Let's start with some background info on my old PC. It had an Abit motherboard, and started to go bad. First, it emptied BIOS batteries like no other, requiring me to keep the power on at all times if I didn't want to lose my BIOS settings. Then it started giving me Clear CMOS errors every boot, and finally something exploded in my case (capacitor?), and the IDE controller disappeared from my motherboard.
Needless to say, it was time to do something about it. I initially planned to move to the i5 platform, but high costs kept me from doing so. After all, my Q6600 still has some life in it.
So I decided to get a good socket 775 motherboard, and overclock the Q6600 like there's no tomorrow.
I opted to get the Asus P5E deluxe, which is essentially a Maximus formula without the 2 added fan headers. It boasts the intel X48 chipset, and is reported to be a good overclocker.
I also got a new case. My old made more noise than a vacuum cleaner and had kind of poor airflow. CPU idling at 50 celsius....
Speaking of which, I got a CPU cooler. I first looked at water cooling sets, but the really good sets were cumbersome and expensive, and the cheaper sets were beaten by high-end air coolers.
Opting for air cooling left me with a few options. I looked at reviews, and the top rankings appeared to be dominated by the TRUE (thermaltake) and MUGEN 2 (Scythe). After some more investigation, I found out that the TRUE generally ranks a tiny bit better, albeit when coupled with the default fan. Mount 2 3rd party fans on the mugen and it blows the TRUE off the map (pun intended). It' s also half as cheap as the TRUE, which is a nice benefit.
Now, to mount the whole rig. I initially looked at the CM HAF 922 and 933, both very good high airflow cases, but then I found the Aerotech bx-500. Not too expensive (90 euros), lots of room inside for mounting and cable management, stylish design, and extreme airflow.
And when I say extreme, I mean it. I fitted the thing with 8 casefans, the CPU fans not added. 8x120mm fans means a LOT of airflow, and not too much noise.
Well, I ordered the stuff, and it arrived yesterday. I called a friend and together we installed everything (trust me, an extra pair of hands is godsent when building a PC). We designed the airflow, debated fan positioning, did some epic cable fu, and finally ended up with a very, VERY cool processor. I'm talking a quadcore CPU at stock settings, running at 15 degrees celsius. Thank you airflow!
Still, idle temperatures aren't the only part of the equation, how about load temperatures?
30 Degrees Celsius. I kid you not. That's a quadcore, running 4 cores at 2.4 GHZ each, 100% load. Oh the insanity.
Of course, with those temperatures, the system calls for an epic overclock. We were happy to answer.
First test: 3 GHz, 35 degrees under 100% load.
After some fine tuning with the voltages we reached a final 3.6 GHz stable, with a 50 degrees temperature under full load. Turns out my RAM can't run any faster than 800MHZ, wiht is already the lowest FSB strap available at an FSB of 400 MHZ. Time for some new ram, soon!