Overclocking Dell Vostro 220

Update (06-09-10): at least one report in the comments confirm stability of the hack when applied on the E7500 processor as well. Its almost one year down the road from the original hack and my E7400 is still running smoothly at 3500 MHz. I recently took the Dell apart again to fit a new Intel X25-M SSD 80 GB in it and was quite surprised at how absolutely clogged up the machine was with dust; biyearly hovering of PSU and CPU fans is definitely called for.

This particular hardware hack was performed using a modified edition of the so-called BSEL hack on the Intel Core 2 Duo E7400 processor that I got with the machine from Dell. Unfortunately only older guides for BSEL hacks seem to be floating about and most of them require use of conductive ink. Not so easy.

Basically after finding image on ocforums.com showing a 1066 MHz to 1333 MHz FSB hack performed by using tape I rejoiced; the worst thing that could possibly happen was a total Dell meltdown.

So I took the Vostro apart (they are by the way incredibly nicely build (and silent) machines) and put, I’m sorry but yes, ordinary-99-penny-postoffice-brown-tape over one of the pins on the bottom of the CPU. This tape was cut out to fit on a scientific scale by using a pair of kitchen scissors. See image.

Intel Core 2 Duo E7400 BSEL Overclock

Intel Core 2 Duo E7400 BSEL Overclock

Prime95 2hrs stress testing

Prime95 & Core Temp after 2hrs of stress testing

This worked when I put in back in the computer and actually allowed me to boot into Windows with a 3491.3 MHz (332.5 * 10.5) clock speed, so I decided to run a few benchmarks. First of all I did 2 hours of Prime95 stress testing (I know probably too little but the temp stabilized already after an hour so I’m not concerned) which worked flawlessly and only took the temp up to a max of 50c (measured with Core Temp) on one of the cores.

CPU-Z stats

CPU-Z stats

Then, seeing as the temperature was stable and so forth I found it prudent to put some actual evidence up to suggest that this is not total bullcr*p, tada, enter CPU-Z verified overclock, or seeing as you may find me trustworthy anywho simply have a closer look at the image on the left.

As a final little prod to make it clear that this is absolutely all in all brilliant I took an extended screenshot from PerformanceTest (nice benchmark software from PassMark; they have free 30 day trial out and that should do fine if all you want to do is ascertain the awesomeness of your overclocking adventure). In order to view the image full resolution you’ll have to click it a few times to get the fullscreen version and then make sure your browser isn’t scaling it to see the neato details. One more thing: “This Computer” represents the 3.50 GHz overclock and the other two are simply in there for you to see that not only is the CPU at this speed about 15-20% faster than stock speed but it also about 15% faster than the much more expensive Core 2 Duo E8400 (!)

CPU PerformanceTest 7.0 Benchmark

CPU PerformanceTest 7.0 Benchmark

What the above does not touch upon is the fact that the increased FSB (1066MHz to 1333MHz) has allowed everything from the (admittedly shitty) integrated graphics card to the RAM to run 10 to 15% faster. And it shows. Now.. about that solid state drive..