Just thought I'd post about this, finally, to get it off my chest.

A couple of weeks ago, I had saved up some cash from side jobs to buy a new NForce2 mobo and some nice rounded PATA cabling. I decided to wait till the latest NCIX newsletter landed in my Inbox on a Sunday, and then ordered a Soltek 75FRN2-L for 89.95 CDN. My whole order, taxes and shipping in, for that board and 2 nice 18" rounded black PATA cables came to 133 CDN. Not bad at all, I say.

I got the board home and after backing up my **** to the G/F's comp... got to ripping out the venerable (3 month old at that!) Asus A7V8X-X board. I love that board, but I wanted 2.4GHz really bad, and being held up @ 2.25GHz (12.5x180) was starting to annoy me. WAY too many people had my class of 2500+s @ 2.4 on air and 1.85-1.9 Vcore (week 33, AQXEA), and I was bound and determined to get there. Note: a week after I threw in the towel, a good friend of mine in Toronto got his nice new week 38 Barton 2500+ to 2.4 GHz on air (11x215) @ stock Vcore. How stable it is, I don't know. Yet. I will make a point of finding out. He has a latest-run Abit NF7-S (2.0).

I got the Soltek in, got the Barton 2500+ to stock settings, and installed Windows. All good. Memory settings on the nice generic Samsung DDR400 were relaxed for max compatibility, and the memory was being run downclocked @ 333 for installation purposes.

Once I got Windows installed, the first thing I did was to install SpeedFan. I allowed a few hours of burn-in for the thermal grease to settle (OCZ Ultra 2, and regardless of the fiasco currently, it works), and checked my idle temps. Everything was reporting 5-6C higher than the Asus. Wrote it off to a new setup. What was really disturbing at first was the fact my 12V rail was reporting anywhere from 11.25V to 11.65V. On the Asus, I was ALWAYS from 12.10V to 12.35V. No exceptions. All other voltages were fine.

The next day, after idling the system all night to see about major glaring instabilities (there were none), I proceeded to begin OCing the system.

The first thing I did was exactly what NCIX always does with one of their pre-fab kits: raised the FSB to 200 and synched the RAM with the system (rather, left it synched). The system booted into windows @ stock Vcore, but was unstable for any real processing duties. Fine. Rebooted, cranked the Vcore to 1.75 and rebooted again. Got into Windows, and it was stable. Now, I'm much better off for memory bandwidth on the Soltek, but technically slower for what matters to me. So, I begin to crank the FSB. 11x205 for 2255 MHz was totally unstable, even @ 1.85 Vcore for any processing duties other than "sit there and stare at your desktop".

I became slightly upset at this point and proceeded to crank the multi to 11.5 and dropped the FSB to 200, while lowering the Vcore to 1.80, fearing picky RAM. More of the same. Failed prime95, PiFast, Cinebench 2003, etc.

Dropped the CPU speed back down to 2200 and nothing would stabilize. NOTHING. Failed Prime95 @ 166 MHz on the memory. Went to my old stomping grounds of 12.5 x 180 and benched. Everything crashed or errored out with messages, including Prime95. Fun, eh?

I finally bit the bullet and re-installed the Asus board, wiped clean and started again, and now I've been running for 2 weeks @ 12.5x180, 1.80 Vcore (with indications I can go to 1.75 and save 2-3C max temp), with no failures anywhere.

This didn't disrupt my love of overclocking. Rather, it illuminated the following two points:

1) - I'm waiting to build a socket 754 AMD64 box.

2) - That box, no matter the chipset, will have an Asus board.

Comments, suggestions, similar experiences?

My equipment for the rig at all times was the following:

NCI SL-9030KL 17" case, modded as detailed below
AMD XP 2500+ Barton, week 33, AQXEA
Thermaltake Volcano 9+ HSF, OCZ Ultra 2 thermal grease
Thermaltake Silent PurePower 420W PSU, dual auto-speed fans
ATI Raedon 8500LE 128Mb DDR video card
Maxtor 40GB ATA133 7200RPM HD, 2MB cache
LG 52x32x52 CD-RW
Pioneer 16x DVD-ROM
1 x 105mm Compaq SilentCool (not really silent, trust me!) intake fan custom mounted on the left side panel
2 x 80mm Sunon exhaust fans mounted in provided rear ports

Sound and LAN were provided by each board.

I've decided to add an URL to the final Asus-run product, as it runs now, both with and without case. Kinda messy, but better than it was before the re-org for sure.

Without side panel: http://home.cogeco.ca/~aweichel/pics...rov35small.jpg

All put together: