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Q9400 with PC2-6400 OC help / hints

post #1 of 8
Thread Starter 
Hey all,

Recently I've been tinkering around with my setup, streamlining the OS, troubleshooting some gaming lag and screen tearing (of which I solved), but I'm now interested in seeing about overclocking my CPU. I built the thing myself years ago and had issues getting the BIOS set right, which I think was due to how finnicky this brand of RAM is. I eventually had to RMA a stick and had it replaced, but it was a long time ago.

Here are my specs:

P45 Neo2-FR MSI motherboard
Intel Core 2 Quad Q9400 Yorkshire CPU
Patriot PC2-6400 800 MHz DDR2 RAM (4 sticks / 8GB)
Nvidia GTX 460
Asus CPU heatsink. (I forget the model but it's pretty big. It barely fits in my full sized tower case)
Crappy Antec 500w PSU


The Multiplier on the CPU is x8 with a Bus Speed of 333 @ 1.2v to get 2.66 GHz.

The RAM supposedly has stock timings of 4-4-4-12 but mine have been set to 5-5-5-15 @ 2.1v since its first build as per recommendation by the Patriot techs when we were troubleshooting the bad stick. It's been on 5-5-5-15 and it worked so I guess I must have just left it that way. The FSB : DRAM ratio shows 5:8.

My video card is using MSI Afterburner to get a core clock of 851 MHz with the shader clock linked @ 1702 MHz. The VRAM is near stock speed @ 1805 MHz, since I learned when troubleshooting a graphics issue that the VRAM has no heat sinks on this card, so overclocking it gives nothing but artifacts and eventually crashes.

Reading up on overclocking the last few days has me stumped. What I think I've learned so far is that this RAM really doesn't like to be pushed, and most other users have had to loosen the timings to overclock their CPUs. First, since I'm new to OCing, I'm a little fuzzy on what "loosening" RAM timings actually does, but what I seem to see is that increasing the numbers helps RAM run more stable?

Just tonight without touching anything else I put the FSB from 333 up to 343 and rebooted. The system POSTed, logged into Windows, and I played a game for about half an hour while watching the temps in the Core Temp program (Never went over 60), and confirming the OC in the CPU-Z program. About half an hour in I got a BSOD pointing to dxgmms1.sys, but it's kind of a red herring, and it got me started on looking up power needs for OCing, but I can't see it being a power issue.

Basically my issue is that I've read a ton of other forums with users discussing that they've managed to get the Q9400 up to 3.0-3.2 GHz with hardly an issue on stock cooling but I couldn't even run 2.75 GHz without an eventual BSOD. It's an older setup, but I just know it shouldn't be this picky to OC and get a little more speed out of this box.

Do I somehow need to underclock the RAM's speed to allow the CPU to be overclocked?

ANY tips would be greatly appreciated, and I can link anything you need from CPU-Z logs if you think there's something I'm missing.

Thanks!
Edited by WCrispy - 10/17/13 at 12:07am
post #2 of 8
Quote:
Originally Posted by WCrispy View Post

Hey all,

Recently I've been tinkering around with my setup, streamlining the OS, troubleshooting some gaming lag and screen tearing (of which I solved), but I'm now interested in seeing about overclocking my CPU. I built the thing myself years ago and had issues getting the BIOS set right, which I think was due to how finnicky this brand of RAM is. I eventually had to RMA a stick and had it replaced, but it was a long time ago.

Here are my specs:

P45 Neo2-FR MSI motherboard
Intel Core 2 Quad Q9400 Yorkshire CPU
Patriot PC2-6400 800 MHz DDR2 RAM (4 sticks / 8GB)
Nvidia GTX 460
Asus CPU heatsink. (I forget the model but it's pretty big. It barely fits in my full sized tower case)
Crappy Antec 500w PSU


The Multiplier on the CPU is x8 with a Bus Speed of 333 @ 1.2v to get 2.66 GHz.

The RAM supposedly has stock timings of 4-4-4-12 but mine have been set to 5-5-5-15 @ 2.1v since its first build as per recommendation by the Patriot techs when we were troubleshooting the bad stick. It's been on 5-5-5-15 and it worked so I guess I must have just left it that way. The FSB : DRAM ratio shows 5:8.

My video card is using MSI Afterburner to get a core clock of 851 MHz with the shader clock linked @ 1702 MHz. The VRAM is near stock speed @ 1805 MHz, since I learned when troubleshooting a graphics issue that the VRAM has no heat sinks on this card, so overclocking it gives nothing but artifacts and eventually crashes.

Reading up on overclocking the last few days has me stumped. What I think I've learned so far is that this RAM really doesn't like to be pushed, and most other users have had to loosen the timings to overclock their CPUs. First, since I'm new to OCing, I'm a little fuzzy on what "loosening" RAM timings actually does, but what I seem to see is that increasing the numbers helps RAM run more stable?

Just tonight without touching anything else I put the FSB from 333 up to 343 and rebooted. The system POSTed, logged into Windows, and I played a game for about half an hour while watching the temps in the Core Temp program (Never went over 60), and confirming the OC in the CPU-Z program. About half an hour in I got a BSOD pointing to dxgmms1.sys, but it's kind of a red herring, and it got me started on looking up power needs for OCing, but I can't see it being a power issue.

Basically my issue is that I've read a ton of other forums with users discussing that they've managed to get the Q9400 up to 3.0-3.2 GHz with hardly an issue on stock cooling but I couldn't even run 2.75 GHz without an eventual BSOD. It's an older setup, but I just know it shouldn't be this picky to OC and get a little more speed out of this box.

Do I somehow need to underclock the RAM's speed to allow the CPU to be overclocked?

ANY tips would be greatly appreciated, and I can link anything you need from CPU-Z logs if you think there's something I'm missing.

