Starting new pc build; i7-950, ASUS P6TD Deluxe

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Seattle
I am about to start my fourth PC build and am finding the process of building a PC an enjoyable hobby much the same as photography.

I am certain pc building will not become a job like photography has though, if you consider covering sporting events a job. The extensive image editing is definitely work and a fast PC will hopefully cut the time it takes for me to process the large batch files I frequently need to run from events I shoot.

My new build is based on the Intel i7-950 and an ASUS PT6D Deluxe X58 motherboard and 12GB of memory.

CPU - Intel Core i7-950
Motherboard - ASUS P6TD Deluxe LGA 1366 Intel X58
PSU- Corsair CMPSU-850HX
Memory - Corsair XMS3 12GB (6x2GB)DDR3 1600 (PC3 12800) HX3X12G1600C9
CPU Cooler Noctua NH-U12P SE1366 120mm SSO CPU Cooler
Video card - EVGA 896-P3-1170-AR GeForce GTX 275 896MB
Case - Antec P183 (Might re-use my LIANLI PC-S80)
Sony Optiarc Black 24X SATA DVD Burner with LightScribe
WD VelociRaptor 300GB, Vista Ultimate SP1 64 with W7 coupon.

Not sure on the other hard drives. I’ll re-use a few from my x6800/D975XBX2K build for now and order an SSD drive after I get my copy of Windows 7. Ideally I’d like an SSD for the OS, a VelociRaptor for the scratch disk unless the single SSD handles scratch faster (Photoshop), and a few 1TB’s in RAID for archive. I just ordered a 1TB WD Black for $85 shipped after which I found out it wasn’t supported in RAID.

My main system today is not shabby but still leaves me waiting while it churns away longer than I’d like. My oldest daughter will inherit this as she is an avid photographer and video editor.

CPU - C2E X6800 2.93G;
Motherboard - D975XBX2K;
Memory - 2 ea. 2GB Kingston (4GB);
Case - LIAN LI PC-S80;
PSU - CORSAIR HX620W;
CPU Cooler ZALMAN CNPS9700-NT
2 ea. HD 150G|WD 10K; 2 ea. WD640, 1 ea. WD3200YS 320GB
SONY 16X DVD/CD-ROM IDE;
VGA BFG 8800GTS 640M; P
LEXTOR|PX-755SA;
Vista 32

The Family system I put together was more basic and a breeze to build.

CPU Q9550, DP45SG, CORSAIR CMPSU-650TX, Plextor PX-850SA, Antec P182, SAPPHIRE Radeon 4850 512MB, ZALMAN CNPS 9700 NT, 1 ea. HD 150G|WD 10K, 2 ea. Cav WD3200YS 320GB, Kingston ValueRAM (2 x 2GB) DDR3 1333 (PC3 10600)

The first system I built was based on the Intel P4 3.4 CPU and Intel D875PBZLK Motherboard.

So much time passes between each build I need to relearn much of what it takes but overall I feel anyone that can flash their camera firmware and master Photoshop can easily build a pc.

Let's see if I still feel that way after building a system on a non-Intel branded motherboard for the first time.:smile:
 
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Nice build, I too just upgraded to an Intel i7 920 CPU, board and RAM, and particular reason you chose the 950 though? Its a lot more money and I wonder how much faster it is then the 920.

AM
 
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Nice build, I too just upgraded to an Intel i7 920 CPU, board and RAM, and particular reason you chose the 950 though? Its a lot more money and I wonder how much faster it is then the 920.

AM
It's a newer CPU, a little faster (3.06 vs. 2.66) yet half the price of the extreme. I may play with overclocking to see what it will do but plan on running it stock.

http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/core-i7-975,2318.html

Now if you want me to try and justify the cost/performance benifit I don't think I can. That is why most are choosing the 920, especially since it overclocks so well. There isn't a lot of information on overclocking performance of the 950 that I've seen.
 

Growltiger

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I recently upgraded a machine using an Asus P6T Deluxe V2 and an i7 920 with 12GB.

I was told by the overclockers company that supplied the parts that if you have 12GB instead of 6GB they don't recommend overclocking, as the system becomes unstable. This is from people who specialise in overclocking and normally supply 6GB systems very heavily overclocked. I would be interested to learn of overclocking with 12GB.

