RSS Feed

HCW Tech Blog

For the latest info on computer hardware, tech, news, video games, software tips, and Linux, check out our new improved front page: HCW Tech Blog

Reviewed by: Carl Nelson [09.24.08]
Manufactured by: AMD, Intel



Armed with the latest excellent overclocking motherboards from Abit, and awesome RAM from OCZ, we set out to find just how high these processors could go, with basic air cooling. This would be similar to you going out and buying a good motherboard and ram with one of these $50 CPUs, and taking it home yourself. Both of these CPUs were bought in a store, so no Engineering Sample shenanigans are possible.

The motherboards we're using are the Abit AX78 for the AMD CPU - while not the greatest board around in terms of pure performance, it was an amazing overclocker in our experience. For the Intel CPU we used the Abit IP35-Pro, which earned our Editor's Choice Award. The RAM used for both was OCZ's award-winning SOE Urban Elite PC2-6400 Low Latency. With warranty coverage up to 2.1v, this ram has a lot of headroom even when overclocked with low latency timings.

Overclocking procedure was the usual - I started with a reasonably high CPU VCore (1.5v for each, which is about as high as you want to go with standard air cooling, certainly not for long-term usage), and set all timings lower than usual. This way, I was able to determine the highest clock speed possible. After that, I brought the timings up to normal, allowing the memory to run as close to DDR2-800 as possible with low latency timings, and bringing the VCore down as much as possible to eliminate heat as an issue.

AMD X2 4200+ Overclocking Results

After hours (actually, days) of overclocking, the X2 4200+ settled on a top speed of 3.245 GHz. This is just above the highest retail Brisbane core of 3.10 GHz. That is an increase of 47.5%. Increasing the voltage lead to higher temperatures (and instability), but not much in the way of higher clock speeds.

Celeron Dual Core E1200 Overclocking Results

The Celeron, thanks to the superior architecture of its Conroe core and lower starting point, had much higher headroom. Our overclocking efforts resulted in a speed of 3.312 GHz, which is even 300 MHz higher than the highest-clocked retail Conroe CPU. This is a clock speed increase of 107%! Yes, we more than doubled the Celeron's clock speed on standard air-cooling!

I should mention at this point that overclocking results will vary. This only refers to our personal experience with these chips. However, after some Googling, I found that both of our results were actually pretty typical.

It seems that our theory of the Celeron having much more headroom proved to be true. The question is - will this be enough for it to perform much better? After all, as much as you can overclock this thing, it's still only ever going to have 512KB of shared L2 cache. Only one way to find out - let's put these scorching $50 CPUs to the test!

Next Page: (The Test; CPU Benchmarks)