Last update :- February 19th, 2012

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AMD Athlon "Thunderbird" 1000@1466

Warning : if you overclock your processor or graphics card you will invalidate any warranty

When I was made redundant by Marconi I decided to use some of the money to buy the big brother of the AMD Duron - the AMD Athlon "Thunderbird". The Athlon has improved performance over the Duron at the same clock rate primarily due to the faster 256k cache (compared to the Duron's 64k).

When Intel introduced the "coppermine" Pentium III they had the fastest and best performing desktop processor around. However, AMD soon caught and surpassed them with the Socket A Athlon "Thunderbird". After that it was a ding dong battle - Intel introducing the Pentium 4 and AMD producing faster versions of the Athlon that were beaten only by the P4's DDR (remember - data clocked on both edges) and RIMM memory support. When AMD supported chipsets that handled DDR memory (such as Via's KT266a) were introduced Intel again had some catching up to do.

For instance, my Athlon 1000@1466 outperformed a P4 1.6 GHz as demonstrated below. The only area where the P4 excelled compared to my system was in the memory tests with DDR against standard SDRAM.

Processor: AMD Athlon "Thunderbird" 1GHz "AXIA"

AMD Athlon Thunderbird

AMD Athlon "Thunderbird"

I chose the fabled "AXIA" version of the Athlon. This marking is the 3rd line down on top of the processor core and the "AXIA" marked versions proved to be very over-clockable with nearly all making 1.4 GHz or better. The "AXIA" is a 100MHz FSB version.

WCPUID & SiSoft Sandra results:

Achieved with an FSB of 133 and a multiplier of 11.

Athlon 1000@1466 WCPUID Athlon 1000@1466 Sandra
Athlon 1000@1466 WCPUID Athlon 1000@1466 Sandra

Heatsink/Fan: Taisol CGK760092

Very quiet compared to the GlobalWin FOP38

Taisol CGK760092

Taisol CGK760092

With this heatsink I managed to get the Athlon stable at 52°C under full load and 1.98V.

Video Card: Leadtek A250 TD Winfast GeForce4 Ti4400 128MB DDR MyVIVO

Leadtek A250 TD Winfast GeForce4 Ti4400

Leadtek A250 TD Winfast GeForce4 Ti4400

Leadtek have a reputation of producing some of the best nVidia chipset based graphics cards and regularily produce cards with "overclockers" in mind. You can tell this by the presence of the huge heatsink (which covers both sides of the board because the memory is on both sides) in the photo above. The heatsink also integrates 2 fans as opposed to the normal one to cool both the chipset and memory (note that the A250 LE only has the one fan and is based upon the Ti4200 - see the table below). The GeForce4 chipset used on this card followed on from the successful GeForce2 and GeForce3.

The GeForce4 chipset is accompanied by varying peripheral components to produce 6 main flavours (all based upon nVidia reference designs):

Default Chip and Memory Speeds of GeForce4 Based Cards
Card MX420 MX440 MX460 Ti4200 Ti4400 Ti4600
Default Video Clock Speed (MHz) 250 270 300 250 275 300
Default Memory Speed (MHz) 166 200 225 225 275 325

The main difference between the MX and Ti series (apart from the reduced memory speed) is that the Ti series include nVidia's nfiniteFX II Engine. To quote nVidia - "The NVIDIA nfiniteFX II Engine incorporates dual programmable Vertex Shaders, faster Pixel Shaders and 3D textures. The nfiniteFX II Engine gives developers the freedom to program a virtually infinite number of custom special effects to create true-to-life characters and environments." If you want more detail visit the nVidia website.

All of these chipsets can use DDR (Double-Data Rate) memory where data is clocked on both rising and falling edges of the clock as opposed to one edge only on SDRAM. This means that the memory speed is usually quoted as double the figure shown in the above table - i.e., 275MHz default memory speed is usually quoted as 550MHz.

nVidia release drivers on a regular basis and there is a feature built-in called "Coolbits" which allows you to overclock the clock and memory speeds. If you do run the video and memory clock at higher than default speeds be aware that this means more heat will be generated and therefore more cooling may be necessary.

With the Leadtek A250 series this is made easier to achieve by supplying their "WinFox" utility with the card which allows you to overclock it (note - these were my default settings):

WinFox II Speed Runner

WinFox II Speed Runner

Below are the results obtained using the popular 3DMark2001 SE test program and nVidia's 40.72 reference drivers:

Clock @ 275MHz, Memory @ 550MHz Clock @ 315MHz, Memory @ 650MHz
Clock @ 275MHz
Memory @ 550MHz
Clock @ 315MHz
Memory @ 650MHz

I was quite pleased with these results considering I was still using the old Athlon rather than the newer Athlon XP and my motherboard only supported PC133 DRAM (single data rate) memory as opposed the newer PC2100, PC2700 and PC3100 DDR DRAM. At 315/650 the card settings are just above the default for the Ti4600 and the only limitation is the memory speed. At these settings there were no faults during the graphics testing - known as "artifacts".

NIC (Network Interface Card): Kingston EtheRX KNE40 PCI Ethernet Adapter

Stock 10Base-T affair.

Cable Modem: Terrayon "TeraJet" 210

Used with NTL's broadband 512kbit/s service.

Terayon TeraJet 210

Terayon "TeraJet" 210

CD-RW: LITE-ON LTR-16101B 40x 16x 10x BURN-Proof

Finally got around to replacing the old HP8250i 24x 4x 4x. The key features for this one were speed, price and the fact that it was BURN-Proof (which virtually eliminates bad CDR's).



Monitor: LG Electronics FLATRON 915FT+

Bought to replace the Seimens Nixdorf MCM2103 21" which finally became annoying with screen flicker and power problems. I decided upon quality rather than cost this time with a flat screen capable of supporting high refresh rates. My default set-up was 1152x864 @ 100Hz.



Scanner:- PrimaScan Colorado 2600u

PrimaScan Colorado 2600u Scanner

PrimaScan Colorado 2600u Scanner

Hard Disks:

15.3GB ATA-100 - Maxtor DiamondMax Plus 45 Ultra DMA 100 - 51536H2, 8.7ms seek time, 7200RPM

Formatted as:

20.0GB ATA-100 - Maxtor DiamondMax Plus 60 Ultra DMA 100 - 5T020H2, <8.7ms seek time, 7200RPM

Formatted as 9.49 GB (H:) and 9.48 GB (I:) - both for Games

8.4GB ATA-66 - Maxtor DiamondMax VL17 - 90871U2, 9.5ms seek time, 5400RPM

Back-up drive for the C:, D: and E: partitions on the 15.3GB drive. Back-up's were made using the excellent Norton Ghost 2001 (see a review here). This drive isn't normally installed in the machine (because of the obvious drive letter conflict) so I used a removable IDE caddy so I could insert it when needed.

Removable IDE Caddy

Removable IDE Caddy

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