04 July 2010

Stubborn Noob or Over-clock Your HP Mini 311

Mucking with the BIOS is not easy business. It is not to be taken lightly and something not generally advised to newbies to try. Because one wrong move and your netbook, most of the time if not always, is on its way to your nearest service center when still covered with warranty or to the nearest dumpsite when warranty is expired and you can't afford to pay or simply just procure the service of BIOS chip replacement/reprogramming. And I know this is true cause I just bricked my HP Mini 311 because of inattentive over-clocking.

Nonetheless, I said I was still gonna try over-clocking despite all that's happened.

Here's my "About This Mac" screenie:
Normally I'm hesitant about running non-stock elements on my gadgets. But then I wanted to change that HP logo during boot up with my own stuff (and yep, it's Apple/Mac OS X related). 
Since editing the latest F.15 Insyde BIOS from HP to integrate the custom image I wanted would make it technically non-stock, I thought I'd rather go all the way and flash my 311 with icelord's de-whitelisted F.15 edited to include my choice of logo of course. That way, I can also install any card that works with Snow Leopard on the half-height PCI slot.

CAUTION: The following instructions below are to be carried out AT YOUR OWN RISK. I am not responsible for any damage resulting from this.

What You Need:
1. USB flash drive - the HP Mini 311, some say, is picky with USB's. Use one that you've tested to work before - in the previous BIOS updates, F.14 and below.
2. Icelord's F.15 - I had renamed the approprate file, which is 1 MB in size, to 3561.BIN. The BIOS file is also included in Retail Pack 0.9.

Prepare the USB to be used as BIOS flasher:
1. Format the USB drive to FAT32 - I normally do this in Windows, just to be sure.
2. Put 3561.BIN, the one you downloaded above, to the USB drive.

Flash the BIOS:
1. Turn off the HP Mini 311 and remove the battery. Make sure you plug its AC adapter to electricity source.
2. Plug in the USB BIOS flasher - I prefer using the USB port at the left, along side the AC adapter/power port.
3. Press "Windows" and "B" keys at the same time. Hold for around 15 seconds.
4. Without letting go of "Windows" and "B" keys, press the Power button to turn on the machine. Wait for about 15 seconds.
5. Let go of the two keys. In the next 10 - 30 seconds or so, your HP Mini 311 will beep and its fan will run. DO NOT TURN IT OFF or do anything, let it do its own thing and IT WILL TURN OFF ON ITS OWN.
6. Plug in the battery back and plug out the USB BIOS flasher. Verify that you do have F.15 bios by pressing F10 before the computer loads the OS.

1. Inside the BIOS screen (press F10 to get to the BIOS), use the arrow key to go to the AdvancedPerformance Options: (press Enter to actually get into the screen you want for editing)
2. By default, the System Clock Mode is set to Auto. Change that to Linked:

3. Change the FSB - Memory Ratio to 3:2:
4. Set your FSB Clock the important thing to note is to NOT EXCEED 800 MHz in total for the Atom N280 as this is its limit. 
There are 2 figures to set up here. 
- FSB Clock (MHz) has pre-defined numbers which you choose from: 256, 512, 768; and 
- + (MHz) is user-defined. You can directly input numbers upto 2 decimal places, that is you can press "9" twice on the keyboard and you get "99" (highest by direct keyboard input). Higher than that, use F6 key to increase value by 1. Use F5 to decrease value by 1. 
My personal recommendation is to use only 780 MHz FSB as maximum which gives me a 2.06 GHz clock for the Atom N280 and 1666 MHz for DDR3. 
So my input would be 768 + 16:
5. Leave Memory Timing as it is; Auto. DOUBLE CHECK that your total FSB DOES NOT EXCEED 800 MHz. Press F10 to save changes as you exit the BIOS.

Unlike the Atom N270, the Atom N280 has a multiplier of only 10 instead of the latter's 12. This is the reason why the N270 can be over-clocked higher than the N280.

What does a Mini MacBook 311 gain by over-clocking?
To be perfectly honest, aside from seeing a clock speed other than 1.67 GHz on my About This Mac window, I don't know. 
I did try to run Windows 7 experience test again after over-clocking and it still gave "3.2" as rating. But Windows 7 did, however, sense that there was a change in my hardware configuration and thus ran the test again.
Some say the system responds better with the higher clock but I guess my day to day computing activities are not those that benefit greatly from the increase in numbers. I'd like to say that Safari launches by at least one second faster than it would normally before, but I'm afraid that since I haven't run any timer tests on launching apps, it would only be a major blasphemy on my end.
Suffice it to say that so far, 2.06 GHz on my Mini MacBook 311 running 10.6.4 has been stable. 
I still got that nasty "Backtrace terminated - invalid frame pointer 0xb0182d78" kernel panic at one point, but I'd blame the ApplePS2 kexts more for that.


Anonymous said...

Brilliant!! I can't wait to do this to my Mini. What a cool mod, keep them coming!

Elijah said...

Very simple and to the point. Thank you.

jovy said...

i was able to push the fsb clock to 800mhz, been running stable for a while now.

LeMaurien19 said...

