With info all over the net about AMD’s Athlon CPUs being overclocked to extreme ranges, I thought I’d see what all the fuss was about. But the whole idea of soldering my Athlon’s PCB wasn’t something I wanted to do. Cracking the case is scary enough and voids the warranty so you definitely don’t want to do anything that could injure your costly investment.
The device is simplicity in itself as there are only three dials on it to select CPU speed (2 dials – 300mhz to 1050mhz) and CPU core voltage(1 dial – 1.3 to 2.1 Vcore), as opposed to other devices using banks of dip-switches that can easily confuse a novice overclocker (such as myself 🙂 ). When it’s been installed correctly (not a hard feat), the Afterburner overrides certain “switches” that are hard-soldered onto the CPU’s circuit board. This allows you to bypass or change the automatic CPU configuration that usually occurs when you plug in an Athlon. Since many Athlon 500mhz CPUs are actually down-marked higher speed CPUs, overclocking in this method isn’t even really “overclocking.” The only catch (once again) is getting the cover off safely. Patience and a flat-head screw driver are the key here. Lots of patience. Moving too quickly could result in a very dead CPU.
My 500mhz Athlon is a week 39 (found out by reading the number on top of the CPU – 2199xx##### – where the x’s are the week number) so 600 to 650 shouldn’t be out of the question. I started with 650. It’s recommended that you start with your CPU’s default speed to check the GFD’s functionality. I’m a little too impatient for that though, so I leapt strait to 650. No problems and rock solid. Hmmm. Maybe 700? Once again, no problems. Or so it seemed. After running several games, I ran a synthetic benchmark (Final Reality) and had it kick me back to the desktop at the end of the run. I rebooted, this time with a core voltage bump to 1.75 and have been running solidly ever since. I’d say that the $80 cost of the Afterburner (which happens to be the most expensive GFD out there) is well worth the cost since my $179 CPU just equaled the performance of a $600 CPU. Not bad for a minor upgrade.
Please remember that overclocking is NOT an exact science as similar week CPUs can give vastly different results. That being said, the lowest I’ve seen an Athlon 500 overclock to (with Afterburner, that is) is 650mhz. It’s not recommended to bump core voltage to anything higher then 1.80 due to the fact that the ACTUAL core voltage fluctuates as much as .2 to .4 volts and if you’re already riding 1.9 volts, you can kiss your pretty chip good-bye.
My final verdict is this: If you already own an Athlon, and don’t fear the wrath of God or AMD’s warranty department, then this neat toy is for you. I can’t wait to see what this GFD will do on really high speed Athlons (over 750mhz)…
Submitted by: Moshpit – Images provided by Moshpit