Beginner Buying Advice

There’s no way to get around it: An Overclocker’s life, be it frugal or expensive, inventive or acquisitive, will always center around buying new parts. The following is intended as a Beginner’s Guide to the selection and purchase of the parts we need to acquire to practice our art and keep our hobby alive and interesting.

Our first step must always be to select the right part. To the beginner having perhaps read an article or two, a review or three, this may seem an easy mark to hit. Not so. Systems are just that, an integral unit – a complete integration. This is simply not possible to achieve in a random manner.

Among all the parts that have to be assembled, perhaps one stands out as the defining element. It will serve as the master equation and determining feature of any system it inhabits. It will define for you the ram to buy, the video and sound cards from which to select. For this reason we call this part the motherboard.

Not all parts will work with the motherboard you select equally well. Parts that receive and deserve excellent reviews when tested on one motherboard simply won’t run for beans upon another. Any advanced overclocker can give you a dozen examples.

So the first step in parts selection is deciding upon a motherboard and finding out which parts have an “affinity” with her. For this I recommend not reviews, but rather the Forum! Here you will find ample multitudes of experience, experimentation and cross-checking and referencing.

Spend time learning what the “Winning combinations” are. And remember; half way between your hardware and your software are the great arbiters of performance, the “Drivers”. You can learn where to find them, how to install them, and which ones work best in your system, all in the Forum. An Overclocker without a forum is one who must perpetually reinvent the wheel!

For a beginner, an entire month spent in the Forum before spending a dime is NOT too long nor a waste of time. If you’re just burning to begin, then consider going to the Forum and asking about commercial systems built by Overclockers for Overclockers who are in a hurry or who have limited time to spend in achieving their goals.

At first it might seem one pays a premium for such a machine. But if one won’t or can’t spend the time necessary to make a “good beginning”, then I strongly recommend buying such a “hand made” and finely tuned system. You will save a fortune in mismatched parts.

Now that we’ve covered “What” to buy, let’s look at “HOW” to buy. Our starting point is price. We want a good deal! But we don’t want to be lured by price into being ripped off. Who’s honest, who’s competent?

First and I do mean only first, go here: The site is simplicity itself and a true credit to its creators. Here we may find both the lowest prices listed on the net as well as some of the most reputable and disreputable vendors in the business. How do we know one from the other?

Go Here: This is another forum of sorts – one dedicated to identifying vendors of real merit and well, all the rest. I recommend that you open two browser screens: One set to resellersratings and the second set to Pricewatch; start with the cheapest price you can find for the item you’re seeking and then CHECK THE VENDOR OUT!

I look for a vendor with at least 15 respondents and an average of 6.0 on a scale of 7.0. In a pinch I will drop as low as 5.0 but then I want to see at least 30 respondents.

Overclocking can save you a bundled, but a single bad purchase can wipe out those savings in a flash as well as delay your next upgrade. This is a hobby that must show care in the little things – attention to detail and detailed attention. Where these are not forthcoming, you leave yourself wide open to chance.

The more complex a system is, the less likely chance is to favor the reckless. Half of all art is containing chance within the proper form. Here it may become fruitful and make its contribution. Untamed in this manner, it leads inevitably to disaster.

Email Dan

Where to begin, that’s the beginner’s question, is it not? You’ve perhaps bought a new computer, optimized Windows, installed and played some games and now you want more. Well not a lot more, you try to reason with yourself, just enough more to lose those slowdowns in Unreal Tournament. Just enough more so as to NOT need to upgrade your CPU again, again.

Just enough more to get something more out of Intel, and not feel yourself being caught up in a “Coals to New Castle” syndrome, with every other dollar you make padding the bunny’s pockets. Well, O/Cing is all about MORE! We’re all about helping you to draw a bead on that bunny and blow away that nasty little multiplier-locking rodent’s grip upon your CPU.

But where to begin. You’ve probably visited the forum. Or you were on your way there when you stopped to read this new motherboard article.

“Is that where I begin, in the forum, looking for a new motherboard?”

In a word yes! That’s where we all began. And by buying a new motherboard. Why? because Mother is who loves you; Mother is the one who cares about all your parts. If you want your RAM, video card, hard drive and CPU to run faster, then Mother has to show them how.

All Motherboards are not the same. You already knew that, right? Thats why you want a new one, right? Because your motherboard is not taking care of business. She’s just not up to what you have in mind. She might cozy up to Big Daddy Intel, but what’s your mother done for YOU lately?

Time to get a new motherboard, one designed to make you happy, not Intel.

“OK so what kind of Motherboard am I looking for – a fast one?”

Well fast doesn’t hurt. But with most motherboard manufacturers using the same chips, they all run pretty much the same where speed is concerned.

“Well I hardly think color is important, so what am I looking for?”

FEATURES! All the features you can get.

“That’s it? Features?”

Yep! And one thing more: STABILITY! Stability when FSB speeds are taking your 500E chip to 750 MHz.

“Is that possible?”

Sometimes, with the right chip and motherboard, it’s even likely. My motherboard has taken my 500E to 830Mhz at lower than normal temps.

“Temperature, that’s important?”

When overclocking, temps are everything.

“OK! What’s first?”

First is the Forum! Go there, stay there! Hang out until you start recognizing a few names, until you start to remember who has which motherboard, video card, sound card and CPU.

“WOW! That’s going to take a lot of time! Is it really neccessary?”

Think of it this way: You’ve been walking along in a nice cyber-garden. If you fell down, you could just boot back up again, brush yourself off no worse for the wear. We’re about to give you a jet plane and send you out over a wilderness of speed! If you crash and burn, it won’t be just a matter of dusting yourself off.

“Is overclocking really all that dangerous?”

Is air travel? Not if the pilot knows her stuff. But how comfortable would you be watching someone without a clue start taxiing down the runway?

“OK, what else should I look for and is there anywhere else I should go to start to get a handle on things?”

Look out for the people who are answering questions on a regular basis. Go for what they’re using. When you run into problems (we all do) you’ll have a MUCH easier time finding solutions if you’re using the same gear.

Another great source of information is our CPU Database. Skip has thousands of people’s recorded overclocking stats. You can learn what one can reasonably expect to get out of a given CPU, and usually what motherboard they used to do it.

