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Is this the mobo or RAM bottlenecking? (EP45 DS3R +Q9400 @ 440FSB)

post #1 of 12
Thread Starter 
Hi there,

This is my first proper attempt at getting the most out of a system, so bear with me if I've got a few things wrong below.

I've been lurking and gleaning information from various forums and I've learnt a lot about overclocking in the last week or so. I'm pretty pleased with how far I have got with this system and it's at a state where I could happily stop tinkering. However, the "enthusiast" in me is curious to find the likely cause for my current bottleneck!

Here is the hardware spec:

Q9400@3.5Ghz (1.280v idle and 1.216v under load)
2 x 2GB Crucial Ballistix DDR800 @ 880ghz 4-4-4-12
EP45 DS3R (F10)
Gigabyte 9600GT 1GB Silent Cell

Power and Cooling:
Antec Neopower 550
Antec P182 Case with stock fans (only running the rear exhaust on low setting)
Mehalahems Cooler with 1 Akasa Apache fan

This machine is going to be largely used for photo editing and music, so the GPU performance is secondary to pure CPU grunt. It's also going to sit under a desk in my bedroom, so I am also trying to keep the noise down -whilst being mindful of CPU temps.

I still have a few outstanding stability tests, but I'm confident that the system will get through these with minimal configuration changes:

Memtest 86+ (1 Pass) - Passed
OCCT Small (8h) - 4h so far
OCCT Medium (8h) - Passed
OCCT Large (8h) - Untested

Load and idle temperatures seem very good (idle ~30 deg). CPU is maxing out about 50 deg on OCCT Small and sub 50 with more realistic loads. GPU is idling between 45-50 (this reduces by about 5 degrees when I run the exhaust fan on high), but I haven't tested load temps yet.

When I started tweaking, I didn't realise that you had to account for vdrop when you applied your bios settings. Consequently, I was trying to keep the bios vcore to a max of 1.3. It turns out that my board has a vdrop of about 0.05v, so this meant that I was trying to stabilise this chip@3.5ghz with only 1.25v! Predictably, this didn't work, but I did get surprisingly close to a stable system (just over 2h of OCCT small and passed the 8h OCCT medium test).

My gut feeling is that my chip and cooling could probably handle around 3.7-3.8ghz@1.3-1.32v. The problem is that the board and/or RAM are struggling to handle more than 440FSB. Reducing the multiplier and memtesting suggested that 2.1v on the memory might allow me to push to around 455. Relaxing the timings to 5-5-5-15 didn't seem to make any difference though.

I've seen some anecdotal evidence to suggest that this is at the limit for both the board and the memory, but I would really appreciate peoples views?

Aside from the voltages/frequencies mentioned above, I have largely left the BIOS settings at their "normal" values with the exception of a slight increase in cpu termination to 1.26v (does vdrop have any effect on the BIOS setting you should use for this?).

Thanks very much for your help!

J
Edited by Orge - 11/21/09 at 5:56am
    
CPUMotherboardGraphicsRAM
Q9400 EP45 DS3R Gigabyte 9600 GT 1GB Silent Cell 2 x 2GB Crucial Ballistix DDR2 800 
OSMonitorPowerCase
Mac OS X 10.5 + XP Pro Dell 2407wfp Antec Neopwer 550 Antec P182 
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CPUMotherboardGraphicsRAM
Q9400 EP45 DS3R Gigabyte 9600 GT 1GB Silent Cell 2 x 2GB Crucial Ballistix DDR2 800 
OSMonitorPowerCase
Mac OS X 10.5 + XP Pro Dell 2407wfp Antec Neopwer 550 Antec P182 
  hide details  
Reply
post #2 of 12
Seems like it's your NB acting up. Try to increase NB voltage by 2 bumps and test for stability. Can you underclock you RAM past this point? Better to take RAM stability out of the equation. I used to get similar results to yours, just bumped NB a tad and it ran happily ever after.
post #3 of 12
Thread Starter 
I have tried adjusting the NB voltage a little (labelled MCH on my mobo), but I don't recall it made much difference to the stability during memtesting. Will go back and try again though.

Any idea what speed I should be able to hit?

Thanks,

J
Edited by Orge - 11/21/09 at 6:01am
    
CPUMotherboardGraphicsRAM
Q9400 EP45 DS3R Gigabyte 9600 GT 1GB Silent Cell 2 x 2GB Crucial Ballistix DDR2 800 
OSMonitorPowerCase
Mac OS X 10.5 + XP Pro Dell 2407wfp Antec Neopwer 550 Antec P182 
  hide details  
Reply
    
CPUMotherboardGraphicsRAM
Q9400 EP45 DS3R Gigabyte 9600 GT 1GB Silent Cell 2 x 2GB Crucial Ballistix DDR2 800 
OSMonitorPowerCase
Mac OS X 10.5 + XP Pro Dell 2407wfp Antec Neopwer 550 Antec P182 
  hide details  
Reply
post #4 of 12
Hard to say, but maybe even 4GHz if you have the right cooling, which reminds me, fill in your system specs in your Sig (it's under Control Panel > Add System).
post #5 of 12
Thread Starter 
I tried increasing to MCH to 1.4v, and rerunning memtest at 460FSB, but it still won't get past test 5 (freezes). I also tried a 400mhz strap instead of 333 and increasing the RAM voltage a little, but nothing seems to be able to get me past this wall at 450...

