I've Lost The Will To Speed

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Do you still have fire in the belly, or are you burned out? How do you relate to ttfk’s experience? We’re going into our eighth year and have seen a LOT of changes – how about you?

Spend a couple of minutes and drop us a line on how you relate to this and what you feel Overclockers.com should focus on. I will pick someone at random for a goodie.

Email Joe


I just can’t bring myself to do it anymore.

You might remember someone like me from years-past:

I was the one in grade school who taunted a classmate by crowing how my TRS-80 Model 3 was so much better than his DEC Rainbow.

I was the one laughing at my friends’ Atari 2600s while I went to play 13 Ghosts in all its monochromatic glory.

I was the one getting strange looks in high school because I brought a 80286 laptop to class to take notes when my classmates’ only experience with computers was with the Apple II-GS lab in the school library.

I was the one spending hours upon years tinkering with my BBS running on a Hyundai (remember when they made them?) computer.

I was the one who spent weeks hunting down that elusive kit for the aforementioned TRS-80 to give it color graphics and double the mighty Z-80B’s speed.

I was the one budding into an AMDroid going back to the 486 years.

I was the one ringing up $300 monthly phone bills to call BBSes all over the country.

I was the one pushing the glories of Robocomm and SLMR to my friends.

I was the one with the 3MB SLMR tagline file.

I was the one who would sign my letters with a WWIVNet address at the bottom.

I was the one who would gladly build computers for anyone who asked.

I was the one who ran a duct from his air conditioner to the computer to try to improve on 1720 Mhz with air cooling on a T-Bird 1400.

I was the one who would write reviews for budding websites, paying for items out of my own pocket, only to see the site die off a few months later.

I was the thick-glasses pimply-faced kid working the upgrades counter at CompUSA.

I was the one who lived, ate and breathed geekness.

Now, who am I?

I am the one who hasn’t upgraded since Christ was a cowboy.

I am the one with the video card 4 generations out of date.

I am the one who can’t bear to part with $50 for another 512MB of RAM.

I am the one who gets to the confirmation screen of an order, only to think, “I don’t really need this.. I can run another year on my current setup”

I am the one who prefers black coffee to Bawlz.

I am the one who no longer shows up at LAN parties.

Once, I thought I was Joe Cool of the computer world. Now, I am Joe Sixpack. I have gone from Bleeding Edge to Trailing Edge.

I am Joe Sixpack.

I am proud.

ttfk

I was frankly amazed at the response to this article – I’ve selected some excerpts which captures the general sentiments of many who responded:

David:

I feel the same way.

I was the one with the 286 running a script cool “gui” menu with a MOUSE!

I was the one with a SB 8bit PRO to add sound to wonderfull 2d game!

I was the one who copied dukenuken 3d on ~55floppy!

I was the one who bough a 2x CD burner for 600$!

I was the one who ran a bong water tower to cool his PIII.

I was the one downloading 1 terabyte of data in 30days!!

Nowdays I’ve got a little girl. I’ve got an house. I work on computer all day long.
I still have that old PIII. I only use my home computer for budget and dvd burning.
I don’t plan upgrading.

Priorities change as you grow up. 😉


Bill

Sounds like me now. I did all of what he did ( well, alot of it) and have become bored with what we have now.

Not too much excitement, anymore — other than “modding” — maybe we will all become “sixpacks”.

Take a look at cars — once you could fix them up and get them to perform better — now, unless you are a real racing enthusiast, you just get a BMW and think you are on top of the world — the Ultimate Driving Machine.


Mark

I’ve been building computers for about 15 years now. I registered for the OC forums about 5-6 years ago and got into overclocking just because I got pleasure out of creating a box with a balance between performance/stability that far outrivaled anything that the market had to offer (and for a lot less money).

I still build my own PC’s; however, I now skip a generation or two before upgrading. Why? I feel that I’ve gotten wiser and don’t fall into the hype over the ‘latest and greatest’. I still have a passion for learning about the new technology and love to see what others do with the new systems, the benchmarks, etc. I go to CES every year because I love to see the new gadgets. Do I feel that I have to purchase/own any of these products? Nope.

I’m still tempted to upgrade when I read about the ‘latest and greatest’ but I’ve realized that the ratio between price and ‘added satisfaction’ over what I currently have is miniscule.


Bryan

I would much agree.
The Pentium 75mhz @ 100MHz – much goodness.
My old lapped C400 @ 600MHhz with a 100 MHz FSB on a BE-6, running under the infamous Leufkins alpha peltier combo rocked.

