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Reviewed by: Carl Nelson [04.12.00]
Supplied by: AMK Services
Price: $49.99 CAD ($33 USD) + S&H


Going All The Way

You've heard from literally dozens of hardware sites that the P3 550e is the current champion of overclocking.  It receives accolades for not only attaining speeds of 733 MHz, but some fortunate people are sure to get 770 MHz, or even up to 825 MHz!

So, you decided to go for it.  You're graduating from overclocking Celerons for the first time.  You want a CPU that delivers over 800 MHz!

To do this, you'll need a few things though:

  • The right motherboard.  You'll need one that natively supports FSB speeds of 133 MHz and higher, especially if you own an AGP video card.  This likely means an Apollo Pro 133a, but you could also go for a board based on one of Intel's newer 8xx chipsets (yeah right!)

  • A way to change core voltage.  Most Pro 133a motherboards don't allow you to adjust the core voltage of the CPU! This means you'll need a slocket adapter, like the IWill Slocket II, that allows you to change it manually.

  • PC133 RAM.  The PC100 SDRAM you bought to overclock your Celeron 366 just isn't going to cut it here.  At FSB speeds of 133 MHz and beyond, you're going to need the fastest chips possible.

  • A good heatsink/fan (HSF) unit.  With the stock HSF that comes with the retail Coppermine CPU, you should be able to get 733 and even 770 MHz.  But if you want to go ALL THE WAY, you're going to need a cooler that goes just above the call of duty to get there.

"Just Above the Call of Duty"

The Alpha dwarves the Intel OEM HSF unit.

How's that for "Just Above"? To take our CPU to the limit, we're going to use the Alpha CO-PEP66T.  I just love those catchy names, don't you? I'm NEVER going to forget that name! uhh.. oops, I just did...

Seriously though, this is a pretty impressive unit; it uses fairly non-standard fins.  By this, I mean it uses many thin fins, as opposed to few thick fins.  Another unorthodox aspect of this HSF is the fact that the fan is mounted 'sideways' or 'on top' if you're using it on a slot adapter.  This is supposed to make room for the DIMM slots that are adjacent to the slot on most motherboards.

That sounds like a good idea in theory, but it is still 6 cm wide! This means that on our test motherboard, a Tyan s1854, something which many Coppermine users will opt for, one DIMM socket was blocked.  This may or may not be a big deal to you, depending on your upgrade plans, but for my money, and we're talking a lot for a heatsink, I want full use of everything on my board.

It should be noted though, that Moto of The Tech Zone (who kindly lent me this unit for review) tested it on some older BX boards.  On both the BE6 and the BX6-2, not a single DIMM socket was blocked, so make sure you have good clearance before going ahead with it.

On some boards, this thing is going to block your DIMM slots.

As you can see, the huge fan is blocking a DIMM slot.  This does NOT bode well for the final score.  We're even pushing it for two, but I think you might be able to squeeze it in.  You can click on the thumbnail for a higher resolution shot.

Is This What One of the "P"s Stand For?

I think I am actually beginning to figure this name out! P = Plastic! This model has Four Plastic Spacing Pegsā„¢ to help balance the behemoth on the small Coppermine.  This means no more having to use that ugly copper shim! A good thing about the pegs is that they don't prevent you from using this on older s370 Celerons either!

You'll also notice the use of copper for the contact.  You may remember from Grade 9 Science that copper conducts heat faster than most metals, including aluminum.  You also may remember that copper also retains heat longer.  Well, the Alpha gives you the best of both worlds, using copper to pull the heat from the CPU, and aluminum pins to give it off.  I am not quite sure if this gives you a *huge* advantage, as the Coppermine chips don't run much hotter than 40 degrees anyway... Still, it is nice to have the best solution possible.

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