Overclocking the Atom Processor

Zotac provides a couple of performance tweaking options within its BIOS. You can set memory latencies manually as well as adjust the FSB and memory clocks. The biggest failure here is the inability to adjust the Atom’s core voltage, which is ultimately what limits how far we can push the processor.

The Atom 330 runs at 1.6GHz by default with a 12.0x multiplier and a 533MHz quad-pumped FSB frequency (133MHz source clock x 4). Bumping the FSB up to 667MHz gave me a 2.0GHz clock frequency and I was actually able to boot into Windows at that speed. Unfortunately, even with additional cooling, that wasn’t stable enough to complete my benchmarks. I suspect that with additional voltage I’d be able to get 2.0GHz stable.

I backed down to a 640MHz FSB, resulting in a 1.92GHz CPU frequency and the result was completely stable over the course of several hours of benchmarking. Performance also went up by a good amount:

  x264 HD Encode (1st Pass) World of Warcraft Frame Rate Power Consumption
Atom 330 @ 1.92GHz 14.5 fps 20.5 fps 28.5W
Atom 330 @ 1.60GHz 12.2 fps 17.7 fps 28.2W


I generally saw a 15 - 19% increase in performance over the stock 1.60GHz Atom 330, which is quite good given that it’s a 20% increase in CPU frequency. I kept memory clock stationary at 800MHz but I’m guessing there’s additional room for a performance boost if you overclock that as well.

Power consumption only went up 0.3W from 28.2W to 28.5W - even overclocked, the Atom is a very efficient microprocessor.

Watching Flash Video on the Ion Cooling the Zotac Ion
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  • Anand Lal Shimpi - Tuesday, May 19, 2009 - link

    The Logitech G5 actually sets this option to true by default in Windows Vista, and yes it was enabled. I'm still waiting to hear back from Zotac on it.

    Take care,
  • Badkarma - Wednesday, May 20, 2009 - link

    Thanks for writing something on the Wake on USB issue, it's really too bad Zotac leaves this feature out on HTPC-centric mobos.
  • icrf - Tuesday, May 19, 2009 - link

    I'm more curious about HD flash video, like Dr. Horrible on Hulu, or NCIS on CBS, or Heroes on NBC, than I am about SD flash scaled to HD resolutions. I haven't had major issues with SD hulu on my Atom netbook, but the HD content would be nice, especially considering how awesome this would be as an HTPC.

    But, that aside, wake-on-usb for a remote is the primary concern. Keep hounding them for us. :)
  • icrf - Tuesday, May 19, 2009 - link

    Also, on scaling flash video to full screen, I think there are underlying problems. My C2D E6600 can't smoothly scale flash video on my WQXGA moniter. I checked task manager, and the CPU isn't maxed out, but the video is pretty jumpy. My 1024x600 Atom netbook does just fine. Different browsers don't make any difference on either box.
  • ltcommanderdata - Tuesday, May 19, 2009 - link

    I wonder if you could do a review of the GN40 chipset and compare it to the 945G and Ion. The GN40 and the GMA 4000 may not be as fast as the nVidia 9300, but it seems that the primary limitation in gaming is Atom itself anyways even with Ion. The GN40 is supposed to offer accelerated 720p playback so it may well be good enough on the multimedia side.

    It also wouldn't surprise me if the GN40/GMA4000 is what is integrated into Pineview.
  • icrf - Tuesday, May 19, 2009 - link

    I thought the HD-decoding GPU wasn't actually an Intel part? If that's the case, it's doubtful the current GPU is what makes it on-die.
  • MadMan007 - Tuesday, May 19, 2009 - link

    Is it possible wake on USB is a chipset problem? Do other manufacturer's GF9300/9400 motherboards have no issue waking from USB?

    Anyway Atom is still a little too underwhelming to me for what I'd look to use it for. I'd rather go with the Zotac 9300ITX LGA775 and a cheap C2D-based Celeron. Poor flash video playback just kills it, maybe Adobe will make those things GPU-accelerated in the future. If that or other tasks that require some modicum of CPU grunt weren't expected I'd get a 945-based Atom board.
  • plschwartz - Friday, September 4, 2009 - link

    I think I read that the 9300 775 board in newer revisions now wake on USB But the earlier versions are still sold in US.
    I am going to Hong Kong next month and will get board there.
    How on this board can one find out the revision number?

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