The C533 @ 800 MHz again with the Alpha peltier combo on the BE-6 was pretty good bang for the buck as well. I even tried water cooled peltiers to attempt to snap the 1 GHz mark. It never happened, but I did manage to run 950 MHz for a while.

Then it was into AMD land using a KT7 board and a tbird 700 @ 900 MHz. 133 MHz FSB. I used the pencil trick on the L1 bridges. I later loaded that CPU into a K7T266a pro2 RU with 512 DDR 2100, that lasted me some two more years till I loaded an XP2000+ into the board, at that point I still had the FSB running at some 150 MHz but that was all the overclocking I did.

In video land It started with an “all in wonder 128” that went from my first system to the K7T266 board. That card was updated to an “all in wonder 7500 which lasted up until the summer of 04 when I replaced it with a standard Radeon 9600 and a TV wonder pro.

I recently rebuilt my entire system using an Asus A8N-E, A64 3800+ X2, Geforce 7800GT, and 2 gigs of ram. I do video work and I do play some games so I decided it was time I did a platform revamp that would last me another five years just like the K7T266a pro2 did. I don’t see myself jumping into HD DVD anytime soon, and even then I might just drop the PC motif all together as far as DVD is concerned.

So far I have not the slightest desire to overclock this system, my main goal is to eventually get it whisper quiet. The mighty 3800+ spends a lot of its time at its lowest setting of 1000MHz, unless I am gaming or working with video. I have not actually run a benchmark in over four years. The need for speed is dying off and I am spending a lot of my time now working on how to build fast, quiet, and reliable systems for people who request it. Thats my 2 cents.


Aiden

Have I lost the will to speed? Not completely, but the will is certainly fading:

For the last three years the trend from the hardware manufacturers has followed a distinct mode of operation: Overpromise, Deliver a weaker product later than promised, charge more for it.

This set of ingredients has led to $250+ ‘midrange’ graphic cards, and $200 entry level CPUs, which on its own makes it difficult to be enthusiastic, but in the last half year a new trend has been added to the mix:

Reduced reliability with increased denial.

Having lost my installation and had to restore from backups no less than FOUR times due to the denied issues with the Nforce4 and certain Maxtor drives, I have been forced to spend more for replacement hardware, and waste a lot of valuable time.

Do I really want to shell out more to manufacturers who charge more, deliver less, and don’t step up when it’s broken? No, and once more, I will stick with my outdated hardware as functionality is more important than blazing speed.

Have I lost the will to speed? No, but if the hardware market stays the course, my course will be out of the game.


Ted

Can you say ‘Dell’ for $499?


Eric

The only thing a faster computer would do for me now is get me higher benchmarking results; it does nothing to improve my usage of the machine as it once would. Computers are a commodity like a new toothbrush, toss it out when it wears out, no need to do anything to it anymore, my teeth are as clean as I can get them already.


Tim

I feel just the opposite – I didn’t have, or wasn’t interested in the tech stuff in my early years. I was a Hot Rodder, drinker, brawler until I got married and had a kid. To me a leap in technology was fuel injection, or the newest version 1911 45 auto.

I didn’t get into computers until the early nineties except learning the computerized autos I had to fix. Had to deal with them on their own terms starting in 1980 1/2. With very little training on them, I had to figure them out or starve.

Now I don’t know what I used to do without all this tech. I love it and seem to get more interested every day. I can’t seem to make a year before I’m already plotting my next computer build. My wife is the queen of the computer hand-me-downs. I can’t wait to see what the next latest and greatest will be.

It probably has to do with the fact that I didn’t have it when I was younger and now I’m making up for lost time. My job now revolves around this stuff. From everything on my server based desktop to having to install new or update software in the heavy construction equipment our dealership sells. Heck, with the Internet phones and computers we rely so much on at my shop, when the system goes down, we consider rolling up the sidewalks and going home.

I am to this day still amazed I learned to type. Heck, maybe some day I’ll learn to cook too…….Doubt it.


Travis

I can see why ttfk lost interest in overclocking. He spent so much time buying bleeding edge hardware that he burned out. And if I did that I would too. Now that he’s burned out he stepped back, realized how pointless it is to try keeping up with the best of the best, and is happier for it now.

  • If you overclock as a hobby you can lose interest;
  • If you overclock as a religion, you WILL lose interest;
  • If you overclock as a principle you will NEVER lose interest.

What I mean is that the principle behind overclocking is doing what you can to improve performance. Whether it be cooling a FX-60 with liquid nitrogen or upping a Duron 200 MHz on air cooling. So while my interest my or may not still be a hobby 20 years from now, as long as I can, I’ll still do it.


