Building a PC, Part III - Overclocking

Now that we have Scott Hanselman's computer completely built up and stable -- or at least that's what our torture tests told us yesterday-- it's time to see how far we can overclock this system.

This is a companion discussion topic for the original blog entry at:

What temperatures do you try to keep components under? I’ve heard a general rule of thumb is anything over 60C can cause long term damage.

I’m surprised you are only getting 5.3 on the memory. I have stock PC2-6400 on my Dell OptiPlex 745 and it comes in at 5.6 on the experience index.

I am afraid I have to disagree with you on overclocking, I have had some spectacular mishaps from overclocking where the system passed all stress tests I could throw at it. The problems weren’t immediately fatal but grew with time. I run Gentoo, a source based distro and what seemingly was happening was that overclocking made the compiler generate bad output from larger compiles, so over time as packages were updated my system degraded to the point that it was unusable. The lesson I learned from that is that there is no stresstest which compares to compiling OpenOffice.

Sure that kind of errors would not surface on other less demanding environments, but what do you need the extra cpu power for then? Even an entry level cpu such as the Athlon64 X2 3600+ which sells for less than 60#8364; provides enough power for most users. And those who heavy mathematical calulations or rendering should anyways know better than to overclock.

This is exactly the kind of computer I want to move into, as soon as I move out of my mother’s basement.

I could not believe you are cluttering your high-quality software blog with the pc-building articles… I am sad :frowning:

I see software and hardware a symbiosis.

But if it’s any consolation, this series is basically over. I might have one more post on quieting the build, but this is the meat of it.

Can you build me a machine and overclock it, too? Obviously, I would pay you for the parts and labor.

“I’d say saving nearly a thousand bucks is a pretty good argument in favor of overclocking.”

Reminds me of an old joke. Son comes home all excited and proudly tells his father: I saved $1 today because I followed the bus home instead of riding it. To which the father replies: you should have followed a taxi home, you would have saved $20.

Whatever, Alexander U.

There is a reason that I read this blog religiously, and articles such as this one are exactly why. Coding Horror does an excellent job of providing detailed information in an easily accessible format, and nearly always about a topic I need. I may spend 95% of my computer efforts writing code, but when I occasionally tinker with my home pc equipment, I definitely refer back to the Coding Horror.

Boy am I glad that I ran all 3 of the programs you mention before I tried to up the FSB speed in BIOS…CoreTemp reports that my processor isn’t Intel, but CPU-Z says it is. Regardless, I wouldn’t be able to get my processor temp after I overclocked, and might have ended up frying my machine.

Just a warning to anyone else to thoroughly understand what you are doing before you attempt this.

This is a software blog? :wink:

Alexander, I’ll be taking over the articles series over on my blog when I start throwing totally inappropriate shareware and development tools at it, so the clutter is spread around. :slight_smile:

If you hadn’t bought ValueRAM, do you think this beast could have clocked even hire? :slight_smile:

Jeff, I actually have really enjoyed this series of PC-building articles. I’m a veteran PC builder myself, but I’ve still learned a few things (mostly about component selection) from your examples. I think I’ll definitely spring for one of those cases when I build my next system, for example.

I’m pretty interested in this, if only to see how someone else does it. Although it is making me a bit sad to think that, now that I pay a mortgage and not rent, I probably won’t be building a new super machine this winter, like I normally do every two years.

Sadly, Karthik, you might be right! We shall see!

I think the PC building articles are great, and valuable for anyone who works with computers for a living, even if it’s not strictly hardware, software, design. I’m a recording studio engineer, and knowing my way around the computer hardware certainly helps me get things done (yes the studio’s running PC). Not to mention keep things running smoothly.


Software blog? That’s where your mistaken. This blog is a steamy bodice ripping love story. Except swap out bodice for Antec case, and swap out romance with a woman with romance with computers.

It’s porn for geeks.

i’m salivating over this build. i’m running vista ultimate with visual studio 2005 and resharper on a pentium 4 with 2 gigs of ram and i curse to myself anytime i have to make a change in App_Code…

I agree with the relevance of this article. I’ve always avoided building my own PC and stuck only to writing code but Jeff has opened my eyes a little bit to this stuff.

I still think that a well constructed class is sexier than the heat sink though… :slight_smile: