Just For Fun

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“I had this great idea – since the K7s5a has no BIOS or dipswitch multipliers, I would alter a couple of Durons to get the multipliers I wanted and then overclock with FSB.” – John R. Abaray

Everyone has their own reason for building computers. Some are hardcore gamers. There are those who need performance for a heavy duty app like photo editing. Some want to be MHz King. For me, being around the leading edge of technology helps with my insatiable curiosity and thirst for knowledge. I guess the biggest reason is I do it just for fun.

Every day, I scour the hardware sites looking for the newest in technology. I also spend time lurking in forums to see if there is a tidbit or two that might be of interest. It’s always the same – there are those who are praising their boards even if they never do get them to work quite right.

A few are always flaming the Mobo Makers, complaining their board is a POS. Some people just aren’t meant to build computers. You just can’t point and click your way into high MHz, FSB, and Fps. Computers are a never ending learning curve. If your not willing to make the effort to learn, your not going to be very happy with the end result.

No Risk No Fun (Found in a Nitro post)

Then there is a segment I like to call the “forum elite”. These are the ones who take the time to understand the technology they are working with. They don’t hesitate to take a soldering iron to a board for a voltage mod or cut a hole in a case for extra cooling. They don’t worry about voiding a warrantee or pushing a CPU past it’s limit. These are the ones I can relate to. They do it just for fun.

I’ve done a lot of mods over the years and at times been rewarded with a little something for my efforts. There were also times when I got nothing for my work, but it was fun. “Nothing ventured, nothing gained” has always been my attitude.

Before eighty to sixty mm fan adapters became plentiful, I built my own out of a funnel and a flange cut off another fan. Instead of trying to compress the air from a eighty mm fan through a sixty mm opening, I reversed the fan to pull the air out. It just seemed common sense to me. I got a 1.5C drop in CPU temp. I didn’t get one extra MHz. The next HSF I bought gave me another 2.0C drop in CPU temp so it went on my computer trash pile.

I did some elaborate work on a case to cool the backside of my northbridge and CPU. I got a little extra out of my northbridge. I did get a big drop in CPU temp. The big drop I got in CPU temp was from cooling the thermistor and in reality, I got another 1.5C and no extra MHz for my efforts.

You might say it was hardly worth the effort. No, I didn’t get much for my efforts in performance but I did learn a lot. I learned for sure what works and what doesn’t work instead of having to take someone’s word for it. I also had a little fun along the way.

Time For A New Mobo

I belong to the Mobo of the Month Club. In order to keep my membership, I have to purchase a minimum of four Mobos a year. So far, I’ve bought only two (A7V133 & AK31V2). Early articles about the SIS735 chipset really piqued my interest, but the boards I was looking for failed to materialize. The past few months didn’t yield anything of interest to me so I thought I would buy a K7s5a just for fun.

ECS has sold about a zillion of these because the average user just can’t afford the latest and greatest. It’s a inexpensive upgrade which allows them to use their SDRAM and get DDR later. Lurking in the forums, I’ve heard a lot of controversy about this board. I’ve also heard a lot of good things about it.

Delusions of Grandeur

I had this great idea – since the K7s5a has no BIOS or dipswitch multipliers, I would alter a couple of Durons to get the multipliers I wanted and then overclock with FSB.

Connecting bridges use to be an ordeal for me until I went to an office supply and purchased a lighted magnifier. I got the cheap one with an incandescent bulb. Same glass but half the price – $24.95 U.S. It beat the hell out of holding a magnifying glass in one hand while trying to paint with the other. It’s one thing to connect bridges and another to disconnect them. Connecting bridges is child’s play. Disconnecting requires latent masochistic tendencies.

CONTINUED page 2…

John R. Abaray

Disclaimer:
I do not work for anyone or get paid for anything I write. Everything I write about I pay for out of my own pocket. Everything I write in articles or say in emails is Public Domain for the reader to do with as they wish.