“All right! Now let’s say I’ve spent an hour or so a day for a few weeks in the Forum. I’ve decided upon a motherboard after weighing all the good advice I’ve read posted there. What’s the best way to go about buying one?”

We tried to anticipate this question in the first part HERE. But basically what you need to know is – be careful! For lowest prices go to Pricewatch, then go to
resellerratings for a trustworthy vendor – the two may or may not match.

“OK, but once I’ve bought my board, how do I install it?

Now’s the fun part. First unpack your board. Don’t take it out of it’s anti-static bag yet, just make sure everything that should be there is there – usually a motherboard, a manual, a disk with drivers, (if you bought a VIA board, which I personally recommend) and a pair of IDE cables. Sometimes a small bag with screws and motherboard mounts – plastic, rubber or brass.



Find a quiet, comfortable spot where you can pass an hour in careful study. I don’t want to nag, but this cannot be over-emphasized: READ YOUR MANUAL! There, I’ve just saved you from asking a really embarrassing question or ten in the Forum. In fact if you do your homework you’ll be able to answer a quarter of all questions asked about your motherboard in any forum on the net.

If helps a good deal to have a magnifying glass. Small pictures now, smaller switches and jumpers later. In fact my wife just bought me an LSM 180 Magnifier lamp from Lamps Plus, made by Lite Source Inc., Chino, CA.

It has two spring-weighted arms, a 5 inch lens with 1.75 magnification at a 13″ focal length. It’s arms can stretch to 45″ and it clamps to the edge of my desktop. It’s lit by a 22 watt fluorescent lamp. What a joy it is! I can SEE the smallest writing on my motherboards with ease! Best $70.00 I ever spent.

One last thing to do before we crack your case and set to it: I didn’t want to tell you this right off but….well…..there’s another manual; don’t get upset, it’s a more detailed version of the paper manual you just finished. It’s on the CD Disk with your drivers.

You should take a good look at it before we begin. There will be a few things you need to know specific to your motherboard NOT covered by this guide.

“OK, I’ve read the manual three times, yeah I spent a half hour on the CD version as well…Man this is scary!….What do I do first?”

Relax, take a deep breath, you’re about to become an overclocker. If you weren’t ready for this I’d tell you.

You’ve spent time in the forum with some of the best overclockers on the planet – that’s a fact! You’ve studied their moves and followed their advice. You got a great price from an honest vendor on one of the BEST MOTHERBOARDS EVER MADE! You’ve studied the manual. YOU’RE READY FOR THIS!!

Turn off your monitor, turn off your computer, unplug all the connections from the back of the machine.

Remove the cover from your case. Something good to know: As long as you don’t try to force anything you can’t make a wrong connection. That’s right, all the plugs are fitted. Cool huh? Feeling better? Good.

Locate your MAIN motherboard power plug. It’s the BIG ONE with lots of different colored wires. Unplug it and tuck it up someplace around the power source.

Use your hands to see-feel where the ribbon cables are coming from your hard drive to your current (read, “OLD”) motherboard. Where it plugs in on the motherboard: That’s called your IDE connection.

There will be at least two of these side by side. (Sometimes four if your new board has Ultra 66. Some boards have two 33MHz IDEs and two Ultra 66 IDE connections.)

Now check out your A: drive connection – it looks similar but is smaller and has it’s own connection, usually, but not always next to the IDE connections. Unplug these at the motherboard. Leave them connected to the drives. Try to have some zip ties on hand to keep the ribbon cables up out of your way.

Now take a look at your RAM. Check out the pivot arms holding it in place. Gently push back and out from the center of your RAM module on one arm at a time. This will lever up the RAM from it’s slot. You should have an anti-static bag to place it in. Bag up your RAM and put it out of the way.

Now follow your manual’s instructions on removing your CPU – the procedure will vary according to type. Bag it, put it safely out of the way. Remove any PCI cards from their slots and bag ’em.

Locate the tiny case-to-motherboard connects and unplug them. Unplug any fans you may have. See and feel around your old board for anything you might have missed that could hang up while removing your board.

You’ll need a phillips screw driver to remove screws (usually six) holding the motherboard in place. Guard these screws carefully, you’ll need them to attach your new board.

Once the screws are removed, carefully lift the edge of your board furthest from the back of the case just slightly, then slide it out from the rear wall of the case where your interconnects plug in. Then up and out!

Now take a breather. Walk around and dump any built-up tension…shake it it out and lose it. Re-seat yourself, remove your new motherboard from it’s bag. Place the bag on your desk and rest your motherboard on the bag.

Feast your eyes. Caress it’s finely crafted surfaces. Pick it up again and experience it’s weight and shape. Study the gold tracings and connections. Turn it over and feel it stubbled penetrations and silvery protuberences. Sing a little song like…”Take time to know her…..This is not just an overnight thing”.

Enjoy the minutia, the gold and silver-laid beds in which a rivers of lightening will flow, powering the data streams flowing to and from a cyber-ocean who’s millisecond waves will wash across your monitor. Touch the heart of the beast, know that she is yours.

You have tamed her with your knowledge, so she shall serve you as well as you know her. She will bring all your parts together and teach them to serve you as one.

Lay her down upon the case mounts making sure they match the motherboard’s holes and screw her in.

Are we having fun yet? As there is no juice yet flowing, the sequence for re-assembling parts is not especially important. I like to first return the CPU to is honored place followed by it’s attendant RAM modules. Then hook up the ribbons and slot the PCI and AGP cards, screwing each down as it goes in, making sure each card is fully inserted in it’s slot.

Now take a look at your manual and make your case-to-motherboard connections.

Any extra parts laying about? No? You’re sure? Good, now do your connections at the rear of the case. Give everything the once-over. Turn on the monitor. Turn on your computer. Because this is you doing this and not me, we’ll say she lights up first go, but in truth if you boot up by the third try your doing good.”:O}

Go into your BIOS by hitting the “Del” key. Hit the setup defaults and set your multiplier to match your actual CPUs MHz. Set the Date and Time and reboot. Hit “Del” again. Once in the BIOS, make whatever setting changes you need to and reboot to a Windows start-up floppy.

