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Is it safer to run with less voltage if absolute stability is not needed?

post #1 of 8
Thread Starter 
I recently built a system with a 2600K and a Gigabyte Z68X-UD3H-B3. This was intended primarily for gaming, although I do plan to use it as a testbed for some OpenCL applications in the future.

One of the games I play is mostly single-threaded and largely cpu-bound - DCS A-10C (flight simulator).

So, I decided I would try overclocking the CPU to see if I could get some additional performance.

The game runs great at 4.5 GHz, with the voltage set to about 1.36, HT disabled, and nothing else changed. I have a big Zalman cooler and the temps never get above 60C. The game is perfectly stable.

However, if I run a full-load 4-core stability test like Prime 95 at this voltage, the computer locks up and reboots within a few minutes. It works fine on 3 cores and below.

If I increase the voltage to over 1.4 V, it is more stable, but I worry about the long-term longevity of the processor in the 1.4 V range. I suspect the problem is actually Vdroop - the load voltages on this motherboard are generally much lower than what I set VCore to. The BIOS offers "Multi-step load line" settings, which work terribly - they increase the idle voltage by about .6 V so that the load voltage ends up correct. As a result, if I select level 5 with a vcore of 1.36V, the idle vcore (as reported by HWmonitor) ends up around 1.42 V (or higher) and only drops to around 1.36 under load. In order to get load voltages around 1.39V, sometimes the idle voltage ends up near 1.5V! I don't like the idea of the thing sitting around idle when I'm not using it all the time at those high voltages. And Multi-step LLC disables the power management features, so it doesn't drop to 1.01 and 1600MHz as it would normally.

I have yet to try the voltage offset feature, which reportedly adds to the load vcore while maintaining the power management features - maybe that will do what I want.

In any case, my question is simple - is there any reason to seek absolute stability, from an hours-long prime 95 test or similar, for a gaming computer that is stable under gaming? Does operating at too low a voltage damage the processor in any way?

If I ever use it for 24/7 HPC applications, I can always go back to the original clock settings.

Also, does anyone with a similar motherboard know what to do about these screwy voltage settings?
post #2 of 8
Running unstable due to low cpu voltage can also cause problems, so I won't recommend it!
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post #3 of 8
Thread Starter 
What kind of problems could it cause?

If it is not actually unstable in use, what difference does it make?

Sure, in theory, if I ever use a program that fully loads all 4 cores, it might crash because the voltage drops below the stability threshold. If that happens, I'll bump up the voltage at that point.

But if all I'm using are programs that load 1-2 cores, then the actual voltage needed for stability under that load is lower.

I would think I would be doing the CPU more harm by cranking up the voltage in order achieve stability on synthetic stress tests that are designed to require as high a voltage as possible.

I would simply like to play my games at 4.5 GHz with as low a voltage as possible. If that voltage turns out to be lower than what would be required to achieve stability on a synthetic test, so what?
post #4 of 8
I thought the same thing also. My 2600k needs around 1.295 volts to be prime95/IBT stable at 4.5GHz but I thought since with gaming I'll probably never do 100% pure cpu load and all that so I lowered it to ~1.27. Thought everything was going fine until I started getting random BSOD's. One might be after 5 hours of gaming and then one might happen over a day or 2. I brought it back up to 1.305 (LLC 75% so it goes to 1.296 under load) and everything is fine now. I guess that without proper voltages it doesn't do all the calculations and such correctly but that's just my assumption.

edit:4.5GHz at 1.4v? Dang you got unlucky. I thought the range of voltages for 4.5 was like 1.25v~1.32v
Edited by Twinkadink - 7/20/11 at 8:07pm
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post #5 of 8
Post back in 6 months, and tell me your happy with the way you've approached this issue!
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post #6 of 8
This leads to eventual OS corrupt no?
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post #7 of 8
Quote:
Originally Posted by dave12 View Post
This leads to eventual OS corrupt no?
yes could happen, general consensus is, too many bsods = corrupt OS.
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post #8 of 8
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Inteller View Post
Post back in 6 months, and tell me your happy with the way you've approached this issue!
I would like someone to actually explain why I'm incorrect, not just tell me I'm wrong and give me anecdotes. I would like someone to actually explain why, if all I run are 2-thread workloads in practice, I should care if I pick a voltage that is prime95 stable for 24 hours running 2 threads and unstable running 4 threads.
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