Stop Buying Sub-1Ghz TBirds!

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This Isn’t Intel

Perhaps some of us have been lulled by the old Intel pattern of all CPUs being pretty much the same when it came to maximum speed.

So some of us are waiting until a TBird gets to $150 or less, and figure they’ve outwitted the system.

Unfortunately, they’re fighting the last war.

It’s become pretty clear that for some reason, specific codes on specific chips mean a real difference when it comes to the maximum speed of the CPU.

There’s a couple possible reasons why. It could be that AMD is using different production lines. It might just be that the codes represent how well the chips did in internal testing. Could be a combo of the both. I personally lean towards the first, but it’s not necessary to figure out the “why” to take advantage of the “what.”

No more Austin, no more sub-1Ghz TBirds

Within about ten days (if it hasn’t happened already), AMD will stop making TBirds in Austin, and stop making sub-1Ghz TBirds.

Austin’s TBirds just don’t overclock as well as Dresden’s TBirds. Some don’t make it to 1Ghz. Those that do generally don’t make it to 1100Mhz.

In contrast, there’s some 1Ghz AXIAs out there that are approaching 1.5Ghz.

So how you go about selecting could make as much as a 500Mhz difference. Short of using liquid nitrogen, there is literally nothing else you can do that will make as much a difference in your results as proper selection.

Do You Believe In The CPU Fairy?

Some of you may say, “there’s Dresden chips available at sub-1Ghz rated speeds, too.” Yes, there are. I suspect the ones out there are older ones, but I could be wrong.

Now what are you willing to do to find one?

For many, the answer seems to be “nothing.” Apparently, the way some people think it works is that they order a CPU from the Internet and the CPU Fairy handpicks the fastest chip out of the warehouse and delivers it to them.

At this point in time, if that’s how you choose a TBird, then you are not serious about overclocking. You may say you are, you may think you are, but you aren’t.

If you find that offensive, let me ask this: If you met a couch potato who said, “I want to be a body-builder, but I don’t want to work out,” would you start enrolling him in competitions, no matter how insistent he was about it?

Some goals require effort. No effort, you take whatever chance gives you.

Believing In The CPU Fairy Godmother Instead

If you think the salesperson is going to handpick one out for you, then you don’t believe in the CPU Fairy, you believe in the CPU Fairy Godmother instead.

The reality is most resellers run warehouse operations. The person on the telephone couldn’t look at the chip even if he or she wanted to.

However, there are a few places here and there where you might find such a fairy godmother. To identify them, I just started a thread in our Overclockers Forum, under
“AMD CPUs” entitled “Resellers that will check codes on CPUs they sell you”. I’m reluctant to do this, since any place that actually does check can’t be a big operation, and is likely to get swamped, so I’d get some sort of written email confirmation before I bought.

The best, safest way to do this remains checking the codes on the chips yourself, either by going to a bunch of stores, or going to a computer fair and visiting the various vendors.

The point of all this is not to insult or offend you. It’s just to make you aware that this is not something that should be left to chance. Looking at those codes works for me. I had a 750 doing 1100 when most were getting 920. I’ve got one now that can do well into the 1400s.

I (and anybody else following this) let somebody else settle for less. Up to you whether or not that “somebody else” is you


Right now, the prices on CPUs are bunched pretty closely together. The only real pricing gap occurs between 900-950Mhz, which not so incidentally is probably the boundary between primarily Dresden chips and primarily Austin chips.

Obviously, you determine what is a value to you. You may decide that spending $130 with no sweat for a CPU you can get 1Ghz out of is a better deal than spending roughly $200 and some time and effort to get 1.4Ghz.

But if that’s the case, why aren’t you buying a Duron?

So Should I Just Buy a 1Ghz TBird Instead?

No, the problem there is that most of the 1Ghz TBirds don’t seem to have the same codes as its higher-speed siblings, and while we don’t have a ton of data on the AQFAs and ARGAs out there, what we do know indicates they don’t do as well as those chips with Vs and Xs and Hs and Is.

We may be talking about as much as a 150-200Mhz difference in the final result, just by picking the right one.

So put your time to good use. Use those codes!

Email Ed


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