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With effective third party heatsinks and the many low power
CPUs available on the market, overclocking can improve performance without
compromising the noise level of a silent PC.
A simple overclocking investigation was conducted with the CPU multiplier set
to 6x and RAM to its lowest speed with an extra 0.3V. The CPU frequency was
increased in increments of 5 MHz / 10 MHz until the system failed a 5 minute
stress test consisting of Prime95 running simultaneously with ATITool 3DView, failed to boot,
or showed other signs of instability. We then maximized the multiplier and increased
the CPU voltage to a stable level for our final overclock.
3.33GHz: the maximum overclock on the P5N7A-VM
The highest stable FSB we achieved was 1480MHz, yielding a CPU speed of
3.33GHz, or 39% above stock. At higher frequencies, the system froze when ATITool
was loaded. Note that this result was obtained without adjusting the chipset
voltage, so it's possible the board can overclock further with a little extra
juice. These are simply the out-of-the-box results.
To test the cooling on the board, we lowered the CPU cooling fan's voltage
to 6V to reduce the amount of top-down airflow the nearby components received.
We then stressed the system with Prime95 and ATITool and whipped our our handy
IR thermometer to check the results.
After about 20 minutes of load, the MOSFETs and chokes around the CPU socket
were in the 55°C to 65°C range. While this may sound high, we've seen
VRM temperatures of 90°C and higher these results are mild in comparison.
The hottest point on the chipset heatsink meanwhile was only 58°C, also
relatively cool. Also keep in mind this is on an open testbed with very little
airflow. In a case with proper cooling, these temperatures should be lower.
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