A Forum Wars Journal Part 3: Very Unsafe Scores

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In case you missed the first two installments of A Forum Wars Journal:

Now before I start today, I must increase the vocabulary of all 5 readers of this article by an entire word! The word, is ‘welp’. Now current definitions aside, it is a word invented by me and one of my buddies that is used to express disappointment. For instance,

“I was about to win that race but someone spun me out on the last lap.”

“Welp.”

See? Simple word, go use it to you’re heart’s content; it’s free! More importantly, it is the best single word to describe almost everything in this article. Unfortunately I would get in trouble if I just put “Welp.” for an entire article, so I must elaborate just a slight bit. Let’s start at February 21.

This started out with me applying a liberal amount (9 blocks!?) of kneedable eraser (which I like to call kneedE) to my TPower i45. Now the first problem with this was that it took about 2 hours, but that wasn’t as bad since I planned on spending the entire weekend benching. The other problem was that the layer of kneedE on the board was thick enough to prevent the northbridge heatsink from being put back on. At the time, I was on livechat and I could have sworn someone in chat said it would be OK if I ran without it. Bad idea.

Very bad idea.

Seriously, if you get ONE bit of information from this article, DO NOT RUN A MOTHERBOARD WITHOUT A NORTHBRIDGE HEATSINK!!

Phew, that bold text really tuckers you out. Alas, I was wondering what was wrong when the computer started getting unstable in bios and crashing out. I touched the northbridge core for a second and noticed it was obnoxiously hot. After looking around I found a tiny heatsink from a NVIDIA TNT something card laying around. I tried sticking that on, only to get my fingers burnt by it when I checked to see how hot it was. At the time I wasn’t that worried about the northbridge because the BIOS had registered a 254C CPU temp, which will scare most people into shutting down the computer. I later found out that the temperature senors loop back around when they go below 0C. Oh, did I mention I was using a GPU pot? I had to take apart an old case and make a mounting plate out of a cutting board.

Ghetto benching at it's finest.

(Here is the same picture in very high resolution, in case you wanted it.)

After the computer stopped working, giving a 9A error on the little LCD screen any time you tried to get it to work, I decided to take off all of the kneedE and try using some knock off conformal I had picked up. I had sprayed a little of it on the back of the GPU in case some dice fell on it or something of the sort, and it seemed to be working well. The application in question was some ‘acrylic plastic’, which I couldn’t find any specifications on and was why I didn’t use it in the first place.

Of course before all of this, the board had to be fixed. I’ve used an oven to fix electronics many a time. Like most times when I end up using it, the part in question is pretty broken, so even if it did somehow melt, explode, or turn into a delicious pie/cake/rhubarb in the oven, it wouldn’t be any more broken than it already was. Yes I tried swapping ram around, removing the ram completely, and removing the graphics card. Only the graphics card would change the code, but it would go right back to 9A when it was done.

After the board had cooled down I went and quickly hooked up all of the needed components just to see if it would boot. Sure enough, the little LCD screen went to 5D like it usually does and continued to boot. I shut it down and hooked it all up properly (you don’t bench a computer with the parts on your lap) and started it. The first time it booted fine, but I had forgot to connect the DVI cable. Needless to say after I had hooked it up it was straight back to 9A. After more fiddling with crossfire/sli jumpers and video card positions I got it to boot, and got back to benching.

I began with rig #1, and quickly found that even with dry ice, my chip still had the same FSB wall that kept it to around 4.3ghz in SPi and 4.0-4.2 for everything else. My 3d scores were also lower than what I had did before, despite the CPU being a good 300-400mhz faster. This all being rather disappointing, I decided to move to rig #2 and see if I could improve it.

Since I had yet to coat my 4870, I applied the first layer and then swapped CPUs, which by the way, is not fun when you have a vertically mounted GPU pot on top of it. After getting everything together I fired it up at air settings. To begin, it was getting about 10mhz more. Little more voltage, now around 1.8v, and it was getting closer to 370×12 in superpi, around 4.4ghz. 2.0v and it was getting very close to passing at 380×12. At this point I decided to see how far the voltage settings in bios went. Even though it’s not supposed to supply more than 2.0, since the voltage settings were +.xxxV, instead of just x.xV, it technically would be able to put around 2.6v into the chip. Just to see, I set it to +.9v, for what would be 2.1v. It booted up fine, but the voltage readout in bios was strangely absent. Not displaying 0’s, but gone. Nothing but a space where the bit that says ‘CPU Voltage’ was supposed to be. I booted into windows, and in CPUz it was telling me the chip VID instead of the current voltage. At this point it started getting unstable (at 350×12) and I decided to put the voltage back. I eventually found out that somehow, the chip was at least partially dead. It got to the point where it wouldn’t boot windows at any speed or voltage. I decided to call the chip dead and take a break for a bit.

Well that break ended up being a few days. Killing a chip sucks, ‘specially when you messed up and didn’t get any good scores out of it. At the very least I had superpi runs around 4.4-4.5ghz, useful if nothing else for the OC bonus. Finally a few days before the end of the competition I decided to go back to rig #1 and try to improve my scores, since our F class team needed some more points. Naturally, the resident lazy motherboard wasn’t having any of this, even though I had been using it with a heatsink (sitting on my bed and all) for the last few days. It is my daily rig, after all.

Eventually, and reluctantly, I got it working. Eventually because by the time I did get it working, there were about 3 hours left to post last minute scores. Reluctantly because I was again using the 8x port, I wanted to get the 16x working just to see if I could start getting good 3d scores again. Even with a hard push during the last few hours, my 3d scores were still short of anything useful, and since I was out of dice anything on 2d wasn’t going to be useful. Even after frantic benching and tweaking on 05 to attempt to raise my score right up to the very end (an hour before last minute scores could be posted), I still couldn’t do anything. At the end I was left with poor scores with both rigs, a dead chip, and a half dead motherboard.

Of course, as soon as forum wars were over stuff started working. My motherboard has since been working more or less, and after leaving the E in the cooler with the dry ice for a few days, it apparently decided to start working as well. Frankly, I don’t think the dice had anything to do with it, though.

All in all, it was rather disappointing. After two mostly successful forum wars with just the Q and ye ol 9600gt on air, the combination of new hardware and cooling has left the bottleneck to the bit in front of the monitor. No, not the keyboard either. Unfortunately it’s a bit too late to rename the article to ‘What Not to do During Forum Wars’, but I think a welp will suffice.

A small update, the postal service finally came through and got that CPU pot to a week or two ago, so I might be benching with it soon. As there is no competition going on, I have a feeling that FSB wall on the Q will be a bit less wallish. If nothing else it will be a good time to find out of this board can bench 3d anymore or not.

…What? You want me to put that in? Really? … Hey that’s a nice 980x you have there…

A congratulatory congratulations to OCN for winning this round of forum wars. We’ll see you in the summer with the blue boys back.

KonaKona (OC Forums Benching Team)

(Author note:  Sorry about this taking so long to post guys. I have an exceptional ability to be lazy and it has a habit of showing from time to time. Heck, this is an entire month late? That’s just terrible.)

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Discussion
  1. It's a lot better than working on the car and finding out 75 miles from home you made a boo boo and it's raining, the boss calls your late, you get a ticket becuse the cop said you shouldn't have tried to refigurate the overdrive bearing in a transverse manner.

    It was all in the privacy of your own little nightmare!

    Keep up the hard work for the FWs!

    I had fun reading it, thanks for sharing!