     
    Last edited: 8 Feb 2004
  16. Tim S

    Tim S OG

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    The Definitive "How to Tweak" Guide - By Carnival Forces

    Introduction: Most of the time people have problems, such as "my computer used to be fast, now it's slow!" or "help! i can't seem to do things i used to!" etc. etc. it can be attributed to spyware//adware (from p2p programs such as KaZaA, and even legitamte programs like DivX (they mean it when they say GAIN adware supported bundle) ) and, of course, the fact that over time, the Windows OS just gets cluttered. Period. So, what can you do? Well here are a few General Tips, and then very specific tweak guides (linked and summarized) for your aid. This guide will, hopefully, help increase system performance, reduce your lag, and make your computer happily tweaked out! ^_^


    PLEASE, after reading these tweaks POST BACK HERE with your results. Like this:

    H05: 4

    "H05" Is the Tweak Identification Code (i can't get enough of it :cool: ), and "4" is the number of [H]'s you rated it, based on how well it performed/much it helped you/easy it was etc. It's your overall rating. That way, next to the corresponding tweak, i can put the average of all the people who voted on it (3[H]) and then the number of people who voted (6). This is how the guide will really reach out to people and help them, b/c this way others can look and see just how effective people like them found the tweak to be. Thanks!


    General Tips:

    1. Reformatting
    ^--ahh...the wonderful Panacea, Reformatation...Generally, there is performance, stability, and resolving of just plain weird-ass issues to be gotten from Reformatting. What's to be lost? Well, for sure, time, and then , of course, any data you forgot to backup. And if you don't have, for instance, your Windows CD-Key...hehe..well, you better find it! Generally, I would recommend Reformatting anually or bi-anually. (At least install your OS over your current one at 6-month, then after next 6-month Reformat, then after 6-month re-install OS..etc.etc.etc.)
    UPDATE(01.19.03): two new guides to reformatting:
    1. http://www.umt.edu/reslife/Reformat.htm
    -quick, simple, step-by-step guide to reformatting.
    2. http://www.winxpcentral.com/basics/reformat.php
    -much more in-depth, excruciatingly detailed and amazingly helpful step-by-step-by-step-by... reformatting guide read it

    2. Windows Update
    ^--important important important Period. Do it, it's that simple. Look in your start menu and click on "Windows Update" or go to www.windowsupdate.com and look around for it, it can help quite a lot (security, stability, drivers etc.).
    &*& for Dialup Users: you can download the updates as installers and burn them to a CD ( thanks to TekieB:D )

    3. Task Scheduler
    ^--USE your task scheduler (I just started using mine ~_~). This is what my task scheduler's lineup looks like:
    1:30 AM Disk Cleanup || 2:00 AM Scandisk || 2:30 AM Defrag || 3:30 AM FAH
    obvious additions would include Virus Scanning, running Spybot S&D ( http://www.safer-networking.org/ )
    The way to set this up is quite easy. In Win98 just go Start \ Programs \ Acessories \ System Tools \ Maintenance Wizard and follow the instructions. If you want it to run a 3rd party program (i.e. FAH) at a certain time, you can just click "Browse" when it asks what program to run and navigate yourself to the "Shortcut to FAH3" or "FAH3.exe" file and enter that, then it should work!

    4. Tweak, Tweak, Tweak.
    ^-- www.speedguide.net
    ^-- www.tweak3d.net
    Read 'em and Tweak. (speedguide contains tweaks pertinent to Win9x/ME ; Win2k ; WinXP, although the main focus of the site is on internet connection [and here mostly broadband] tweaking -- tweak3d contains once again OS pertinent tweaks, as well as hardware related articles and a host of reviews of hardware)

    5. Clean
    ^--Clean out your case every so often, vacume in the room where your computer is at least once a week. Make sure you have good filters in your case fans. You'd be amazed at how many problems dust bunnies can cause you, it's just amazing... Once you've cleaned out your case, you can overclock better (because you can cool better ^_^) and you'll have greater stability (again linked to the cooling aspect).
    ^--Clean not only the physical part of your rig but also every two weeks or so go on a spring cleaning frenzy. The more often you do it, the less it is each time you have to do it. I remember once I hadn't checked to see if there was any useless crap on my computer I could delete...I ended up finding over half a gig of stuff just in my download folder... Once you've cleaned out your HDD, they'll perform better and hopefully will be more stable ^_^.