I'm very happy with the speed without overclocking. Hugely faster than earlier machines. Just waiting for Windows 7 now.
 
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Sounds similar to my wishlist for a build early next year. I'm thinking the 950 is the way to go for me, too. It's more expensive than the 920 (double the cost), but we're talking around $250 for uprading to this versus $500 to upgrade from the 950 to the 970 (975?). There's as much or more difference in the jump from the 920 to the 950 as there is from the 950 to the 970. This holds Intel's line as their structure has almost always shown the best cost/performance model is their "middle" model. I have always tended to use computer long past their "best used by" date, so I've always tended to spec them well on the high end of the scale. This will be my first build, and based on the numbers I've crunched so far, it'll be well under half the cost I normally invest, will be easily upgradable longer than anything I've had thus far (assuming no "game changing" technology is discovered in the meantime), and will run infinitely faster on less energy producing less heat which translates into better longevity to boot! It's a great time to be a digital photographer on a budget - well, sort of...
 
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NJ
I am about to start my fourth PC build and am finding the process of building a PC an enjoyable hobby much the same as photography.

I am certain pc building will not become a job like photography has though, if you consider covering sporting events a job. The extensive image editing is definitely work and a fast PC will hopefully cut the time it takes for me to process the large batch files I frequently need to run from events I shoot.

My new build is based on the Intel i7-950 and an ASUS PT6D Deluxe X58 motherboard and 12GB of memory.

CPU - Intel Core i7-950
Motherboard - ASUS P6TD Deluxe LGA 1366 Intel X58
PSU- Corsair CMPSU-850HX
Memory - Corsair XMS3 12GB (6x2GB)DDR3 1600 (PC3 12800) HX3X12G1600C9
CPU Cooler Noctua NH-U12P SE1366 120mm SSO CPU Cooler
Video card - EVGA 896-P3-1170-AR GeForce GTX 275 896MB
Case - Antec P183 (Might re-use my LIANLI PC-S80)
Sony Optiarc Black 24X SATA DVD Burner with LightScribe
WD VelociRaptor 300GB, Vista Ultimate SP1 64 with W7 coupon.

Not sure on the other hard drives. I’ll re-use a few from my x6800/D975XBX2K build for now and order an SSD drive after I get my copy of Windows 7. Ideally I’d like an SSD for the OS, a VelociRaptor for the scratch disk unless the single SSD handles scratch faster (Photoshop), and a few 1TB’s in RAID for archive. I just ordered a 1TB WD Black for $85 shipped after which I found out it wasn’t supported in RAID.

My main system today is not shabby but still leaves me waiting while it churns away longer than I’d like. My oldest daughter will inherit this as she is an avid photographer and video editor.

CPU - C2E X6800 2.93G;
Motherboard - D975XBX2K;
Memory - 2 ea. 2GB Kingston (4GB);
Case - LIAN LI PC-S80;
PSU - CORSAIR HX620W;
CPU Cooler ZALMAN CNPS9700-NT
2 ea. HD 150G|WD 10K; 2 ea. WD640, 1 ea. WD3200YS 320GB
SONY 16X DVD/CD-ROM IDE;
VGA BFG 8800GTS 640M; P
LEXTOR|PX-755SA;
Vista 32

The Family system I put together was more basic and a breeze to build.

CPU Q9550, DP45SG, CORSAIR CMPSU-650TX, Plextor PX-850SA, Antec P182, SAPPHIRE Radeon 4850 512MB, ZALMAN CNPS 9700 NT, 1 ea. HD 150G|WD 10K, 2 ea. Cav WD3200YS 320GB, Kingston ValueRAM (2 x 2GB) DDR3 1333 (PC3 10600)

The first system I built was based on the Intel P4 3.4 CPU and Intel D875PBZLK Motherboard.

So much time passes between each build I need to relearn much of what it takes but overall I feel anyone that can flash their camera firmware and master Photoshop can easily build a pc.

Let's see if I still feel that way after building a system on a non-Intel branded motherboard for the first time.:smile:
Looks like money is not an issue. Why Antec case? It's very heavy. Get nice Lian-Li full tower case. Also, why not get Blu ray instead of regular DVD-R
 
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Looks good except for the i7 950, which is a waste of money.

