Dear Diary: 9/9/2014
Today has culminated several years of ideas and research. I have started this diary to keep track of my work as begin overclocking my CPU, an i7-860, in an attempt to set a world record for H2O cooling. Previously I have made some overtures into overclocking, starting when I built my current rig about five years ago. I would mess around with the frequencies, but as it was I didn't really know what the various options in the BIOS really all meant, nor their significance in overclocking. I eventually set a low overclock and left it at that. A year later I was once again bitten by the overclocking bug and this time set a goal for myself of reaching 4.0 GHz, a respectable overclock during the early i7 days. After much trial and error I was able to achieve this goal, but hardly in a stable manner and so I backed off it again after getting my verification and my 4.0 GHz overclocking tag on http://www.overclock.net/
(which seems to have disappeared recently). My latest attempts at overclocking were more concerned with setting a high daily overclock and eventually found a sweet spot at 3.8 GHz. Over the years more overclocking guides for the i7's has cropped up, in the process of my overclocking I have had the opportunity to read a few references that people have written, and I'd like to take a moment to thank those who wrote http://www.overclock.net/t/538439/guide-to-overclocking-the-core-i7-920-or-930-to-4-0ghz/0_50
and most recently http://www.masterslair.com/how-to-overclock-intel-core-i7-i5-i3-cpu-overclocking-guide
which have explained the meaning behind all those mysterious abbreviations like VTT and PLL. By now I've also done experimentation with GPU overclocking and RAM overclocking, however those are not being discussed in this diary, suffice to say I was feeling that I was no longer a overclocking novice, but a apprentice. This confidence has led me to the creation of this diary, which I hope to be my entry to journeyman in amateur overclocking.
A few days ago, bored, I started looking for overclocking records online. I know you can validate your CPUs core speed using CPU-Z, however I have never actually been able to figure out how to browse, or even if there is a way to browse, all the records available of validations from it. My googling skills eventually led me to http://hwbot.org/benchmark/cpu_frequency/
where I was able to browse the submitted records of various overclockers with validation pictures. Eventually I decided to sort the records by highest frequency in the H2O section so I could compare what other people have achieved using i7-860s to what I've achieved with mine and my Corsair H50. After scrolling through many pages, I eventually found the highest record for i7-860 overclocking, #926 at http://hwbot.org/benchmark/cpu_frequency/rankings#start=920#interval=20#cores=#coolingType=3
clocking in at 4692 MHz. Seeing that the highest record was so low got me thinking, I've overclocked to 4 GHz so far on my CPU, and have been running 3.8 GHz stable for some time now on only 1.28v, maxing my CPU temps at 70 C. There's a lot of room in there for more performance, and another 700 MHz isn't too far to go from 4 GHz, why not go for it? This thought percolated in my mind for a few days until finally I decided to give it a try, and to document my attempt in this diary format, an overclock a day style. Anyways, now that I've got this history off my chest, I feel that it's time to get started by documenting and resetting my BIOS to factory settings. Pictures follow.
These images detail my motherboard in its default state. I will change these settings over time and take more pictures as I go.
This picture could have more easily been done using a screenshot, but I was in picture taking mode by the time I got to it, oh well. As it is, I have uploaded the validation of my CPU in its base state, as I will be validating every 100 MHz jump.
Dear Diary: 9/10/2014
I learned today the meaning of locked multipliers when I tried going to 2.9 GHz by upping the multiplier instead of the baseclock. Apparently you can't use 22x or higher multipliers on the i7-860, unless you have turbo boost on, and then only 22x. For some reason I had thought this restriction hadn't been introduced into this generation of CPUs, but I guess I was wrong. Anyways, moving to 2.9 GHz was a simple enough matter with the baseclock alone, shifting it up a few points from 133 to 139. Though I wonder how this restriction will affect me once I reach the higher echelons of clocking.
Dear Diary: 9/11/2014
Today I broke the 3.0 GHz barrier by going to 144 baseclock. Still haven't had to touch the voltages, so that's looking good.
Dear Diary: 9/12/2014
Today I clocked to 3.1 GHz by going to 148 BCLK. Ok, now that that's off my chest, I feel that I should also document what I did with my voltages. So far I've left them on auto, but in order to more fully understand the voltage ramp of my computer, I have now set a "stock" voltage to start with on everything. As a matter of fact, speaking of ramps, I think once I get closer to my OC ceiling, I will make a statistical curve of the voltage required to boot at each 0.1 GHz point, in order to see if I can predict how much voltage will be needed for the next boost. Anyways, pics after the beep. BEEEP!
