Since Intel provided us with a CPU and motherboard, we were basically building a whole new PC. The components used are listed below:
|Motherboard:||Intel Bad Axe 2|
|Memory:||2x 512MB Kingston Value RAM, DDR800|
|Video Card:||Gainward GeForce 6800 Ultra|
|Harddisk||Seagate Barracuda 7200.8|
|Power Supply:||Silverstone ST-65 ZF|
|Software:||Windows XP SP2, Forceware 93.71|
For benchmarking Intel's lower clocked dual-core CPUs, the multiplier was lowered and the additional cores were disabled. This means that the E6400 was benchmarked as having 4 MB of L2 cache.
As I pressed the power button, I was shocked. With my Sunon 7W fans I run on my radiator, I thought I had heard it all. Yet, when I started this PC, it really sounded like a vacuum cleaner. So, my very first impression: LOUD! I couldn’t even hear the fan of my 6800 Ultra over the one on the CPU HSF.
The PC switched itself on for about two seconds, and then shut down. Uh oh – do I have a short circuit or some other culprit somewhere? Just as I finished that thought, the PC came to life again.
After consulting this with some colleagues, I found out that this behavior is completely normal – the PC behaves like this because it has to set the FSB strap in the Northbridge.
After looking over the BIOS briefly, I proceeded to install Windows and appropriate drivers, as well as benchmarking programs.
My next step was to decrease the fan speed – the lowest value that could be selected from BIOS was 60%, much more acceptable to my ears.
First ImpressionsLike a boy who gets a new present once in a while, I was so excited to be able to review Intel’s Quad-core CPU. As I am a passionate gamer, I was most interested in game performance, but also in multi-tasking – what else can I do while gaming?
I also wanted to know what the heat output is like. When the Core 2 Duo was launched, many people reported temperatures in the 65°C range. I downloaded Core Temp, a program that reads the temperature of the CPU directly from one of its registers. At idle, the temperatures were not too bad – around 40°C – but not too great either. To load the CPU, I tried a brief run of SysRool’s stress test. Instantly, temperatures rose to 55°C, and continued to climb until they settled at around 60°C. I didn’t know wether I should be pleasantly surprised or disappointed. Surprised, because the temperature is almost identical to that reported by dual-core users, while this CPU has four cores. Disappointed because Intel’s redesigned heatsink didn’t have great cooling capabilities, paired up with a very noisy fan.
I could instantly judge that this CPU doesn’t go together too well with air cooling. Water is obviously this beast’s natural habitat. But more about that later.
OverclockingEven though the temperatures of the CPU’s four cores were not too great, I attempted to overclock the processor. SysRool does not yet support the clock generator located on the Bad Axe 2 motherboard, so all overclocking had to be done from BIOS.
I slowly started raising the FSB in 5 MHz increments, booting into Windows each time, and checking stability with SysTool’s stress test (Pattern size: 4 Million). I eventually got to 330 MHz, with the 667 divider on the RAM, and leaving the multiplier at 10x. It was getting late to conduct benchmarks, and so I decided to call it a day.
The next morning, I was shocked to see that the PC would no longer boot - all fans were spinning, but there was no signal to the monitor. And everything was stable for over an hour using SysTool’s test the day before! Anyhow, by changing the BIOS JUMPER to CONFIG mode, I managed to boot the PC. I set everything back to stock, changed the jumper to normal, and booted the PC again. Next, I set the overclocked values, with the PC booting fine. However, the computer would still lock up at POST randomly.
After checking Intel’s website, I found out that a new BIOS had been released. After I updated the BIOS, everything worked fine, and the motherboard was much more stable than before in terms of booting.
The voltage was slightly raised to 1.3625V to assure stability.
The temperature of the overclocked CPU was at 65°C at load.