Here's the thing about modern CPUs like the Core i7 and the Core 2s before them: basically each cpu in a processor lineup (i.e. Core i7, 920, 950, 975...) is built from the same silicon wafer in the same manufacturing process. To have a 920 line and a 950 line and a 975 line would be a waste of money. It's all one line, and product differentiation only occurs during the testing phase, after the cpus are manufactured.

Testing (or binning, in industry speak) is also a costly process, which is partly why the 975 extreme chips cost a great deal more than 920s. To ensure a processor can meet 975 or 950 performance levels at spec takes a lot of time and costs a bit of money, so only a small subset of a cpu batch will be tested/binned for those SKUs. The rest will be binned for the lower-end model (in this case the 920,) since a) it is cheaper to do so and b) the lower model will likely sell in greater quantities.

Now here's the important part: Due to the refinement and maturity of Intel's fabrication process (achievable thanks in large part to Nikon's high precision 45nm lithography machines,) almost all CPUs in the same batch share the same performance characteristics, regardless of their final SKU. You mentioned you weren't opposed to overclocking. Well, the i7 920 can overclock as well as an i7 950, which will overclock as well as an i7 975 extreme. They all have about the same headroom, since they're all from the same wafer. You can easily take a late-stepping (D0 model) i7 920 and have it run at 975 speeds without even raising the cpu's voltage or replacing the cpu's stock cooler -- which is where overclocking ceases to be a spectator sport. It's literally a five minute procedure that will not at all risk the components in your computer, and there are hundreds of quality guides showing you, step by step, how to do it with a quick Google Search.

The only instance I would advise a 950 over a 920 is if overclocking were out of the question. Otherwise, spending the extra $300 is a waste of money. There's a reason why almost all hardware enthusiasts with i7 systems have a 920 (mine is running at 4.2ghz) -- there's nothing at all gained by spending more.
 
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One more thing -- with the money saved by going with the 920, you can get an 80-160GB SSD from Intel or OCZ for your OS and programs. No need to wait until Windows 7 to do so. As for a scratch for Photoshop, what I'd do is set 4GB out of the 12GB of RAM you're using and turn that into a RAM drive -- which is basically a temporary HD made from RAM (since it's a scratch drive for PS, you don't need it to persist information across reboots.) A RAM Drive will be blazing fast -- much faster than an SSD and an order of magnitude faster than a Velociraptor (which IMO are always a waste of money.)

Unless you're working with 1GB files, 8GB of RAM for RAM purposes when using Photoshop is more than enough.
 
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One more thing -- with the money saved by going with the 920, you can get an 80-160GB SSD from Intel or OCZ for your OS and programs. No need to wait until Windows 7 to do so. As for a scratch for Photoshop, what I'd do is set 4GB out of the 12GB of RAM you're using and turn that into a RAM drive -- which is basically a temporary HD made from RAM (since it's a scratch drive for PS, you don't need it to persist information across reboots.) A RAM Drive will be blazing fast -- much faster than an SSD and an order of magnitude faster than a Velociraptor (which IMO are always a waste of money.)

Unless you're working with 1GB files, 8GB of RAM for RAM purposes when using Photoshop is more than enough.
theYipster, the suggestion to use a RAM harddrive looks interesting! I am a total newbie on computer hardware and am putting together (somewhat apprehensively) my build for my first Photoshop PC - could you explain or point me to instructions on how i can implement your suggestion?

Thanks!
 
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theYipster, the suggestion to use a RAM harddrive looks interesting! I am a total newbie on computer hardware and am putting together (somewhat apprehensively) my build for my first Photoshop PC - could you explain or point me to instructions on how i can implement your suggestion?

Thanks!
In the olden days of MS-DOS, you could do it within the OS. Now, for best (and easiest) results, grab a $50 program (with a free trial) like SuperSpeed RAM Disk. (http://www.superspeed.com/desktop/ramdisk.php) Works quite well and supports XP, Vista, and Win 7.

Install the program, select how much RAM you would like to use, and you'll see it takes that RAM and creates a drive in My Computer. Use this like a HD, but beware that any thing you put on it will be gone if you shut down or reboot. For scratch drives, where the above isn't a concern, nothing's better!

