PLANTATION, FLA. Dec. 30, 1999. Not satisfied with proving Intel to be entirely too conservative with respect to the performance capabilities of the Celeron® processor, ComputerNerd USA is now taking on AMD with a new product which gives overclockers complete control over the Athlon® processor.
Like the other "Golden Fingers" products currently on the market, ComputerNerd's RAK71 POW!er Boost controller is based on the now-famous Make your own Athlon® Overclocking Device article by Tom Pabst. As explained in the excellent FAQ from Tech-Report, this is one of several possible methods for overclocking the Athlon®. Its main advantages are simplicity for the user, comparatively low cost and control over both multiplier and core voltage.
Although a tremendous demand by overclockers is developing for this type of product, ComputerNerd has delayed entry into the market long enough to be able to benefit from the mistakes and shortcomings of the first products which have been rushed into production by competitors.
The first lesson has been to do a thorough job of research and development prior to product release. For example, some resistor values in Tom's article are capable of producing damage to internal circuitry of the Athlon® and should definitely not be used. Users attempting to "roll their own" Golden Fingers based on Tom's article should be aware of this danger. Also, at least one competitor has had to recall a product which could fail if the instructions for switch settings were not exactly followed. In the case of another competitor's product, critical resistors have been omitted which our testing shows should be included for guaranteed operating stability. The POW!er Boost controller from ComputerNerd observes AMD's specifications for maximum internal voltages and dissipations and has been thoroughly tested for safe and reliable operation.
Secondly, ComputerNerd has designed the POW!er Boost controller with all the capabilities needed for FULL overclocking control, not just some of them. A prime objective of many overclockers is to take an inexpensive Athlon® rated at a lower speed to 750 MHz or even faster. To accomplish this, the divisor for the L2 cache onboard the processor has to be throttled back to a lower value and, unfortunately, this cannot be accomplished via the Golden Fingers edge connector on the CPU. However, it can be done using "passive" control in which resistors on the CPU are replaced by switched resistors in the control device wired to the same points. The POW!er Boost is the first and only active Golden Fingers controller announced to date with provisions for controlling the Athlon®'s L2 cache divisor. The card is designed with the switches and layout needed for switched cache control, while the resistors and cables are optional. The user can save money by buying the card without these components, but can upgrade by adding them himself or by trading up to the full-featured version.
A final basic objective of the POW!er Boost design is to offer the highest quality, greatest operational flexibility and absolute reliability with avoidance of frills that add to cost but not real value, The means that have been used to achieve these objectives include:
Use of a manufactured dual-sided printed circuit card with surface mounted resistors. With dimensions of only 1 x 2 inches, the board is the smallest controller yet announced (and close to the smallest possible). The small size lowers cost of the controller, makes it less obtrusive and reduces risk of accidental damage. It also increases reliability compared with hand-wired circuits. The POW!er Boost carries an unconditional lifetime warranty.
The compact dimensions allow usage with or without the CPU cartridge faceplate and with tall heatsinks such as ComputerNerd's EIGHTY-ON Athlon® cooler. Both features may be important where very effective cooling is needed, and some competitive products do not have these capabilities.
All cables (5 Volt power and L2 cache leads) are soldered to the board, eliminating the cost, unreliability and wasted space of connectors.
Power is taken from a pass-through power-supply connector and NOT from a 12-Volt motherboard header which would be a waste of power and dangerous for the motherboard.
Switches are conventional DIP type, NOT rotary. Use of rotary switches would add to cost and still require a look-up table to determine the required setting.
Users set the BP-FID multiplier with only four SPDT switches rather than having to set eight SPST switches as in some other products.
A LED power-on indicator light is NOT provided because it would add to cost and be of zero real value.
Price for the Basic version of the POW!er Boost controller (without L2 cache resistors and cables) is $44.95, and the Advanced version with full hardware for L2 cache control is $59.95. It is both the lowest-priced and most powerful active Golden Fingers controller yet announced. Deliveries will commence by the end of January.