in: Overclocking - Processors | January 14, 2011 | by: Oik Yusuf Araya

Sandy Bridge, the Complete Overclocking Guide

If you have previously read our “Sandy Bridge Overclocking Preview” article, you might want to know how we managed to bring the Core i7 2600K CPU to 5.4 GHz. In this article, we will guide you on a step-by-step basis so that you can also experience that kind of amazing performance from your Sandy Bridge processor. Before we move on into the overclocking part, it might be a good idea to learn more about the characteristics of your brand-new CPU in our “The Top Five Things You Should Know About Sandy Bridge” article.

Okay now, let’s get to business shall we?

Disclaimer :

1) Any kind of overclocking practice is neither supported nor encouraged by hardware manufacturers as it could negatively affect your components (resulting in instability or even permanent damage) if not carried out properly. So, do it at your own risk!

2) This overcloking guide is based on our lab tests and your actual results may vary. There is a good chance that the information we provide is not entirely accurate because the Sandy Bridge itself use a completely revised architecture whose characteristics have yet to be fully explored. We will, therefore, update this article if necessary.

Hardware Preparations

A good overclocker always gets his/ her components ready beforehand. To begin, you will need to prepare the following items:

a) CPU : Sandy Bridge K-Series CPU (i5-2500K, i7-2600K)

b) Motherboard : P67-based motherboard

c) RAM :Any kind of memory, we recommend using DDR3-1600MHz modules for optimum performance, though.

d) PSU : Depends on your system’s overall power consumption.

e) CPU Cooler : A third-party HSF of reasonable quality is recommended.

As for the processor itself, we recommend using a “K” series Sandy Bridge. Non-K series Sandy Bridges are severely limited when it comes to overclocking. You don’t need to spend too much time selecting special memory modules because Sandy Bridge overclocking relies pretty much on the processor’s multiplier, so that even a value class DDR3-1333 should suffice. However, we would still recommend you to use at least 1600 MHz, DDR3 modules for optimum performance. Additionally, keep in mind that although the power consumption of a Sandy Bridge platform is relatively small, you still need a sufficiently powerful PSU capable of sustaining the entire system. A 500watt (pure power) PSU should be just about enough to power up a Core i7-2600K that is overclocked to 4.5 GHz, along with a single GeForce GTX 460 graphics card.

Sandy Bridge’s operating temperature is relatively low compared to its predecessors. Even the stock HSF should provide sufficient cooling for a 4-4.2 GHz Sandy Bridge. However, for durability reasons, we recommend you to replace the default cooler with a third-party HSF of higher quality. Another obvious advantage from using a better HSF is that you will have more headroom for your overclocking.

Software Preparation

In overclocking, the right software is just as important as the right hardware. They will prove useful in testing the stability of your overclocked system. The following applications can help you achieve optimum overclocking results:

We will be using all of the above softwares for our overclocking practice this time. On to the next page shall we?

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