(This is a work in progress, so there will probably be updates, which I will try to make noticeable).
This little mobo has quite a following with the HTPC and OC crowd. It follows Biostars typical build, they are getting hard to tell apart. Three phase regulation, solid state caps only around the processor, where voltage stability is most critical and current demands are likely to change more drastically. Not many extras, adequate amount of SATA and USB ports. I'm not totally sure why the other chip with the heatsink is called a northbridge, the actually memory controller is built into AMD chips. Nevertheless the "northbridge" handles the southbridge and video duties as well. Another Biostar attribute is typically early BIOS settings (the ones you don't see) are too tight. Later BIOS will maximize OC efforts. They come with a fancy mesh bag. Science has not discovered the reason for this.
I never understood integrated video for HTPC, the video chips involved are usually minimal here. There will probably be 2 pixel pipelines, as opposed to more than 16 for separate video cards. For that reason I will not bother OCing the video circuitry. Its not that it won't OC, it's just that it won't matter. It does have one good thing for HTPC, the chips involved are giving off very little heat.
I am going to OC the processor here. I will avoid OCing memory, though this board certainly has the settings for it, I found that heavy OCing really does need a bigger power supply, which is not something the average SPRC reader does. I found the Corsair VX450 to be wonderful. The hard core crowd have this even larger process. They max out each component one at a time; processor, memory. Then they adjust each item just below it's max. I'm assuming you won't be going that far. If you are you should be reading those forums. This is more a guide for beginners. Read the whole thing in any case. A minimalist setup is at the bottom of the thread.
I recommend nothing, you proceed as you wish on your own. I am simply showing you how to avoid my pitfalls. If you find new pitfalls I can't definitely be of much help there. Maybe yes, maybe no. You need to make yourself aware of warranty issues on your stuff, the risk is totally yours. But that's also true when you slow down a fan. Since your a reader of SPRC then I won't go into cooling specifics, I assume you know them. People with 90nm processors will more likely to need additional cooling than those with the 65nm manufacturing process.
You will need:
1. More recent BIOS if you're really serious.
2. CPU-Z, free
3. Prime 95 set up for 2 iterations, free
4. The monitor program that came with the board, seems to provide correct temps.
6. A solid PS.
7. CoreTemp. Accurate temp readings are always an issue with Brisbanes. I used temp utilities to note increases, not actual values too much.
Added - This is where you will find out about running 2 instances or iterations of Prime 95 at the same time. It's very important.
Be familiar with the recovery/fallback process:
Turn off the PC
Pull the plug on the power supply
Push on the ON button to drain the power supply
Set the clear CMOS jumper 10-15 seconds, it's in the owners manual.
Put the jumper back <- Guess who forgot?
Plug in the power supply
Start all over again
I will post some BIOS shots, but Rebel's Haven is still having problems with their server.
First thing is to decide what you have and how far you want to go. If you have a minimal 300 watt power supply I would not suggest going very far, 10-20% but no more. Instability can be a sneaky thing. It can manifest itself in several ways. You need aggravation? The smallest of OCing will probably mean you don't need to flash your BIOS.
With an Antec EA380 I went up about 25% and had problems. At that point I switched to the Corsair power supply and different memory, so I don't know which one of those two was my old limiting factor. I also flashed my BIOS. I learned the hard way, so slow and steady at this. If you plan on going above 20% you should also be using Artic Silver 5 on the processor heat sink and the northbridge heat sink, which means some time spent removing the "pink stuff".
AMD has this additional variable to deal with because their memory controller is built into the chip itself. It's called HT or HTT, or HyperTransport. It's typically rated 1000MHz but can also be specified as 2000 MT/s, which is the same thing. The deal here is you have your FSB and this HT multiplier. The result of multiplying those two numbers should not exceed 1000 on this board. For stock 200MHz FSB speeds the HT multiplier is set to 5. This multiplier is always a whole number.
So as soon as you start increasing the FSB the HT must be taken down to 4, which is then good for FSB up to 250MHz. Don't worry, this change will not slow your system down. 3 is good for FSBs up to 333MHz, which very few boards can do.
All the "spread spectrums" should be disabled. PCIE should be locked at 100MHz, PCI at 33MHz (my pc is not here, so I will post where that setting is later). NPT Fid Control is the processor multiplier. For Brisbanes (65nm) it defaults to anything from 9.5 to like 12.5? In each case it's x.5. 90nm processors will deal strictly with whole numbers. You can choose a lower multiplier than stock but not a higher one. Black Editions are the exception to the Brisbane .5 rule, unlocked by design and sold at a premium. CPU voltage I believe is shown in increments above nominal voltage. With Brisbanes, like an X2 4000+ 2.1MHz (always odd amounts except Black Edition), 1.25 is nominal, so +.1000 volts is 1.35volts. This is the top of the AMD recommended range for this processor. DDR voltage is the real thing, not an offset. NB I think starts at Auto or a nominal value, and has 3 higher values.
