Deciding which cooling
system is best for your overclocking needs, and budget is a question only you can answer.
Obviously, as prices increase, temperatures decrease, and overclockability goes through the roof!
Many enthusiasts overclock just to get a little bit more
performance out of their PC, and aren't interested in spending a lot of
money to get that extra kick. There are also many very dedicated
enthusiasts who overclock their PCs with almost sports like
As we have seen in the the tests conducted for this article, there
is a pretty clear relationship between overclocking and cooling. To a point, the
lower the processor temperature, the higher the overclockability of the
In our case, with a good high-performance heatsink and fan,
which costs less than $100, we were able to overclock a Pentium 4
2.4C to 3.6 GHz (load temperature; 57 degrees Celsius). While
heatsinks are the most economical cooling solutions, the best coolers are never
multi-platform compatible. And by that I mean, a heatsink which tries to pass
itself off as compatible for AthlonXP, Pentium 4 and even Athlon64, is cannot
compete with heatsinks which have been designed for one specific platform. So,
if we overclock by the air cooling method, and change platforms in fhe
future, we'd need to buy another high end heatsink eventually. Over time,
this can add up.
The watercooled Pentium 4 2.4C overclocking tests showed us that
with a little liquid, the processor could be pushed as high as 3.82 GHz
(load temperatures; 46 degrees Celsius). A good watercooling kit
will cost in the area of $300-$400CDN, but if we were to change
platforms in the future, from say Pentium 4 to Athlon64, all we would need to
replace is the appropriate clamps for the waterblock. After the initial
investment, a new clamp would only add about $20 CDN onto the total price.
The zenith of an enthusiasts quest for lower temperatures, which
as you have seen directly influence CPU overclockability, is sub-ambient cooling. Adopting
a Phase Change Cooling system gives the overclocker a lot of headroom, but that comes at a very
high cost of $700-$1000. In our tests, a Pentium 4 2.4C equipped with a phase change cooling
system reached 4.08 GHz (load temperature; -32 degrees Celsius) - which is pretty remarkable no
matter how you look at it.
the question we posed at the beginning of this article; "How does
cooling affect Overclocking?" Cooling
quite obviously plays a significant role, but the expense associated with each
form of cooling limits what is economically practical.
Consider this chart which is based on our results, and
cooling systems, for example:
|Overclocking and Cooling - price / OC ratio|
|Phase Change Cooling
For those of you who are looking for more out
of your PC the options are laid out in front of you. What you decide on depends on
how far you want to overclock, how big your budget is, and how devoted you are to
this sport. Of the three cooling methods we tested, the plain old heatsink still offers the best bang
for the buck. Water cooling, however, would appear to offer the best combination of value, and overclockability...
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