A Beginner’s Long Road to Overclocking Victory

I saw this posted in our Forum and thought it would be make for interesting reading – Joe.

I’m new to Overclockers.com’s Forum, so I’d like to say Hi! to everyone and tell you a little about my long road to overclock my computer. This is a fairly long story, but it will probably make most of you smile knowingly or slap your foreheads a few times.

PC 1

Something like four years ago, I bought my first computer. It was a P200 MMX (the MMX was sooo kewl) and great for starters. However, with time the current software began to outrun the performance of my machine. Since I wasn’t able to play the newest games my trusty computer, slowly but surely it became a word processor.

Anyway, a couple of months ago I decided I wanted a new computer with all the bells and whistles. Did I research the Internet? Did I ask well-informed friends? Did I read computer magazines? No.

I walked into my local electronics superstore and bought a Packard Bell TB 1200, 128 MB RAM, Geforce2 MX, 40 gig HD Blah, Blah, Blah…
oh yeah – micro ATX.

Anyway, I was happy with this Baby for about 48 hours.
Then my girlfriend started to complain about it being too loud. Having a background in various technical hobbies, I thought about this overnight and had an absolutely brilliant idea: How about building a water-cooling system for my PC! I bet no one’s ever thought of that before! I should start thinking about patents.

Imagine my disappointment when I came to Overclockers.com.

OK – I guess watercooling has been done before, but Wow! Look at all those awesome case mods.

Not being the type to worry about things like “consequences” and “warranty” a lot, I ordered a water-cooling block, radiator, and pump from a local vendor and went out to shop for a case. I bought the cheapest, biggest tower case I could find with a 400W power supply (I was going to OC this thing into uncharted territory right?) for about $60, including the PSU.

Modding the case was actually fairly uneventful. I build model cars and planes, so at least I know how to use the power tools.

After two days of modding, I finally had everything put back together and was ready to power up. I turned on my water pump, said a prayer and pushed the switch. Everything powered up and worked just fine. Wow! That was easy!

I turned it off and reached over to check on the water pump. As I touched it, it came apart and water cascaded down the inside of my computer. “Oh well,” I thought, “my cell phone’s been wet lotsa times. When it dries out, it works just fine”.

So out comes the hair drier. A couple of hours later I’m ready to try the computer – this time with aircooling. I turn it on, it posts, then it boots, then it crashes. I turned it off, then on again, but it wouldn’t even post. What came next is a series of curses and oaths which will not be further described here.

The next day, I took my whole rig to my local hardware dealer. He told me my motherboard was shot and sold me an Asus A7V133. Great, now when I get my rig back up, I can overclock it.

I got home, put everything together and turned it on. Nothing happened. I took another trip back to the computer shop and was informed that my hard drive was also KIA. I bought a new hard drive and drove home, put it in and turned it on. No post. Back to the dealer who diagnosed my machine – he told me my mobo was faulty and replaced it along with my sound card, which was also apparently defective. When I got back home, my comp still wouldn’t post.

I’d probably still be wondering what was wrong if I hadn’t, by pure chance, unplugged the keyboard and tried it. It booted right into Windows.

Well, back to the store for a new keyboard. Got home, plugged it in started up…nothing. By this time, I was becoming quite routine at diagnosing, so I unplugged my keyboard – nothing. Then I unplugged my mouse as well. Comp booted up.

By this time, a hunch is starting to form in the back of my head (yeah I know – you probably guessed this a long time ago) that my el cheapo PSU might be involved. I swapped to another PSU from my original machine – nothing.

I went back to the computer store and told them what I thought. They told me to leave my rig there and they’d run a diagnostics system to make sure there weren’t any shorts or anything. Fine.

The next day they told me that they had found nothing but that they had replaced the mobo, soundcard and HD because they had been defective. Both my case and PSU were said to be fine. I bought a new mouse, went home and tried it. Computer posts (YIPPIE) – No HD detected (UGH).

I started an inner monologue on whether to shoot myself, my computer or my vendor. I refrained from any such action and went back to the computer shop. They had my rig for 3 days and this time exchanged mobo, HD and DVD drive. They told me it was just a “normal HD head crash” and my PSU was fine.

By this time, I was beginning to get sort of a wild look in my eyes. I hadn’t shaved or slept much in days. Resigned, I bought a new PSU. This time it worked. Had I left it alone, I would have stayed happy but no – I wanted it to work watercooled.

PC 2

By this time, I was so fast at taking my computer apart and putting it together that I became sloppy. I somehow managed to have the spacer I was using slip between the die and the cooling block.

Needless to say, I fried my CPU. I wouldn’t and couldn’t give up at this point, but I ran out of money so I had to go for a Duron 750, which is now humming along at 933 MHz. My first overclock! You’ll probably understand that this was very emotional moment for me.

One piece of advice for others out there:

Try to have a backup computer!

Even if it’s only your little brother’s P166. If your computer dealer is anything like mine (chances are he is), you’ll be sooo much better off getting help from the internet (specifically Overclockers.com).

Here’s a list of casualties:

  • 2 Keyboards
  • 2 Mice
  • 4 Asus A7V133
  • 4 IBM 40 GB Drives
  • 2 DVD Drives
  • 1 TB 1200
  • 1 PSU
  • 1 Floppy Drive
  • 2 Sound cards

Amazingly, all these parts were replaced instantly every time by the vendor – I “only” paid for one each 🙂

Matt, aka Foxmulder

I think the message here is simple – do some research before you buy and don’t be afraid to ask Beginner Questions in the Forum – we’re there to help out – Joe.

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