Re-partition, re-format and reinstall your OS. Reinstall all your software. Go to the Forum. Thank everybody who helped you to arrive at a place where you have such interesting hardware problems to discuss.

Leave SETI running, or put Quake III into an endless loop and go to bed knowing your new mother is watching over you and all your favorite things.”:O}

Email Dan

There is something we all do but nobody likes to talk about. No doubt this is related to two factors. The first is its repetitive nature. The second is, we have to do it far more often than we like to admit. Forced repetition and frequency of repetition can take the fun out just about anything.

I call it the three “R’s”:

Re-Partition, Re-Format, Re-Install

There are several ways to “set up” a hard drive; I’ll only concern myself here with the easiest and simplest.

I’ve always found the following to be quite adequate for installing a single operating system. If you’re a beginner, you don’t want to try for more than one OS…not yet.

A word before you begin: The following will, without any reservation, COMPLETELY WIPE YOUR HARD DRIVE OF EVERY SINGLE THING ON IT!!!!

So BACK UP all your personal files. This includes Saved Games, Your Address Book, Favorites in Explorer – anything you want to re-install in your next incarnation of Windows. You will not be able to recover these files in any way unless you back them up NOW, BEFORE we begin.

First, make VERY SURE you have a working “Windows Start-up Disk” on hand. If you don’t you can make one as follows: (This guide assumes you’re using Win 98.)

  • Go to “Control Panel”, then to “Add and Remove Programs”.
  • Select “Start-up Disk”, click on “Create Disk”. You’ll need a newly formatted disk in your “A:” drive.

Next, test your “Windows 98 Start-up Disk”:

  • Leaving the floppy in “A:” drive put your Win 98 CD in and reboot;
  • A DOS program will start by asking if you want to start you computer with or without CD-ROM support;
  • Choose “With support”;
  • Windows will now load a series of utilities, including a RAM drive for your CD-ROM that allows you to access your Win 98 CD;
  • (Note: We are about begin the re-partition process which will require a re-boot and a re-loading of your DOS utilities. In the future, now that your sure of your Win 98 Start up disk, you can choose “without CD support” at this stage. It saves time to not load CD support until you’re ready to format).

But now that we’re here and already have the RAM Drive loaded in order to test our “Start-up Disk”, there’s no reason not to proceed.

  • At the DOS prompt, type FDISK, which will bring up a screen that basically asks if you wish to use large disk support:
  • Choose “yes” by pressing the enter key.
  • Now you will be presented with the FDISK Options Menu.

This is the last chance you will have to get cold feet! If you want to back out and wait until a later date to try this for the first time, DO IT NOW!!!

Mind you, you really can’t hurt your equipment by going forward. BUT as I said before, anything not backed up WILL BE FOREVER GONE!

Right. Let’s get to it:

  • Choose #3 “delete partition”;
  • This will give you a warning and a confirmation;
  • Choose “yes”;
  • You may have to type in the “label” of the disk volume. It’s printed at the top, so just type it below and say “yes” again;
  • WHOOOPS! there goes Windows!
  • Now hit the ESC key and go back to main menu;
  • Choose #1 to create a DOS partition;
  • Now leave the floppy in and reboot, Load Windows Start-up Disk WITH CD-ROM SUPPORT;
  • At the A: prompt type FORMAT C: /s You’ll get a warning message about losing everything on C: – Not to worry it’s long gone anyway.

Windows will now format your hard drive. When it’s done formatting you’ll get a chance to:

  • Choose a new Volume label. This is one of my favorite things. I have two machines so I type: DA-VOID and BIG EMPTY. (The eleven letter limit includes spacing, it’s sort of the Haiku of the hard drive). Hit Enter.
  • Now, back at the A: prompt again, just type setup.

Windows will check your hard drive for errors. When it’s finished:

  • Click on “exit”
  • Anwser “yes” to everything Windows wants.

I always choose “Custom” install and think you should too! You can always add or remove features later if you change your mind. But why put things on a fresh HD you know you’ll never use?

From here Windows will drop you off on your newly installed desktop, ready to rumble.


Update: 7/6/00

There are two things I was remiss in not mentioning.

The first is quite simple but can have a big effect when re-installing Windows. One should always remove, that is disconnect Zip drives, Sound cards, network cards, in short any thing not completely essential to installing Windows.

This makes a Windows install much easier as Windows is less likely to have trouble configuring your system. It also makes it easier to determine just what’s bugging Windows when things take a wrong turn.

The second was something I deliberately left out not to complicate matters, but many readers felt I should include it. That is installing Windows from the hard disk.

Basically, you set up a directory on C: drive after you have formatted your hard drive. You copy all the Windows installation files from your CD-ROM into this directory and then install Windows from your hard drive.

I haven’t done this before, so thanks, Jen, for sending me these instructions:

After an fdisk and format, get to a DOS prompt and do the following:

  1. Type c: after the A:/ prompt, then press [Enter].
  2. You now get a C:> prompt. type (don’t type any quotes in these instructions): “md W98” and press [Enter]. This will create a folder called W98.
  3. Type “d:” (or whichever letter is your CD-ROM, then press [Enter].
  4. Type “CD win98” and press [Enter].
  5. Type copy *.* c:w98 and press [Enter]. This will copy the entire Win98 directory from the CD-ROM to the W98 directory that you created.
  6. After everything is copied and the computer gives you a d:win98 prompt; type “c:” and press [Enter]
  7. Make sure you’re at the c:w98 directory, if not, just type “CD w98” and press [Enter]
  8. Type “setup.exe”, press [Enter] and the installation will start.

Email Dan

After buying a new motherboard, one of the first things I do is update the BIOS and install new drivers. They add new power and capabilities as well as stability to a system.

This is meant as a generic, general guide for beginners, since each manufacturer handles BIOS updates a little differently.

There have always been BIOS updates to accommodate new equipment just coming into the marketplace, for fixing minor glitches or improving performance and adding stability.

Now, though, we’re seeing more and more motherboards released before “their time,” before everything is quite worked out.

Motherboards have appeared in the last year or so that do not really support UDMA66, or can’t run VCDRAM, or conflict with various video and sound cards. There are boards released which are even missing some of their Front Side Bus settings.