EDIT: For completeness, after you setup the RAM drive, you'll want to go into Photoshop's settings and set it's scratch drive to the RAM drive you created.
 
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Seattle
As much as I appreciate the suggestions, I wasn’t asking for recommendations, simply listing the components I already ordered. An exception is with the hard drives and I’m waiting more for availability of the new Intel X25-M Mainstream SSD’s that look interesting then the release of W7. I would just prefer to wait and do a clean install of Windows 7 and install the SSD at the same time.

Not that many of the comments aren’t valid; it’s just not always productive to call someone’s baby ugly:smile:. In my case though, call my baby as ugly as you like in case others can learn something that will help them put together a system. Plus I’m always open to learn and find the RAM drive concept for scratch intriguing. Good stuff theYipster, a special thanks.

Most of the files I work with now are slightly over 10MB but I often run hundreds of them at a time through a batch process that can include a number of processor intensive steps in one program while I am cropping, doing final editing, and/or captioning in other programs. If I add a D3X to my kit and include more video editing to my workflow the headroom will be welcome.

I now own a 950. I did my research, read a few reviews that gave me enough of a reason, however slight, to go that route and can live with the decision. I concede I lose the vote on whether a 920 or 950 is the optimum choice but in my case, only one vote counts.

I do not plan to OC and through my limited research there are not many examples available with 12GB and it seems the headroom is less when you populate all 6 memory slots. I may play with overclocking before I load all my programs just as a learning process but once the system is ready for business I plan on keeping everything strictly stock and programs like Photoshop do benefit from higher clock speeds. Continue to argue the choice for the benefit of others not yet decided but it is too late for me, my die is cast.

My main system today is now over 2 ½ years old and I am looking forward to shortening my processing time. My MO is to go through this process every two or three years, do my research, build my system, and then not mess with it again for another two or three years. The hobby part of it is fun and while I enjoy the process of researching and then building the system, once I do I move on and don’t tinker much or even think about it once my system is up and running the way I like it.

My priorities are for a fast, stable and quiet system for the specific need of photo and video editing, not gaming.

I buy most of my hardware from newegg.

In regards to a question about the Antec 183 case, in looking for a good balance between quiet and airflow, the 183 is rated pretty high and after a positive experience with the family system I built with an Antec 182, I think it will be just fine. I could consider my existing Lian Li case which is very quiet but it runs a little warm and might not accommodate the video card. I don’t care how heavy it is as long as the airflow is sufficient and I can talk on the speakerphone in my office without it sounding like a server farm.

Since Home Theater is another hobby of mine I have plenty of Blu-ray players in the house. I will add one to this build if and when I start needing to edit HD video and burn Blu-Ray discs.

Thanks for the comments.
 
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In that case, best of luck with your new computer. As a note of encouragement, overclocking with 12GB of RAM in 6 slots only becomes more of challenge (vs 6GB in 3 slots) in the 3.8ghz+ range. You can still take a 920 (or 950 in your case) to 975 extreme speed by just raising the base clock (aka BCLK) and nothing more. Should be a synch. Reaching high OCs (4.2ghz+) with 12GB is by no means impossible -- it will, however, take more tweaking as the extra DIMMs place added stress on the memory controller.
 

Growltiger

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Yipster, Please can you give me some advice. I recently upgraded a machine to an Asus P6T deluxe V2, i7 920 and 12GB of RAM, Kingston KHX14900D3T1K3/6GX, which I believe is 1866 MHz. I've no idea what all those codes in the name mean.

I've done some reading on various internet sites about overclocking and I would like to do a moderate, cautious amount. I don't want to change voltages and I don't want to add any special cooling.

I've read that I can simply change BCLK. Can you give some clues about what range of numbers are sensible to try. The manual says it allows 100 to 500. I haven't yet checked what it is now (100?). How does the value of BCLK translate into what speed the processor is going at. Is it simply a multiplier, so if it is 120, the speed is 2.66*1.2?

Do I simply set Overclock Tuner to Manual, then set BLCK and restart?

Can I damage anything?

I never thought I'd try this, but if I can really increase the speed from 2.66 to say 3.4 that would be about 30% faster which sounds good.

If it crashes do I simply press Del when it starts and then go and change the number? Or could it fail to start OK so I can't reset it?

