I’ve been seeing a lot of stuff floating around on the internet on how to overclock these new AMD Laptop APU’s. This content consists of mostly a few youtube videos, and a handful of helpful forum posts. So I am taking it upon myself to compile all this information to be helpful to those of you looking to get more performance out of these chips.
Disclaimer and Dangers: Normally laptops are not meant to be overclocked whatsoever. Doing so may also void your warranty on your laptop. Therefore the following information is provided at your OWN risk.
Many problems arise from laptops simply not being able to deliver the power being pulled by the chip if it is overclocked to very high speeds. This may cause problems with the laptop itself, or kill power adapters. Be careful.
AMD introduced their A series laptop APU’s midway through 2011. These chips contain a quad-core CPU with a dedicated class integrated GPU on an all new 32nm process.This makes them a powerful option for the casual gamer, at a cheap, affordable price.
What is unsaid by all the elegant marketing is the overclockability of these APU’s. The CPU portion, being based on the same architecture used in Phenom & Athlon II CPU’s it comes as no surprise that these chips can overclock.
If you are here reading this then you are probably saying, “Okay, well how do I overclock it then?” Well here you are:
Here are some things you need to know before we begin.
1) These chips are based on the stars K10.5 architecture, and therefore share many similarities to Phenom II & Athlon II. This means that all overclocking properties of those chips, apply to these APU’s. That means a few things:
-These chips scale with cooler temperatures, they hate heat
-These chips do not always scale with more voltage (which is also a big no-no in laptop overclocking anyways)
-They perform more or less on par with Phenom II/Athlon II at equal clockspeed
For more of these properties, check out my guide for Phenom II OCing. Click here.
2) This is a mobile platform, therefore they differ slightly from desktop versions of this APU.
-These chips can take more heat, and run hotter by default than desktop processors. This is attributed to the weaker cooling system implemented in a laptop.
-Don’t expect a desktop level overclock out of these machines. I have myself hit a wall for full load use of 2.6GHz.
-On my laptop, I have yet to find a way to overclock the GPU, RAM, or NB. This is expected from an OEM laptop, where things are not meant to be overclocked in the first place.
-Do not use overclock settings while using the battery, unless it is an extreme undervolt. You will just wear your battery faster.
-With the APU’s, the GPU is also on the same die and cooled by the same heatsink. Therefore it is very important to watch the temperatures, and not load the chip too hard.
Programs You Will Need:
K10stat – This is the program that will do the magic. This allows you to change multipliers, dividers, and core voltage for the CPU.
CPU-Z – Optional, but great for monitoring clock speeds of cpu, and checking other specs of your computer.
Core Temp – This program will monitor your APU temps. Sometimes the cpu speeds are displayed inaccurately.
Prime95 and or equivalent – This will stress test your APU to see if it is stable.
Part 1: The Overclocking
It is advantageous to note that these APU’s come with a very high stock voltage. What does this mean for us? It means we can overclock and undervolt the chip at the same time. This allows us to keep heat down, but also overclock to get more performance.
If you open k10stat and go to the “P-state” tab, then you will see numerous items. You will see FID which is your multiplier, DID which is your divider, and CPU voltage for your core voltage. You will also see a list of P-states (B0,P0,P1 …etc). The B0 p-state stands for your turbo boost setting. P0 is your standard stock clockspeed when under load for all the cores. The APU will jump from P0 to B0 for only one core at a time under load. The rest of these P-states are utilized depending on the load of the chip or if it is at idle etc.
Therefore if you want an overclock where the CPU speed will not change at all, you have to adjust all P-states to the desired overclock. If you don’t, the APU will still jump between p-states depending on the processor load. This can also be used at an advantage, so that you only adjust the top P states and not all of them, so at idle you still stay cool and use less power, but under load get the performance of an overclock. Example (DO NOT USE THESE SETTINGS AS THEY MAY NOT WORK FOR YOU):
B0 2450MHz 1.125V
P0 1800MHz 1.0625V
P1 1300MHz 1.0000V
P2 1200MHz 0.9750V
P3 1100MHz 0.9500V
P4 1000MHz 0.9250V
P5 900MHz 0.9000V
P6 800MHz 0.8000V
The best way to create the best set of P-states with your chip is to experiment with different profiles and stress testing them along the way. Setting a low voltage Pstate 5 and 6 can save a lot of battery power!
A good starting point for an overclock is at around 2.3Ghz and 1.1-1.2Vcore. Every chip is different, but these are good starter settings. From there you can tweak in desired increments (I recommend 67MHz multiplier increments, done by using a DID of 1) and adjusting voltage using the drop down menus. Remember to press apply after each change. The max FID is 31, so adjust your DID accordingly. Only increase the voltage if your cooling can take it. The max recommended temperature at full load is 85-90C. If you go over this, your system may shut down your GPU to prevent overheating. You may have to restart your computer.
For my A6-3400M I managed to obtain an overclock of 2.350GHz @ 1.1125Vcore stable. The stock voltage of my chip was 1.3250Vcore for 2.3GHz (Turbo Boost). Usually the chip only runs at 1.4GHz 1.0625Vcore with turbo boost kicking in on one core at a time. Therefore I increased the voltage ~5% for a clockspeed gain of ~59%. Now do you see why these APU’s are winners?
To get this overclock, I used k10stat to manipulate some settings. I proceeded this by setting a DID of 2 (Divider which breaks down each multiplier step in 50MHz increments), and a FID (multipler) of 31. This has to be done for every P-state to ensure your clockspeed won’t jump around (unless of course you only feel like changing your turbo boost p-state). I changed my voltage to 1.1125Vcore. I monitored my CPU speed in CPU-Z to confirm my changes.
UPDATE: If the settings/clocks you are trying to apply are not changing anything according to CPU-Z, then try enabling “Clock Control Function”. This can be done by right clicking on the K10Stat tray icon and clicking on this option. Here is a picture of that:
Be aware that in some cases there is a multiplier bug when going beyond the max stock multiplier. This causes cpuz as well as k10stat to keep showing the clock speed increasing when in reality it is not doing anything. Make sure your OC is working by checking for performance boosts.
Part 2: Stability Testing
This part of the guide is very wide open. As we are not changing ram, HT ref clock, or NB speeds, there are many different stress tests that can be used. I am a folder therefore I stress tested my overclock by running an instance of VMware SMP folding.
For average users out there, I recommend running Prime 95 for at least 3 hours. Watch carefully for temperatures during this run. It would be acceptable to run up to 100C during a Prime 95 test, just not for longer than a few hours.
If you stress test with games, remember that the APU also has a GPU on board, which will add heat if you are doing 3D game rendering. So once again, watch the temperatures.
As I mentioned above, I utilized folding as my stress test. Folding is a very accurate real-world test for me, as it is the only application that will load my processor to 100% and heat it up quite a bit. Here is a screenshot of me folding stable at 2.350Ghz w/ 1.1125Vcore for 9 hours.
And that does it folks. If you are not happy with your achieved overclock after this process, you can repeat the process again, being more aggressive with voltages and clock speed.
I will once again stress, please watch the temperatures. It is easy to overlook such an important factor on a mobile platform.
I hope you enjoyed the guide and get some great performance from your Llano APU!