As fierce as consumer demand and competition is, these problems are likely to continue to plague new releases and their early buyers. This means new motherboards require far more frequent updates than their ancestors.

So as soon as you buy a motherboard, it’s likely there’s been one or several BIOS updates posted by its manufacturer.

Think of motherboard updates as a cross between medicine and a physical fitness program. It’s a way to cure the bad and bring the good.

How To Do This

Making a system disk

You will need a freshly formatted disk with SYSTEM FILES already on it. Here’s how to make one:

  • Open ‘My Computer’ on your Desktop.
  • Insert a floppy disk in A: drive. (Make sure this floppy does not contain any files you wish to keep. Formatting erases everything on a disk.)
  • Left click on the A: drive icon in “My Computer” and a ‘dropdown menu’ will appear. Choose “FORMAT”.
  • A box will appear with various formatting options. In the first group of three, click “FULL”. (You don’t need to enter anything for “Label”.)
  • In the last group of three options, click: “Display Summary when finished”, and “Copy System Files”. This will give you a “System Disk” with which you can boot your machine into DOS by hitting the reset button on the face of your computer.

Booting to DOS is necessary because you will be programming the most fundamental software structure of your computer and no other software may be active while this is going on. BIOS stands for Basic In and Out System. It configures your hardware for memory and CPU usage. It tells your Operating System what hardware you have and how to use it.

Download the BIOS update

Find your motherboard’s website address. This is usually in the manual and/or on a CD that most often comes with a new motherboard.

Surf their site with your manual in hand. There can be few disasters worse than downloading and installing the wrong BIOS for your motherboard! Many newer boards are using fail-safe BIOS updates which won’t let you do this…BUT NOT ALL. So make very sure your model number (printed on your motherboard and in the manual and/or on CD) matches the motherboard whose update you download.

Armed with a “System Disk” in A: drive, look for either “Downloads” or “Support”.

Sometimes finding updates is easy, sometimes ridiculously hard. But find it you must.

Once you find the listed updates…BE AFRAID,….. BE VERY AFRAID! Don’t get this wrong or you will be in a world of pain.

Find the RIGHT BIOS UPDATE for your board.

Click on it and save it to your A: drive. Pop the Disk out of A: drive and write the name of your motherboard and the file name on it. Also write the file name on a handy piece of paper to refer to later.

Most BIOS updates come in two parts. You will need to download the BIOS file (this usually is in .bin format), and the BIOS installer, usually entitled either “AFLASH” or “AWDFLASH”. These are usually accompanied by some text explaining their purpose and how to use an installer. READ THIS TEXT! It will explain the basics of updating your board.

Sometimes updates are downloaded in zip form. You will need to unzip either the “AFLASH” or “AWDFLASH” as well as the BIOS FILE update on your floppy. Otherwise you will not be able to access them when you boot from your floppy into DOS.

You can check a software site like the one here’s to find a free or evaluation copy of a program that will unzip .zip files for you.

Now one last thing to do while you’re still online: write down on a piece of paper the update “Bin” or file number. This will be a series of letters and numbers that identifies the file you’ll be uploading to your BIOS from your floppy.

Updating the BIOS

If you’ve made sure you have the right BIOS and you’ve got its .bin or file number written down, close your browser and unzip the update to your floppy drive, leaving the update floppy in. Close Windows by choosing “Restart”. You will immediately start booting to DOS.

Your computer will boot off the floppy, and eventually will give you a a: prompt. Type in “dir a:” It will give you the files on the disk. Look for the name of the BIOS installer file, then type the name of the file at the A: prompt.

The “AFLASH” or “AWDFLASH” update utility will appear. It will first ask if you wish to save your current BIOS.


This is very important. If there’s trouble with your new BIOS update working correctly, this saved file will let you re-install your OLD BIOS FILE. You need to give your current/old BIOS file a name by which you can access it if you need it. I just type “old”.

After saving you will be asked if you want to update; simply choose: “Yes”. It will then ask you for the name of the file from which you wish to update. Type in the file name you have written down.

Once the update utility begins it’s update process, DO NOT SHUT YOUR COMPUTER OFF!!! If you do, you could be left without a functional BIOS and unable to boot your machine….. AT ALL!!!

When the update is completed REMOVE THE FLOPPY, then re-boot. As soon as your boot screen appears, hit “DEL”, enter the BIOS and choose “Load Setup Defaults”. Then reset your date and time, and your actual CPU MHz.

Re-boot. Hit “DEL” and re-enter your BIOS again and set-it-up-as-you-like-it.”:O} You can confirm that an update actually took place by reading the BIOS number on your screen at start-up.

You’re done!

Email Dan

UPDATE 8/3/00:

One of the great things about writing the beginners guides is the E-Mail I receive when posting a new one. Particularly from knowledgeable readers of our site who come forward to help teach the beginner.

I stated below that there was no way to avoid having to re-download Windoze updates each time one needed to reinstall Windoze.

Happily I was wrong! Windoze has cleverly hidden the way to avoid having to do this from its customers, but two of our more experienced readers rooted out these files. Naturally they are found far from the Windoze update site.

Many thanks to KrK and ioNBLue for sending the following E-Mails posted below.

From KrK:

“Sup, this is KrK, from post in the forums quite a bit. Anyway, I was reading your new Win98 Optimizations Guide you put up on and saw the part about downloading and installing the Win98 updates via the Windows Update site.

You mentioned you have to do it every time you install Windows, since MS won’t let you download the updates… heh

Well I thought I’d save you a lot of time and hassle. I too used to download each update over and over again. But then I learned I could manually download the updates and store em (On my HD, on a CD-R, whatever) and then just install them when I put Win98 back on clean. (No more downloads)

What you do is go to Microsoft Download Center and in the product Name box select from the Drop down list “Windows98 Second Edition” (or Win98 regular, etc, whatever you have) and in the “Operating System” box pick “Windows 98.”

Hit “Find it” and voila! – every update MS has released for Windows is available (There are a lot of them, multiple pages). From here you can download and save the files to anywhere you like. I like to download the biggies and hold onto em (The IE releases, the Direct X releases, the big patches, etc).