Dear Diary: 9/13/14
I decided that I need to set my voltages. Letting them run on auto, while fine for general purpose, isn't a great idea for an endeavor like this, even at a low overclock. As such I set voltages for all voltages following best practices from the reference material I've read. Additionally I can see that the frequency of my RAM was starting to creep up on me, as such I've also set that down to the slowest level it will go in order to least affect my stability. Finally the BCLK was upped to 153, giving me a total overclock of 3.21 GHz, still easy street, but starting to move out of noob territory.
Dear Diary: 9/17/2014
I haven't written in your for a while now, but it's been a long weekend producing movies for my YouTube channel (aka, I've been sitting on my butt playing games all weekend). Anyways I'm currently sick, WebMD says I'll be dead by the end of the week but I'm a gambler and will keep working on this. Over the weekend I decided to move this project along a bit and sort of fast forward to the more interesting materials. I was able to move from 3.3 to 3.4, 3.5, and 3.6 without having to change anything more than the BCLK. However upon moving to 3.7 GHz I found my first blue screen! Remember I'm not currently testing for stability, just for actual boot-ability so I can make a validation. In order to obtain a boot I had to up the voltage, I first tried upping the Vcore, when that didn't seem to help I switched to the QPI (VTT) voltage. Apparently my CPU is QPI hungry as it was able to boot as soon as I gave it that boost.
From now on I expect to be going through a lot of blue screens as I continue to push the limits. For that reason I need a good guide to BS codes, which I found here http://www.overclock.net/t/935829/the-overclockers-bsod-code-list/0_50
Thanks to that darn monkey (the opening posters avatar) I should be able to work my way through these codes without too much fear.
Also, apparently trying to upload serial validations causes them to overwrite each other, you have to wait about 10 minutes between each upload.
(I swear this read 3.5 when I took the reading. :/)
Dear Diary: 9/19/2014
Forgot to write in you yesterday, but I have a excuse, I'm sick, still. Okay, a lame excuse, but I'm sticking with it. Anyways, as if 3.7 GHz was a magic switch, I'm starting to have to increase the voltage with every step I take. Again this time I increased the VTT, seems Vcore is able to go along on its own merry way still. 3.8 GHz now which was my previous daily overclock. I think after this I'll make 4.0 GHz my daily, as I hope to have zoned in on a stable clock for it fairly well.
Dear Diary: 9/20/2014
Being sick sucks, mainly because once I get home from work (non-contagious bronchitis) all I want to do is sleep, and that doesn't allow much room for doing anything fun. But because writing is a habit I hear, I shall keep writing in you rain or snow, sun or dark of night, etc. Unless I forget...
Anyways, clocked up to 3.9 GHz yesterday. I'm right on the verge of the major breakthrough, 4.0 GHz. It's weird, but I've noticed in the past with my CPU that there is a exponential rate of increase in voltages needed to gain a stable clock starting at 3.8 GHz, which is why that was my previous daily clock. I should make a graph of it some day to see.
Dear Diary: 9/21/2014
Today I discovered a awesome song by The Megas, The Quick and the Blue (Acoustic version). Anyone reading this should definitely listen to this song. Oh and incidentally I hit 4.0 GHz on my CPU *victory fist pump*, back when this CPU came out 4.0 GHz was still considered an OCing achievement, but apparently it's "commonplace" these days to Overclock.net took away my 4.0 GHz badge......
Anyways, to get to 4.0 GHz I had to significantly increase the voltage used by the CPU, both VTT and VCore. That isn't too surprising after all, the i7-860 is a lower binned product and tends to have difficulty getting up to 4.0 and beyond, which is probably why there's so few records for it in the overclocking records.
Dear Diary: 9/22/2014
In order to hopefully achieve greater stability today I manually set the QPI speed to x32, too bad they don't go a bit lower than that, but you take what you can get sometimes. The clocking to 4.1 GHz went smoothly, it seems I over provisioned a bit going to 4.0 so I didn't have to change the voltages. While 4.1 GHz is good, however there is a even better intermediary goal than just my maximum possible overclock to go for here. Maybe since 4.0 GHz is so common these days that you can get it stock it's no longer a sign of achievement in the OCing world. However I bet that getting your CPU to 150%+ speed is still a great goal to go for, maybe I'll start a club for that and see if they'll make a badge for it. For me to get 150%+ I'm going to have to break 4.2 GHz, so stay tuned kids for this exciting conclusion!
Dear Diary: 9/23/2014
Today 4.2 GHz was achieved, which is I believe a very nice personal goal, as it does represent 50% faster speeds than stock alone. Not to mention that I can now unlock the OC Madness achievement in 3DMark. However the temperatures in my system are starting to get a bit out of hand when benchmarking and at rest, 80+ and 50ish C respectively. I don't know how much higher my CPU can go on this cooler, but luckily winter is setting in and the colder temperatures should help. To get my latest speed I had to increase the voltages again for the Vtt and Vcore, currently resting at 1.41 on the Vtt which is even with the memory multiplier at its lowest setting.