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Sharky Extreme : Hardware Guides January 12, 2012
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Pentium 4 Northwood Overclocking Guide

By Bao Ly :  July 4, 2002

CPU Cooling Options

The Pentium 4 Northwood processor uses a 1.5V default core voltage and coupled with its 013-micron die, these allow it to run remarkably cool. CPU cooling is where we start hitting the point of diminishing returns with the Pentium 4, and although a huge heatsink with a loud fan may yield better performance, the added cost and noise is not always worth it. The retail boxed Pentium 4 processors ships with a pretty hefty heatsink, using high-quality Sanyo Denki fan spinning at a very comfortable 3000 RPM. We feel confident with the stock cooler for basic overclocking, simply because at full load, the core temperature reported in the BIOS doesn't go much above 40 degrees C even at high core speeds. In our experience, the cooling solution chosen seems to only have a very marginal impact on the overclocked speeds attained, with the quality of the core being a far more important factor.

However, for those that simply refuse to use the stock cooler, there are a few cooling options available. The Alpha PAL8942 is the socket 478 version of their popular PAL8045 Athlon 80mm heatsink and its approximate $40 price tag certainly won't break the bank. You can also control the noise level of this cooler by simply buying an 80MM fan with a slower or variable rotational speed and lower noise level, such as the popular Panaflow models. The Swiftech MCX478 heatsink is very similar to the Alpha PAL8942, however the cost is much higher for a slight performance advantage. The heatsink alone it is over $60-$70, not counting the additional cost of a cooling fan.

The Thermaltake Volcano7+ A1254 heatsink is unique in that it is an all-copper cooler that is mountable on Socket 478 Pentium 4, Athlon Socket A, and Intel Pentium III processors. It even has a variable fan speed controller to adjust the performance/noise ratio. The price is around $30-$35, and it includes an 80mm fan. If you're the type that likes to upgrade processors on a regular basis, then you may want to check out the CoolerMaster DI4-7H53D. It may not be high-end in terms of cooling or price, but with detachable, swivel clips, it is by far the most easy-to-remove Pentium 4 HSF we've ever seen and is an absolute joy to install.

In terms of overall cooling and value, the best bet would probably be the Alpha PAL8942, but the others have their benefits as well. The Thermaltake is quite flexible across a wide range of processors, and anyone who has ever had to remove a Pentium 4 from a crowded case, may well start praying at the CoolerMaster altar. For the purpose of this guide though, we'll be using the retail cooler, not only because it does a fine job, but it also helps cut down on costs. One important note is that many coolers (including the retail HSF) come with an annoying thermalpad, and should be carefully scraped off (using a plastic non-scratch implement) and cleaned. Removing the thermalpad and replacing it with Artic Silver 3 (or similar) thermal compound is always the best solution, and it provides a much tighter link between the HSF and the CPU core.

Page 1


Page 2

Choosing the Right Pentium 4 Northwood

Page 3

Selecting a Motherboard Platform

  • Page 4

    CPU Cooling Options

    Page 5

    Overclocking Test Systems

    Page 6

    Pentium 4 Northwood Overclocking Basics

    Page 7

    Pentium 4-1.6A, 1.8A and 2.0A Overclocking Results

    Page 8

    Quake 3 & 3DMark 2001SE Overclock Performance

    Page 9

    SiSoft SANDRA Performance and Conclusion