Killing Overclocking With Kindness?

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Some have been worried that CPU pretesting would kill overclocking
as a hobby because Intel and/or AMD will lock their chips to prevent this.

Well, all you have to do is take a look at the situation today and see if AMD have won the overclocking war without even locking them.

AXIA Tbird, 1 Ghz, will do 1333. Price difference between a 1 GHz (which might not be AXIA, so will need hunting around) and a 1333 – $50-60. WHY OVERCLOCK?
Just get one with a warranty and one less problem to worry about.

Obviously you could then overclock from that point, but I really
think with prices like this – you have to wonder if it’s REALLY worth it
(except to the hobbyist like me).

This brings me to my second point. Since the beginning of the Computer Age, computer speed has been based around CPU speed. I believe this emphasis will diminish.

As far as Windows operations are concerned, the main bottleneck is the hard drive, and a faster CPU makes not a considerable difference to most users. Until those pick up, do most people really need faster CPUs? Even for gaming, half the time you’re going to find the video card as the bottleneck.

On top of that, video cards are shouldering more and more of the burden, which means CPUs have less and less influence on game performance. An example of that can be
seen here.
An efficient GPU is taking the load off the CPU.

So will we really need fast CPUs?

Email Andrew

Editorial Comments – Ed:

We thought this was going to happen late last fall when AMD levelled the pricing structure, and
it is. It’s not uncommon to see people in hardware forums nowadays with machines that aren’t overclocked at all.

There have always been two kinds of overclockers: The hobbyists, out to do it for the joy of doing it, and those who did it to save hundreds of dollars on CPUs. Price-flattening has removed most of the incentive
for the second camp to overclock, and yes, overclocking is “dying” in that sector.

But so what?

What is the purpose of overclocking? It has been to get a cheap, fast machine. If the way to “beat” us is to give us everything we want, I’ll take “defeats” like that any day.

The CPU companies have never given a hoot about hotrod hobbyists (outside of some RMAs, which are easily handled by stricter observance of warranty policy). Any concern those companies might have had about overclocking was from that sector of the population who would have paid hundreds more except for overclocking, or those who remarked chips and pocketed some of that extra hundreds of dollars.

Now that this sector is more likely than not to pony over the extra $50 or so to buy top-of-the-line, revenue loss from overclocking becomes a tiny factor. Remarking will dry up, too – much less profit in it.

Remember, any anti-overclocking measure costs a CPU manufacturer something for every single chip they make. If they didn’t do anything before, now that the “problem” has shrunk, why bother now?

But what else has happened as a result?

The market for cheap, fast computing has blossomed. People are interested in high-end components, whether they overclock or not. They’ll buy the video cards and memory and hard drives for their cybernetic hot-rods, and want to know how to get the most out of their machines.

To us, whether they overclock or not is a minor, personal factor.

What we see emerging is a much bigger audience for high-performance value computing, and a smaller sector interested in overclocking. This doesn’t bother us a bit.

To have a good overclocking machine, you have to have a good machine first. That’s most of the effort. For the vast majority of overclockers, the overclocking aspect is just an extra chapter to the book.

The point I’m trying to make is that this site is never going to make overclocking a litmus test and chase away anybody interested in high-performance, but not interested in overclocking. This will never be an “Overclockers Only” place, no exclusive club.

We routinely get emails from folks who are not overclocking, but interested in improving performance, increasing stability and – in general – understanding what makes their PC tick and what they can do to keep it ticking.

In our view, overclockers are the “leading edge” users who wind up influencing product designs for the mass market.

For example:

  • Heatsinks are now dealing with CPU temps that overclockers were experiencing two years ago;
  • Motherboard manuals routinely mention overclocking options – unheard of two or three years ago;
  • Motherboards are designed for FSB speeds far in excess of CPU specs – and stability at spec speeds are enhanced because of it;
  • Video card drivers routinely include utilities to drive them faster than spec, indicating a robust design;
  • Watercooling, once considered “extremist”, is now becoming more mainstream – Koolance is an example of that.

One aspect of this site is to further cheap, fast computing. A few years ago, you needed to overclock to do that. Now, you don’t. Overclocking was a means to an end. Now that particular means may not be so necessary, but the end is still there.

Some sites have been turning their backs to overclocking. We’re not going to do that at all.

We’re not going to turn our backs to overclockers; we’re not going to turn our backs to hobbyists; we’re not going to turn our backs on everybody else, either. The door is open here – all are welcome.

If you buy a 1.4 Ghz T-Bird next month, you still need a good heatsink/fan, even if you don’t overclock. You still need good memory, even if you don’t overclock. If you want to play games, you’ll need a good video card, even if you don’t overclock. And you sure as hell need unbiased information to cut through the marketing hype.

Overclockers, in their quest to push the envelope, are usually the first to find and use those products and techniques which enhance performance. The emphasis at is, and always has been, on value and performance computing, wherever and however it can be done. — Ed

Email Ed

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