I find it amusing that resulting clock speed in relation to FSB is inconsistent.

For ex. I put 768+32=800MHz, I get 2.06GHz CPU clock. That's the highest FSB.

And then I put 768+16=780MHz, and I get the same 2.06GHz CPU clock.

Somewhere in between, although I now longer remember exactly at which FSB speed but it's definitely lower than 800MHz, I got 2.08GHz, the highest I got so far.


GekigangerV said...

When I over clock with 768 + anything, OS X states that I'm running at 2.43 GHz.

LeMaurien19 said...

^I'd venture you have the Atom N270 version of the HP Mini 311. It's multiplier is x12 while the N280, which is what I have and what this post is talking about, only has x10.

Hence the difference - the N280 would never reach clockspeed 2.2 GHz and based on my personal experience, its max is 2.08 GHz which I came by with 768 + 24 | 3:2 linked.

Agustin said...

i just followed your instructions and mine says 2.45 is that too high? mine is a 270 CPU


LeMaurien19 said...

The N270 can reach clockspeeds that the N280 cannot. What's the limit for the N270? I have no idea, I only have the N280 Mini 311...

And does not the comment directly above yours answer your question already? ;-)

Agustin said...

ohh ok.. yeah i saw the the question from above.. but its different that it can reach that speed and work and reach it and burn out.. i dont want my mini to explode! not now XD hahaha well thanks anyway..

LeMaurien19 said...

^Oh, ok. Well, personally, I won't keep mine running at maximum clock.

But then, honestly speaking, I don't see much improvement - if none at all - with an overclocked CPU compared to the default HP sanctioned (and I presume, warranty approved) clockspeed.

If I find it absolutely necessary, I clock mine only about half way up, Id'say 1.83 GHz - my N280's default is 1.67 GHz and max is 2.08 Ghz (max 800 FSB).

alex aesthetics said...

i feel utterly sick...

after successfully completing the install of OS X Snow Leopard, i decided to try my hand at this.

i followed the steps to a point, and after i hit the F10 button at the end of the guide, it defaulted to a black screen where nothing was happening...

so i decided to try and reflash the BIOS (and repeat the steps).

now i am stuck at step 5, with the flash drive in the mini, the adapter plugged it, the mini powered on... but nothing happening...

i guess i just need someone to confirm for me that i did indeed brick the netbook huh? should i just power it off, take out the USB, and sell the netbook for parts now? (oi...)

or are there any other options for me?


alex aesthetics said...

an update:

it looks as all is not lost.
i can buy a new BIOS Chip online and replace it.

but it looks as though its tricky work.

might just bring it someone.


LeMaurien19 said...

@alex aesthetics
Assuming you did not go beyond 800MHz FSB, unplug your machine from direct electricity source, take out the battery. Let it cool off a bit, put the battery back in, see if it's ok.

If it still isn't, you can try disconnecting the CMOS battery - it might feel a bit stuck in there, it's below the RAM slot when you open the flap at the back.

If that still doesn't work, I'm afraid we'd have to let HP Service Center take over.

I, too, have been experimenting with clockspeeds last night. I wanted to hit a perfect 1.86 GHz clock and tried to put:

- 3:2 Linked
- 512 +
- 216
- which should be = 728 MHz FSB

I thought it was safe since this was way below the 800 MHz FSB cap I knew was the limit.

But then, I couldn't complete even 1 Mac OS X boot; KP. So I restarted and tried and tried, until my Mini 311 sort of froze at boot. I unplugged it from AC adapter, removed the batt, let it cool off a bit, and thankfully it turned on fine. I immediately pressed F10 to get to the BIOS and F9 to revert everything back to default.

Whew! It was really a close call.

I now personally DO NOT encourage overclocking at all - at least for HP Mini 311 with the Atom N280. It does not seem to be as resilient to clockspeed changes like the N270.

Will edit this post to officially include this observation.

All the best to you and I hope you sort out your Mini.

alex aesthetics said...

@lemaurien19 it looks like my netbook is still under warranty & i will be shipping it out to HP for the BIOS repair.

id like to ask u, since i read that u previously encountered this, how specific should i be in describing the systems and what occurred?

i am concerned with how much detail i should give them regarding the osx86 and the overclocking the bios.

LeMaurien19 said...

^I, for one, did not give any further details other than that my Mini 311 won't boot up. No logo.

What I did though is take off the hard drive, put it in my MSI Wind and wiped out my OS X install. I would have put Windows but I didn't have my installer at hand at that time, and so I had the 311 sent to HP with Ubuntu in its hard drive.

The technicians didn't seem to have any clue at all about overclocking - the repair job order slip they gave me only said: "No display".

That said, they didn't think I did anything to void the warranty.

Anonymous said...

how do i install a custom image for the boot logo like you? I really like your apple logo as the boot image!

Jeyzey said...

I have Hp mini 311 1002TU
Icelord's F.15 Invalid or Deleted File?
How can i burn the OSX .dmg?

J H said...

It looks like this is all MAC. Does anyone know if this will work with a Windows system?

J H said...

It looks like this is all MAC. Does anyone know if this will work with a Windows system?