Q6600 Overclocking Dell E520

avcab

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Current specs:
Dell E520 PC (Intel G965 Chipset)
E4500 @2.2ghz/2.46Ghz(for mw3 and stuff) (Using setfsb, not bios as options are locked/grayed out)
XFX GT240 DDR5
OCZ stealthxstream 500w
4GB PC6400 DDR2
Windows 7 Pro 64bit

Supported CPU's for the intel G965 chipset:
http://

Thinking of upgrading to the Q6600 (SLACR G0 Stepping Version - which supposedly overclocks better than the other version) for causal gaming such as Black ops 2, Tomb Raider, Borderlands 2 etc. Currently my E4500 default fsb is 150/760 @ 2194.6MHz and I get upto 174/760 @ 2462.4MHz (Using SLG505YC56DT) stable until my motherboard/Ram prevents further oc. When I oc it to 2.5Ghz, it restarts instantly but when I check the speed, its set @ 2.5ghz after the reboot? Whats up with that?

The Q6600 has a stock speed of 2.4ghz and I'm wondering if I can overclock it slightly with Setfsb (Unable to do it with Bios). And nope, not enough money for New case + New motherboard + New Cpu so I can OC it further.
Is there a chance to oc the Q6600 to 2.5/2.6 or so with this PC? Or is it stuck at 2.4 since my E4500 can oc Stable to 2.46 from 2.2ghz.

Thanks.
 

avcab

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Oh sorry, forgot to metion I used Setfsb. Yeah, bios options are locked, which sucks. Also, you need to flash the bios to 2.4? to enable Q6600/Q6700 support.
 

Maxx_Power

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I got the information from reading the Dell support thread here (about the BIOS update):

http://en.community.dell.com/support-forums/desktop/f/3514/t/19287896.aspx

Be aware that the Q6600 is very memory starved as it is, so if you don't have DDR2-800, it might be best to use that. Also, get the latest core revision on the Q6600 (the G0 stepping revision). It uses a lot less power and shouldn't be a problem for your VRMs on the motherboard.

It is NOT guaranteed to work though, so you know... Since Dell only officially supports the latest dual core Conroe E6xxx series, not the quads or Wolfdale.

As an alternative, why not sell the board+CPU+RAM combo and get a nice AMD kit ? They are cheaper and much faster! You can get a Phenom II 965 BE for around 90 bucks or cheaper on sale these days, and a decent Am3+ board from say, Gigabyte is only 50 bucks on sale, 80 bucks typical.
 

avcab

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http://

Thats the supported CPUs, and Q6600 and Q6700 are listed.
DDR2 800MHz are currently what I use 2x2gb sticks. Yeah, am getting the G0 stepping revision. Also, by selling the board,cpu and ram, it wouldn't go for that much. The board only fits in BTX cases which are pretty rare these days (correct me if Im wrong). Also, getting a new board means a new ATX case since the dell e520 is BTX which costs about 50$ for a decent case.
I only have about enough for a Q6600 and a surplus of 20$ or so, thus I think thats out of the question since I have other things to spend on. :<
Thanks.
 

Maxx_Power

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The chipset G965 officially supports those CPUs electrically. It is still up to the BIOS (and thus the manufacturer) to enable that support, that's why the BIOS update is very important for you. It is not always you'll find a chip-set supported CPU that isn't BIOS supported, such as when the VRM design is insufficient (either voltage or current or both) for a new CPU (e.g., ASUS's P5LD2, an old board circa your computer).

As for the BTX, if it is first gen BTX, you can actually install ATX in that by flipping the board so it installs to the other side of the case (the original BTX design was just a mirror-flipped version of ATX, so if you flip the ATX board, it'll mount in a BTX case). It depends on whether or not your BTX is first-gen. To quote Wikipedia:

"In the first months of production the ATX and BTX motherboards were so similar that moving a BTX motherboard to an ATX case was possible and vice-versa, this was possible because the first BTX motherboards were ATX motherboards turned upside down, except for the component location that really were BTX positioning.[3]

Later the BTX form factor had a big change by turning it into a mirror image of the ATX standard, since the new motherboard design, both standards are incompatible. Basically BTX motherboards are 'leftside-right' compared to ATX and not upside-down as before, i.e. they are mounted on the opposite side of the case. Some computer cases such as the Cooler Master Series (Stackers) were released to support a varying range of motherboard standards such as ATX, BTX, Mini-ATX and so forth, to ease motherboard upgrade without buying a new case; however, all connector and slot standards are identical, including PCI(e) cards, processors, RAM, hard drives, etc."

From:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/BTX_(form_factor)
 

avcab

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Yeah, Ill need that bios update.
Thats interesting, Ill look into that. However, I still dont have enough $ for a motherboard and cpu even if I do sell my components. Also a Zalman fan or such which I would like to use to cool my CPU wont even fit in the e520, so I'd probably get a new case.
 

Maxx_Power

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I think a nice Antec ONE (or similar, even the P280 for 70 bucks when it is on sale) can be had for cheap. If that's too much still, you can try the sturdy VSK series from Antec.
 

avcab

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Ill add those cases onto Note for future, however, I dont even enough $ so I'd like to stick to a new CPU - the Q6600 for now.
 

Maxx_Power

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Just a suggestion. Of course you should do what makes sense for you. Q6600's are cheap right now.
 

Kisianik

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Hm, I am late to the game, but I have good news - Q6600 and Q6700 are both supported with BIOS 2.4.0 or newer.

Proof http://en.community.dell.com/what-do-i-buy/for_enterprise/f/4516/p/18304204/18427577.aspx#18427577
Scroll down and you will see.
This one as well http://en.community.dell.com/support-forums/desktop/f/3514/t/19287896.aspx

Just watch out for temps, there could be issues.

Nice overclocking, you can use BSEL mod with Q6600 and get to 3.0 or even 3.4, I think. But PLL is good to go as well, more headache...
 

avcab

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Yeah, Kisianik, I've seen that thread before, thanks.
Yep, I need to flash my bios to 2.4.0, shouldn't be too hard.
About the BSEL mod, the E520 can only take 1066fsb so increasing that would be a no go/stability problems for the E520?
 

Kisianik

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This is very difficult question - I don't know the answer, might take a long while to find out.
After all overcloking Dells is not an easy task, and here you are one of the few who doing it, so it is all up to you, I don't want to say ot os safe or not.
 

avcab

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Im suprised, I thought other Dell owners could overclock the PC's slightly, eg to 2.2 to 2.3 or so? But yeah, Dell Pcs really suck for overclocking, its a shame.
And fair enough on your answer, Ill check the internet for the mod.
 

Maxx_Power

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If you can't set the Vcore voltages in hardware, you'll have a tough time using the BSEL mod alone. You might have to also do a VID mod (the same way you do the BSEL mod).

Be aware, that the Q6600 is one of the more power hungry Core 2s, and that the VRM on the motherboard may fail prematurely, and give you lots of crashes. These brand name boxes that aren't built for OCing generally comes with crappy and weak VRMs.
 

Maxx_Power

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I am pretty sure that is only on their higher end (modern) machines targeted towards the high performance users (gamers), and it only started with the Core i-series. I have worked with quite a few different models of Dell machines with Core 2s, and none of them offered anything in terms of OC adjustments in the BIOS. They also had pretty weak VRM designs compared to aftermarket boards.
 

Kisianik

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This is not a revelation - only a few of XPS models and Alienware line is actually designed for overclocking, but it is difficult to estimate Dell durability here, look at mine Inspiron 570, originally it came with Athlon II x2 240, which is weak, not powerful, low voltage, and now I have Phenom II x4 965 BE overclocked on the same motherboard from 3.4 to 4GHz, and this is working for the past 9-10 months already, so it is difficult to say and estimate VRMs.
 

