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OCZ DDR Booster - Your aid for real RAM overclocking

By: Cameron Johnson | Editorials in RAM | Posted: Dec 5, 2004 5:00 am
TweakTown Rating: 9.5%Manufacturer: OCZ Technology

Up close and personal



The OCZ DDR Booster looks somewhat like a regular DIMM module, just with circuits rather than memory chips. This is pretty close to the truth, actually. The DDR Booster fits into a standard 184 pin DIMM socket (DDR support only at this stage) which is how the unit interfaces with the PC and that means you will have to give up a precise DIMM slot.


The PCB itself if rather well designs, clean and efficient. OCZ has done a professional job here and has made good improvements since the first reference designs we saw back at Computex this year in Taiwan. To make the unit work, OCZ has used an ICL7107CPL IC unit. This is what gives the unit its switching abilities to distribute the power across the DIMM channels when in operation.



OCZ has placed some alloy heatsinks on the Voltage Regulator units. Since the system is receiving power from the 5v rail, conversion to the 2.5v to 3.9v range will generate quite a bit of heat. While the heatsinks aren't absolutely essential, it's just another feature that has come from OCZ's overclocking experience. The potentiometer is used in order to control the voltage supplied into the DRAM channels. Turning the knob fully anti-clockwise drops the voltage down to 2.5v, all the way clockwise gives you 3.9v. The settings in the middle are all up to the user - simply turn the unit slowly to increase you memory voltage.



Here is yet another great feature. On the PCB, OCZ has placed two LED ports. These are the same as the port 80 on motherboards, however, this time they don't report POST codes but give the voltage that the booster is supplying into the DRAM channels. This comes quite handy if you don't have a BIOS version that gives good DRAM voltage readings (like most of the boards out there actually). This one reads the voltage direct from the IC controller chip and displays them on the LED panels.



The OCZ DDR Booster uses its own connection to the power supply in order to provide voltage to the memory bus as well as the DDR Termination voltage. On the top of the unit there are two x 4Pin Molex connectors, however, they do not plug into any of the HDD connectors of your PSU.



OCZ provides a special ATX adaptor. This adaptor goes between the motherboard and the 20pin ATX power cable; it is from here that the OCZ DDR Booster draws its power. When I looked at the unit I thought why would they do that? Simple, the DDR Booster uses three separate +5v, 1 +12v and 1 -5v. The +5 and +12v could be obtained from the HDD Molex connectors, however, the -5v only comes in off the 20pin ATX power, so an adaptor would be needed anyway. On the booster itself, the connectors have colour coded stickers on them, as do the 4 pin plugs, these have to be matched or your will do damage to the booster and possibly the motherboard due to incorrect voltage. A better approach would be to use a proprietary plug that had the full 8 pin on the socket. This would prevent any other power plug from being accidentally placed into the unit, or the adapters 4 pin plugs being placed into devices like HDD's this could happen with the less experienced overclockers.




This was pretty much a no brain-er for the install. Firstly take the unit out of its packaging. OCZ places a sticker on the potentiometer that warns the user to make sure that on first boot the knob is turned all the way anti-clockwise which prevents the unit from giving the board and memory a +4v surge that could potentially kill the DRAM and motherboard Northbridge quickly and easily. Once this is accomplished it's in to the PC for the DDR Booster module.


You will need to locate a spare DDR memory socket. On Dual Channel boards this is easy as mostly only two are in use, if however, you have all 4 populated you will need to give up a slot. Press the unit down into the socket like you would with a DDR DIMM module till the DRAM locking latches snap into place.


Next is to give the unit its power. Connect the green and blue Molex connectors into their respective slots, taking care not to plug the blue into the green and vice versa. After this is accomplished unplug the 20pin ATX power connector from the motherboard, place the OCZ DDR Booster cable 20pin connector into the motherboard and the PSU 20pin connector into the back of the DDR Booster power adapter cable. You are now ready to power on, if all goes well your system will boot up with the DDR Booster giving the memory modules 2.5v, check the LED panels to be sure. Once this has been confirmed its now time to start the overclocking.


Before you begin overclocking it would be a good idea to check out OCZ's DDR Booster Motherboard Compatibility Chart (located here) which provides important details about your motherboard and the DDR Booster.


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