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[ The PC Guide | System Optimization and Enhancement Guide | Overclocking: The Dissenting Opinion | Overclocking Risks and Rewards ]

Benefits of Overclocking the System Bus

Overclocking the system processor can be of marginal benefit because the rest of the system remains the same speed. A Pentium 166 and a Pentium 200 both have a 66 MHz system bus speed, so their cache, memory, I/O bus and peripherals are all running at the same speed. However, when you overclock the system bus, you increase the speed that all of these components are running at. This opens the doors to potentially much greater improvements in performance than doing the processor alone.

In fact, the importance of the system bus speed is so high that a standard Pentium 150 system is about the same in overall performance as a Pentium 133. Why? Because the 150 is running on a 60 MHz system bus (60x2.5), and the 133 is running on a 66 MHz system bus (66x2). The 150 processor is 12.5% faster than the 133, but its system bus is 10% slower, and the end result is basically a wash.

Overclocking the system bus from the normal maximum of 66 MHz to 75 MHz or even 83 MHz has the potential to yield significant improvements in overall performance due to the speed up of the system bus, memory and other components. In many ways, overclocking a Pentium 166 from 66x2.5 to 83x2 provides more performance improvement than increasing it to 66x3 (200 MHz) even though in the first case the processor remains at the same speed.

Next: Risks of Overclocking the Processor


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