How to Overclock an AMD Processor on a Gigabyte Motherboard
By Joe Murray
Overclocking means raising the factory-set CPU clock speed settings by manipulating the input voltage and the bus or throughput settings of the processor while keeping the motherboard temperature of the motherboard at a safe level. This is a popular practice among gamers because of the resulting increase in frames-per-second performance. The Giga-byte Technology Co., Ltd makes a line of bargain-priced, high-performance motherboards for the AMD ll line of processors, including the Giga-byte Technology Co., Ltd MA78G-DS3HP. Mounting an AMD X4 955 Black Edition with a starting clock speed of 3.2 GHz on this board, you can boost the default clock speed to near 4 GHz. The trick is to keep the whole setup relatively cool and stable.
Download and install AMD OverDrive or CPU-Z on your local (C) drive, whichever you prefer. Download Prime95 software to use as a stressor to test an overclocked CPU for stability. You'll use the Prime95 to put a full load on the processor and related components for extended periods of time to test the overclocked processor's steadiness.
Shut down, unplug and open the computer case containing the Giga-byte Technology Co., Ltd. MA78G-DS3HP motherboard with the AMD X4 955 Black Edition processor.
Remove the heat sink from the top of the processor chip. Clean off any old glue and, using graduated grades of sandpaper, polish the heat-sink contact surface where it fits on top of the CPU to a mirror finish. This process, called lapping, makes a huge difference in the amount of processor heat absorption and dissipation the heat sink is capable of achieving. If the heat sink came with the fully assembled computer case, chances are it is not adequate for the task of cooling an overclocked CPU. For best results, purchase one that is and lap it.
Install a high-efficiency CPU cooling fan or top-of-the-line liquid CPU cooler on top of the heat sink. A liquid-cooled processor is far less likely to overheat when overclocked, and many are also interchangeable for cooling Intel processors. If slots are available in the computer case, add one or two more whisper fans to help dissipate the heat created by the overclocked processor. Close the computer case and boot the computer.
Go directly to the basic input/output system (BIOS) folder upon booting the computer if you already know the overclock settings you plan to use and enter the new configuration. The BIOS setting page is reached in various ways, depending on the unit manufacturer. With Giga-byte Technology Co., Ltd. motherboards, you can generally open the BIOS by typing "alt-f12" without the quotes, immediately after turning on the computer, but check with the manufacturer to be certain.
Open AMD OverDrive or CPU-Z if you plan to experiment with various BIOS setting combinations, and make note of the default CPU clock speed, temperature and bus voltage before proceeding.
Reset the front-side bus, or FSB, frequency from the default setting of 100 to 200 to increase the FSB multiplier variable. This new setting increases the processor calculation speed by a factor of two. To make this work, the processor will need more power.
Increase core 0, 1, 2 and 3 input voltages by increments of 5 percent and check for stability by noting any screen flicker, suddenly spiking temperatures above 140 degrees Fahrenheit, a clicking noise from the disk drive or any other suspicious anomaly. You should notice an increase in core clock speed with each voltage increase. This will vary, as no two individual processors perform exactly the same way.
Slowly raise the CPU voltage to a maximum of 1.425v and run Prime95 or the internal AMD CPU stressor program for 24 hours, taking note of temperature and stability every few hours. This overclock should reach at least 3.8 MHz, which represents a 20 percent increase in factory clock speed. Clock speed could be higher depending on the processor. Temperatures should range from 100 to 140 degrees Fahrenheit and no higher than 160 degrees.
Increase voltage from this point very slowly and carefully at the risk of destroying the CPU, the motherboard, burning out the RAM chips or frying the BIOS chip. Do this only if you're not satisfied with the 20 percent clock-speed increase already achieved. Temperature stability is dependent on the efficiency of the cooling system. Core temperatures approaching 160 degrees Fahrenheit can permanently damage the motherboard and other components.
- Controlling the temperature is the most important aspect of overclocking. Using a liquid nitrogen coolant device, similar AMD processors have reached clock speeds of over 6 GHz. Increasing RAM efficiency can also boost the game visual fps (frames per second) speeds. Read the AMD OverDrive pdf for hints on how to do this.
- Do not attempt overclocking without having read all the AMD and Giga-byte Technology Co., Ltd. accompanying manuals and the online data sheets on AMD OverDrive, CPU-Z and Prime95. One careless error can permanently damage expensive equipment. Overclocking voids all manufacturer's warranties.
Joe Murray began writing professionally in 1980. As a technical writer, he authored white papers and articles for Hewlett Packard and Intel. Since retiring, Murray has written several home-exchange travel articles for KnowYourTrade.com and CHECtravel,com among other outlets. He holds a bachelor's degree in philosophy from Santa Clara University.