Easytune and speed fan report my NB temp as 40 - when loaded or unloaded.

Thanks,

J

P.S. Have filled out my sig now.
    
CPUMotherboardGraphicsRAM
Q9400 EP45 DS3R Gigabyte 9600 GT 1GB Silent Cell 2 x 2GB Crucial Ballistix DDR2 800 
OSMonitorPowerCase
Mac OS X 10.5 + XP Pro Dell 2407wfp Antec Neopwer 550 Antec P182 
  hide details  
Reply
    
CPUMotherboardGraphicsRAM
Q9400 EP45 DS3R Gigabyte 9600 GT 1GB Silent Cell 2 x 2GB Crucial Ballistix DDR2 800 
OSMonitorPowerCase
Mac OS X 10.5 + XP Pro Dell 2407wfp Antec Neopwer 550 Antec P182 
  hide details  
Reply
post #6 of 12
Seems like 440FSB might be your wall, since your RAM is running at 880MHz. Try using 6-6-6-18 timings with 2.1V and try to get higher FSB, if this doesn't work, it's your motherboard.
post #7 of 12
Thread Starter 
Thanks for your advice.

Relaxing the timings didn't make any appreciable difference, so it does appear the mobo is the problem.

Thanks very much for helping me to confirm this.

J
    
CPUMotherboardGraphicsRAM
Q9400 EP45 DS3R Gigabyte 9600 GT 1GB Silent Cell 2 x 2GB Crucial Ballistix DDR2 800 
OSMonitorPowerCase
Mac OS X 10.5 + XP Pro Dell 2407wfp Antec Neopwer 550 Antec P182 
  hide details  
Reply
    
CPUMotherboardGraphicsRAM
Q9400 EP45 DS3R Gigabyte 9600 GT 1GB Silent Cell 2 x 2GB Crucial Ballistix DDR2 800 
OSMonitorPowerCase
Mac OS X 10.5 + XP Pro Dell 2407wfp Antec Neopwer 550 Antec P182 
  hide details  
Reply
post #8 of 12
Just so you know, you might have a FSB hole. Try a FSB 10mhz higher than you've been trying. Sometimes chips/ boards will have a hole.
post #9 of 12
Thread Starter 
I did try pushing beyond the 450mhz limit, but with no luck.

After a month, it's been running reasonably well. However, I have had a curious lockup in both windows and mac OS x. It seems to be video related, as it has only happened whilst gaming in xp or leveraging core image in osx ( expose etc). Basically, the whole screen freezes and gets increasingly garbled. Audio and the mouse pointer continue to work for a bit, but eventually lock as well.

The video card is running at stock and I doubt it is overheating - indeed, I wouldn't expect the load in osx to be very much. I need to double check this though. In the meantime, a few other things to note are:

The card is passively cooled.
The freezes have happened with/without the side panel on.
Ambient temp must be v low though, as I have been shivering!!
3 fans in case, but all are geared for low noise. That said, my CPU temps stay well below 40 under normal load.

Any ideas?

Thanks,

j
Edited by Orge - 12/20/09 at 5:48am
    
CPUMotherboardGraphicsRAM
Q9400 EP45 DS3R Gigabyte 9600 GT 1GB Silent Cell 2 x 2GB Crucial Ballistix DDR2 800 
OSMonitorPowerCase
Mac OS X 10.5 + XP Pro Dell 2407wfp Antec Neopwer 550 Antec P182 
  hide details  
Reply
    
CPUMotherboardGraphicsRAM
Q9400 EP45 DS3R Gigabyte 9600 GT 1GB Silent Cell 2 x 2GB Crucial Ballistix DDR2 800 
OSMonitorPowerCase
Mac OS X 10.5 + XP Pro Dell 2407wfp Antec Neopwer 550 Antec P182 
  hide details  
Reply
post #10 of 12
Nice board for a Hackintosh, I have the EP45-DS3L (pretty much the same board minus Firewire, RAID, and a second PCI Express slot..lol) for my hackintosh 10.5.8. Anyway, I also can't get my board above around 460 Mhz stable. Don't really see a point in pushing a midpriced board that hard for 24/7 use IMHO. Maybe if I had a UD3P though..
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Win 10 Pro x64 Acer XB270HU 27" IPS 144hz G-Sync Corsair K70 Cooler Master V1000 
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