08/09: MSI K8N Neo4 Platinum (SLI) + AMD Winchester core processor = 220MHz FSB issue

When I bought my MSI K8N Neo4 Platinum SLI board last year (November, 2005), one of my intentions was to dabble into the world of overclocking. I bought an AMD 3200+ processor alongside it. The default FSB at which the processor operates is 200MHz.

I will be referring to the hypertransport speed as FSB since I am more used to it.

The motherboard is great for overclocking. However, my particular combination of this board with a Winchester core CPU is not a good overclocking combination. When I started overclocking, it went fine till 219MHz. When operating at an FSB of 220MHz, the board refused to boot until it was reset. After spending so much money on my PC (~$1500) and encountering this issue, I was greatly disappointed.

I scoured various computer forums on the internet for a solution. Apparently, I was not alone in facing this issue. Unlucky people who had bought the same combination were suffering from the same problem. It was hoped that MSI would release a BIOS which would fix this issue. As of today (8th September, 2006), this issue is still present and MSI has done nothing to resolve this issue. Even the latest publicly available BIOS (MS-7100v3.A0) hasn't helped.

Contacting MSI's technical support proved to be useless since they keep blaming other system components for not being overclockable. That's the typical support excuse: blame the customer. Various threads on MSI's own forums regarding this issue started to disappear (deleted by the moderators/admin). It came to be that often times, a thread made regarding this issue was deleted soon after it was made. Suppressing this issue on their own forums just caused people to post this issue on other forums asking for help with it. Not a great move by MSI, if you ask me. Neither did these actions by MSI endear the computer enthusiasts to them too much.

They even suggested using new/beta BIOS releases which hadn't even made it to their own website BIOS pages. People who used these untested/beta BIOS versions rendered their systems unbootable after they updated to these verisons. Other people used tools like Clockgen to overclock the hardware after booting at the default settings. I too used Clockgen to change my FSB to over 220MHz and it worked perfectly fine. Since my PC was relatively new at that time and I didn't need the boost from overclocking, I reverted to the default settings to play it safe.

Recently, while having some free time on my hand, I decided to test how far my processor would go before hitting the limit. I installed the latest version of MSI Core Center for monitoring the temperature and altering the CPU core voltage. I also got the latest copies of CPUID's CPU-Z and Clockgen.

Having all the tools, I changed the memory operating speed to 166MHz in the BIOS just to make the CPU the limiting factor in my overclocking. I started MSI Core Center, Clockgen and CPU-Z and bumped the voltage by 3.3% in Core Center. After that, I slowly started to increase my FSB starting from 220MHZ in steps of two until I reached 230MHz. The processor was operating at 1 degree centigrade higher than the normal idle temprature at this point.

I kept increasing the FSB by 1MHz to see where I hit the ceiling. At 240MHz, the temprature had increased by another degree centigrade. However, at this FSB, my LCD display kept getting refreshed after about 5-10 seconds in a loop. I backed down the FSB to 239 MHz and it stayed stable without any obvious problems. I ran the PC at 239MHz for some time but again reverted to the default settings since I had obtained the highest stable FSB at which my processor would operate for use in future.

Mind you, I didn't ran Prime95 or Memtest86 to test the stability since I am not going to use it in an overclocked state for long term usage at this time. Browsing the web hardly requires an overclocked processor.

I hope this small article is helpul to you. Do share how high you got your hypertransport speed/FSB using this method and the settings used to achieve it (Vcore, memory frequency, etc).
Asad  Computers 
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Comments made

hmmm seems like u hve solved the problem to some extent by achieving 239 fsb but yeah if you would have got venice, u will be able get better oclock.
30/11 02:41:05
@ Faraz:

Unfortunately, the shopkeeper only had Winchester cores at that time. The solution is temporary till the time I can get a cheap X2 processor. It's too bad there's a socket change (AM2) required before going higher than X2 processors.
02/12 01:16:40
I don't have time to stay here, but your topic highly interesting, i'll come back later.
13/03 12:07:54

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