Thanks.
 
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Richard,

You certainly have a lot of good questions. The best advice I can give you is to simply do a Google search on "overclocking i7." Already in the first page of results, you'll have at your disposal beginner-friendly guides from Gigabyte, TomsHardware, Bit-Tech, and ExtremeTech. I would read all of them -- they'll have slightly different explanations, and they'll each do it with different motherboards. Reading how to do it from different guides will drill in the common basics again and again.

I would also visit www.hardocp.com, www.anandtech.com, and www.xtremesystems.org/forums. These three sites house the best hardware / overclocking enthusiast communities on the Internet, and each site has forums filled with expert advice (geared to all skill levels) on how to make the most out of your hardware.

But basically, it boils down to this:

Note the following is a slimmed down explanation and doesn't touch upon everything you may want or need to know. I'm simply distilling the most important bits... you'll need to do more research as mentioned above.

On a Core i7, you have three components that run at different frequencies: your processor's core speed (the rated speed at which your processor computes data,) your RAM speed, and your processor's uncore speed (the speed at which your processor's memory controller and cache run at.) Note that your processor's core speed is generally the speed you're most concerned with when overclocking, as it's the rated speed of your cpu (i.e. on a 920 at stock, it's 2.66ghz.) The speed of these components is determined by a base speed (or base clock, shortened to BCLK) times a multiplier. Each component (Core, RAM, and Uncore) has a different multiplier. Generally when overclocking, you'll be most concerned with your Core Multiplier, as that times your BCLK gives you your processor's rated speed.

Now to your specifics. You have an i7-920, which at stock runs at 2.66ghz. Your 920 has a multiplier of 20, and your stock BCLK is 133mhz. 133mhz x 20=2.66ghz. Since you're running with stock cooling, you won't have that much headroom to overclock. Core i7s run considerably hotter than the Core 2 Duos and Quads that preceded it, which means that if you want to seriously overclock, you need to invest in better cpu cooling. The good news is that you shouldn't have to worry about the other components and their multipliers, since you won't be overclocking far enough to cause need for their adjustment as well. You can simply focus on BCLK and your processor's core multiplier. As such, you've read correctly that you really only need to focus on BLCK. (Also stay away from voltages, as you won't likely be overclocking enough to tweak those either.)

Given that you're running with stock cooling, I would keep BLCK at or under 166. 166x20 gives you 3.33ghz, which is Core i7 speeds. However, I would not simply set BCLK to 166 and call it a day. The way to do this is to go into your BIOS and raise BLCK by 5mhz at a time, then save, reboot into Windows, and check for temps while running a stress test. It's tedious, but as you're new to the overclocking, it's best to take things slow and steady. You will need to download two programs to test your overclock. One program is called RealTemp and will report the temperature of each Core as you test your overclock. The other program is called Prime95, and will stress your processor, ensuring that your overclock is stable. Once you boot into Windows (after adjusting BCLK,) launch RealTemp and Prime95. For Prime95, be sure to use it "just for stress testing" (a dialog will ask,) and be sure to run the Small-FFTs test which places maximum stress on the CPU. Run the Prime95 Small-FFT test for about 10 minutes while watching your temps. If any core goes above 80c, you're too hot and you should back down on your BLCK. If not, and if Prime doesn't error out in 10 minutes (and assuming your system doesn't freeze or blue-screen,) you're good for another round of raising BCLK in the BIOS another 5mhz. Basically it's a game of rinse and repeat, over and over until processor is running over 80c during Prime95 or until Prime95 errors out or your system otherwise becomes unstable. (Then it's time to back down to your last good setting and call it a day.)

Again, I'm simply touching on the basics to directly answer your more pertinent questions. I can't reasonably provide the big picture or answers to all your questions in the space of one reply. My best advice is to read those guides mentioned in my first paragraph and to frequent the sites & forums mentioned in the second. I wouldn't also run to my BIOS based on only the information in this thread. There is more to it than I explained, although I've covered the general game plan.

Spend some time researching and you'll be a pro in no time.
 
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Also, I saw in my above post I didn't touch upon your two last questions, which I can answer below.

1. The popular answer is that if you research and do things properly, you won't damage your components. An also valid, but perhaps more assuring answer to beginners, is that as long as you don't play with voltages, you're most likely fine.

