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HighSpeed PC Athlon XP Unlocking Kit Review

By: Mike Wright | AMD CPUs in CPUs, Chipsets & SoCs | Posted: Mar 13, 2002 5:00 am
TweakTown Rating: 9.5%Manufacturer: HighSpeed PC

Unlocking the Processor


All right then. We have a pretty little Athlon XP processor, and we have this Unlocking Kit. How are we going to accomplish our goal of extra speed? Since you asked so nicely, let's get the ball rolling.



First off, lets explain about something that is a little different from the older Thunderbird processors. With the T-Bird chips, it was a simple matter to take some conductive ink, solder, or even a pencil and unlock the clock multiplier. This was made easy since it just required you to connect the dots of the L1 bridges.


With the advent of the Athlon XP processors, however, that changed a bit. While the concept of connecting the dots is still the same, AMD added a snag. If you look at the picture above, you can see that there is actually a valley in the top of the chip between the dots. Not only that, but there is a lot of additional electrical grounding throughout the entire processor, so you can't just fill up the holes with a conductive substance and unlock the processor. The only result from this would be the browsing online required to purchase a new processor.


So what has to happen is to fill these valleys with an insulating material that is nonconductive, and then to add a bridge on top of it that will allow us to unlock the clock multiplier. And this is the goal behind the kit we're looking at today, so let's get to it.


The first step to our goal of more power is a little cleaning. Using a Q-Tip, take a little of the cleaning agent to the work area to make sure that you're starting off on the right foot. We want a clean base to start with.


One thing I noticed about the cleaner is that it dries extremely fast. This allows you to get right to work without fear of having any residue left on the bridges. Just clean the area, and then get to work.



After the bridges have been cleaned, you may want to tape off the dots themselves, but this is optional. We'll be cleaning them later on in the process anyway, so the choice is up to you. It is recommended, however, that you tape off the L3 bridges just below your work area.


Once things are set up to your liking, it is time to add the filler. As stated above, the filler is a nonconductive material that insulates the grounded portion of the valley from the bridging that we're doing here. So take the processor and lay it under the magnifier, and then use the pin to smear a small amount of the filler into the valleys. Though neatness doesn't count at this stage, I tried to maintain a clean work area to get used to the precision required for the next stage.


After the filler has been applied, just use your finger to smooth it and remove any excess. And yes, I said the finger. Since we're not applying a thermal interface material, you don't have to worry about that taboo. Once you get done with that stage, your project should look like the picture above.


Before we continue on, we should probably go ahead and clean off those little dots. Just take a little piece of tape and lay it gently over the dots. Press down on the dots with the head of the pin, and then lift the tape off. This will remove any small traces of the filler that was on there.



We're getting close to finished now. Can you feel that extra power just barely being contained?


The final step in our project is to get a connection between all of the bridges, but we have to be careful not to have any of our bridges connected to each other or we're sunk. This is where a steady hand comes in real handy!


Put the processor back under your magnifier. Using the pin again, take a small amount of the conductive grease and get ready to connect the dots. I should point out here that when I say a small amount, that is exactly what I mean. You should be able to barely see the grease on the tip of the pin when you apply it. Too much will make a mess and connect the bridges left to right, which just won't work.


So just take a small dab of grease and lay the head of the pin on one of the dots. Then do the same thing with the dot opposite it. From there, just lightly drag the head of the pin over the valley so that you have a trail of grease over the bridge. Repeat this for the other L1 bridges and you're finished.


And what do you do if you accidentally connect the bridges the wrong way?


No problem! Just get your Q-Tip out and clean it all off to start over again. All of the components used here will clean right off with the cleaning agent, so you don't have to worry about doing any damage to the processor if you mess it up. And to be honest, you probably will mess it up a time or two before you get it right.


But that's all right too because you'll find plenty of material in the kit to unlock a whole bunch of processors. The HighSpeed PC guys say that you can unlock 25 processors with the material included in their kit. After doing the unlocking, I can say that you may get even more than that. So go for the gusto, and if you make a little mistake, just clean it off and go for it again. Once you get it done right, just do a final cleanup and get ready to party!


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