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Challenge - describe 'overclocking' the most harmless way possible


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...idea came during a random MSN conversation.


During an interview, you're often asked to tell about your hobbies. If you describe overclocking 'as it is' you'll use terms which in eyes of a non-OC person mean 'deliberate hardware damage'.

The challenge - is there a way to fully describe what we do (modding + clocking + cooling) as a 100% harm-free activity to a noob? :D

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Overclockers run computer parts on custom frequencies at custom temperatures. All components are rated for stable operation at specified frequency and voltage settings under standardized cooling solutions. After improving the cooling or power delivery, we overclockers then test the limits of how components operate. With custom air, water, or subzero cooling there are no ratings or settings a component is approved for - through testing, overclockers find those frequency and voltage limits. Stability is the ultimate test - what frequencies and voltages can we use in order to run a specific set of tasks successfully.

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All hardware components are rated to work at a certain frequency. This frequency is usually far from what the hardware can really hit. It's because manufacturers leave some reserve to verify that their hardware will work stable under worst conditions - high temperatures, bad power supply, ECS motherboards and so on.

On the other hand this means that providing good conditions to the CPU we can elevate it's stable frequency. And this is exactly where overclocking starts from.

Why bother buying the high-end $1k CPUs when their only difference from cheaper ones is usually the frequency? It's just the manufacturer who tested them to work stable on higher frequency and rated them appropriately. Using mentioned earlier tricks we can achieve even higher speed than those high-end CPUs.

Assume your lovely BF3 says your videocard can run only solitaire. Well sometimes this is true. But sometimes you need only a little boost to shot the lags.

It's always cheaper to use the same GPU for a bunch of VGA models just crippling it with either pipelines or frequency. Sometimes you can get the disabled pipes work. And even if it's not the case there's frequency slider left. You bump it and get higher frequency than the top card using this GPU had. The next thing that comes to your mind - hey, how can I get even more from this one? You compare the conditions both card work at and see that the more powerful one runs at higher voltage while being based on the same GPU. You raise the voltage of your card and get extra MHz. Then you raise the voltage a little bit more. There the heat issue strikes you. You improve the cooling and temps lower down. Then it's videomemory time. You read the datasheet on the memory chips and see that this model line is presented with a number of models. And the high-end ones use higher memory timings and voltage. Since they're based on the same silicon you want to check your guess. You modify the timings and raise the voltage using the high-end chips as an example. You achieve even higher frequency and thus overall VGA performance. Then you read the datasheet more attentively and find the "Absolute max ratings" and you see that the voltage you've set is far from what the chip manufacturer has checked as an acceptable limit. You raise the voltage even more and you see that they chips are really hot. You stick radiators on them and put a fan to cool them down. And you get some more speed and some more FPS.


Oh, BF3 is running nice - go to the fridge and get some bear before shooting time starts.

But then you think that not everything in your computer is pushed to the limit at that thought doesn't let you sleep at night. You start overclocking the CPU, the RAM.


Then you think - hey maybe my card is the fastest of it's kind? You find HWBot... hey, what the f**k is LN2? You start looking for Dewar ads and saving pocket money to get 20L. Well that's a whole different story where the extreme part starts.


It's like the transition from hobby car tuning to Formula 1 where you need to realize what you are going to do.

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Overclocking is about making screenshots of most likely CPUz, several popular but partly old-fashioned and cpu-bound 3D Marks, a nice new graphics demo for DX9 and DX11 called Unigine and some SuperPi with numbers (which are so called "results" or "benchmark-scores").


@CN lol epic!

Edited by SoF
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