My Overclocking Experience: A True Story

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Being 17 years old is tough when you know your way around computers. Your
parents usually find it hard to deal with the fact that you are a thousand
times more knowledgable on a subject than they are. Sometimes they even
become hostile. They try to learn, but it’s a lost cause. The farthest any parent like mine will ever be technologically is AOL and Windows 98.

I recently asked my Mom if she wanted to upgrade to Windows Millennium. Her response?

“Mine is better. It’s Windows 98 second edition, Clay.”

A good long sigh always helps in these times of duress and in the presense of such ignorance….a good sigh, and perhaps some alcohol.

Overclocking. Now there’s something my Dad has no comprehension of. He works as both a Firefighter and a Carpenter, framing houses for folks and fighting fires every third day. He thinks that overclocking is not only dangerous, it’s practically a sin.

“Son, I tell you what” he said in his blatant Arkansan drawl, “If your CPO, or whatever it’s called–”

“CPU. It’s called a CPU.” I corrected him.

“Whatever. If this CPU was meant to run faster, it would’ve come that
way” he continued.

I tried to explain to him that CPUs are quite a bit different than
lawnmowers and cordless drills. Computer hardware is a completely different matter. The actual chip, I told him, is quite capable of going much faster, but for cost and heat reasons, they keep it lower. I didn’t really know what I was talking about as far as why the CPU is okay to overclock, but I needed to get him to understand the principle so he’d give me the money to buy my overclocking requirement–a ThermalTake Super Orb.

Needless to say, it took a while to get him to understand (read “get
tired of talking about it and just agree out of desperation”) why I felt the need to overclock my Thunderbird 750 to the 1,000 Mhz mark. I finally did it though, and with the credit card in hand, I walked up the stairs to my room and bought the heatsink and fan.

Of course, knowing my luck, the website I bought the processor from took forever to ship it, supplying me with a lovely message stating that they were moving warehouses, so my shipping would be delayed. They, of course, neglected to mention this before my purchase. Such is life, I
suppose.

Alas, two weeks after ordering, I found it sitting on my doorstep. I
couldn’t wait to install it, overclock it, and play Quake III at the fastest FPS on the block. I ran up to my room, unplugged the cables, and took off the side of my case. I eagerly took off my previous (piece of utter crap supplied Coolermaster) fan and began to inspect the Super Orb.

I knew I’d have to do some slight modification to allow it to fit properly in my A-Bit KT7. A quick job with a file fixed that problem right up. I then proceeded to attempt to actually put the Heatsink on my proc a few times before applying the thermal paste, just to be sure as not to screw up.

This could easily be deemed the most difficult part of my overclocking
experience: I attempted probably 5 times to get the thing on, but its
metallic bracing was indeed too powerful for my meager, pale, geek-hands.
My dad walked by my room (I was dumb enough to leave the door open).

“What’s u–”

He paused.

“Ahh….let’s see what we’ve got here.”

I knew it was over before it’d even begun. My dad was a horror at
installations of any kind. When I was four, he attempted to install a
swingset in our backyard. He completely disregarded the clean, neat
instructions and sat in the backyard amidst a strewn assortment of metal
brackets, chains, plastic seats and slides. I knew that the worst was
only beginning.

“Looks like you’re having a bit of trouble getting that there fan
doohickey on.” he remarked innocently.

I tried to look calm, but my flustered brow and sweaty, scraped hands told a different tale. He took the fan and then looked into my precious case. He looked down upon the Thunderbird processor like it was a challenge instead of a technological marvel (not to mention my pass to the gaming world). He rolled up his sleeves and then decided to ignore me.

“Let’s see here…” he said as he started to work.

“NO!” I screamed in horror. “Dad, this isn’t a 2×4! This stuff is
expensive! You can’t just force that on there, it requires equal force!
Are you even listening to me?”

He wasn’t. He never paused as he began forcing the heatsink and fan back and forth in different directions on my poor, defenseless Athlon. I tried to hold back sobbing. I knew what would happen.

“Dad,” I spoke as calmly as possible, “If you break anything because of this, you are buying it.”

“I bought it in the first place.” He had a point, this was my birthday
present two months ago, but still, it was MINE, and he was being BARBARIC
upon it.

“It doesn’t matter! You’re going to break the damn thing!”

He stopped.

“Watch your mouth, boy.” he spoke, his eyes glaring into mine.

I knew that would at least stop him for a moment. His extreme biblical
beliefs, mustered from the small town of Cabot, were more powerful than any strong-willed mission of hardware upgrading. I knew I had his attention.

“Dad. You are breaking my processor. Stop it now. You are doing nothing
to help and everything to hurt this computer.”

I looked at him as he was leaned over the case, his sleeves still rolled up, his hands, now scratched from metal and silicon chips and who knows what else. He looked desparate, yet strong-willed. It was a horrid sight.

“Fine.” He said, “But don’t ever ask me to help you on any of your
little computer projects again.” He walked out of my room.

I sighed in relief. The monster was gone. I then remembered my CPU, my poor fragile piece of silicon love. I quickly went over to my case, and looked in. Sure enough, the processor looked like it had been run over by a Mack truck. The CPU Core appeared shattered, and the gray border around the core was scratched horribly. The Super Orb Heatsink and Fan was strewn to the side of my case carelessly. I blew on the processor, and flecks of metal dust blew across my motherboard. I whimpered in defeat.

I began to lay back, but then felt something odd under my back. I picked it up: The Super Orb box. I began reading the instructions. It showed EXACTLY how to install the processor. I decided that since he was buying it anyway, he might as well buy the entire thing if the metal dust caused a burnout.

I applied the thermal paste and installed the SuperOrb. I closed
the case with a look of burying a good friend. I plugged each cable in, one by one. I felt like I was commiting some strange form of suicide. I turned on the power.

Whirrrrrrrrr. *beep*

The system started! It worked! The fan blew, the motherboard was fine! The CPU was scratched but otherwise unscathed!

“We won!” I spoke to my Athlon. “We won! We won! We won!”

I heard the shower come on across the hall. I started my BIOS and left the room to knock on the bathroom door.

“Ah, Dad.” I said, being as obtrusive as I could, “It works.”

He didn’t say anything back. I think it was in admittance of ignorance. I smiled and went back to my room and my BIOS, ready to begin the
overclocking adventure.

Clay Templeton


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