Jordan

The Computer Industry DOESNT BELONG TO THE GEEK ANYMORE – it belongs to Joe SixPack who has a larger wallet.


defkhan1

The fire isn’t gone…it’s just shifted to actually using my box instead
of tweaking it.


Chris

My geekness is still there – it’s just not into being fast and the best.
Now it’s more sophisticated, user friendly, and I can show off more than
just a set of numbers that mean nothing to most people.

People seemed to
be wow’d that they can see a computer screen displayed on a TV and have
it fit perfectly. Or that I can watch a movie from a computer and even
record TV. They are wow’d when I can play music anywhere in the house
without moving a CD around. They don’t seem to understand when I tell
them we are watching a movie or listening to music that is coming from a
hidden computer somewhere else in the house but they think it’s really
cool.

I think it’s cool too 🙂

Tim

I have found myself getting more interested in actually “doing cool stuff” on my computer instead of constantly thinking of making it faster. I noticed myself thinking it’s way cooler to have a dual core and being able to work on independent Apps more smoothly than of squeezing 100 extra MHz out of my CPU. The darn thing is blazingly fast as it is.

I remember my last major video card purchase not that long ago and after installing it thinking….”I don’t notice any difference in my day-to-day computing. Wow..I just spent $300.00 and without running benchmarks…I see virtually no performance difference…and why did I just spend 300 bucks??? Just to say..Ya, I’ve got one of those :-)”


Edward

I think many people think there’s no point in overclocking mainstream components. I disagree. I think it’s more beneficial to do so. You can get the performance of the latest and greatest components for the price of entry level or mainstream components, at the cost of possible component failure and voided warranties.

Will I continue to overclock and tweak my computers? Yes. Will it become an obsession to get the highest speeds for bragging rights? No. Perhaps my interest has always been from a cost-savings angle, and not a raw power one.


Will

Overclocking the celeron 300A to 450 Mhz on stock voltage and stock cooling
was one of the greatest days in my life, ever. Quake 1 never played so fast
and for so cheap.

Then came the Pentium 3 and I purchased my first Alpha heatsink right here
from Overclockers.com. It was also my first internet order from a person and
complete stranger. Tearing open the box and lifting the heavy weight of the
heatsink in all its glory was mind numbing. It was my first aftermarket
overclocking heatsink. Then to squeeze out a few more mhz, I saw a forum
thread about using pennies on the external cache.

Along the way I remember the Pentium 4 and Rambus. I had been using Intel
all my life. From the 386 all the way up to the P3. Rdram just cost too much
and I switched over to AMD and the thunderbird. This time I picked up a
Swiftech copper heatsink and the loudest delta fan.

Later the P4 finally went to socket 478 and used DDR. But this time, I had a
job and disposable income. The forums had multiple topics about water
cooling. Everything from going to AutoZone to pick up a Chevy Chevette
heatercore and a fish store for a Via Aqua water pump. It wasn’t just that
either, there was the ‘golden’ 2.0 GHz P4 with the C1 core that could crank
to 3 GHz. I felt a tingle of the old Celeron 300A days coming back. This was
the biggest computer project I ever started and the coolest.

Eventually, my 2.0 P4 died from SNDS from my greed of over volting it to
reach 3.1-3.2ghz. I’ve picked up a 2.8 Northwood and its running stable on
low voltage at 3.3-3.4 GHz. At the same time I graduated from college and
entered the real workforce.

I still want to upgrade but time flies by so fast now. Sockets change, cores
and chipsets change and several generations of video cards have gone by
already. I find myself preferring quiet and stable computers now. I also
find myself advising friends and co workers about value computers, not high
performers. Ever since I stopped pc gaming, I found out that for once,
computers are fast enough for me.


Roger

Overclocking is still a part of what I do with computers, but my hobby has morphed from being almost entirely based around what I can get out of HARDWARE to what can I DO with the hardware once I have gotten a lot out of it.

I foresee a (near) future where the cost of the big parts gets still bigger and the return still smaller, so I think it unlikely that I will be moving far beyond my current pair of A64s and 5 or 6 Socket A systems for quite a while…..but sooner or later, I’ll find another good deal and have something else to tweak.


Steve

Maybe I’m just mellowing out as I get older, but I honestly feel like the release rate of impressive games has slown down, computer speed progress has definitely slown down, and I’m not falling for the “this is the next best thing!” propoganda that the computer parts manufacturers have been touting since the first card that hosted both 2d and 3d processors was released.


Jadawin

I am still far from being Joe Sixpack, but I am not Joe Cool either, I am more Joe Gadget.

