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EK SpeedpluS: overclocking with guarantee


Frontal photo of the exterior of the EK SpeedpluS

In last years we have been present at an authentic "career of the MHz". The competition between Intel and AMD has provoked an intensive evolution of the microprocessors, more and more rapids and effective ones. It is significant that in 1.981, the first PC had a 4,77 MHz mike ... that is to say: 0,00477 GHz. The times change, undoubtedly.

But frequently, the scarce availability of the most rapid models, his high price or a combination of both things, they provoke that many users decide to raise the speed of his mikes by means of the skill of the overclocking. This phenomenon has received so much importance that we have come to something almost unthinkable: overclockings with guarantee, mikes and/or PCs which overclocking capacity is endorsed by a company.

This is the case of the EK Computer SpeedpluS that occupies us, a team with microprocessor AMD Athlon capable of reaching more than 1,33 GHz. The whole overclocking.


The overclocking and his problems

Let's refresh a little the ideas exhibited in our article on the overclocking of the microprocessor. First of all, "to do overclocking" means to raise the speed of clock (the MHz) of an electronic component (in this case the microprocessor) over his nominal speed.

This can be done by the safety margin that has the component; it escapes from nobody that a mike that is bandaged as "from 800 MHz" it turns out to be probable (and suitable) that is capable of working to 801 MHz... although it is only because in the reality it is never possible to play in tune so much, the normal thing is that 1 works to 800 MHz +/- ó 2 MHz.

But, of course:

  1. the manufacturer of the mike does not guarantee much less that it is going to work to 50 ó 100 more MHz of the face-values or "officials". And we neither;
  2. in case it works, probably do it of unstable form;
  3. perhaps need a major voltage to work correctly, which is dangerous;
  4. inevitably, it will detach more heat.
This increase of the temperature is a direct consequence of the increase of the MHz and of the increase of the voltage (if it is that it has been necessary to increase this parameter, which we insist that it is risked certainly). And it is one of the biggest dangers of the overclocking, since if it is not controlled it can reduce perceptibly the life of the mike.

The mike can "to be burned" little by little, due to a well-known phenomenon like "electromigración" that it affects to the properties of the material semiconductors that compose it. Anyway, that "burns himself" and stops working, more or less rapidly as it is the temperature increase. Fan, spendthrift and cell Peltier (the white square) to refresh a mike overclockeado

Solution? To cool the mike, obviously. For years, any mike of approximately 50 MHz or more is taken by a heat spendthrift of copper or aluminum to improve the heat evacuation, and from approximately 100 MHz they take also a fan to improve the heat convection... that is to say, to remove the warm air and to put cold air in his place.

But the refrigeration for air turns out to be an ineffective method, to the effect that it cannot cool the mike below the temperature of the interior of the casing of the PC, and also at the cost of fans and every time major spendthrifts. With the modern mikes it is the whole problem, since an AMD Athlon to 1,1 GHz or an Intel Pentium 4 to 1,5 GHz need to remove approximately 55 W, that it is A LOT OF heat.

From here the reputation of which "the AMD warm up very much"; a completely true reputation, but that DOES NOT IMPORT the MOST MINIMAL THING while there are taken the appropriate measures, which consist of buying a fan of a quality decent and constructed for these mikes, the generic not one of 500 ptas. There are mikes capable of resisting 60º-70º without problems, and even "tops" of almost 90th; while I did not touch them when they are working, everything will be fine.


Description of the team

The system comes in a box of slightly common format: 25 x 43 x 57 cm, where 57 cm are the fund, including the radiator of the system of refrigeration (similar to what we might find in an air conditioning device). The color of the box and of the DVD can be black or white, although the device that finally we photograph was white. Photo weighing the EK SpeedpluS

This box has been chosen principally for being able to receive with roominess the refrigeration system, for which it must be of big size and rigid. And go if it obtains it, although due to this the team weighs neither more nor less than 17 kg, as it demonstrates our advanced measurement system ;-)
Side photo of the interior of the EK SpeedpluS

On the other hand, it has a big aptitude to receive devices: 1 bay of 3,5 " for disk drive and 7 bays of 5,25 " for internal or internal devices, of which Panasonic is occupied one by a DVD-ROM 8x and other one for the excellent hard disk IBM DTLA 307030 of 30 GB, 7200 rpm and interface UltraDMA100, which we already prove in a previous article.

To mount format units 3,5 " in the bays of 5,25 " we will need a few rails adapters, but this minimal discomfort is compensated by the versatility of every bay and the fantastic refrigeration of the team, it supported neither more nor less than by 6 fans: 4 in the rear part expelling air on the system of heat exchange, other in the central part focusing towards the area of the microprocessor and finally that of the power supply. Detail of the interior of the EK SpeedpluS, showing the refrigeration system

And we come finally to the heart of the team: the system of refrigeration of the mike by means of heat exchange with a liquid. The part most emphasized from the same one is the deposit with the bomb that moves the refrigerating fluid (a liquid of good thermal properties that does not seem to lead the electricity, since we suffer an accident with him and bathe the majority of the team in functioning), from which there depart the pipes that go to the mike and to the radiator.

The liquid cools down, goes to the mike, absorbs the heat of this one and returns to the radiator to turn to cool, all this of continued form. This system allows to absorb an enormous heat quantity, almost with entire independence what the temperature of the surrounding air is.

As for other components, they emphasize the motherboard and the graphic card. The motherboard is neither more nor less than an ABIT KT7A-RAID, a review of the already excellent one KT7-RAID, equipped with the new chipset ROUTE KT133A, with official bus support to 133 MHz (the most important for the overclocking that we are going to realize), and with a checker additional IDE with support RAID.

Thus we can install up to 8 devices IDE and use RAID if we want to increase the yield of disc or the safety of the information, and all this with support UltraDMA100 in two checkers, the integrated one to the chipset and the RAID (a HighPoint HPT370). Also we have 1 groove AGP, 6 PCI and 1 ISA, and 3 grooves DIMM for up to 1,5 GB of memory PC133. Perhaps an ASUS would have been an equal election of good, but a better election does not occur to me.

As for the graphic card, "the house for the window": according to the publicity of EK Computer of last month, it seems that the standard model includes a good card, Hercules 3D Prophet II Dual MX, but in this case it was coming with something even better: one Hercules 3D Prophet II GTS Pro with 64 MB of memory DDR, proved by us not long ago and really one of the BEST graphic cards that exist nowadays.

Otherwise, we had access to two teams, one with 256 MB and other with 128 MB of PC133, a few slightly impressive quantities for the times that run, although we must emphasize that at least in a case they were of excellent quality, of the mark Apacer. It is not anything that promises to be or guarantees in the publicity, but it calms to know that at least they have good material. Photo on behalf of the system of refrigeration of the EK dismantled SpeedpluS

And of course, the mike: an AMD Athlon with the liberated multiplier, originally of 1,2 GHz. It is of supposing that this will change a little according to the speed of the select model and the epoch of buy; it will have to be something slower than the "official" model without overclocking, but capably of reaching after the overclocking the wished speed of stable form.

In any case, the system is detachable and applicable to other mikes, by what it can begin with a Duron and be updated later an Athlon, both "raised of returns". Also, it seems that EK sells it also "in kit", only the box with the refrigeration system, for the lovers of "Do it Yourself" (DIY, as the Englishmen say).


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