3 Step Overclocking Guide – Sandy Bridge (Miahallen)

April 22, 2013 in CPU, Intel, Overclocking, PC

 

Step 1) Optimize Memory Frequency

Start by entering the BIOS and select “load optimized defaults”, then save and exit. After the reboot, go back into the BIOS and turn off the start-up slash screen, so that you can view your system’s post behavior. Also, feel free to disable any “integrated peripherals” that will not be used (i.e. NICs, extra PATA/SATA controllers, legacy devices, etc). All other overclocking settings you can leave on auto for now.

Unlike previous generations, it appears that power saving features do not greatly impact overclocking potential for Sandy Bridge. Whether you choose to disable them, or leave them enabled is up to you. These include Intel SpeedStep (aka “EIST”), C1E, and all other C-states.

Adjust Memory Frequency

Enter your BIOS and adjust your memory frequency to match the rated speed (or as close to it as possible) of your memory. Next go to the advanced timing settings and set the CAS (“CL”), tRCD, tRP, tRAS, and Command Rate according to your memory’s specifications. If you are unsure how to do this properly, it is OK to leave all these settings on auto, but most likely, the auto timings will result in slightly worse performance. Also, manually set the DRAM voltage according to your memory’s rated specification.

  • Once you have set your memory settings in the BIOS as described above, save and exit (usually F10).
    • If the computer fails to boot with the settings you selected, get back into the BIOS and raise the VccSA voltage by 0.025V, then repeat the process.
    • If you reach 1.2V VccSA and are still unable to boot the system, reset the VccSA to default and try these steps again varying the VccIO instead, or a combination of VccSA and VccIO.
    • If you are still unable to boot the system with your desired settings, you’ll need to lower the memory frequency by one ratio and try again.
    • Once your computer reboots successfully, then continue…
  • Ensure your system is configured to boot to your USB or CD/DVD with memtest86+and allow the test to run for one complete pass.
    • If the test generates errors, please reboot the system and go back into the BIOS. Raise the VccSA/VccIO voltage by 0.025V, and try again.
    • If the test completes a full pass without generating any errors, then continue…

Note – if you have a large amount of memory installed, this could take a while.

  • Next, reconfigure your boot devices, so that your system will boot into your operating system. Start up the programs RealTemp, CPU-Z, and LinX or OCCT (mix). Using the memory tab in CPU-Z, verify that your memory is configured as intended. Also, ensure your core temperatures in RealTemp are appropriate given your selected cooling device. If using LinX, enter “20” in the “times to run” box, select the “ALL” box next to the memory amount drop down box, then click “Start”. If using OCCT(mix), please allow the test to run for 1 hour.
    • If the test generates errors, or if the system locks up, reboots, or if you receive BSOD, please go back into the BIOS, and raise the VccSA/VccIO by 0.025V (up to 1.2V max), and try again.
    • If the test completes 20 passes or 1 hour (whichever is less) without error, then continue…

 

 

Step 2) Optimize CPU Frequency

 

Sandy Bridge CPU multipliers

Since Sandy Bride is very limited in its ability to be overclocked via the bclock, I am focusing this guide primarily around multiplier overclocking. As I alluded to earlier, not all CPUs are equal in this matter. This is why the “easy” sample used in this guide has such a low overclock, this is because it is “partially unlocked” its maximum multiplier is x31. So 3.1GHz represents it’s best full overclock potential (all four cores) without raising the bclock. Turbo will boost the overclock even higher when less than all the cores are being utilized. For the other CPUs in my examples, they are “fully unlocked” by Intel, and are designed to maximize overclocking potential. Enter your BIOS and increase your maximum CPU ratio to x40 (x31 for sample #1), then manually set the CPU Vcore to 1.25V.

  • Save and exit (F10) and allow the system to boot into your operating system. Start up the programs RealTemp, CPU-Z, and LinX or OCCT (mix). Using the CPU and memory tab in CPU-Z, verify that your CPU and memory are configured as intended. Also, ensure your core temperatures in Realtemp are appropriate given your selected cooling device (they should be slightly higher than in the previous section. If using LinX, enter “3” in the “times to run” box, select “ALL” next to the memory drop-down box, then click “Start”. If using OCCT(mix), please allow the test to run for 20 minutes.
    • If the test generates errors, or if the system locks up, reboots, or if you receive BSOD, please go back into the BIOS, and raise the Vcore by 0.025V (up to 1.4V max), and try again.
    • If the test completes 3 passes or 20 minutes (whichever is less) without error, then continue…
  • Enter the BIOS and increase your CPU multiplier by one ratio.
    • If the test generates errors, or if the system locks up, reboots, or if you receive BSOD, please go back into the BIOS, and raise the Vcore by 0.025V (up to 1.4V or 80C max), and try again.
    • If the test completes 3 passes or 20 minutes (whichever is less) without error, then repeat this procedure until you reach your goal, or the voltage or thermal limits (1.4V or 80C)…then continue…