The Choices

  • An engraving tool to bust the bridges.
  • Etching fluid to dissolve the bridges.
  • A battery charger hooked up to needles to blow the bridges.
  • A sharp tool and a mallet to sever the bridges.

There may be a few more but I really don’t care. I’ve used an engraving tool and I just couldn’t imagine trying to bust a bridge with it. The battery charger method used a six amp charger and mine is a thirty amp so that was out. I was left with etching and severing.

First I tried etching.

I got some printed circuit etching solution from Radio Shack. This stuff is death on copper but hard to work with. It just doesn’t go where you want it to go. A drop would go on the side of a toothpick. Even though I cleaned the Duron with solvent, the stuff would go wherever it wanted to and very seldom where I want it to go.

If I put a drop on a bridge, it would roll over and touch an adjoining bridge, sending me into an instant panic. It was impossible for me to regulate the size of the drop, much less get it where I wanted it to go. After thoroughly screwing up a Duron, I just painted the L7 and L1 bridges so I could use it on something else. I decided to try a different method.

There was a French site I found a link to in a forum (I don’t remember which). I used the AltaVista translator and while the article lost a bit in the translation, it described using a sharp tool and mallet to sever a bridge.

I tried using an Xacto knife with a heavy blade. Tap, tap, tap, tap, tap, nothing. I had a good view with my lighted magnifier and it didn’t look like I even made a notch in the bridge. Tough little suckers. Guess I gotta’ hit it a little harder SMACK. Whoops there goes the tip of the knife.

That’s OK now I have a bigger surface to hit the bridge with SMACK. It jumps over the bridge and I’m scratching the hell out of the Duron but the bridge is still connected. It was obvious I needed a better tool but I couldn’t come up with a better idea at the time.

I decided to go back to etching. Instead of a round pointed toothpick, I used a flat one and split the end with my broken Xacto. I could wipe the tooth pick on the side of the container and it left just enough in the split where I could apply it to the bridge.

I had learned from the first Duron: Leave it on too long and the whole bridge disappears. I had two 750 Durons I knew would do a little over 1Ghz. With a little patience, I altered one to 7X and the other to 6.5X.

Judgement Day

U.P.S. screwed up the delivery of my board as usual. I’m tempted to do a big rant, but I’ll save it for another day and stick with the subject material.

I had tried my altered Durons in my A7V133 and they defaulted 6.5 & 7.0X. I hooked everything up, pushed the button, the fans came on and that was it. I did all the usual stuff and it just wouldn’t post, so it was RMA time.

U.P.S. screwed up the delivery again but I did get the new board. Same game, no post. “Wait a minute” I thought, “I just can’t believe I got two bad boards in a row”. I check one of the Durons again, only this time in my AK31V2 and guess what? It wouldn’t post. I hit reset and it posted. I hit reset again and it wouldn’t post. Put it back in the A7V133 and it worked every time.

I have one stock Duron I use to check with when I have a problem. I put it in the K7s5a and it worked. Now you may think I did a lousy job on the bridges, but they worked everted in the Asus Board. Why not in the other boards, I have no idea. Digging around in the forums, I found a few others had a similar experience.

My big plans for a head to head battle SDR/DDR with my other boards went down the drain. Well, at least I could still compare SDR to DDR on the same board. I tried CPUfsb, but it only worked with some of the lower settings and would lock up on the rest. It gave a few more FSB settings than the OC/BIOS, but not many and the ones I wanted didn’t work. I used the 010806 BIOS because my understanding is the newer ones have fast writes disabled. That is, if I can believe what I read and that’s not very reassuring.

Benchmarks

I just use a few simple benchmarks as they are enough to let me know which way I’m going.

Relevant Setup Data

  • Duron 750 @ 931, 124/124
  • L7 Bridges Connected 1.856V
  • BIOS 010806 – Best performance/Ultra memory
  • Gf2MX 210/200 22.80 Det 4 Drivers
  • Ram 128 to 356Mb DDR&SDR – Brands: Corsair-Crucial-Kingston

Si-Soft Sandra 2001TE

ALU

These are fairly good increases going from SDR to DDR. About fifteen percent ALU and about twenty percent FPU.