I surf the web wirelessly in my bed using my PocketPC and the new Opera version for it.
I use the same PocketPC and GPS with TomTom5 as a navigation system in my car.
I own an XBox360 (which will give me games even then my laptop’s 6800 will be too slow).
I have a 10mbit cable broadband connection just for me.
I am setting up a wireless mp3/video stream accessible from the garden
etc.

So, there is still “fire in the belly”, it’s just burning in a different fireplace.

But overclocking and all I learned because of it basically started my career in IT and I am now IT support for a well known video games developer for 3 years running. And I got this job without certifications, just by showing off my skills for free for a week and blowing away all the competition.


John

I’ve been at this for 25 years now. Started out on an Apple II. Spent 20 years in field service for the “big Iron” (Burroughs first, then Harris). I’ve built everything from the earliest IBM PC’s to 3+ GHz screamers. I started overclocking back with Celerons (from 300 to 450+ woohoo!). But lately it hasn’t been as much fun. We’ve stalled out on speed increases and quite frankly I don’t do a lot that requires really massive computing power. I could use a faster graphics card for gaming but what I have works just fine for now.

Fifteen years ago, I could expect to double my processor speed every year and I always seemed to need more power to run the latest app’s. Now I’ve been stuck at 3ghz for the last couple of years and haven’t seen anything that really requires anything more. There is some video compression software that could use more power but I simply run it on a dedicated machine overnight.

Now I still overclock everything but my laptop, but that’s got more to do with getting more value for the money then a need for power. I haven’t gone to water cooling simply because it’s expensive and would only add 5-10% more to the CPU speed – not enough to make any real difference to system performance.

At some point soon, I’ll build a dual processor AMD system with PCI-E graphics and it will be overclocked just because I can. To tell the truth though, it’s not as exciting as it used to be and there aren’t any more 50% overclocks to be had. I really don’t need any more power except to run Vista when it comes out (Microsoft should be getting payoffs from both AMD and Intel for developing GUI’s that suck up CPU cycles) I still run MS 2000 on most of my machines and it works just fine thank you.


Joe

Maybe our enthousiasm will return when there is something to be enthousiastic about, such as a new killer app that craves CPU power. Overall, I find the entire industry to be treading water right now. Who knows, maybe I’m just getting old.


Nick

What keeps me from upgrading is likely the same that keeps many others
from doing it: The several year old CPU in my machine is handling
everything I throw at it.

The X800 Pro is similarly doing a fine job.
But the biggest reason would have to be some of the crazy prices that
hardware manufactures are charging for what in essence are minor
upgrades. This is especially true in the video card market, where
performance upgrades that I would be interested in cost way too much to
justify. Beyond the mild improvements for a lot of money are the
upcoming release of Vista, the HDCP connector issue on the LCD’s (I’ll
stick with my dual CRT setup until that gets worked out), and the crazy
battle between HD-DVD and Blue-Ray!


John

My machines are fast enough and what I want now are quiet and reliable
systems.


Harold

That’s the other reason why I overclock. Not just to save
money. The feeling of standing in front of my rig, dusted
out, cables routed, timings tuned, OS tweaked, and
thinking “Look what I’ve wrought!” That’s something you’ll
never get with an OEM. That’s something that’s neutered at
stock speeds. That’s something that I’ll never give up as
long as they kep making faster parts.


Brian

I haven’t lost the will to overclock or buy faster hardware: I’m just more sensible about it.

I upgrade when I need/want a new piece of software that either won’t run on my system, or chokes my system to death while trying to run. As an engineer, my job is to promote technological advancement, but I don’t need to keep spending my money on every single incremental upgrade because advertising and social pressure tell me to.

Aside from the internet and 3D graphics, the old green-screen Apple computers I used in elementary school are not fundamentally different from the machine I’m typing this e-mail on. Even then, 3D graphics just allow me prettier eye candy in games, an easier time designing parts in CAD, and the internet lets me send my information faster than if I distributed files on 5″ floppy disks. I can now solve math and science problems on a desktop running MATLAB, that 20 years ago required a supercomputer.

Things aren’t different, they’re just: physically smaller, faster, smoother, and more connected. For some people that’s a reason to upgrade every tiny sub-generation. For me it’s a reason to make upgrades only when it makes a significant difference in my computing experience.


If I had to sum up reader responses, it seems like we are growing up as well as becoming more concerned about price/performance – not a bad thing! There’s more focus as well on what we do with what we have. Personally, after building over 100 PCs, I still get a tingle when I first fire it up – Damn! It works!

I am also impressed with how long many readers have been visiting us – many thanks for your continued visits.

And the winner of a goodie is Stephen Fonden, picked at random. Thanks to all who took the time to respond – a very interesting read!

Email Joe

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