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"In essence, with an Athlon you get more processor speed for your buck (500-K7 to 700-K7 etc.)."

It was around then that a group of Athlon and Overclocking experts known as 'NinajaMicro' brought out a tiny piece of hardware that held the potential to change the processor race once again. It was known as the 'FreeSpeed Pro' card and it connected to the Athlons 'Feature Connector' at the top of every K7 CPU. It allowed you to physically change not only the Mhz speed but also the voltage of the CPU directly.

This wouldn't have been so useful had it not been discovered that AMD manufactured their CPU's not as individuals but as groups. In essence this meant that the early K7-500 CPU's had the CPU core of an Athlon650Mhz. Despite being built on 0.25Micron, with a little extra cooling anybody could take their lowly 500 to 650Mhz and have it run almost literally as fast as a REAL 650. Newer Athlons are even more varied, it's possible to get some 550's that are 0.18Micron and have 750cores!

What's this got to do with overclocking!?

Overclocking is the key; it's the access that consumers require in order to turn the market in their favour and one that is readily available and doesn't throw itself in your face. At the time of my original editorial the only way to take a casual Athlon500 and put it into 550 gear, was to do a bit of 'shaky' soldering or risk adjusting the FSB (difficult on K7's).

The 'FreeSpeed Pro' cards coming into existence suddenly gave the casual Athlon user an ability to pump their old Athlons up several price ranges in power. True the newer Pentium3's when combined with less 'Intel' specific hardware can also do this, but not for the same cost and performance you get (also need to be clever). In essence, with an Athlon you get more processor speed for your buck (500-K7 to 700-K7 etc.).

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