Overclocking is risky, but can fix chip woes


August 29, 2002|By James Coates | James Coates,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

I have an IBM PC with an AMD 333 processor. I installed a DVD-ROM drive that called for system requirements of a Pentium 350 or above. It worked fine for a while, but now when I put a CD in my computer, it locks up. How can I fix my problem?

You clearly stepped over the line by purchasing a drive that requires the speed of a 350-megahertz Pentium chip to handle the required data transfers. Your solution is dangerous and requires you to step over another line. I don't know if it is worth it.

In brief, you can force your AMD chip to move data faster than its design is supposed to permit by using a dangerous technique known as "overclocking."

It is dangerous because when you speed up a chip, you make it run hotter than its designers planned, and physical damage can result - such as a totally fried chip.

You will find that simply making changes in your computer's BIOS can speed up data transfer. BIOS can be accessed usually by pressing F2 or the Enter key during boot-up. But you also will find that unless you do something to boost the computer's cooling system, catastrophe awaits.

If you are an adventurous soul, you can pursue overclocking of AMD chips at places like the New Zealand-based Overclockers club (www.overclockers .co.nz/).

But beware. It's a good idea to first read about the pros and cons. Do a Google Web search for "overclocking" and you'll get an excellent feel of the issues at stake.

James Coates writes for the Chicago Tribune, a Tribune publishing newspaper. He can be reached via e-mail at jcoates@tribune.com.

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