Pentium 4 Overclocking Adventure

We all love overclocking, and the effect it has on our 3DMark scores - some people more than others. Today Tio "Tha Realest" Chaharbaghi takes us on a Pentium 4 overclocking adventure taking a 2.4GHz processor to its maximum with explanations along the way and clock speed increases and the effect on 3DMark 2001 SE scores. If you are new to the Pentium 4 overclocking scene, make time to check out this article!
| Feb 16, 2003 at 11:00 pm CST
Manufacturer: none

P4 Overclocking - Introduction

IntroductionA lot of people these days have a lot of different hobbies. They tend to vary from person to person. Hobbies such as sports, music, television, movies etc. But how about those that are not into any of those generalized hobbies? How about those who spend countless hours, like me, on the computer looking for a breathtaking hobby?Well awhile ago, a few "computer junkies" got together looking for that new breathtaking hobby. As they juggled their minds, they looked at a few computer magazines with CPU listings. "P2 266", "P2 300", "P2 333" - Oh, could it be possible to take a P2 266 to perhaps 333MHz?Well here we are, a couple years later. Everybody is doing it, from 14 year olds to grandmothers. What do they call this breathtaking hobby? Well nonetheless, overclocking! It's a hobby which can be quite competitive at times. Today we bring you our Pentium 4 overclocking article. Teaming with some generous sponsors, we paired up an Albatron PX845PE Pro 2 (from chillblast.com), a stick of OCZ PC3500 DDR Memory (from shop4memory.com) & various top of the line cooling products from exoticpc.com.What are you waiting for? Click next and enjoy the ride!

P4 Overclocking - CPU

CPU SelectionAs you noticed already, we are using a Pentium 4 processor in this review. But which one did we select?
If you can't tell by the picture, I'll tell you. We decided to use a Pentium 4 2.4B 533 FSB processor which we picked up locally. We decided to get this CPU since it seems to overclock well, and the price isn't that steep. We have seen reports that this CPU hits near the 3GHz mark.
Above you can see a snapshot for all those wondering what the package information is on this particular CPU.
The retail package includes a few things in its package. The CPU, as well as the infamous Pentium 4 retail heatsink. A lot of people have been reporting over the past little while that this retail heatsink smokes any other retail heatsink ever released. Some dangerous enthusiasts don't even bother buying another, and go to incredible overclocks with just this heatsink. It also includes a small manual as well as Pentium 4 sticker and warranty information.

P4 Overclocking - Motherboard

Motherboard SelectionChillblast.com was kind enough to provide us with the Albatron PX845PE Pro 2 motherboard to really help us push our overlocking dream to the max. If any board can max out my CPU, it should be this one.
Above you can see a quick snapshot of the box the Albatron PX845PE Pro II comes in. It's quite a simple design with all the main features on the front of the box. Some features outlined on the box are DDR 400, Serial ATA, 6 channel audio, "667 FSB overclocking support", RAID etc. Definitely some nice features.
Albatron is known to put out great overclocking boards for their relatively short existence in the industry, but what the package bundle? Albatron have jam packed this motherboard. As you can see above, this motherboard includes a additional bracket which supports 4 USB 2.0 ports, a serial ATA cable, two manuals, driver CD, as well as an add-on bracket which gives you your six channel support and SPDIF out. Both manuals, for the RAID and the motherboard, are quite thick and cover everything you need to know - including overclocking!
This particular motherboard has a blue PCB. At first sight, you couldn't tell the difference between this motherboard and the other line of Albatron motherboards. After further inspection, you could definitely tell the difference by the features as we quickly outlined above. This motherboard comes with six PCI slots as well as three DIMM slots supporting DDR 400. Albatron has included a nice north bridge aluminum heatsink to keep it cool.So now we have our CPU & Motherboard covered, what's left? - RAM!

P4 Overclocking - RAM

RAM SelectionFor every overclocker to succeed, they need good RAM. RAM can be the reason why you hit an astonishing overclock, or the reason why you barely make it past stock. Luckily, shop4memory.com provided us with a stick of OCZ PC3500 512MB RAM. This is guaranteed to hit 433 MHZ, will it? Continue to find out...First let's give you a few snapshots of the RAM.
Now some of you hardcore TweakTown readers might be thinking you've seen that ram here at TT before. Well I'm sure you have, SOV reviewed it earlier - you can read that review here.OCZ has stuck a copper spreader onto the RAM to perhaps help with performance. Of course, the objective is to dissipate as much heat as possible from the RAM to give you that extra MHz you need to reach your goal. Our stick of RAM, as we were told by shop4memory.com, uses Winbond 5ns chips. Definitely some good stuff here.

P4 Overclocking - Cooling

Cooling SelectionFor every overclock, you also need good cooling. The stock cooling Intel provides definitely is good, but not that good.
First thing on our list was the HSF. We decided to pick up the Thermalright AX-478 which has been performing quite well according to many reviews online. It's an aluminum based heatsink which has quite a big surface area. We used Artic Silver 3 instead of the paste Thermalright included with their package. How about our cooling fans? Exoticpc.com provided us with three fans - one CPU fan, and two case fans. Here is a snapshot.
Starting from the left, we have the Vantec Tornado 80mm fan. This bad boy is quite powerful pushing around 85 CFM. But that kind of airflow comes with a consequence. It produces 55DB of noise. Talk about losing your ears. We decided to use this for our CPU fan, coupling it with the AX-478, as pictured above.

P4 Overclocking - The Goal and Test Setup

Now that we have covered what we will be using in this overclocking article, it's time for me to state my goal.The Goal: Achieving 16,000 points in 3DMark 2001 SE via overclocking our Pentium 4 CPU.Test System:Processor(s): Intel Pentium 4 2.4 B 533 FSBMotherboard(s): Albatron PX845PE Pro II (Supplied by Chillblast)Memory(s): OCZ PC3500 Memory (Supplied by Shop4memory)Video Card(s): ATI Radeon 9700 Pro (Supplied by ATi)Hard Disk(s): Seagate Barracuda ATAIV 60 GB HDD Sound Card(s): Hercules Game Theater XP 7.1 Operating System Used: Windows XP ProfessionalDrivers Used: ATi Catalyst 2.3Software Used: Madonion 3DMark 2001 SE

P4 Overclocking - Overclocking the CPU

Overclocking the CPUOverclocking is a great hobby, but we should always note it can be dangerous. You are taking your CPU or any other device you are overclocking past its official rating. By doing so you are voiding your warranty.When overclocking, you usually will be using your BIOS to do it, but if you have an older motherboard, it might consist of dip switches or jumpers. Most BIOS's have general overclocking options but every motherboard varies to a certain degree. In our case, we have all of our options in the BIOS, so we do not need to open our case to adjust settings - phew! One of the main differences between overclocking an AMD system and a Pentium 4 system is the use of multipliers. The multipliers on an AMD can be unlocked with modification, while the Pentium 4 multipliers cannot be unlocked. We will now move on to showing you a screenshot of the BIOS settings for overclocking we have available on our Albatron PX845PE Pro II.
At the top of the screen you can see the CPU speed that you have set it at. At the time of that screenshot, we have everything running at stock. Below that, you can select the CPU voltage. This determines how much voltage is outputted to the CPU. When reaching higher overclocking speeds, you would raise this voltage to increase stability, since the higher clocked CPU might need more juice to function. However, the catch is the higher you raise your CPU voltage, the hotter the processor operates at.CPU Host frequency is your FSB control. The Albatron PX845PE Pro 2 will allow jumps in 1MHz increments all the way to 240MHz (which probably will not be attainable anyway). With this setting, we will be able to increase the clock speed of our CPU. The FSB is multiplied by the multiplier, which in this case is 18, to provide our final clock speed.

