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AMD Duron 800@1066

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

On Wednesday, 31st January 2001 I decided it was time to upgrade once again. The main driving force behind this was the AMD Duron processor and the new Abit KT7A-RAID motherboard.

The Duron was launched by AMD in 2000 as a direct competitor to Intel's Celeron II. Unlike it's counterpart which runs of a 66MHz FSB (until recently) it runs off a 100MHz FSB and as a result is more of a competitor for the Pentium III at the same clock speed than the Celeron. The second advantage it has it that as well as being able to adjust the FSB you can adjust the clock multiplier too - after modification.

Couple this with the highly rated Abit KT7A-RAID motherboard which officially supports a 133MHz FSB for the first time (for the newer Athlon's) and it's usual SoftMenu III BIOS and you have a highly over-clockable system.

I'll now give specific details on the individual components of my current system and why I bought them followed with the overclocking results.

Processer: AMD Duron 800 (guaranteed to 1GHZ+)

AMD Duron Duron Top View
AMD Duron Duron Top View

I was able to run the Duron at 1066MHz by using an 8.0x clock multiplier and an FSB of 133.34MHz but unfortunately have lost the picture that proves it.

In order to acheive this I had to "un-lock the L1 bridges". This removes the restriction placed on the processor by AMD (when it's shipped L1 links are cut with a laser), allowing the full range of multiplier values to be used. Most people achieve this using a fine point soft-leaded (HB or B) pencil. Occasionally though the links will need re-doing at a later date if you use this method. I chose to use conductive paint which is permanent. You can obtain this from good electronics stores or as a "heated rear window element paint" from auto repair stores. It's best to use a magnifying glass as you need to make sure none of the bridges are connected together. The picture below is courtesy of http://www.extremeoverclocking.com/.

Duron Unlocking

Duron Unlocking

Heatsink/Fan: GlobalWin FOP-38

GlobalWin FOP38

GlobalWin FOP38

GlobalWin's cooler for all Socket A, FC-PGA and 370 applications. Using the same improved heatsink as the FOP32-1, the FOP38 features a super-fast 6800RPM Delta fan pushing a mammoth 37.61CFM. Beware as this is VERY noisy.

Motherboard: Abit KT7A-RAID

Abit KT7A-RAID

Abit KT7A-RAID

The KT7A-RAID is one of the best non-DDR AMD Duron/Athlon Socket A motherboards available with a full range of voltages, FSB frequencies and clock multipliers available. This is all "jumper free" as it can be changed via their renowned "SoftMenu III" BIOS. Many additional tweaks are available for the BIOS.

I achieved 1066MHz by running the Duron at 2.035V via a voltage mod applied to the KT7A-RAID which allows you to increase the core voltage above the maximum allowed 1.85V. If you're competent with a soldering iron you may want to try this by adding a 30kohm resistor as shown below:

KT7A-RAID Mod KT7A-RAID Mod
KT7A-RAID Mod KT7A-RAID Mod

The bios still reports a maximum of 1.85V but this will now be displayed via programs such as Motherboard Monitor 5 as around 2.035V.

Case:- OcUK Coolercase "Tornado"

When you're building your own system, I think this is one of the most important items to look at in some detail for 3 reasons - (i) cooling, (ii) expansion and (iii) longevity.

At the time, this was to be one of the best "medium" sized ATX cases I had ever seen. It was based around the highly rated GlobalWin 802 which has the following specifications:

Overclockers UK took the standard 802 case and added 4 additional 47CFM 80mm fans, 2 inlet fans above the expansion card area for sucking air into the case (also handy for keeping overclocked graphics cards cool) and 2 exhaust fans in the lid for expelling hot air. That makes a total of 6 fans pushing a massive 282CFM of air. They also do versions with 2 or 4 120mm fans in place of the 80mm. These keep any system as cool as possible (apart from extreme cooling methods such as "vapourchill".

With all those fans running it is a bit louder than normal but I could personally put up with it. What does all this look like - take a look by clicking on the thumbnails below:-

OcUK Coolercase Tornado GlobalWin 802 Internals GlobalWin 802 Exploded View
OcUK Coolercase
"Tornado"
GlobalWin 802
Internals
GlobalWin 802
Exploded View

With the combination of the 6x80mm fans in the case and the FOP38 processor fan my Duron 800@1066 ran at 42°C under full-load conditions (when running 3DMark 2000 for instance).

Memory:- 2*256 MB PC133 CAS3 DIMM's

In simple terms the "CAS" rating refers to the number of processor clock cycles needed for a correct "Column Address Select" signal to be established and therefore the access time of the memory. In the KT7A-RAID's SoftMenu III BIOS this is referred to as "SDRAM Cycle Length" and could be changed to 2 or 3. A CAS2 rating is faster and better quality memory. I was lucky in that my CAS3 memory would run stable at a CAS2 setting at 133MHz.

Video Card:- Leadtek Enhanced Winfast GeForce2 GTS 32MB DDR

Leadtek WinFast GeForce2 GTS 32MB

Leadtek WinFast GeForce2 GTS 32MB

The GeForce2 chipset used on this card was produced by nVidia. Originally nVidia lagged behind bitter rivals 3dfx and their Voodoo series until the original GeForce came out. Then performance got closer until eventually 3dfx were bought out by nVidia after the GeForce2 surpassed the Voodoo4/5 series.

The GeForce2 chipset was accompanied by varying peripheral components to produce 4 main flavours (all based upon nVidia reference designs):

Default Chip and Memory Speeds of GeForce2 Based Cards
Card MX GTS Pro Ultra
Default Video Clock Speed (MHz) 175 200 200 250
Default Memory Speed (MHz) 166 333 400 460

The difference between the MX and others was that the reference MX design only used SDRAM whereas the remainder use DDR RAM. DDR (Double-Data Rate) is where data is clocked on both rising and falling edges of the clock as opposed to one edge only on SDRAM. Therefore the GTS, Pro and Ultra are all better performers.

The "Enhanced" part of this particular card's name refered to the fact that instead of the normal 6ns DDR memory (333MHz) being fitted it used 5.5ns DDR memory. This means you could safely adjust the memory speed to 366MHz and be within the specified limits as opposed to the usual 333MHz. Leadtek made this easy to achieve by supplying their "WinFox" utility with the card which allowed you to overclock and monitor it:

WinFox Speed Runner WinFox Hardware Monitor
WinFox Speed Runner WinFox Hardware Monitor

Sound Card: VideoLogic SonicFury

I admit to being a big fan of VideoLogic's sound cards as I was impressed with the SonicVortex2 in my previous system. Unfortuately with the demise of Aureal I had to chose another card to ensure future driver support. The choices were between the popular Creative Labs SBLive! (a number of variants) and the new VideoLogic SonicFury (aka Turtle Beach Santa Cruz in the US). After reading the reviews of the SonicFury and knowing the amount of "crap" that Creative load at Windows start-up I plumped for the card.

VideoLogic SonicFury

VideoLogic SonicFury

Modem:- Motorola VoiceSurfer 56K (ISA)

Standard K56flex based V.90 56k internal fare here. Out-of-date and no longer supported by Motorola.

Hard Disks:

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

Formatted as 4.66 GB (C:) for Win98 & Applications and 3.41 GB (E:) for Microsoft Links 2001 golf game.

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

Formatted as 13.3 GB (D:) for Games & Others and 1 GB (F:) for Windows swap file

DVD-ROM: Hitachi GD-7500

Hitachi GD-7500 12x DVD

Hitachi GD-7500 12x DVD

Solid performer yet unspectacular compared to latest DVD's available.

CD-RW:- Hewlett-Packard HP8250i 24x 4x 4x

Slow by modern standards but reliable.

HP8250i CD-RW

HP8250i CD-RW

Monitor:- Seimens Nixdorf MCM2103 21"

Bought 2nd hand for £10 from my old job so I'm not complaining. Can take up to 30 minutes to warm-up properly but handles my GeForce2 GTS at up to 1600 x 1200 @ 85 Hz and my usual 1152 x 864 @ 120 Hz.

Printer:- HP Deskjet 670C

HP DeskJet 670C

HP DeskJet 670C

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