So all in all, not a great week on the hardware side of things. So why on earth did I decide that I should follow this series of unfortunate events with an an attempt to overclock my own PC?
I mean, itâ€™s not as if my system was that slow. I recently upgraded my PC, from a Socket 754 Athlon 64 3400+ and an AGP Radeon X800 XT to an Athlon X2 3800+ with an GeForce 7800 GT. The thing is that while my PC was undeniably much faster in games, it seemed a touch sluggish in Windows. After all, the newer CPU was in some sense a downgrade as most of the time my second CPU core was doing nothing, so the 2.0GHz clock speed and 512MB of cache for each core was losing out to the 2.2GHz and 1MB of cache I used to have in my old system. And it seemed to me as if I could actually notice the difference, with Photoshop taking that bit longer to load, and too many pauses as I tried to open Windows. Reading around online it seemed that everyone, but everyone, had been able to get their 3800+ speeds up to 2.4GHz, matching the clocks of the far more expensive top-of-the-line X2 4800+ CPU. Well I wanted a piece of that action, so off I went.
Now I knew from previous experience that how you overclock is very much dependant on how fast your memory can go. I checked out my memoryâ€™s capabilities and then proceeded to mess around with the AI booster utility supplied by Asus with the motherboard. Whenever I use utilities supplied by motherboard manufacturers I often find myself wondering what theyâ€™re smoking when they design them. Instead of a sensible and logical UI youâ€™re presented with bizarre thing with dials, tiny buttons and eighties style virtual LED displays. Ok, guys I think youâ€™ve taken the racing analogy a bit too far here â€“ now, what do I press? By contrast, nVidiaâ€™s nTune software looks like an application thatâ€™s actually been coded by adults.
What exactly, Mr Asus, is this supposed to be?
Now everyone will tell you that safe overclocking takes time and patience. But it was fairly late in the evening and I was hoping to get some gaming in, so I jsut thought, sod it. I upped the FSB to bring my CPU to 2.4GHz speed and pressed ok. Ah. Big mistake. Boom. BSOD. â€œSchoolboy errorâ€, as Alan Hanson would say.
Of course, I expected to just reboot and start again. Oh no. My PC steadfastly refused to even Post. I calmly did what needed to be done in this situation - and panicked - but only for about 20 seconds. With that out of the way I could get on with sorting out this mess of my own making.