P4 Overclocking - Overclocking the CPU continued

Overclocking the CPU continuedNext we have an option which is called "Fixed AGP/PCI output frequency". Theoretically, when you raise your FSB, this also raises your PCI/AGP buses from their defaults of 33/66 to higher speeds depending on your FSB. A lot of the time, this can limit your overclock since your AGP/PCI cards might not be able to handle higher AGP/PCI bus frequencies. By enabling this option, you can still raise your FSB without raising your AGP/PCI bus, thus locking the AGP/PCI buses at 33/66. If you decide to keep it disabled, you can also manually use CPU: AGP ratios to find a setting where your peripherals can run at a higher bus speed but still be stable and not affect your overclock. Continuing on, the next thing we have is DDR: CPU ratio. This controls how fast your DDR speed will be set at. Under this menu, Albatron gives you a couple of options. "2.00X", "2.50x" as well as "2.66x". To figure out the DDR speed, the motherboard simply takes what your FSB is set at and multiplies it by the number you choose in this menu. So for instance, if you are running at stock, which is 133 FSB while choosing the "2.66x" option, your DDR memory will be running at a speed of 354MHz. AGP voltage has the same concept as your CPU voltage, also known as Vcore. You will use this feature to provide your video card with more juice to hit a higher clock on both the core MHz as well as the memory MHz. Finally we have your DDR voltage; you will also use this to provide your memory with more juice to hit higher clocks if you see it's limiting your overclock. A lot of companies that you buy ram from, indicate that you will need a certain amount of DDR voltage to hit the advertised speed.

P4 Overclocking - Overclocked Test Results

Overclocked Test ResultsBefore sticking the pedal to the metal, we decided to do a stock run to see what our base score is. With default settings set in the BIOS, CPU at stock as well as the DDR memory running at 333MHz, we achieved the following scores.- 2.4GHz (stock) Test Results
Compare Link: http://service.futuremark.com/compare?2k1=5905399We achieved 14,095 3DMarks on our stock run, definitely a respectable score. Not too far away from our goal, already.- 2.52GHz (overclocked) Test ResultsCPU Speed: 2520MHz FSB: 140MHz (AGP/PCI LOCKED)Vcore: 1.5 VDDR Ratio: 2.66 XDDR Speed: 372MHzDDR Voltage: 2.8 VWe decided to raise the FSB by 5MHz after our first jump to 140MHz FSB for every overclock run we do. You will see a list of the settings we used for each run we do in case you want to emulate our steps, as listed above.On our first try, we raised the FSB to 140MHz while keeping the AGP/PCI locked. The DDR ratio was also adjusted to 2.66 X to give us a bit of an extra "oomph". Unfortunately, the RAM sitting at 372MHz needed a little more voltage to operate. We then raised it to 2.8V and booted into Windows - 3DMark 2001 SE ran fine.
Compare Link: http://service.futuremark.com/compare?2k1=5905585We achieved 14,470 3DMarks after our first overclock. For only a 5MHz FSB increment increase, we gained around 300 points. Not bad, eh?- 2.61GHz (overclocked) Test ResultsCPU Speed: 2610MHz FSB: 145MHz (AGP/PCI LOCKED)Vcore: 1.5 VDDR Ratio: 2.66 XDDR Speed: 386MHz DDR Voltage: 2.8 VNext we cranked it up another 5MHz FSB to 145MHz FSB. Booted up and it showed a clock speed of 2.61GHz. The RAM was cruising near DDR 400 speeds with no problem. We fired up 3DMark 2001 SE again and here is what we got.
Compare Link: http://service.futuremark.com/compare?2k1=5905734Once again, our overclock did not disappoint. We achieved close to a 15k score with just a mere 210MHz overclock. I am definitely feeling some nice headroom for a much higher overclock.- 2.7GHz (overclocked) Test ResultsCPU Speed: 2700MHzFSB: 150MHz (AGP/PCI LOCKED)Vcore: 1.5 VDDR Ratio: 2.66 XDDR Speed: 400MHz DDR Voltage: 2.8 VWe pressed DEL, got into the BIOS. Then we adjusted the FSB to 150MHz giving us a clock speed of 2700MHz using default core voltage. With the RAM running at DDR 400 finally, we were definitely pushing this system close to its maximum. I really thought we would need a voltage boost, but the system made it to Windows, 100% stable. We ran 3DMark 2001 SE once again and here is what we got.
Compare Link: http://service.futuremark.com/compare?2k1=5905863This time we only achieved about a 200 point jump, lower then I expected. But still, after breaking 15,000 3DMark points, I was starting to cheer up and really feeling good about this little adventure of mine.- 2.79GHz (overclocked) Test ResultsCPU Speed: 2790MHzFSB: 155MHz (AGP/PCI LOCKED)Vcore: 1.6 VDDR Ratio: 2.66 XDDR Speed: 412MHz DDR Voltage: 2.8 VOur next step was to push the work horse Pentium 4 processor to 2790MHz. Unfortunately our stock voltage could not hold up and our system rebooted after successfully booting into Windows. So, to remedy this problem we bumped the voltage up to 1.6V and that successfully fixed the problem. We were now running at 2.79GHz, with the vcore at 1.6 V and our DDR running at a blazing 412MHz - We popped open 3DMark 2001 SE and here is what we got.
Compare Link: http://service.futuremark.com/compare?2k1=5906577We got around another 280 point jump. We are getting closer and closer to our goal of 16,000 points in 3DMark 2001 SE.Next we tried for 160MHz FSB and even with a Vcore of 1.85 V we were not able to get the system stable and running. So our highest overclock we could get was...- 2.88GHz (overclocked) Test ResultsCPU Speed: 2880MHzFSB: 159MHz (AGP/PCI LOCKED)Vcore: 1.775 VDDR Ratio: 2.66 XDDR Speed: 423MHz DDR Voltage: 2.8 V2.88GHz was the highest overclock for the CPU we could achieve with this setup. Then, we lowered the Vcore as low as we could from 1.85 to keep our CPU as cool as possible. We ran 3DMark 2001 SE for the final time and here is what we got.
Compare Link: http://service.futuremark.com/compare?2k1=5906562I expected to hit 16,000 points but unfortunately that did not happen. Currently, we are at 15,669 with our system running at 2.88GHz. If we could of hit 3GHz, I'm sure we would of hit our goal.