We tend to get sucked in with numbers sometimes and I’m no exception. Memory bandwidth has gotten a lot of play this year with the focus on ALU/FPU numbers. It doesn’t necessarily reflect real world performance. The 3DMark results tell the story. Even giving away FSB speed and MHz, these are very good numbers compared to my AK31V2.

3DM

The 3DMark SDR/DDR numbers were a bit closer than I thought they would be – life can be full of little surprises.

Quake Timedemo 1 Point Release 1.17 V-sync Off, Sound Off

800

Again these numbers were very close to what I could get with my AK31V2
and A7V133

1024

The numbers between SDR/DDR get closer at higher resolutions with the video card being the determining factor.

CONTINUED page 3…

John R. Abaray

Disclaimer:
I do not work for anyone or get paid for anything I write. Everything I write about I pay for out of my own pocket. Everything I write in articles or say in emails is Public Domain for the reader to do with as they wish.

Ranting vs. Reading

In my articles I keep using the word learning. Our society has evolved into one of instant gratification. Almost everyone wants to install a few components then point and click their into high performance. When they don’t get it, the rants start.

Computer technology is not perfect and most likely there will always be quirks and issues to deal with. If your not going to take the time to do a little reading and learn about the new technologies as they evolve, most likely your going to be one of the ones doing the ranting.

Back this past summer, I said in one of my articles if you stuff all the DIMM slots (AK31DDR), it will limit your FSB. The same goes for a single big fat double sided stick (512mb). I can’t help but smile whenever I see a rant about this because it’s ancient history.

Go here to learn about DDR memory. Michael Shuette is my high tech Guru – I’ve never found a reason to doubt anything he says. If he said the sun would rise in the west tomorrow morning, I would probably get up early and look west.

Quirks and Issues

No post

The no post issue with just the cd rom going blinky blinky and no beeps seems to be quite common. In my case I’m almost certain it was due to the altered Cpu not being recognized. There was some posts in forums about the board shorting out in the case and it would post outside the case. When I had the no post problem with the original board I took a good look at it under the magnifier and could find no evidence of a trace being shorted to ground. I also checked the clearance between the back of the board and the case.

Operating System

I used Win 98SE and had no problems but there appear to be some problems with Win2K and there are fixes.

Memory

I used both Crucial and Corsair SDR&DDR and they both worked fine with one exception: My board did not like the nuMBer 256. If I used 256MB SDR, I lost about forty fps in Quake timedemo – one of the weirdest things I have ever seen with memory. It could be either two 128MB sticks or one 256MB stick. If I used 128MB or 384MB, everything was fine.

A 256MB stick of DDR would turn 3DMark2001 into a slide show, but again with 128MB or 384MB – no problem.

I could mix and match different brands without any problem; I could even use Kingston SDR value ram at the Ultra setting if I changed BIOS from CAS 2 to CAS 3.

Final Words

If you have any questions about this board go here. This is about the best K7s5a FAQ I’ve seen. If this doesn’t help you, I can’t.

This is probably the last article I’ll be doing with a Duron Spitfire as they are going the way of the K6-II. They are great overclockers, been a tremendous value, and have given me endless hours of enjoyment.

I bypassed the KT266A boards because real world performance is not that much more than My AK31V2. Another reason: All the FSBs in the world don’t do you any good without the right PCI divider.

I find myself impressed not with the board but the chipset. I can’t help but wonder what this board could have done with the right BIOS. I’ve got a Winfast 7350KDA on order. When I get it I’ll let you know. Just for fun.

John R. Abaray

Disclaimer:
I do not work for anyone or get paid for anything I write. Everything I write about I pay for out of my own pocket. Everything I write in articles or say in emails is Public Domain for the reader to do with as they wish.

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