Overclocking Opterons: An Update

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With the AMD price drops on lower-speed Opterons, more than a few people have been asking about the prospects of overclocking Opterons to FX levels at much less than FX price levels.

About a month ago, we spoke a bit about what what Opteron overclockers needed to look for to give them a fighting chance to do so. If you didn’t see the article, or forgot what was in it, here it is again.

Well, we have some good news and some bad news.

The Bad News

The bad news is that it doesn’t appear that you can change the multiplier with Opterons the way you can with FXs.

This means that you have to increase the “FSB” on an Opteron motherboard in order to overclock. Since no Opteron motherboard (even in theory) goes over 300MHz, this will limit the speeds you could even theoretically reach with a 1.4GHz or 1.6GHz Opteron (and as you’ll see, there’s no point in even trying with these processors currently).

This leaves just the 1.8GHz Opteron. While it’s hardly cheap, you can get one for $283, which is a lot better than an FX or even Athlon64.

There’s also an even better piece of news about the 1.8GHz.

The Right Stepping Stuff

Early attempts to overclock Opterons yielded rather little in the way of results, usually only about a 10% overclock. These early attempts were made on the first Opteron stepping

As we explained in our earlier article, there is a new stepping for Hammers, and we told you how to identify that stepping for Opterons.

To make a long story short, if you want a 1.8GHz Opteron that is the same stepping as an FX or an Athlon64, you need one with a code that says OSA144CEP5AK.

Are such chips available? They are now.

Go over here, and you’ll see that the OEM model Newegg is selling has a model number OSA144CEP5AK. Exactly what we’re looking for!

If it makes you feel any better, here’s Newegg’s picture of one.

Newegg just happens to have the lowest U.S. price at the moment. Put “OSA144CEP5AK” in a search engine, and you’ll find some other places that have it, too.

Unfortunately, typing in OSA140CEP5AK or OSA142CEP5AK (which would be the codes for a “new” 1.4GHz or 1.6GHz) in a search engine yields nothing yet.

For Pioneers Only

Will these Opterons do as well as FXs. We have absolutely no clue, yet. All we can say is that they come from the same stepping as the FXs and 64s, which ought to give you a better chance than with the initial stepping.

AMD could well cherrypick the 2.2GHz FX out of their batches, and these 1.8s are the rejects. Maybe not. We just don’t know yet.

If you’re looking for a sure or semi-sure thing, don’t do this. This is bleeding-edge stuff. Only people ready to lay out $283 for the CPU, another $200 for the mobo, and $200-300 for the registered RAM, and who understand that they may just get to 2.0GHz with the chip ought to try this.

We also need to point out that this %700-800 platform will rather quickly get outmoded by socket 939 systems. Anyone thinking of doing this ought to read all the forum threads they can find about those who are already overclocking Opteron/FXs to see what problems the first settlers have run into.

But if you’re hellbent on doing this, and you have the gelt and the gusto for glory (and maybe save $450), this is what you need to get.

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