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Overclocking 4 PIII 500Es

(Update)

This update is the results of an effort to overclock a PIII 500E by a reader of Hardware News Net, Jim Miller. His experience with this CPU paralelled the experiences we had with CPU #3 in the original review. The two CPUs would run stable up to around 650Mhz, but above that they started experiencing instablity. But, as any die-hard overclocker would do with his home system, Jim kept searching for a solution until he found one. Read on to find out about CPU #4.

CPU #4

This CPU like CPU #3 had some initial problems with overclocking it past 650Mhz. The CPU was put on an Abit BE6-II motherboard with one 128MB Micron PC100 DIMM, and a Voodoo3 3000 (AGP). A YS Tech 60mm 27CFM fan is blowing on the stock heat sink. Several case fans are being utilized to keep the system cool. The system also includes an internal ZIP drive, CD-ROM drive, 6.4GB WD Caviar hard disk, internal USR fax/modem, Voodoo card cooler, and a MX300 sound card.

Here's how Jim relates his experience with this CPU. "I can run the system ROCK STABLE at 650mhz (130FSB) at 1.45volts with the Voodoo 3 3000 AGP. Above that speed it will run but will have small glitches, such as not always loading windows, and locking up occasionally in 3D apps. I was able to run it for several days at 698mhz (139 FSB) and for about an hour at 710mhz (142FSB). At the higher than 650 speeds it made no difference if I was at 1.45v or even 1.8v, same results. That told me that the chip nor heat was my problem. With the BE6II going in 1mhz intervals I should surely have gotten at least 5 more mhz by going up .35volts!!! So my problem lied elsewhere."

Jim continued, "Just for kicks I got out a Voodoo 3 2000 PCI card and gave it a whirl. Not only was it stable at 710mhz, I could take it to just above 720. All at below DEFAULT voltage!!"

He was able to get a "rock" stable system with those settings. Looping hours of Quake 3 and looping 3dMark2000 for almost a day produced no problems. This was a level of stability that was "only a dream at those speeds with the AGP version."

Prior to upgrading to the PIII 500E, Jim ran a Celeron 366 overclocked to 550Mhz using a 100Mhz FSB. He kept the AGP clock ratio at 1/1 on the BE6-II with the AGP Voodoo3 3000. This setup ran without producing any instability problems. Using the 2/3 AGP clock ratio with the Voodoo3 3000 and the 500E CPU would not produce a stable system even though the Voodoo3 ran fine at a higher AGP bus speed with the Celeron 366. Switching to the PCI Voodoo3 2000 gave him a stable system.

Now if I had been working with Jim's system, I would have assumed that there was no problem with the Voodoo3 running at those AGP bus speeds since it had ran at 100Mhz with the Celeron 366@550. With CPU #3 in this review, I never suggested to Contagion that he try a PCI video card, since we never really suspected that the card could be part of the problem when trying to overclock it past 675Mhz. As with most things, we live and learn. {NOTE: Since this was originally written, I have learned that the Celeron 366 running at 100Mhz was on a BE6 and not the BE6-II that the PIII 500E was run on. I miss read teh info supplied to me by Jim Miller. Thanks for all the e-mail in response to the original question posed in this note. -johnd Feb. 8, 2000}


Benchmarks

To see what performance differences he would see between the AGP and PCI versions of the Voodoo3 in his system, Jim overclocked the Voodoo3 2000 to 166Mhz and ran the Voodoo3 3000 at its default rate of 166Mhz. He then ran Quake III (retail version) and 3dMark99 to test the differences. Quake III was run using the Normal setting and changing the video mode. You can see in the chart below the Voodoo3 2000 was 2.6fps slower at 640x480 and 4.8fps slower at 1024x768.

The 3dMark99 benchmarks produced a 6941 with the AGP card and a 6573 with the PCI at 800x600. Averaging the fps lossed and dividing by the average fps using the Quake III benchmarks shows a 6.3% loss. The 3dMark99 benchmark shows a 5.3% loss. Obviously however, things would even out when comparing the CPU running stable at 702Mhz with a Voodoo3 2000 PCI card versus running the CPU stable at 650Mhz with the Voodoo3 3000 AGP card.


Conclusion

Jim sums his conclusions up this way, "I would have to say that if you're talking about either running 650mhz with an AGP, or 750mhz with a PCI, the extra MHZ is definitely worth the trade off. Just my opinion, but from the benchmarks I've seen its a no brainer." Also, "I can see almost no limit to this CPU, the things most likely to hold you back are the AGP speeds and the memory speed, not the chip itself. I have PC133 memory on the way to give 800mhz a shot. And judging from what I've seen with the voltages and heat of this chip, I feel that's a more than realistic goal. With the fine job you guys did showing the success even with the older BH6, I cant see how this isn't a great upgrade. And with Mobo's coming that can divide the AGP to 1/2, and some that even lower the speed of the memory, its going to be a lot of fun."


A big thanks to Jim for sharing this data with us and agreeing to let us publish it.


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