After reaching your target memory and CPU speed, and passing 3 loops of LinX or OCCT (mix), we need to verify stability with these settings. Start up the programs RealTemp, CPU-Z, and LinX or OCCT (mix). Using the CPU and memory tab in CPU-Z, verify that your CPU and memory are configured as intended. Also, ensure your core temperatures in RealTemp are appropriate given your selected cooling device (they should be slightly higher than in the previous section). If using LinX, enter “20” in the “times to run” box, select ALL next to the memory drop-down box, then click “Start”. If using OCCT (mix), please allow the test to run for 1 hour.

  • If the test generates errors, or if the system locks up, reboots, or if you receive BSOD, please go back into the BIOS, and raise the Vcore by 0.025V (up to 1.4V or 80C max), and try again.
  • If the test completes 20 passes or 1 hour (whichever is less) without error, then continue…

 

 

Step 3) Fine Tuning

 

You should have already met your goal, so this is optional.

The last step in this guide is to attempt to push it just a hair more. Those users with locked multipliers may want to really focus on this step. Start by going back into your BIOS and raising the bclock by 0.5MHz.

  • Save and exit (F10) and allow the system to boot into your operating system. Start up the programs RealTemp, CPU-Z, and LinX or OCCT (mix). Using the CPU and memory tab in CPU-Z, verify that your CPU and memory are configured as intended. Also, ensure your core temperatures in Realtemp are appropriate given your selected cooling device (they should be slightly higher than in the previous section). If using LinX, enter “3” in the “times to run” box, select “ALL” next to the memory drop-down box, then click “Start”. If using OCCT(mix), please allow the test to run for 20 minutes.
    • If the test generates errors, or if the system locks up, reboots, or if you receive BSOD, please go back into the BIOS, and raise the Vcore by 0.025V (up to 1.4V max), and try again.
    • If the test completes 3 passes or 20 minutes (whichever is less) without error, increase the bclock by 0.5MHz and repeat the procedure until you reach your goal, or the voltage or thermal limits (1.4V or 80C)…then continue…
  • After you have reached the maximum speed at which your system can complete 3 loops or 20 minutes of stress testing. Re-run your stress test for 20 loops or 1 hours, whichever is less.
    • If the test generates errors, or if the system locks up, reboots, or if you receive BSOD, please go back into the BIOS, and lower the bclock by 0.5MHz, and try again.
    • If the test completes 20 passes or 1 hour (whichever is less) without error, then you’re finished!

 

 

Step 3.5) Overclocking the Integrated Graphics Processing Unit (iGPU)

If you are using an H67 or Z68 based motherboard, and planning to use the iGPU built into your CPU, please follow these steps. Enter the BIOS and increase the iGPU multiplier to x24 (or set the clock speed to 1200MHz). Save and exit, and enter Windows. Open FurMark and run the benchmark (should run for 1 minute by default).

  • If the benchmark completes without error, go back into the BIOS and raise the iGPU multiplier by one selection, and repeat the process.
  • Once the test fails, lower the iGPU clock by one selection, and attempt to run the FurMark “stability test” (with default settings) for 10 minutes. If it fails, drop the clock one more level and repeat the process.
  • Once the “stability test” completes without error for a full ten minutes, you’re finished.

 

 

Final Words

Well, that about wraps it up. Believe me, there is so much more to overclocking. There are SO MANY settings you can continue to fiddle with; you may have a million questions at this point about all of the settings in the BIOS that we never touched. They’re valid questions, but not meant for this guide. My goal was for this guide to get you 95% of the way in 5% off the time. Hopefully you’re there! The other settings in your BIOS will be needed to get you to 100%….but if I included those things in this guide, it would be 3 times as long, and much more complicated.

Please feel free to comment, and post any questions in the Intel section of the TechREACTION forums . The community is the best resource to continue pushing your system beyond this guide. Post a new thread with a very detailed description of which part of the guide you are having problems with, how far your progressed through the steps, and screenshots to help us understand the problem you’re encountering if necessary. We will do our best to help you out with any problems you may encounter!

 
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