Dell XPS 730 H2C Performance Gaming System

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Overclocking the XPS 730 H2C

 

Before we wrap up the review, we spent some time overclocking our review unit. Remembering that our XPS 730 H2C's QX9770 was factory overclocked to 3.8GHz, a 600MHz bump from its stock frequency of 3.2GHz, we weren't expecting to get too much further. The factory overclock is already fairly high and we were worried that the H2C unit, as good as it is, would not be able to handle four cores at over 4GHz each, especially since we would likely need to increase voltages quite a bit to get there. However, despite our concerns we eventually decided to go ahead and push the machine as far as it would go anyway.

We're not going to explain in detail how we overclocked the XPS 730 H2C since the process is similar to overclocking other machines. We also described the various overclocking settings available in the XPS 730's BIOS on a
previous page. However, if you must know how it was done in more detail, you can check out this video where Louis Bruno of Dell explains the basic overclocking functions available to the XPS 730 and XPS 630 desktop computers.




We started with simply bumping the CPU multiplier up to 11 from the factory overclocked setting of 9.5. This would give us a final CPU frequency of 4.4GHz. Perhaps a bit too optimistic. After the 4th unsuccessful boot, the BIOS automatically put us into 'Safe Mode' and forced us to reconsider our BIOS settings. We eventually arrived at our maximum stable overclock of 4.25GHz at 425MHz FSB (1700MHz quad-pumped) with the the CPU voltage set at 1.536V.


Screenshot of CPU-Z While The XPS 730 H2C Was Overclocked

With these settings, the system was completely stable. However, the CPU temperature was very high. With SpeedStep disabled, the system idled at around 70 degrees Celsius for the hottest of the four cores, and 61 degrees Celsius for the coolest. Under load, the CPU temperatures jumped into the mid-80s. While this is a fairly dangerous temperature for operating a processor for any extended period of time and so is the 1.536V core voltage required to achieve our overclock, we managed to snap some quick benchmarks before anything bad happened.


Overclocking the Dell XPS 730 H2C
Scortching Performance, Literally



We achieved a fairly impressive improvement in 3DMark06. The overclock increased our score by 1792 points to 22210. This isn't a very significant increase until you consider that 3DMark06 is largely a gaming test that puts heavy emphasis on graphics performance and we didn't overclock the graphics cards. We also saw a large performance increase in Cinebench as a result of our overclock. Both the multi-threaded and single-thread test saw large boosts in performance.



Overall, the overclock we were able to achieve is fairly impressive. At 4.25GHz, the processor in our overclocked XPS 730 H2C was operating at 1.05GHz faster than the Intel specified stock speed. It's also a 450MHz boost over Dell's factory overclock. Unfortunately, it took 1.536V worth of core voltage to get here and this resulted in high CPU core temperatures. The overclock is simply not sustainable for everyday use without a significantly increased chance of component failure.

In the end, overclocking is always a game of chance. There is no guarantee that you will be able to duplicate our results. On the other hand, you might find that your particular machine overclocks much better than ours did. However, the risks of overclocking are always present, especially when you are dealing with the temperatures and voltages we are playing with. Thankfully, the XPS 730 H2C is plenty fast at the warrantied factory overclocked speed and further overclocking is largely unnecessary.
 

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