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2015 KickAss Gear

 

 

Ninja Micros "FreeSpeed Pro" Athlon Overclock Card Dr. John
Ninja Micros: FreeSpeed Pro

  The presence of the so-called "Golden Fingers" connector on the Athlon processor has led a number of companies to manufacture variable-resistance add-on cards that will fit this connector.  They allow the user to adjust the resistance values in the circuits that determine the multiplier setting on the processor.  A UK-based company called Ninja Micros has introduced a low cost dip-switch type Golden Finger card for overclocking the AMD Athlon CPU called the "FreeSpeed Pro".

  Athlon processors currently can be overclocked by applying different voltages and resistances to the Golden-Fingers edge connector.  So Athlon overclock cards are simple circuits that apply variable voltages and resistances to the individual fingers on the Golden Fingers connector. The two variables you can change are the core voltage supplied to the CPU, and the multiplier that is applied to the CPU.  You can read more about Athlon Overclocking here.

  The FreeSpeed Pro was the second commercial unit to market, and has the distinct advantage of being less expensive than the competition.  Ninja Micro kept the board small, and used the less expensive dip-switch method to adjust resistance values. The first commercial Athlon overclock card we know of was the Afterburner, which we reviewed here.  There is no functional difference between the two cards, but there are physical differences.

  The Afterburner lays flat across the top of the Athlon's printed circuit board.  It does not have a secure method of fastening it to the Athlon.

Afterburner Athlon OC card

  In contrast, the FreeSpeed Pro is smaller, and sticks vertically up from the Golden Finger connector.  It also does not come with a method of securing it to the Athlon, but due to it's smaller size, it stays on the Golden Finger connector better. 

FreeSpeed Pro

  Because it sticks out of the Athlon vertically, the FreeSpeed Pro can not be used with cases that have CPU cooling fans like the Antec Gemstone Series, including the Sapphire and Ruby designer cases.

  We tested the FreeSpeed Pro overclock card on two OEM Athlon 550 CPUs with the Alpha heat sink and cooler installed. Both CPUs ran perfectly at 700MHz with a core voltage of 1.7 volts.  By increasing the core voltage to 1.75 we got one of the two CPUs to be stable at 750MHz, but the other processor did not pass our stability tests at this speed.  These are the same results we obtained with the Afterburner card. So even though the Afterburner card is easier to set the core voltage and multiplier settings using dials, the FreeSpeed Pro is functionally equivalent, and costs $15 to $20 (US) less.  This makes the FreeSpeed Pro the best value for overclocking your Athlon CPU.

  Overclocking Note:  If you have the Asus K7M motherboard, and get a warning beep when you overclock the your Athlon, you can fix this by turning off the BIOS monitoring of the CPU core voltage. Telling the BIOS to ignore the core voltage will stop the beeping.  Check your Asus K7M manual if you don't know how to do this.

Summary:

  The FreeSpeed Pro is the way to go to help keep costs down while overclocking your Athlon CPU as high as it will go.  And after all, the whole purpose of overclocking is to save money over buying the high-priced, higher speed Athlon CPUs.


Pros:
  • Great Price!
  • Easy to use
  • Overclocks the Athlon as well as any card available
  • Best way to save money on overclocking
Cons: 
  • Dip switches are harder to set than dials
  • Because it sticks out vertically, the FreeSpeed Pro can not be used with cases that have CPU cooling fans like the Antec Gemstone Series (Sapphire, etc)
  • Like all Athlon overclock cards, you need to remove the plastic casing on the Athlon, which voids your warranty from AMD

FreeSpeed Pro Rating: 5 out of 5 smiley faces
:) :) :) :) :) +

Availability: Good

  Doc's Note:  It is not clear that Athlon overclocking will be possible in the future.  AMD, like Intel, is shifting it's processor line back to a pin-and-socket ("Socket-A") format.  When this happens, and the Slot-A format is phased out, Athlon overclocking will probably come to an abrupt end.  It will still be possible to get a small boost by overclocking the Athlon's font side bus frequency, but this option does not provide nearly as large a performance increase as with multiplier overclocking.

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