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Nostalgia: Overclocking AMD CPU's, pencil required

Updated on March 29, 2013

AMD Duron

AMD Duron Processor with L1 Bridges Highlighted
AMD Duron Processor with L1 Bridges Highlighted | Source

Remember When

I have been not just a computer user but a computer geek for a long time. Some of you may remember the time of old-school overclocking when the major processor manufacturer's. AMD and INTEL treated their processors like porcelain china dolls, that needed to be handled with kids gloves. While they built in safeguards against running to fast, and staying on the posted speed limits. Garage tinkerer's where always looking for ways to unleash more horsepower in our home computers.

How the mighty pencil unleashed so much power!

The graphite in a #2 pencil is conductive enough to close a small circuit. So we simply bridged the gap on the L1 pins which allowed us to control our processor multipliers in the computer BIOS. By controlling the multiplier we were able to adjust the clock speed at which our AMD processors ran. This meant that a 700mhz processor could potentially run as high as your motherboard supported. However this often translated into a 200mhz to a 500mhz gain. I often saw speeds of 900 to 1100 mhz on my Duron processors when I utilized an oversized Fan, and silver thermal compound to transfer the extra heat generated by the processor out of the system.

Take it to the edge

Why did we overclock?

A little something us old school garage mechanics knew about our computers was that the manufacturers didn't create a batch of CPU's with a specific speed in mind. They created a batch of CPU's and then rated them according to stability with a moderate amount of cooling.

What we knew is that if we increased cooling we could often increase the speed and maintain stability under the right conditions. Home users would be warned they would void their warranty, and shorten the life of our CPU's. However, we also knew that in most cases because of Moore's law we wouldn't be keeping our CPU for more than a year or two anyhow. We didn't buy our processors for longevity, we bought them for price and then wanted to jack the up the performance.


If you have a funny story about overclocking and unpredictable results feel free to share below. I will gladly bring attention to them if they strike my funny bone.


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