If you burn yourself a CD with all these patches and updates, next time you install BAM! – You have that CD and you can just start installing them all, no more hours downloading. Even when you have broadband the download process can take awhile with some of these updates. 🙂

Anyway thought you’d appreciate the tip 🙂 – KrK”

Indeed we do KRK!

From ioNBLue:

“You stated that: ‘You have to do this in five, for god’s sake, FIVE different downloads! You will also have to re-download them EVERY time you reinstall Windoze, as MS provides no way to save these updates to a zip for later use.’

I think there is a way to save the files HERE. I don’t know if the critical updates are online, but other files are.
Well done – ioNBLue.”

What a great time to be a beginner! I’ve been downloading these files since Windoze discovered a way to use the internet without really trying. This will save you time!!


If you’ve been following this Beginner’s Guide series then you know that we have thus far covered researching, shopping, and buying a motherboard, followed by it’s installation. Then we covered re-partitioning, re-formatting and installing your operating system.

Now let’s take a look at what can be done about OPTIMIZING WINDOWS 98.

But first, let it be known:

  • I’m not a Win 98 Guru and this is not the last word in setting up Windoze.
  • There are (at my last count) 10,053 Windoze “Optimization guides” out there for you to choose from. Most offer at the very least one or two tips worth implementing.
  • What follows is a compilation of tips I’ve picked up along the way to make Win 98 a bit faster and easier to live with.
  • However, due solely to the author’s intellectual limitations, this guide will not include the one Windoze tip which has become of late the hallmark of better Windoze guides everywhere: I’m of course referring to a “How to install Linux” section.

Before we even get started, I want to sell you something: NORTON UTILITIES.

  • This is not a perfect product, but for me it is indispensable.
  • There are other similar and less expensive products out there, but year after year, Norton receives the “Best Utilities” award from almost every single review worth reading. EVERY YEAR!
  • Windoze Utilities doesn’t do half of what Norton does, doesn’t do it half so well, and takes at least twice as long to do it.

So the first optimization is to buy and install Norton 2000. There will be days that you will wish you had not! But do it.

Once you have Windows installed and before you do anything else:
set up your modem, go to your ‘START’ button and click on it.
At the top of your menu you will see ‘Windows Update’. Go for it.

WHAT? Your kidding? Really? OK,! Here’s how to set up your modem, Brother! Newbies! Oh I’m sorry – “Beginners”.

  • Open ‘Control Panel’.
  • Find the Icon for ‘Network’. What?…Yes, I know it’s not your modem, just trust me on this, OK?
  • Click on it. A ‘Network’ box will appear.

What do you mean you can’t find it…of course it’s there!…Hey take it easy, don’t give up! I’m sorry, I’ll try and be more patient. There you’ve found it? Good. Of course I remember how hard it is just starting out! That’s why it’s called an ‘intuitive operating system’. That’s all right, I’m a bit short of intuition myself.

OK, let’s just all calm down and try to stay close together and well get through this. We’re not going to leave anyone behind, everybody goes home!

  • Click on the ‘Network’ icon,
  • click ‘Dial-up Adapter’,
  • then ‘Properties’, then ‘Bindings’.
  • Make sure that you only have ‘TCP/IP’ checked. If others are, un-check them. You only need the one.
  • Then click ‘OK’.

Now you should be back to the ‘Main’ Network box. In the upper section, click on ‘TCP/IP’, then ‘Properties’.

Windows will immediately launch an Anti-Networks Guide-Guided-Window, aimed to warn you not to set Windows up in this way, not to trust your current Guide. Hey, it’s up to you! You can trust Windows or you can trust me… a high school drop-out (Bill only dropped out of college!).

Wise choice! Just click OK and it will go away – for now.

All right, we should be looking at the ‘TCP/IP’ dialog box, at least I am. Ok, this can be a bit of a land mine so form a tight group and only click where I click:

  • First click on ‘Bindings’. It should only have TCP/IP listed.
  • Click ‘OK’.
  • Now Click on ‘WINS Configuration’.
  • Click ‘Disable WINS Resolution’.
  • Now back at the top click ‘DNS Configuration’.
  • ‘Disable DNS’ and click ‘OK’.

What? Who knows why? I got this stuff from a back issue of Maximum PC magazine. It did make my connection faster, so I use it. Besides, my explanations just make things harder to understand.

(Consider this an improvement-without-confusion guide. If you want to understand WHY it improves your connection, write to the Forum. I let them do the thinking, it’s what they’re good at. I just memorize the clicks, that’s what I’m good at.)

Now just close ‘NETWORK’ up and forget it.


If you haven’t installed your modem yet, I think this would be a good time. No I’m not being sarcastic!

  • Go to the ‘System’ properties icon and click on it.
  • Then click ‘Device Manager’.
  • Then click ‘Modem’.
  • Double click on the listed modem,
    then click ‘Driver’,

  • Click ‘Update Driver’.
  • Put your modem CD-ROM or floppy in and click ‘Next’.
  • Then choose ‘Search for a better driver’.
  • Direct Windoze to the floppy or CD-ROM drive and
    click ‘Specify a Location’.

  • Show Windoze your Modem Driver for Win 98.

Sometimes Windoze will want to also install a ‘Wave Device for Voice Modem’. Usually you can just take Windoze back to the same driver again and let it install the Wave device.

(Please remember that this guide is not a substitute for reading the instructions that came with your modem, particularly in regards to driver installation.)

Click on the ‘Modems’ icon. No – WAIT – I just remembered. You will have to do some research. For this you will have two possibly viable resources. The first is your modem manual, the second will be your ISP (Internet connection Service Provider).

You will need to find out your MODEM STRING.

This is a string of letters (all CAPS) and numbers which will optimize your modem for your connection. This is part of the modem standardization: V.90 Standard – so everybody does it differently! See what I mean about explanations?

If you have a string written down we can continue. What?… Sure you can just tag along until you find out what yours is, but don’t just try making one up…At least that didn’t work for me.

Reboot and go back to ‘Control Panel’.
Click on ‘Modems’. The name of your modem should appear in the window.
Up at the top there are two tabs, click on ‘Diagnostics’.

This will tell you if your modem is correctly installed and if your phone lines are functional. If it tells you ‘Your Modem Port is already open’, then you will need to re-boot to access Diagnostics.

Click on ‘Properties’ and set ‘Max speed’ to 115,500.
Then click on the ‘Connection’ tab.

The top three windows should be set to 8 bits, Parity=none and Stop Bits=1.

  • Now click ‘Port Settings’.
  • ‘Use FIFO’ should be checked.
  • Click ‘OK’.
  • Indicate if you have ‘Call Forwarding’ or ‘Distinctive Ring’ and
    move on to ‘Connection’,’Advanced’.

  • Un-check ‘Use Error Control’ And make sure you
    check ‘Use Flow Control’.

  • Under ‘Flow Control’, check ‘Hardware’. (RTS/CTS).

Now you can fill in your modem string.

Up until now all we have done is setup your hardware and optimize your Windoze settings. Now we will setup your actual ISP connection:

  • Close ‘Control Panel’ and open ‘My Computer’ on your Desktop.
  • Click ‘Dial-Up Networking’.
  • Click ‘Make a New Connection’ and give it a name, any name will do.

Your modem should be displayed in the window below ‘My Connection’.
Click ‘Next’, and fill in the phone number your ISP gave you to call them on. Click ‘Next’.

Receive praise from the Setup-Wizard in the form of congratulations on your new connection.

Now RIGHT click your ‘New connection’ icon and
choose ‘Properties’. Choose ‘Use Area Code’ and ‘Dialing Properties’.
Make sure the number your modem is to dial is correct.

  • Now at the top, select the tab for ‘Server’ types.
  • Un-check everything BUT the button box which reads: ‘TCP/IP’.
  • Then click ‘TCP/IP Settings’.
  • Un-click “Use IP Header Compression’ and click ‘OK’, ‘OK’.

Now double-click the newly named icon, and a Connection box will appear. Fill in your ISP-assigned user name and password. (Then send me a copy of your password – NOT!! Share your password with NO ONE!! )

Click on ‘Dial Properties’, ‘Area Code Rules’. Choose ‘Always Dial the Area Code (10 digit dialing)’ and then close out.

Drag your newly named icon into your Task Bar for easy access. Nice little detour huh? OK –

Back to Windoze Update! :

Click on the ‘Start’ button – ‘Windows Update’ is up at the top of the first panel.

Thanks to Microsoft’s uncanny foresight, you will have somewhere around two and a half hours of downloads to do. Do it – and do it BEFORE you load Norton or anything else other than your card drivers. I do it before I even install VIA drivers for my VIA boards.

Click on ‘Product Updates’,then click ‘Install Updates’.

This will show you the full extent of Microsoft greed, for these damn updates should be on FREE CD’s shipped automatically to every registered Win 98 user in the world every three months. But they are not.

So, click on ‘Critical Updates’.

They should be called “Chronic Updates”. But they are not. Don’t bother trying to click all the other chronic updates as Windoze will not let you.

You have to do this in five, for god’s sake, FIVE different downloads! You will also have to re-download them EVERY time you reinstall Windoze, as MS provides no way to save these updates to a zip for later use.

So do chronic ‘Critical’ first, then do ‘Non-critical’ chronic.

Many of these will be totally useless; do not download unless you know why you should. I’ve never once viewed a “Thing” with ‘Thing Viewer’, but get what you need and let’s move on.

Then I recommend that you download the Internet Explorer 5.5. This at least comes with an option to download but not install. I highly recommend using this option, hey this is a 2 1/2 hour download all by itself!

MS will tell you that this is a (Cough-) 2 min. download. They lie! This is just the applet you will need IN ORDER TO DOWNLOAD 5.5.

Once installed, it will take you to a window where you can
choose between ‘Install Now’, ‘Install Minimal’, or ‘Customize your Browser’.

You would never know it but ‘Install Minimal’ allows you to download to your desktop and from there, save to your Zip files. You still need to be sure to click on ‘Advanced’ in order to choose this option.

OK – now load Norton.

I’m sorry, I know it’s expensive! I have to “update” the damn thing every six months! But as long as Windoze keeps adding on useless junk without once ever even thinking about cleaning up the code of this bloated sow of an operating system- Norton can ask just about anything it wants – and get it.

At this point I should tell you that Norton sells it’s outdated Utilities to MS – for Windoze use. Get the picture? I should also say that much of Norton, like Windoze, is useless. But you still need it if only for a few things, the first of which is Norton System Check.

Norton finds on average around fifteen things to correct with your CLEAN Windoze install. And another five or so things per week. So use this feature about every other day. After you correct your problems, close Norton.

Open ‘System Properties’ in ‘Control Panel’.

At this point I drag and drop ‘Control Panel’ into my Task Bar – saves time.Then I do the same for ‘Device Manager’.

Once in ‘Control Panel’, open ‘Device Manager’, ‘Performance’,
‘Virtual Memory’, ‘Let me specify my own virtual memory settings’.

I find between 200 and 256 Megs adequate. If you have 128 Megs of RAM or more (and you should have) set both ‘Min’ and ‘Max’ to the same value.

Windows will then issues dire threats which, (like so much of Windoze) can safely be ignored. Don’t use more than 256 Megs of virtual memory or your CPU will spend too much time alocating space for it, so I’ve been told.

  • Reboot your box.
  • Reopen ‘Norton’.
  • Click on’Improve Performance’, and ‘Norton Optimization Wizard’.
  • Don’t let it mess with the Swap File you just set up, just say ‘No’.

But DO let it optimize your Registry. Let it do it’s thing and
reboot when prompted. Open ‘Norton’ again, go back to “Improve Performance’, click ‘Speed Disk’, and ‘Defrag’ your HD.

(You probably noticed I’m not spending a lot of time explaining why you should do these things. I don’t want to bore us silly with details. You can find out the WHY’S in Norton and Windoze Help Files once you’re set up.)

  • Now go back to ‘Control Panel’,
  • ‘System’,
  • ‘Performance’,
  • ‘File System’,
  • ‘Hard Disk’.
  • Change the drop down menu to ‘Network Server’.
  • Then Click on ‘CD-ROM’ at the top and choose ‘Quad-speed or higher’.
  • Now go to ‘Removable Disk’ and enable ‘Write Behind Caching’.