P4 Overclocking - Conclusion

ConclusionIn Conclusion, even though we fell short of our initial goal, I still believe that 2.88GHz is a fairly decent overclock from a 2.4GHz processor. With a score of 15669, which is quite high, I believe this system could last me awhile. Below you will find my final comments on the hardware I used during this overclocking adventure.CPU: The Intel Pentium 2.4B 533, which is currently priced at $175 USD on Price Watch, is quite a nice processor. The Intel Pentium 2.8B processor is currently priced at $359 USD. We achieved the performance, even a little more, of a Pentium 2.8B processor at basically half the cost. We would definitely recommend this processor to anyone who doesn't want to put a big hole in their pocket.Motherboard:The Albatron PX845PE Pro II is the best motherboard I have ever worked with. It has a lot of great features and add-ons, and is the king as far as overclocking goes for the Pentium 4. I wasn't able to hit more then 2.8GHz on any other motherboard that I used with this setup (Shuttle AS45GTR, Asus P4S8X, etc), but the Albatron helped me hit 2.88GHz.RAM:In the past I have had great doubts about OCZ's line of memory. But at the end of this article my mind has definitely changed. Even though our OCZ PC3500 was rated at 433 and we only hit 423 (10 MHz under its rating) we believe it was not the memory's fault. On our Athlon XP setup we were able to hit 433 MHz; unfortunately we couldn't get past that.Cooling:Cooling was definitely the big factor in us hitting such high speeds. Using top of the line cooling that our gracious friends over at exoticpc.com sent us, our CPU never went over 30c and our case temperature was a cool 22c. Unfortunately the down side to these great temperatures was the noise.

Last updated: Apr 7, 2020 at 12:25 pm CDT

PRICING: You can find products similar to this one for sale below.

USUnited States: Find other tech and computer products like this over at Amazon.com

UKUnited Kingdom: Find other tech and computer products like this over at Amazon.co.uk

AUAustralia: Find other tech and computer products like this over at Amazon.com.au

CACanada: Find other tech and computer products like this over at Amazon.ca

DEDeutschland: Finde andere Technik- und Computerprodukte wie dieses auf Amazon.de

ABOUT THE AUTHOR -

We openly invite the companies who provide us with review samples / who are mentioned or discussed to express their opinion. If any company representative wishes to respond, we will publish the response here. Please contact us if you wish to respond.