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Overclocking and Upgrading For More Quake III fps

by johnd - Jan. 23, 2000

This guide will cover overclocking for the faint of heart (no ripping off heat sinks or replacing stock heat sink/fan combos) and upgrades that anyone who is not afraid to take the cover off of his or her PC case can perform. The guide will help you judge which upgrades and overclocks give you the most bang for the buck. The benchmarks in this guide are all Quake III (hence the title), but you should be able to use them to help you judge where upgrades and overclocking help in getting for you faster 3D gaming performance.

Disclaimer: Overclocking may lead to the premature failure of your hardware and may also void your warranty. Overclocking your system may provide you with faster or slower results than shown in this guide. In otherwords, your mileage may vary.

One of the key components in determing 3D game performance is the graphics card. TNT2, TNT2 Ultra, Voodoo3, GeForce, and other 3D graphics cards can supply some of the necessary graphics power to keep 3D games running smooth and looking sharp. In this guide we will be using a 3dfx Voodoo3 3000 card. Currently, you should be able to find it online for around $125 (including shipping). I'm not going to compare the performance of the Voodoo3 against other available graphics cards, but if you compare the performance of the Voodoo3 with the CPUs used in this guides benchmarks, you should be able to get a feel for how much of a performance gain your system would get with this card. If you also look at other online graphics card reviews, you can get a feel for how the various graphics cards compare.

Since we're looking at this from an upgrade point of view, the system this guide will be using has a year old Abit BH6 motherboard. This board has an overclocking friendly BIOS and hopefully will closely approximate any older motherboard you may have in your system. The BIOS in the BH6 was flashed with the latest available BIOS from Abit for this motherboard. Before attempting to flash upgrade your motherboard's BIOS, be sure you get the correct flasher for your motherboard. The test system is also using 64MB Samsung PC100 RAM, an IBM Deskstar 8.4GB hard drive (IDE), a SoundBlaster Live! Value sound card, and a generic NE2000 compatible network card. The CPUs used in this guide are the Intel Celeron 300A (overclocked to 450Mhz and 464Mhz) and the Intel 500E (overclocked to 560Mhz, 620Mhz, and 667Mhz).


Cooling

Both graphics cards and CPUs produce a lot of heat and when you overclock them, you end up producing more heat. Providing additional cooling beyond the stock heatsinks and fans usually involves attaching fans to the stock heatsinks, removing the stock heat sinks and replacing them with 3rd party heat sinks and fans, etc. But, I stated at the beginning of this article that we wouldn't be ripping off any heat sinks or replacing any stock heat sink fan combos. So how can we provide addtional cooling where it is needed? A Card Cooler from The Card Cooler will do the trick. The Card Cooler has twin 80 mm fans mounted on brackets that attach with the same screws that hold your video cards, sound cards, etc. The twin fans provide a definite blast of fresh air to the area they are immediately above. It keeps any cards its mounted above cooler. I use one of these on my overclocked video cards, simply because they do such a good job and are easy to install. You can see in the picture above that I've mounted it so that part of the Card Cooler is sticking above the AGP video card. And if you enlarge the picture by clicking on it, you can see by the level of dust build up on the edges of the fans, I've been using this one quite a while. Positioining the card like this provides some air down the backside of the card and into the CPU area.


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