Why, after finding so many faults with Windows, do I continue to use it? Ah, there’s the rub, the friction burn that blisters my soul!
– Because MS Windoze for all it’s faults is currently running on 98% of all PC’s in the world today. It is the computing coin of the realm. All the rest combined, however great their merits (which are quite often greatly exaggerated) are just small change.

If you want the greatest possible access to games and applications and the widest possible choice in hardware then you will use Windoze. Besides…I’m just not smart enough to load Linux. Or rather Linux is just not smart enough to load my hardware and software. Or both.

Please don’t E-Mail me to tell me about the wonders of Win 2000. Linux or BEOS. All other comments, suggestions and questions are welcome and greatly appreciated. It may take a day or two to answer, (still ducking hate mail from my last how-to-do-article) but I do answer all my E-mail.

Email Dan

Among the most frequently ask questions by beginners arriving for the first time in our Forum is the most basic one:

How do I overclock my CPU?

This guide is written in hopes of giving the beginner the basic information needed. It will cover:

“Can I overclock my CPU?”

“Should I overclock my CPU”?

and of course the “how-to” question first mentioned.

It will reference some of the other Guides written in the Beginner’s series, contained in the “Beginner’s Section”, in the “Major Topics” box, at the top of our Front Page. The beginner is strongly encouraged to read all of these Guides. They were written to lessen the learning curve and save you as much time, money, and trouble as possible.

Much of what we know here at O/C is “Bleeding Edge” overclocking. You can gain access to some the most creative, inventive and knowledgeable overclockers to be found anywhere, by entering our Forum. However, benefiting from their collective wisdom can be a problem. Often the beginner struggles with that most difficult question of all:

What are the right questions to ask?

So here we will try to lay a foundation, try to give you a fundamental understanding of what’s going on. Because this is a basic guide, it is also a general guide. It won’t try to deal with many of the obstacles you may or may not encounter, but hopefully you will achieve your first overclock when we’re through.

I feel it will benefit you more if, at the end of this lesson, you are quite comfortable with the idea of entering the forum and asking a clear, short and readily answerable question:

One you have formulated to solve your first overclocking problem.

A good question attracts clear, useful answers. A short question will always be read before long, drawn-out rambling questions which leave the reader uncertain of just what it is you want to know. Short questions are not always possible, and long questions do usually get answers, but it also takes longer to receive your answer. This is due to the time element.

Often people drop by the forum short on time. If they can help someone quickly, they will. But if they see it’s going to take longer, they will put it off until they have more time.

To make the best use of this Guide, please read ALL the previous Guides.They contain the answers to many of the questions you will have when reading this one.Questions like:

  • “Will my motherboard overclock?”
  • “Which motherboard should I buy?”
  • “Where should I buy it?”
  • “How do I install it?”
  • “How do I format and install Windows”
  • “How do I install the newest BIOS.?”
  • “How Do I set-up Windows and my modem?”

have all been dealt with in previous guides.

You will need the answers to most of these questions if you wish to avoid confusion while trying to follow this Guide. So PLEASE do your homework first. This guide assumes that you have your ducks in a row and that you have read the first things first.

I suppose one of the most confusing things to a beginner is this thing about MULTIPLIERS or CHIP MULTIPLES. Most first-time overclockers enter their BIOS (by hitting the “DEL” key on your keyboard) and try to overclock their CPU by changing their CPU SPEED (pre-set to Auto).

While this is a logical enough assumption, this setting will not allow you to overclock your Intel processor. So, Set “CPU SPEED” to the actual speed of your processor. In other words, to 500 or 650 or 800 MHz – whatever your processor actually is.

The Multiplier on Intel Chips is LOCKED! It cannot be changed in the BIOS, or anywhere else for that matter. I have some bad news for the beginner: Intel bears no special love for the overclocker. Intel does nothing to help and much to hinder the overclocker.

“So how do you guys overclock them?”

Now some good news: Motherboard manufacturers adore us. They shower us with features and options of real use only to overclockers. They give us a back door into overclocking. We go in the back door. We overclock the BUS the CPU sits on. This BUS is called the “FRONT SIDE BUS”. Strange place for a back door!

There is a drawback in having to overclock the CPU in this manner: The “PCI BUS” (your sound cards, network cards, hard drives and possibly your video cards) all sit on the FRONTSIDE BUS (FSB) also. When you overclock your CPU, you overclock everything. Even your AGP PORT for your AGP card is set to operate at a fixed fraction, (2/3 or 1/2), of the FSB.

Here’s the first place where your motherboard will come through for you: It allows you to set the PCI clock frequency to a different and lower frequency than your CPU. This is most often done automatically for you; usually between 31 and 41 MHz – depending upon the FRONT SIDE BUS speed you select (hereafter referred to as the FSB).

“Cool! So how do I overclock?”

Even your RAM runs out of spec when you overclock the FSB. The newer VIA Boards – boards using the VIA chipset rather than Intel’s BX chipset – show their affection for the overclocker by allowing you to separately set the clock speed of your RAM. The settings are +/-33 MHz added to the PCI BUS speed. This allows you to clock your RAM up or down in relation to your FSB speed.

If you’re using PC 100 RAM with a CPU running at a FSB speed of 133MHz, you will want to set your RAM to -33MHz. The opposite is true as well: If your using PC133 RAM with a 100MHz FSB setting you’ll want a +33 setting for your RAM.

Setting RAM properly will greatly add to the speed and stability of any system. If not done properly it can prevent a system from booting.

“Wow that’s great, so how do I overclock my CPU?”

Read your motherboard’s manual.


Then set your CPU SPEED setting to “MANUAL”.

Then look (usually just below your CPU SPEED setting) for a setting that says, “System/PCI FREQUENCY (MHz)” or, “CPU HOST/PCI CLOCK” or something related to one or both of these titles for this setting. The exact title varies from motherboard to motherboard.

But they all do the same thing: OVERCLOCK you computer!

Adjust this setting upwards very conservatively.

The exact numbers will vary quite a bit depending on whether your using a 66MHz, a 100MHz, or a 133MHz processor (133MHz chips are NOT recommended for overclocking as only modest overclocking can be achieved with them).

