How to Adjust an AMD Athlon Processor: 5 Steps - MakeSureHow
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AMD released its first Athlon processor in 1999 to compete against Intel's lineup of Pentium CPUs. A year later, the AMD Athlon made its mark in PC history by being the first processor to break the 1GHz speed barrier. Since that time, AMD has released several revisions of the Athlon, and the processor continues to be a worthy competitor of its Intel counterparts. If your system as an Athlon processor, there several methods for adjusting or tweaking settings that will help enhance both performance and system stability.


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    Basic Overclocking Settings: Most Athlon processors overclock reasonably well, which means that you can boost their performance by tweaking clock-speed and multiplier settings. If you have a relatively new Athlon processor (one produced in the last five years or so), you may be able to overclock it using the simple-to-use AMD OverDrive utility for Windows (link in Resources). Even if OverDrive is not compatible with your Athlon CPU, though, you can overclock virtually any AMD processor in the system BIOS. With most AMD motherboards, you can access the BIOS by pressing the "Delete" key during startup. In its simplest form, overclocking is relatively straightforward; you simply increase the core bus speed or multiplier of the Athlon CPU in OverDrive or the Advanced Settings menu of your motherboard's BIOS. Not all Athlon CPUs support changing the multiplier. Nevertheless, virtually all AMD CPUs allow you to change their core bus or clock speeds. "Black" edition AMD Athlon processors are unlocked completely, and allow adjustment of all CPU speed settings. If you are thinking of overclocking your Athlon processor, be aware that doing so does increase heat and power usage.
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    Voltage Settings:If you intend to overclock an Athlon processor a modest amount (less than 10 percent or so,) adjusting only the clock speed of the CPU should suffice. However, if you want to push your Athlon CPU to its performance limits, you may need to adjust the core voltage supplied to the processor as well as other advanced settings. The more you increase the clock speed and multiplier of an Athlon processor, the more voltage it requires. Nevertheless, you should increase the voltage of the processor in very small increments only. You can adjust the voltage of the processor in the AMD OverDrive utility or in the Advanced Settings section of your system BIOS. When adjusting voltage to the CPU, increase the current in .05 to .10-volt increments to avoid damaging your processor and motherboard. Additionally, you should note that increasing the Athlon's core voltage also increases the CPU temperature considerably.
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    GPU Settings:In 2011, AMD started shipping its "A" series of Athlon and Fusion Processors. The A series Athlon CPUs includes an integrated GPU, or Graphics Processing Unit, made by the company's ATI division. The A-series chips provide solid graphics performance for games and other 3D tasks when compared to integrated GPUs from Intel or onboard video chipsets included with some motherboards. If you have an A-series processor, and your motherboard supports the integrated GPU feature, you can adjust the frequency speed and amount of allotted system memory for the video processor in the Advanced Settings section of your system BIOS. You can also choose to disable the integrated GPU if you intend to use a discrete video card in your system. Remember, though, that if you install a discrete video card, you must ensure your power supply can handle the additional current/voltage load.
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    Thermal Protection:Generally speaking, AMD Athlon processors seldom fail and usually last many years. Nevertheless, as with any other CPU, the biggest enemy of an Athlon processor is heat. Therefore, it is essential that you ensure the heatsink and fan affixed to the CPU is able to provide sufficient cooling. The heatsink and fan that ships with AMD Athlon processors does a good job of cooling the CPU at stock speed settings. However, if you overclock your Athlon processor, the stock fan/heatsink may not be able to cool the chip at faster clock speeds. If the Athlon CPU gets too hot, it will usually shut down and crash the system if you're lucky. If the CPU stays too hot for too long, the heat may damage the chip beyond repair. Consequently, if you want to overclock your Athlon CPU, you may want to consider purchasing and installing a high-end cooler from companies such as Cooler Master, Noctua or Thermaltake. When purchasing an aftermarket cooling solution, though, make sure that you buy one that matches the form factor of your Athlon processor – or it won't attach properly to your motherboard. While high-performance fans/heatsinks generally offer much better cooling performance than stock models, they are also usually much louder and use more electricity.
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    Underclocking:Most users prefer a faster processor when using their computer. However, modern Athlon processors run most business and productivity applications at blazing speeds even at stock settings. Generally speaking, you won't need to overclock your Athlon processor unless you play high-end 3D games. In fact, modern AMD Athlon processors may be too fast for some older DOS and 16-bit Windows applications. If your AMD Athlon-equipped system runs at speeds faster than you require, you may want to consider underclocking the CPU. Just as you would when overclocking, you can adjust the clock speed or multiplier of an Athlon processor to reduce its performance. However, to underclock an Athlon CPU, you must adjust the settings in the system BIOS, as the AMD OverDrive utility supports only increasing speed – not lowering it. Other reasons you may want to consider underclocking the Athlon processor include reduced power usage and a slower cooling-fan spin rate, which usually reduces system noise.

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