Maxx_Power

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I would say, in the absence of statistical data, it is not easy to say conclusively. It may be difficult to say based on sample size, however, given what we know of VRM designs, all we can say is that the option to modify the voltages were removed from the BIOS menus, and the fact the VRM design looks like a 4-phase design with the MOSFETs actually hanging in the air (so they can't use the PCB for cooling), the intention of Dell was never to allow OCing on that particular model (and many more, I'd argue). That the fact you manage to get away with such an upgrade is really, I think, likely a luck of the draw. From images of your motherboard, it seems like you have a 4 phase VRM (with 3 transistors per phase), which is about the minimum (with cooling) you can get by on the Phenom II platform, if you OC. See this AMD motherboard VRM info list (doesn't include Dells), but includes all major NA aftermarket brands:

http://www.overclock.net/t/946407/amd-motherboards-vrm-info-database

This is your motherboard (Phenom II) motherboard, I think:



And this is Op's motherboard, if I'm not mistaken:



You can clearly see the dangling MOSFETS near the CPU sockets, 2 per phase. They are not even PCB-cooled (like your Phenom Dell board), let alone any heatsink. As far as forward prediction on VRM failures is concerned, going with what we have access to points us at that Dell didn't design the VRMs or the cooling subsystems to really allow much of a margin. The expectation then is that, there won't be much headroom thermally and electrically, and the probability of damage is a real concern, if the OCing is more than just say, a few percent to maybe 10%. Again, I can't tell for sure, but better be fore-warned than sorry...
 

Kisianik

Dignified
Small correction here is definitely required in regards to cooling.

Motherboard pictures are correct for Inspiron 570 and most likely correct for Optiplex.
I would not go to great detail about CPU cooling for Optiplex, but I can say that Dell cooling first removes heat from those Mosfets, and then, after, removes heat from CPU, it is done by the air blowing into the case, passing over Mosfets and only then going through CPU cooler, so here you are wrong - considering this cooling design, Optiplex VRMs are cooled well and overclock can far above 10%, etc.
 

Maxx_Power

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This isn't arguably better than a standard ATX design, since BTX has stagnated and didn't really take off, while ATX still evolves (slowly). In a modern ATX design, the air around the CPU is constantly moved by the CPU's heatsink/fan assembly, which blows the air onto the board. The air is less "fresh" than in the BTX design, but the flow rates are higher, both global and local. In a modern aftermarket case, there are several fans (depending on the case), and the CPU area is always a high-flow area, where at least 1 exhaust fan serves that area, sometimes 2 or 3. I also haven't seen any aftermarket VRM designs with MOSFETS hanging in the air, either. If you compare this way, the lack of PCB aided cooling makes Dell's VRM run warmer, but the fresh air might compensate for that. The overall effect ? Who knows... That's why it is hard to say if the OP's VRMs are better or worse (we don't even know what the MOSFET part numbers are, to deduce their current capability) in this way. There are lots of well cooled VRMs that do fail, usually not due to heat, but due to other reasons. The VRM on OP's board are very close to the board, given the boundary-layer effect (and PCB crowding) in fluid dynamics, I wouldn't imagine the flow of air near the PCB would be as great as it is near the CPU. So while it was designed to be sufficient with stock situations, who knows what may happen during OC, if you take it beyond a few per cent. I SUSPECT that the OP should be able to get maybe 2.6-2.7 Ghz out of his Q6600 without Vcore adjustments based on past experiences with the Q6600, but that's a fairly mild OC (~10%). Once you start raising the Vcore, the power dissipation at the VRMs and the CPU will skyrocket (power loss is a squared function of the supplied voltage). That's why I was saying about 10% or so would be fairly safe, since that's about what you can do with a Q6600 (fully stable) without Vcore adjustments.

All I do know is that I wouldn't whole-heartedly recommend the OP to OC beyond a few per cent without any caution, and that caution is stronger than an equivalent scenario with aftermarket boards. It is just prudence, and not regretting over my advice after the fact.
 

Kisianik

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Point taken. In my case I took my chances. I also know that my motherboard socket is also on the edge providing juice to more power hungry Phenom as well. So be it, for me.

there is a say - the less you know the better you sleep - it is true here as well.
 

Maxx_Power

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Cheers!
 

avcab

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Wow, lots of info there. Thanks for all that, Ill re-read it again.
2.6-2.7ghz without Vcore adjustments? Thats decent, would I see any noticeable difference over the stock clock of 2.4ghz in gaming?
 

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