Please heed my words: Adjust this setting only a few notches upwards, then Save and reboot. Once your at your desktop in Windows, check your temperatures.

“Errr…How do I do that?”

Good question.

You should have already downloaded and installed MBM (Mother Board Monitor) You can do that

Set this progie up BEFORE you try overclocking.

You SHOULD also get and USE ShutDown NOW! HERE. ShutDown Now! will turn off your computer if it overheats once you set that up. Be sure to set it up and test it before you overclock. These two programs can save your CPU’s life! You’re taking it into a danger zone. Give it a safety net or start digging it’s grave.

I’ve tried to give you a fair idea of the elements involved in a simple, BASIC overclock.

When or if you want to do MORE than this, you will need to:

  • Invest in way better cooling than you have now.
  • Really understand your motherboard by studying (not just reading) your manual.
  • Expand your reading to include the wealth of materials we have gathered together on this Site to aid you.

  • Spend a lot of time in the forum. This is the best possible preparation for dealing with problems you will encounter overclocking your particular CPU on your particular motherboard.

I’ve spent a lot of time here just to tell you how to change two settings. If you set your CPU SPEED to MANUAL and adjust your PCI FREQUENCY upward a bump or two, you will achieve you first overclock!
If that’s all you ever do you will be extremely unlikely to ever have any troubles due to this minor change in your system.

However, the very ease of your accomplishment can lead you into a world of pain! When you read articles or go into the forum and see 25 to 50% overclocks (sometimes more!) you will be tempted to mosey on back into your BIOS and try for more.

But if all you know about overclocking is what we have discussed here today….DON’T DO IT. YOU ARE NOT READY.

We can help you prepare, but you must make the preparations. We can tell what precautions to take, but YOU must take these precautions. Remember this: Just by making these two changes I’ve given you, YOU HAVE VOIDED MOST OF YOUR WARRANTIES!!

So don’t – I’m asking you, please – Don’t presume upon your success.

Every step beyond where I’ve taken you today requires forethought and understanding. It requires specialized or high-grade parts that will take time and study to identify, acquire and learn to use properly.

For myself, I don’t consider an overclock to be successful unless I LOWER my CPU temperature below where it was at it’s normal setting. Not every overclocker agrees with this, but I set a high standard for myself designed to protect my chips! I hope you will do so as well.

I’ve shown you the easy and the safe. From here on, it’s less easy and far less safe. From here you will need to protect your gear, add cooling and modify the relationship between your CPU, RAM and motherboard settings. You will need detailed and specific advice such as is found in the Forum.

Good Luck!

Email Dan

The first step is to install your chip either in your motherboard’s socket or, if you have a FC-PGA converter (slotket), into the slotket. Both motherboard and slotket will use what is termed a ZIF Socket. This is the small white square with perforated holes (many perforated holes) around its square perimeter with an arm or lever on one side.


ZIF stands for “Zero Insertion Force”. This means that there is absolutely no pressure required to insert the CPU into the socket – properly aligned, it literally drops into place. The lever on the side is used to lock it into place.

First, look at the chip’s pins and you should see two corners where pins are missing. In addition, one of the chips’s corners may have a notch cut out. Usually there are alignment marks printed on the motherboard, but these can be fairly difficult to see; look for a small, imprinted triangle arrowhead on the motherboard at one corner of the socket.


Next, look at the socket; two of the socket’s corners will line up with the two corners that have pins missing – really a pretty foolproof system!

Finally, simply lift the lever until it’s perpendicular to the board, align the chip’s pins with the holes and it should drop into place.

Lightly, and I do mean lightly, “DROP” it into place. If the chip is aligned correctly, it will sit flat on top of the socket and you will not need to press down AT ALL! If it isn’t go, rotate the chip a quarter turn and try again.

Once your chip drops into place and is fully and properly seated, simply lower the arm back down. You will feel some pressure here – that’s what’s required to lock it into place. Chip installed!

Now comes the Heatsink. If you’re going to use the Intel heatsink and fan that came with your chip (I recommend against this) then you will NEED to REMOVE the truly crummy heat sink pad Intel uses (God only knows why – it adds 6-10 degrees to your chip’s running temperature).

To remove (what I call the Intel heating pad) you can use a hair dryer to quickly soften it and then your finger nail to scrape it off. Alternatively, you can use one of those industrial razor blades to scrape it off. However, this could scratch your heatsink if you’re not careful, possibly lessening its cooling efficiency.

Just take your time and slowly work around the edges to the center. Keep the razor blade at about a 30 degree angle to the heatsink’s surface. Once it’s off, get some nail polish remover (perfumed acetone) and clean off any residue.

I have come across similar “heating pads” on other third party heat sinks. They are all universally BAD! REMOVE THEM!

By the way, my personal recommendation when it comes to heatsinks is to buy an Alpha, Globalwin, or Golden orb. Go to the Forum to find out where to buy and gather other opinions on “What’s the best heatsink to use” with your particular setup.

Now you will definitely NEED TO USE Thermal Compound, A.K.A. thermal grease, grease or paste. This comes in a fairly wide variety of configurations: Silver, silicon, gold and various mixtures. I simply use Radio Shack’s stuff – Hey why not, it’s cheap, does a good job and it’s easy to get.

The purpose of thermal paste is to fill any gaps between your processor and the heatsink, thereby conducting as much heat away from the processor as possible. To do this you will need to be sure to get a smooth, even, thin coat of grease.

Intel’s HS&F as well as quite a few others can be rather a challenge in install properly. They are tight fitting and a bit hard to manage when it comes to their clips – especially true for AMD’s Socket A CPUs. You may have to use a small pair of needle-nose pliers (if you do, do so very carefully as a slip can render your motherboard dead).

This because you will need to push down upon the clip while flipping up a small latch which locks over a small plastic “hooks”, or tabs, on the socket’s sides.

Please remember that these chips are fragile. MORE than a few have been broken while installing the heatsink.Use no more pressure than is absolutely required to get the job done.

When you’re finished, take a VERY close look to see that the HS&F sits evenly on the face of the chip. You may need to wiggle the HS&F a little to one side or the other to do this. Do so carefully. Once you’re even and straight, you’re done!

Email Dan

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