    6. Page File (Swap File)
    ^-- http://www.hardforum.com/showthread.php?s=&threadid=707368
    this should answer all your questions. ( much thanks to Phoenix86 :D )

    7. Tweak UI
    ^-- a handy dandy little Tweak User Interface created by Microsoft. Lets you change many settings with the shell of your Windows OS, such as privacy settings: i.e. clear out those *.lnk files that form in the Start \ Documents folder whenever you access a document etc. Includes privacy options, customization options, and a repair utility for damaged icons. YOU SHOULD GET IT
    WinXPLink:here
    Win9x/ME/2kLink: here
     
  17. Tim S

    Tim S OG

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    **a not-so-quick note: ALL TWEAKS ARE PERFORMED AT YOUR OWN RISK AND I'M NOT GONNA BE RESPONSIBLE REGARDLESS OF WHATEVER THE HELL HAPPENS TO YOUR MACHINE. SORRY. and good luck.
    **a quick note: Spybot S&D is one of the most wonderful programs i have come across, i strongly recommend EVERYONE to download a copy (and keep it updated, religiously). It's completely free, and incredibly safe (provided you don't screw it up yourself).
    ** a quick note 2: another program i suggest getting is AVG Free Edition ( www.grisoft.com/us/us_dwnl_free.php ) in addition to your current virus solution. Infact, i don't even have a "real" (i.e. spend money on) Anti-Virus program (i.e. Mcaffee or Norton), I just use this. It's pretty damn cool (and again, update it religoiusly ^_^).

    Now, onto the tweaks! This section conatains links to full explanations and short summaries of tweaks:
    **wait a second...READ THIS first (1st) (now):
    - http://tweak3d.net/tweak/tweaking/
    that's right, it's how to tweak, and understanding what it's all about. Please read it before attempting any of the following tweaks.
    it also sets up the best way for you to approach tweaks and how to make them most effective
    Level of Difficulty: Just Read it Okay? (Easy)
     
  18. Tim S

    Tim S OG

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    How To Guides:
    T01- http://tweak3d.net/articles/spyware/
    "How to Remove Spyware, Adware, and Popups" Learn how to cure your PC of that Messenger Spam (little window that pops up saying "Buy My Product for 4 Easy Installments of $99.99" etc. etc.), stop popups before they take over your computer, and get rid of Spyware/Adware.
    Level of Difficulty: Easy to Medium
    &*&*&*&*&: Special Note!!: The one gripe I have with the above guide is its recommendation to use Lavasoft's Adaware. I say no. Infact, I say hell no. Use Spybot S&D, okay, it's a whole lot better...and it's completely free, you don't get some bull**** trial version or any crap like that. Check it out at: http://www.safer-networking.org/
    Still don't believe me? Listen to what CNET has to say "Spybot blows venerable Ad-aware out of the water when it comes to protecting you against ad-serving software." . Now go get it. ;)


    T02- http://tweak3d.net/articles/xp-install/
    "How to Install WindowsXP" well, the title says it all. They have a couple tricks up their sleeves to optimize your system as it is installed (always a good thing) and walk you through holding your hand every step of the way.
    Level of Difficulty: Easy

    T03- http://tweak3d.net/articles/howtobuildapc/
    "How to build a PC" step-by-step guide. Detailed, and easy to comprehend.
    Level of Difficulty: Easy

    T04- http://tweak3d.net/articles/howtoinstallwindow/
    "How to Install a Window in Your Case" name says it all. step-by-step, detailed, gives you preperationa dn follow-up.
    Level of Difficulty: Easy

    T05- http://tweak3d.net/articles/buyhardware/
    "How to Buy Hardware Online" IMPORTANT IMPORTANT GUIDE, now read it. However, i have a gripe about this one as well, they like to use www.pricewatch.com. I'd prefer that you also use www.pricegrabber.com.

    T06- http://tweak3d.net/articles/howtoserver/
    "How to Build a Server" 12 page immensely detailed guide that walks you through what parts to buy and how to set the entire thing up.
    Level of Difficulty: Easy to Medium

    T07- http://tweak3d.net/articles/howtolanparty/
    "How to Setup a LAN Party" All right!! A guide for how to have the most fun with the most friends! This guide walks through location, setting up power for all the machines, and even touches on the networking aspect involved with a LAN. It also provides helpful tips to make the most of the party.
    Level of Difficulty: Easy to Medium

    T08 http://tweak3d.net/articles/cleaning/
    "How to Clean your PC" Detailed guide, provides materials and tools needed along with proper procedure to muck out that case of your's.
    Level of Difficulty: Easy

    T09 http://tweak3d.net/articles/casecutting/
    "How to Make a Blowhole (System Cooling and Case Cutting)" Details how to cut your beautiful case up, and then how to make the cuts pretty by smoothing the edges etc. Also describes how to properly create a blowhole. Gives tools and materails needed, the proper procedure, and fan placement.
     
