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AMD Overclocking Guide - October 2002

By: Mike Wright | Guides | Posted: Oct 5, 2002 4:00 am

General Troubleshooting


Still with me here? If so then you must have had at least some measure of success during the overclocking process. But I can promise you up front that everything does not always proceed according to plan. There are sometimes a few problems that just sneak up on you and you start getting a bit anxious about it. Even the best plan doesn't always work out, so we'll try to key in on some of the more common problems that can occur during your overclocking experience and then try to provide some possible solutions to them.


Before we start, it should be noted that it would be impossible to have an all-inclusive listing of problems that occur while overclocking. As I said at the very beginning of this guide, overclocking is not an exact science. There are just too many variables in both conditions and system contents to be able to list every possible error. But we can take a look at some of the more common problems.


I hit the power switch and just get a blank screen


This particular problem is one that you may as well just get used to. You've just gotten through making some changes to your system settings and you eagerly hit the power button awaiting this newfound level of performance, but wait. You heard the initial beep telling you the memory check had completed. The next step is to see the Power On Self Test (POST) information go floating onto the screen. But there is nothing there!


For the experienced enthusiast this is just another common occurrence, but for the new overclocker it can be nerve wracking. Usually the first thought that comes to mind is that you've killed the processor or something in the system, but this is not generally the case.


When you begin making adjustments to the settings for the processor, you are in essence speeding up the speed to one that is not natively supported by the chip. Since every processor in existence has a limit as to how fast it will run, we sometimes hit that limit. It should be noted that every processor is NOT created equally, so this limit will vary greatly between different chips. The black screen comes into play when you have pushed the settings beyond what the processor will support. It just refuses to do anything at all. No POST, no boot-up, no nothing.


The fix to this one is simple if you've been listening to what I've said throughout this Guide. Just perform whatever task is necessary to reset the CMOS to default values. Once this is accomplished, reboot the machine and begin again, but with settings that are not quite as aggressive. You DO know how to reset your CMOS by now, don't you?


I overclocked my system but it locks up after a short time


There can be a few different causes for this one, but the most common one is heat. Since heat is our worst enemy in the overclocking game, we need to do everything in our power to combat it. The easiest way to check for this condition is to get either the SiSoft Sandra Utility, Motherboard Monitor or an actual thermal probe. If your temperatures are running hot, then you'll need to look at some additional cooling.


Another common reason for these random lockups is a power supply that just can't put out enough juice for your hungry system. If your lockups are truly random with no rhyme nor reason for when they occur, then it is probable that you are the victim of PSU that just can't cut it. The solution for this one is simple; more power. As a general rule, don't accept anything less than 350 watts in a new PSU. Though you may be able to perform just fine on a lower powered model, we're getting to a point where the extra power is almost necessary. And if you happen to have plans of case lighting in the immediate future, then the more power the better.


Finally, if your lockups start occurring after making some changes to the settings within the BIOS, then this can be the cause of your lockup woes. With any luck you have listened to my advice early in this guide and have only changed one or two settings at a time. If so, then you should have no problems finding the culprit. If, however, you decided to just make a whole bunch of changes at the same time, then your best bet would be to just reset the CMOS and start over again. Experimentation and patience in this area will take you far.


I unlocked my processor but can't adjust the multiplier


When you have gone through the steps to unlock a processor but can't make adjustments to the multiplier, chances are good that you didn't get the job done well enough. Remembering that the bridges have to have a solid conductive connection, it is sometimes just a matter of having to redo the work.


In the case of the Thunderbird processors, this may just mean hitting the bridges again with a pencil. In the case of the Athlon XP it could mean that you didn't get enough conductive grease across the filled in valleys. In either case, just clean off your bridge area and start over.


If you used a more permanent means like super glue or solder, then all I can say is WHOOPS.


When I booted my freshly overclocked system I saw some smoke come from the case


Though this particular problem is really pretty rare, it can happen. And, of course, it means that you have given yourself the perfect excuse to upgrade something within the system. Most likely it will be the processor that fries, but it can happen to any of your system components.


Remember, when you use FSB overclocking, you are forcing all components connected to the AGP, PCI and/or ISA busses to run faster than they were designed to. Since a vast majority of modern peripherals can handle this added workload, it is rare that anything will go up in smoke on you.


One final possible reason for this occurring is that you didn't get the heatsink fitted properly to your processor. There is a definite front and back to a HSF assembly. By installing it backwards, you can create a gap between the core of the processor and the base of the heatsink. This gap means that you aren't getting any cooling and this can cause a processor to have a meltdown in a matter of seconds.


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