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[ The PC Guide | System Optimization and Enhancement Guide | System Optimizations and Enhancements | General System Performance Optimization ]

Ensure Optimal Bus Speed Settings

On a modern system, the speed of the processor is a function of the system bus (memory bus) speed, and the clock multiplier used to determine the ratio of the system bus speed and the processor speed. So a Pentium Pro 200 runs at 200 MHz on a 66 MHz system bus, using a 3x multiplier; 3x66 is 200 (66 is really 66.6666...)

In some cases, there is more than one way to generate the correct bus speed for a particular processor speed. If you have a processor running at this speed, you want to make sure that you use the fastest bus speed supported by the motherboard/chipset. There aren't many processors for which this is an issue, but for a few of them it is:

  • Pentium 100: The 100 MHz Pentium can be run at either 2x50 or 1.5x66. The preferred setting is the latter, which will yield a performance improvement if substituted for the former.
  • Pentium 150: This chip runs at 150 MHz, which can be obtained by setting the system two different ways: 3x50 and 2.5x60. Of course, the latter is preferred.
  • Cyrix 6x86-PR200: This chip also runs at 150 MHz, but is in fact designed to be run on a 75 MHz motherboard at 2x75. It can also be set to 2.5x60 or 3x50, but 2x75 is what will yield the performance level that Cyrix claims is equivalent to a Pentium 200. Beware, however, that even if the motherboard is rated at 75 MHz, this does not mean that all the components on it are; you may be inadvertently overclocking parts of your system. See here for more.

Note: Exceeding either the rated system bus speed of the motherboard/chipset, or the rated speed of the processor is considered overclocking. For example, the Pentium 166 is designed to be run at 2.5x66 MHz; you could run it at 2x83 MHz if your motherboard supported it, but in this case the chipset is overclocked unless it supports 83 MHz operation, and expansion cards and peripherals may be overclocked as well.

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