Timing Mode is set to MaxMemClk. Memory clock settings when set to "Auto" means they will pull their settings right off the memory itself with the most conservative settings. The reason to adjust manually is to optimize settings and to adjust for your increasing FSB. If you see 1.8 volts on your memory that's often the voltage needed to get it started, it's telling you your pc won't POST(or start) with less. For high performance RAM you see a number like 2.3volts. It will POST lower but it will not achieve it's best speeds at lower voltages. Most RAM is suppose to start at 1.8 volts, but nowadays most motherboards supply 1.85 volts to assure POST. If you don't have RAM heatsinks I wouldn't go up very far. If they are already warm you may place a fan over them and continue to push them at your own risk. Next pic:
CAS latency is on the first photo, set it to what you want. If you can see command rate (perhaps only after a BIOS update) and you know which command rate then choose it, else choose 2T. The other 3 settings specified on your memory tRCD (RAS to CAS delay), tRP RAS#Precharge, and tRAS Cycle Time (the bigger number), all reside on the second photo. Leave all the other settings alone. If you think you inadvertently changed a setting but can't recall which one then exit without saving and re-enter. (Can't see a setting? Scroll down.)
Uncomfortable? That's OK. Let's start here. Download, install, and run CPU-Z. You will see all these great settings. Click on Memory Tab, and you will see the actual value of these settings as they are now. Write them down. When you enter the BIOS setup they should match. Does the frequency look off? We will return to that one later. The FSB:DRAM ratio will vary with whatever speed your memory is set to; DDR667, DDR800, etc. The BIOS won't accept anything over DDR800, which should not worry you.
OK, now there are 2 ways to determine you actual DDR memory speed. This will vary because of the way the memory controller is designed. The easiest way to determine the running speed of memory is with CPU-Z, but you can also calculate it.
1. Speed of processor (as designed) divided by speed of memory (in MHz, ie DDR2-800 is actually 400MHz) gives you a divider number.
2. If it's a whole number then the memory is running at rated speed. If not increase the number to the next whole number.
3. OK, now reverse the calculation, speed of the processor divided by the new whole number gives you the running speed of memory.
for a 4000+ Brisbane, 10.5 multiplier 2.1GHz and DDR2-800 memory.
1. 2100 / 400 = 5.25
2. 5.25 rounded up is now 6.
3. 2100 / 6 = 350MHz
The memory is actually running as DDR2-700. That's just how it works.
The calculation is done only once. When you OC (increase the FSB) the processor and the memory will increase speed together. This is unavoidable and may need to be adjusted.
: A 2.8 GHz processor, 14 multiplier, and DDR2-800.
1. 2800 / 400 = 7.
2. No rounding, it's just 7.
3. 2800 / 7 = 400 or fully rated speed.
If this setup was OC'd 50% your memory would try to run at 600MHz or DDR2-1200. Not likely. A blank screen is very likely. Say hello to the recovery procedure.
Note - A 2GHz processor and DDR2-667 (333Mhz) will result in an even multiplier of 6. Yes, I tried it.
This calculation can also be advantageous. In example 1 you can OC the processor about 15% and memory will return to its fully rated speed.
The processor can be OC'd a tad without any voltage increases, and quite a bit while staying within the voltage range specified by AMD. You should note that CPU-Z will likely show a slightly lower voltage than the BIOS, as will other utilities. For the most part actual voltages are normally slightly lower, but not much. Rebel's Haven typically "introduces" a new motherboard (A quick view) with BIOS stated and actual voltages. Later BIOS tend to be more accurate. Rebel's Haven is also good at warning you if incorrect voltages are too high and dangerous to you, but you need to find the actual post first (not applicable to this board, just an FYI).
Goal - If this is your workhorse PC, you have critical stuff on it, more than games or HTPC, then you want to be able to complete 2 iterations of Prime 95 successfully for 24 hours. This is mandatory for folding as well. Errors are dealt with in a couple of ways:
1. Increasing voltages; processor, memory, northbridge, any or all of these.
2. Decreasing speeds by changing settings (FSB or memory speed)
In either case you start Prime 95 testing over again.
If you can't POST then you will be resetting your defaults, also known as clearing your CMOS. Keep in mind your last settings resulted in a hard failure.
Let's start at 10% and then go up 5Mhz at a time. I turn on the large logo so that I know when to hit DEL and enter the BIOS.
1. Increase the FSB to 220MHz.
2. Set HT to 4.
3. PF10. Agree to save.
4. Boot up.
Run Windows and CPU-Z. You should see new numbers.
Run Prime 95 as instructed.
If it's OK then it becomes redundant.