Thanks!
Yes, you will definitely have to slow the ram down to get the chip up. Set it up so that the ram sits at 800mhz while the FSB is at 400mhz (dont actually boot it like that, just get the divider set up) then back the FSB down to 340mhz.

Next, you will need to increase the northbridge voltage to 1.45v. There is no getting around this. All 4 ram slots are being used by high density ram and the CPU is a quad core, which has to communicate through the northbridge. Combined thats a considerable amount of stress that must be countered.

Doing those two alone should definitely open up a considerable amount of overclocking headroom, at least up to about 450mhz FSB. After that, it'll depend on the board to get any higher. If you get it to 475mhz stable, then its a good board. If you get it to 500mhz, its a great board. 525+ on a quad? You just might have a golden board.
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post #3 of 8
Thread Starter 
Thanks for the tips! Browsing another user with the same setup of board and CPU it seems pushing it over 450 MHz with this combo is rare.

Sorry to be a noob but I'm a little fuzzy on how exactly to dial in the 1:1 divider that you mentioned. Which exact settings do I need to fiddle with? I'm just trying to get as much info jotted down on paper before I dig into the BIOS again. It would be nice if I had a second computer, heh.

Thanks!
post #4 of 8
Quote:
Originally Posted by WCrispy View Post

Thanks for the tips! Browsing another user with the same setup of board and CPU it seems pushing it over 450 MHz with this combo is rare.

Sorry to be a noob but I'm a little fuzzy on how exactly to dial in the 1:1 divider that you mentioned. Which exact settings do I need to fiddle with? I'm just trying to get as much info jotted down on paper before I dig into the BIOS again. It would be nice if I had a second computer, heh.

Thanks!
If you were on one of the Asus P5K series i'd be able to tell you as that is what my board is from. Unfortunately since your board is made by MSI thats all on you. You'll know you have it when the memory clock and the FSB clock can be divided by each other and by 2 and produce clean numbers.

Basically, trial and error until you get it. Thats all overclocking is: trial and error.
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post #5 of 8
Thread Starter 
Thanks again, I'm going to try some settings.
post #6 of 8
Thread Starter 
Alright, I took some pictures just to give a frame of reference. I didn't save any changes, I just set the ratio to 1:1 and the FSB at 333 to see what the RAM settings wanted to be.

First is just the top half of the Cell Menu:


Setting it to 1:1 400 / 800 MHz like you said. The "NB Drive Configure" only opens a menu with Auto, and Drive Configurations 1 2 3 and 4, but it doesn't say what changing this does. I don't see anything in there about NB Voltages.

Next is the bottom half of the menu:


I don't see anything about a NB voltage down here, unless I'm missing something.

Last is me selecting the ratio to show the options on the right, and what the system wants to do @ 333 with a 1:1 ratio:



Here is a link to my RAM:

http://www.patriotmemory.com/product/indexp.jsp?source=0&prodgroupid=59&prodline=3&group=PC2-640020800MHz20Memory20Modules&catid=33

What I think I'm seeing... is at a 1:1 ratio @ 333 MHz, the RAM wants to run at 666 MHz instead of it's top speed of 800 MHz? For the record, I don't know why it was set to a 5:8 ratio. The DRAM frequency in CPU-Z is showing 533 MHz which is what I've been using. Am I reading into all this correctly? Sorry for the lame questions, I'm just trying to understand what I'm doing instead of just following instructions and making it happen. I like learning!

Thanks!
post #7 of 8
Quote:
Originally Posted by WCrispy View Post

Alright, I took some pictures just to give a frame of reference. I didn't save any changes, I just set the ratio to 1:1 and the FSB at 333 to see what the RAM settings wanted to be.

First is just the top half of the Cell Menu:


Setting it to 1:1 400 / 800 MHz like you said. The "NB Drive Configure" only opens a menu with Auto, and Drive Configurations 1 2 3 and 4, but it doesn't say what changing this does. I don't see anything in there about NB Voltages.
These are all fine.
Quote:
Next is the bottom half of the menu:


I don't see anything about a NB voltage down here, unless I'm missing something.
MCH Voltage. Thats what MSI has chosen to call it apparently.
Quote:
Last is me selecting the ratio to show the options on the right, and what the system wants to do @ 333 with a 1:1 ratio:



Here is a link to my RAM:

http://www.patriotmemory.com/product/indexp.jsp?source=0&prodgroupid=59&prodline=3&group=PC2-640020800MHz20Memory20Modules&catid=33

What I think I'm seeing... is at a 1:1 ratio @ 333 MHz, the RAM wants to run at 666 MHz instead of it's top speed of 800 MHz? For the record, I don't know why it was set to a 5:8 ratio. The DRAM frequency in CPU-Z is showing 533 MHz which is what I've been using. Am I reading into all this correctly? Sorry for the lame questions, I'm just trying to understand what I'm doing instead of just following instructions and making it happen. I like learning!

Thanks!
Yes. Now that the memory has been set to 1:1, you'll need to increase the northbridge (MCH) voltage to 1.45v. From there, overclocking should be fairly straightforward. When you are done going for 3.2ghz the FSB should be running at 400mhz and the memory at 800mhz.
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post #8 of 8
Thread Starter 
Ok, I set the MCH to 1.45v, the FSB to 343 MHz and the ratio to 1:1, giving the RAM 686 MHz. Temps look good, and it booted with no issues. Hopefully the 1:1 ratio will help the system run smoother as well, and the goofy setup with the odd ratio I've been using would explain a lot in trying to run benchmarks before that would crash for seemingly no reason. I guess now that I know what I'm doing I can keep pushing it and start running some new benchmarks!

Thank you so much for helping me!

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