2. With a modern board like the P6T Deluxe, you should also be able to recover if you put in a setting that's beyond your system's capabilities. If you can't recover by pressing DEL, you should have a button either on the back plate or on the motherboard itself to clear the CMOS. Press this button as instructed in your moterboard's manual, and you'll be fine.
 
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. . .

2. With a modern board like the P6T Deluxe, you should also be able to recover if you put in a setting that's beyond your system's capabilities. If you can't recover by pressing DEL, you should have a button either on the back plate or on the motherboard itself to clear the CMOS. Press this button as instructed in your moterboard's manual, and you'll be fine.
The P6T and P6T Deluxe MBs both allow you to name and save two OC profiles in the BIOS. If the CPU shuts down due to an overtemp condition you can go back to the BIOS (after cooling down) and select a less aggressive profile if you have saved one. I recommend that you save a profile at the base speed and with all of your BIOS configuration changes not related to overclocking such as RAID setup, boot sequence, and so on. If you don't do this and have to resort to a full reset of the BIOS it could complicate recovery.

rebeal-
I'm running an i7 920 w/ 12GB RAM and an aftermarket CPU cooler at about 3.8GHZ. With the stock Intel cooler the system was unreliable at 3.4GHz running Prime95.
 

Growltiger

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OK here is what happened.

The multiplier changes by itself and goes to 21 when busy. I think this is because of Intel Speedstep and also Turbo Mode Tech being enabled.

Idle
These results are the same regardless of how BCLK is set.
About 2 to 2.4GHz (varies as multiplier alters automatically).
RealTemp Average temp 52
RealTemp Peak temp 58
Asus motherboard temp 45
Asus CPU Fan speed 992

The tests below were all with prime95 running 8 threads, small FFT.

BCLK 133
2.8GHz
RealTemp Average temp 82
RealTemp Peak temp 83
Asus motherboard temp 52
Asus CPU Fan speed 2721

BCLK 150
3.15GHz
RealTemp Average temp 88
RealTemp Peak temp 90
Asus motherboard temp 55
Asus CPU Fan speed 3013

BCLK 166 (test ended by me after 3 minutes as I was worried by the high temperature)
3.48GHz
RealTemp Average temp 91
RealTemp Peak temp 95
Asus motherboard temp 55
Asus CPU Fan speed 3013

At all times the machine worked correctly, no errors. I ran the test at BCLK=150 for about an hour, to be more certain.

So what do you think?

Should I go back to the default BCLK=133, where the temperature will normally be at the high 50's, peaking at 83 under extreme load.

Or should I run BCLK=150, where the idle temperature is in the high 50's, peaking at 90 under extreme load? It gives me about 13% performance improvement.

I think BCLK=166 with the temperature going straight to 95 is too risky.

(For this machine I'm not going to start installing extra cooling. I'm planning on a new machine for myself later this year, and for that I think an aftermarket cooler would be helpful.)
 
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Personally I think 90 is too hot. It looks like your CPU is going to need extra cooling to overclock. When did you build your i7 computer? Earlier i7 chips (C0/C1 stepping) run hotter than newer i7 chips (D0 stepping,) which have been available for the last few months.

On the other hand, I find it peculiar that even a modest overclock using the stock cooler is too much for your chip. Every chip is different and you always run a small risk that you'll get a dud overclocker, but having a chip run too hot with even a modest overclock is truly bizarre. Having Prime95 reach 83c at stock is also rather troubling. My first generation i7 920 C0/C1 at work, stuffed into small plastic Dell case with terrible air flow, doesn't get that hot. I would make sure your cooling fan is seated properly and apply the correct amount of contact and pressure to the cpu. Also, what case are you using, and are all available fan slots used? You can often drop temperatures further by improving case airflow.

Lastly, there is one more program to download and run while stress-testing -- cpuz. When running this program, pay attention to your processor's Core Voltage. It could be that the P6T's auto setting is unduly raising the voltage for your modest overclock, which could explain the heat. Run CPU-Z at stock and see what the voltage is, then go into the BIOS, raise BCLK, and come back and run it again. If voltage is noticeably higher, you should lock in your CPU's stock voltage instead of leaving it on auto.
 

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