Sunday, December 31, 2006

The FX-70 and Overclocking

Now that I have my system up and running - I decided to try some overclocking.

I've not really delved into the full capaiblities of the Asus BIOS. I used the "AI Overclock" feauture. To set this up go to: Advanced -> JumperFree Configuration -> AI Overclocking

Set the value to "Overclock Profile".

You'll have a range of about 6 choices 3% to 30%.

I was able to overclock the chip by 15% - leading to a clock speed of 2.98 Ghz! So it would seem that the FX-70 has the ability to run as well as the FX-74. It may be possible to push the system further than this, perhaps to 20%. I might consider this if I get a better cooling solution in place. The cpu temperature seemed to stay at the same values when not overclocked, the CPU fans seemed to be ticked up a few notches though. I'll do some more detailed testing in the future.

So what's the benefit? The overclocking gained me 700 points on the 3dMark 2006 test.

Also, what is interesting about the AI Overclock is that it will OC the entire system, HT, RAM, and CPU so I suspect that the overall performance gain will be higher than just OC'ing the processors.


I downloaded the free version of 3dmark 2006.

There is only one option for benchmarking with the free version.

After running the benchmark here are my results:

@ 2.6 Ghz: 10,184
@ 2.8 Ghz: 10,777
@ 2.98 Ghz: 10,859

Out of ~ 653,000 systems this rig is ranked 11,539! It's niiiiice!

I have not tried overclocking the video card yet, but will do so when i figure out where the OC settings went! XFX has some driver issues...

Friday, December 29, 2006

Size matters

The size of your future 4x4 case that is.

My biggest concern was noise, I didn't want an Oreck upright sitting next to my desk. So I looked around for a case, one that didn't look like I should be putting it on the back of my BMX bike on my way to a LAN party and one that would be reasonably quiet.

I finally settled on the highly understated Antect P180. It *seemed* large enough. And looked "cool". I mean, it is not small really. It was only the night before my motherboard was to arrive that I read a review stating that the Asus motherboard exceeds the BTX spec by almost an inch (12"x10.5"). I quickly whipped out the measuring tape which showed ~ 10.6 in. from the back of the case to the middle hard drive cage. It was going to be close, but I had no way of knowing as there are no manuals or product information available online about the board.

The motherboard came, and it *just* barely fit in the case. The 8800 card actually overhangs the edge of the motherboard. The 4x4 is not for the space constrained!

The Antec case did prove to be inadequate in one way however. Due to the nature of the lower PSU compartments cable feed and the 8800's heat sink it is well neigh impossible to fit two 8800's in the case.

If you do like the antec case (I am quite fond of it despite the few short comings) I highly recommend it, the attention to detail is well about most other pc cases I have worked with.

If you have a case that fits a 4x4 rig leave a comment so others can know what to buy!

PSU Selection

I spent a lot of time fretting over which PSU to get. The main reason was that I didn't want a 1 Kw hair dryer running in my case. I had to figure out how much I power I realistically needed though. It was easy to get a handle on the processor power consumption, however the drives and the motherboard were largely a mystery. There is little published info on the L1N64-SLI WS so I had to just guess. The 8800 GTX was going to use a solid 200-250W from what I could tell. After adding things up I decided that a 750W power supply would be sufficient, my expectation is that at peak load the system would use about 600W of the 750W available.

I did a lot of reading up on what's involved in a high end power supply noise, power fluctuation, and reliability. This review over at Tech Power Up made up my mind. The be quiet! Dark Power 750 seemed to be the ideal candidate for my new machine, and I'm sure it still is however I couldn't find it anywhere for purchase. So I took the general criteria, Large Fan, Modular Cables and went hunting for something else. Price didn't matter so much as would it be quiet, and reliable?

I finally settled on a ThermalTake 750W due to a few positive comments about it's performance. Oddly it is the Crossfire Certified model, but I was purchasing based on output rather than certification and I felt that 750 was the number I needed. The ThermalTake site while visually unappealing, does have some good information on it. The packaging for the ThermalTake was very niiiiice, it came with a number of cables that are nicely appointed. The cables actually impressed me the most. They came sheathed in a slick mesh that refuses to snag on anything in the case, and holds up to a respectable amount of wear and tear.

Keep in mind the 750W is not sufficient to run two 8800 cards. It is also physically unable to as it only has 3 PCI-e connectors.

ThermalTake does offer another SLI power supply rated to 850W that has 4xPCI-e that will probably be sufficient. I'm not convinced that a 1Kw power supply is needed in a stock 4x4 system. I think that 850 would likely be sufficient, but if you are doing overclocking and such the 1Kw in SLI is probably a good idea.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006


For a platform that "launched" on November 30th it's awfully hard to find the components to build a 4x4 system.

I started the search for CPU's and the motherboard on or around December 16th. I found a handful (about 5) companies that actually listed the components. I found that the motherboards were available in limited quantities, but the processors were no where to be found!

To further frustrate my efforts to build one of these systems, the AMD Press Release published here names Newegg as one of the "Launch" suppliers yet, Newegg had no knowledge of these processors or the motherboard. Note: It seems that the Newegg launch was actually December 27th and they are currently available for purchase.

What was irritating was that there were four system manufacturers listed in that press release as well - they all listed at least one 4x4 system on their site. I didn't actually try to order one, but I did call to see if they would sell me just the processors :) The answer was no, of course.

The reason I found this irritating was that there was only one retail launch partner and four system builders. AMD would have us believe that the 4x4 platform is for "enthusiasts". So I have to wonder what self respecting enthusiast is going to have some one else build their PC for them? Yeah... that's what I thought too. The system builders are not your bread and butter AMD!

Take to the trails!

The orders are in. Over the next week I will be (hopefully) receiving the following components:

2 AMD FX-70 Processors
1 ASUS L1NF64-SLI WS Motherboard
2 GB Ballistix Tracer DDR2-8000
1 Toughpower 750W PSU (116)
1 XFX 8800 GTX
1 Antec Power One Case (Black)
2 Western Digital Raptor 150 GB 10K RPM SATA Drives

I had some trouble tracking down the motherboard and processors. was the only place that seemed to carry it. Searches for FX-70 returned nothing but a few places showed up on Froogle under FX70. Hopefully their estimation for availabilty is correct (late this week 12/22).