2. Enter BIOS again.
3. Increase FSB 5MHz,
4. If your FSB is at or below 250 HT stays at 4.
5. PF10, save.
6. Boot up.
7. More Prime 95
If memory starts going above it's rated speed you want to increase the memory voltage. Basically if it's not scorching hot and it's not giving errors then it's OK. This probably means 2.0 volts max for memory without head spreaders, and max rated voltage with spreaders. Adding a fan just above memory or blowing across it is always an option. The same can be said for the northbridge, and if you hit both it's a 2-fer.
Keep in mind that memory and the processor will not continue increasing in speed with more voltage. They will brick wall at some point. Memory may max out higher at 2.3 volts than at 2.6 volts (extremist voltages.)
Brisbanes processors run OK up to 1.4 volts, but serious cooling may be needed for anything much higher.
Once you go passed 250MHz FSB you need to lower HT to 3.
After this point the lowest voltage for the processor, even if it completed Prime 95 correctly, probably won't last much longer, so small increases within operating range are OK. If your trying for a max value like me you go straight to the max stated voltage for your processor right away, staying aware of heat issues. Brisbanes seem fine for quite a while, running with the stock heat sink fine at speeds like 2.8GHz. Yes the fan may run more frequently. Heat should be noted while running Prime 95.
OK, lets say you OC'd to the point where your memory is now also being OC'd. If you OC'd 30% in example 1 memory is trying to run as DDR2-910 and in example 2 it's trying to run as DDR2-1040. Also not likely. What do you do? Simple. Go back into the BIOS and rate your memory lower. Set it to 1 setting lower. If it's DDR2-800 then set it to DDR2-667. DDR2-667 can be set to DDR2-533. What you're doing is changing the FSB:DRAM ratio. You reboot and look at CPU-Z again; note the new memory frequency. This is a step backwards. Your system actually slows down. But it's necessary in order to continue upwards. Eventually memory will return to it's full speed if you continue to increase the FSB.
Example 1 reset to DDR2-667:
1. 2100MHz / 333MHz = 6.3
2. Round up to 7
3. 2100 / 7 = 300 or DDR2-600
At 30% OC the memory will run as DDR2-780, pretty close.
At 40% OC it will try to run as DDR2-840, which should be OK.
At 50% OC it will try to run as DDR2-900, perhaps with some extra voltage. Above 50% means the same memory may have to be set as DDR2-533, which I am not prepared to do in my case. And now you see why people buy DDR2-1066 or even faster memory.
(Alternate slow down for CAS 4 memory or for memory that has EPS settings under the SPD tab in CPU-Z - You may not have change the memory setting at this point, you may be able to get away with following the EPS settings, which typically will state you need to increase voltage and to increase memory latency settings. Also if your memory is rated 4-4-4-12 or something like that you can add 1 to the first 3 settings and 3 to the last settings and continue without changing the main memory speed stated above. How much this will buy you depends on the quality of your power supply, memory, and how how far you're willing to push it. Both methods will slow your memory, but not to the same extent. Skip this section if its confusing.)
Stopping just shy of slowing memory is a good place to stop, where ever that may be. If you stop at a point where memory is below it's rated speed you might tighten some memory settings. Going back to "command rate" for instance, and setting it to 1T. (I can't recall if command rate is available in the original BIOS.) That's like a 5% gain in performance. Some people try to reduced CAS 5 memory to CAS4, which may be possible with some extra voltage. CAS 4 to CAS 3 though is way too large a jump even at stock speeds. Don't try that.
Minimalist setup, which I will use for my roommate's pc.
Same board, Antec EA380, DDR2-800 CAS 4, same 4000+ X2 Brisbane.
So again at stock speeds memory will run as DDR2-700 as shown in example 1. I won't be around to help him if something happens so:
1. I bump his memory voltage to 1.95 or 2.0 volts.
2. One small processor voltage increase to deal with Vdroop.
3. I set HT to 4
4. I set the FSB for 228MHz.
He now has a 2.4GHz processor and memory speed is DDR-798.
5. I set his command rate to 1T.
6. I run Prime 95.
7. I swear out loud if it doesn't work, change some settings, and Prime 95 again.
If you've done either of the following:
1. OC'd beyond 280 FSB
2. OC'd beyond 3 GHz
Then you're entering the heavy duty category. A power supply like the Corsair becomes mandatory. Extra cooling as well.
OCing without more voltage on the processor usually results in zero extra power drain. Increases in memory and northbridge voltages may show up as 1 or 2 watts, but not much more. Even the top of the AMD recommended cpu voltage range for Bribanes results in minor increases. It's when people take a Brisbane upwards of 1.40 volts, and especially once they reach 1.5, that power usage really starts to climb, and so does heat.
Now Ubuntu people can OC as well, they simply have to start with Windows and do all the above and then switch to Ubuntu afterwards. And don't forget to get the required 32 bit libraries for folding if you're going to install 64 bit Ubuntu. Then fold like crazy.