Outside Loop Afterburner!

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One Hot Athlon Overclocking  Card
From Outside Loop Computers

As the old saying goes, "where there is a will, there is a way".  When AMD's Athlon first hit the market many were disappointed with the lack of user configuration options for the first round of Athlon Motherboards.  Still today, there aren't many boards out there that can do much in the way of overclocking the Athlon. 

That didn't stop the good folks at Outside Loop from inventing a truly convenient way to overclock your Athlon processor in just about any motherboard imaginable.  With the twist of a simple rotary switch the Afterburner Overclocking card from Outside Loop will turn your meager standard speed Athlon into an Overclocked Hot Rod CPU.  Let's have a look...

(click images for a closer view)

OK, I am not going to bore you with a lot of verbatim on this little honey.  I'll just tell you what it is made of and how it works.  The design is clever simplicity.  There are five basic components on this board.
1.  Three rotary switches 
2.  Female three pin power connector - Yes, the Afterburner needs its own power source.
3.  Resistor Pack
4.  "Gold Fingers" Socket Edge Connector
5.  Spacer and Sticky Pad

There are a few things that are obvious with respect to what these components do.  The rotary switches adjust CPU core voltage and clock multiplier.  With an Athlon processor you don't change the core frequency or front side bus speed to overclock.  You have to change the multiplier.  The quick little manual that comes with the Afterburner gives you a table on exactly what combination of settings you need to get the results you are shooting for.  By the way, this is something we should underscore here.  Just because the Outside Loop  Afterburner gives you the ABILITY to overclock your Athlon, doesn't mean your particular CPU can handle it.  Webmasters all over the net will remind you of this general rule of thumb, all CPUs are not created equal.  You could have a speed demon on your hands or a stock can't-handle-the-juice fairy chip.  It is the luck of the draw for the most part.  You can also increase your odds by checking out the database of known good overclocking date and lot codes for various CPUs at www.overclclockers.com

This is what the settings look like in the manual that Outside Loop sends you with the kit. 
Click to read...

Needless to say, you have some headroom for growth here.  You can dial in dozens of different Voltages and Frequency selections by simply lining up your ABCs and 123s.  It doesn't get any easier than this folks.  

To install the Afterburner you need to remove the outer plastic casing of your Athlon leaving in tact the metal heat transfer plate that is attached to the CPU circuit board.  This procedure is relatively easy to perform and there is no need to remove the CPU totally from its transfer plate, which is usually the tough part of decapsulating an Athlon CPU.  You then simply plug the Afterburner's Edge Connector Socket onto the Athlon's "Gold Fingers" mini edge card on the top of the CPU PCB.  The spacer and sticky pad on the back of the Afterburner's PCB, keeps the Afterburner balanced and mounted correctly on the Athlon card edge.  You almost don't even need the sticky pad but it is there for extra security.  Once the Afterburner is installed on your CPU, it is also very easy to change settings while it is plugged into your motherboard inside your case.  You do this with the power off, of course.  

Here is a shot of the Afterburner installed on a typical CPU and Heat Sink / Fan combo.

But what about the fact that this board needs its own power supply and what does that Resistor Pack do?  Rather than guess, we asked Dave Jeffers, Lead Designer and Inventor of the Afterburner, these very questions.  Here's the response we got.

Why do you need the resistor pack on board and why the external power source?

Dave J
If refer you to www.tomshardware.com  The external power source is needed to pull up the voltage on the 4 FID pins and 4 VID pins in the specified sequence to "dial in" the correct multiplier and core voltage settings for the Athlon, described by Tom.  While 5V is called for from Tom, 12V works just as well, and since fan y-pass through adapters splice into 12V from any molex connector, we decided why not use it!  The resistor pack is needed to "pull down" this 12V to ground at each of the pins, when called for.  Specifically, in order to generate a "low" digital signal at a given pin (without removing the surface mount resistors already on the Athlon--the REAL challenge to the whole project!), one must "pull down" the 12V over a rather small resistance to  generate this "low" state.  In the process, you generate fairly large current through the given resistor when it is switched to ground, so the resistor needs to be of sufficient power rating (ours are designed for 300mW max).  Tom's design further calls for 8 more 56 ohm resistors over the BP_FID lines, however, we found these were unnecessary, as the overclocked Athlon is stable without the resistors.

What exactly do the other switches that don't control the voltage to the core do? I know they change the clock frequency but how? Is it just the multiplier or other things too?

Dave J
OK.  The other two switches control the FIDs and BP_FIDs.  Toms hardware again lays out the recipe for each desired frequency, however, he incorrectly switched two of the pins, A18 and A19.

Clear as mud right?  :)  Well, if you don't have an electrical engineering degree, it is safe to say that this little piece of technological ingenuity just plain does what it claims to do.

So what exactly were we able to achieve with the Afterburner on our lowly Athlon 500?





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