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Overclocking My 2010 PC

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Update: Settled on 950 MHz for the GPU core and 1300 MHz for the memory. Let’s see how well it reacts in a game.

It hasn’t even been a week yet, but I’ve already decided to overclock my Radeon HD 5770 video card. Things have changed a bit since I last overclocked anything.

In my 2006 PC, I overclocked my Intel Core 2 Duo E6400 2.13 GHz to a nice 3.2 GHz. That thing is still rocking at that speed thanks to rigorous Prime95 testing.

In 2010, however, I will not be overclocking my CPU. It already has a bit overclocking thanks to Intel’s Turbo Boost. But even though Turbo Boost isn’t as effective as good old fashion overclocking: what is the point when it comes to gaming? Most modern games are not at the mercy of the processor: it’s the video card which makes the tangible difference at regular gaming settings.

Beginning Anew

I decided right off the bat to forgo the BIOS flashing route of my last overclocking adventure with the GeForce 7800GT and decided to use ATI/AMD’s built in Overdrive function. The Catalyst Control Panel was extremely easy to use.

The PowerColor 5770 PCS+ comes pre-overclocked.

Core Speed Memory Speed
Reference Speed 850 MHz 1200 MHz
PCS+ Stock Speed 875 MHz 1225 MHz
Overclocked Speed 950 MHz 1300 MHz

It’s not much of a bump, but it’s enough to give it an edge over the reference cards out there. I didn’t pick the PCS+ for its overclocking; I picked it up for the affordable price and (as it turns out) shorter PCB.

As you can see, I haven’t quite determined the precise clockspeed yet, but that’s because of Furmark.

Forget the Future. It’s All About Fur.

FutureMark‘s benchmarking tools were my go to stress test utilities. I used every one of their benchmarks for my stress testing needs from 3DMark 2001 to 3DMark 06. As a result, I went to 3DMark Vantage for my stress test. My initial overclock of 950 MHz /1400 MHz “passed” according to it. Then I encountered some issues while transitioning from one test to the next.

I did some digging and it turns out that 3DMark Vantage had some issues with those transitions in the past. They were supposed to be addressed in the latest version, but I couldn’t trust that. During my search, I ran into something called Furmark.

FurMark is a real stress inducer of video cards. It’s an OpenGL benchmark designed to tax video cards to their limit. Within minutes my 5770 video card’s temperature was rising and shortly afterwards, the PC was frozen. It turns out my overclocks were not stable enough.

I had to start from scratch.

Now I’m upping clockspeeds individually and running FurMark for 20 minutes or so to check stability. I’m running the benchmark at 1680 x 1050 resolution with 2x MSAA which enables the video card to render at a brisk, but taxing pace.

As for temperatures? FurMark is hovering at around 79 degrees Celsius which may seem like a lot, but it’s well within safety limits (which I hear is 110 degrees Celsius). Not sure how, but HardOCP were reaching upwards to 89 degrees Celcius on their overclocks.

Waiting Game

But no matter what kind of overclocking it is, this process requires a bit of patience. Technically, I’m in my fourth or fifth hour of testing. But, unlike the overclock testing of years past, I have a handheld, blog and/or gaming console to keep my occupied while I wait.

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