  19. Tim S

    Tim S OG

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    INTERNET GUIDES/TWEAKS:

    I01- http://www.speedguide.net/read_articles.php?id=115
    "Bits, Bytes, and Bandwith Reference Guide" in short, READ THIS, it will tweaking your internet connection so much easeir to understand, it's a very very good introduction to all the terms and definititons etc. that are connected with the internet.
    Level of Difficulty: Easy-ish (user knowledge dependant)

    I02- http://www.speedguide.net/read_articles.php?id=132
    GOOD introduction and explanation to security for your box. It does go into depth some, so don't discount it as a shallow guide, it'll help people new to making their computer safe, and it can serve as a refresher course for more experienced users.

    I03- http://www.speedguide.net/read_articles.php?id=169
    how to share an internet connection. very well written.
    Level of Difficulty: Easy-ish to Medium

    I04- http://www.speedguide.net/read_articles.php?id=119
    General guide for the best network and internet settings for Win9x/ME
    Level of Difficulty: Medium (registry / sys file editing)

    I05a- http://www.speedguide.net/read_articles.php?id=157
    very good guide giving the best network and internet settings for Win2k/XP
    Level of Difficulty: Medium (registry / sys file editing)
    ^
    I05b-- http://www.speedguide.net/read_articles.php?id=158
    extension of the above guide.
    Level of Difficulty: Medium (registry / sys file editing)

    I06- http://www.speedguide.net/read_articles.php?id=1130
    "The tweak desribed below helps boost priority for DNS & hostname resolution in general. What this means is, it helps web pages load faster, and has negligible effect on downloads (not counting the couple of ms gain with the host resolution at connect-time). Applying this tweak assumes some proficiency in editing the Windows Registry using Regedit (Start > Run > type: regedit). As always, backup your Registry before making any changes so you can revert to the previous state if you don't like the results. Note: The below host name resolution tweak can also be used for changing name-resoluton order besides priority."
    Level of Difficulty: Medium (Registry editing)

    I07- http://www.speedguide.net/read_articles.php?id=168
    NOTE: this only works for Win9x (supposedly), AND it's not documented by Microsoft, so you'll have to play around with it to see if it'll help you. What it does is essentially reserve some memory for the modem itself, so performance gains may or may not apply to your system.
    Level of Difficulty: Easy-ish (sys file editing)

    I08- http://www.speedguide.net/read_articles.php?id=156
    hmm, This is a general guide dedicated to gettin the most out of your current internet connection (be it DSL/Cable/56-k)

    Notebook/Laptop Guides:
    L01- http://tweak3d.net/tweak/notebook/
    this is really important if you own a laptop (or notebook). You MUST read it in order to get the longest battery life best performance etc. out of your computer. Please read it.
    Level of Difficulty: Easy-ish
     
  20. Tim S

    Tim S OG

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    GENERAL (MAYBE NOT OS DEPENDANT, MAYBE HARDWARE TWEAKS)

    G01- www.rojakpot.com/freebog.aspx
    VERY detailed and specific amazingly good BIOS optimization guide
    ( thanks to Drisler :D )
    Level of Difficulty: Easy-ish (depends on user knowledge)

    G02- http://tweak3d.net/tweak/pcgamer1/
    a well written immense article with everything from BIOS tweaks up to OS dependant tweaks **READ**
    Level of Difficulty: Easy-ish (depends on user knowledge)

    G03- http://tweak3d.net/tweak/boot/
    want to boot up faster? use this guide.
    Level of Difficulty: Easy-ish (once again, user knowledge dependant)

    G04- http://tweak3d.net/tweak/boot-time/
    want to boot up even faster? read this guide as well.
    Level of Difficulty: Easy-ish (user knowledge dependant)

    G05- http://www.tweak3d.net/tweak/harddrive/
    Hard Drive tweaking, that's right. Hard Drive tweaking.
    Level of Difficulty: Easy

    G06- http://tweak3d.net/tweak/quickspeed/
    good quick guide to getting quite a lot out of your aging or new system.
    Level of Difficulty: Easy-ish (not just point-and-click)
     
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