The more things change, the more they stay the same?

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I’ve been away from the overclocking game for quite some time; 3 years (almost 4). I used to have quite an insane setup for my final shot at the great hall of overclocking fortune (HERE), but never got the great OC results I read about everywhere. I guess that’s what started the decline for me.

Now I’ve started to get back into overclocking and I’m finding that nothing has really changed. There are a few that innovate and many that follow (and claim innovation for themselves – ie, TechTV’s Yoshi). Same as it was before. Heck, we all have taken what was done before and used something from that in our own setup.

Those that do change even the smallest thing, like a mounting bracket, have kept my attention (through making articles occasionally) just about as much as those who push far beyond the line drawn in the sand. (I hope everyone still remembers the giant vortex evaporative coolers and fluorinert immersion projects of long ago). But the basics have not changed enough to make my old DangerDen.com based water cooling rig obsolete.

Now there are refinements available and efficiency gains, but it really seems as though experimentation with new techniques has slowed and everyone has settled on a few systems with repeated success. The systems available today have a fairly large margin of error built in.

Some people claim that “you don’t need X, you need Y!” Almost the same number of people say it’s the other way. There is also the third group of people sitting in the middle (normally the new guys) that leap at the first side that looks ahead. What’s a person to do?

You needn’t follow the blueprints, just the guidelines. CPU makes heat, take heat out, put it somewhere else. I might be alone in thinking that a majority of people understand the principle of cooling something down, even if they don’t understand the details or even the science behind it.

I have read countless articles of people describing the same thing everyone else is doing and how those other people are doing it wrong. They use big words and clever phrases to sway your thoughts, much like advertising uses slogans and jingles to grab your attention. “Thermodynamics!”… “You don’t actually cool anything you take the heat away from it”… “phase-change cooling!”… So what, you know the $0.10 word for what amounts to a kitchen refrigerator.

Maybe my age is showing now, but I don’t have the will to read another page about how one method is wrong, cleverly disguised as an article. The efficiency has gotten to the point where someone can stumble their way into a decent overclock using some of the basic systems out there. The performance marketed kits are way better than a few of the “ground up” builds of the era I came from.

So what do I think of the current state of things after coming back?

I don’t think performance is where it’s at, right this second. There are a number of performance packages out there that are very tight units – almost too many to choose from. But there seems to be a growing trend that has a lot of people’s attention, but its not as mainstream as the people who hit the big GHz.

Many people are saying we have reached a point where we have CPU’s are more powerful than majority of the people out there need. I agree. Honestly, for as much MHz as the average overclocker gets in return for their money, they could have just bought a better processor, if they even truly need it in the first place.

That’s not what this is about, is it? It’s about pushing the walls back just another inch. But why focus on just one wall?

Enter: Quiet PC. What got me thinking this? BladeRunner at Zero Fan Zone and the now constant ringing in my ears, thanks to a bunch of PC fans going a good >50 dBA for many hours a day. It has been quite some time since I’ve seen the level of work that is present on that page. The one image for the 9/17/2002 update is one of the first times in years that I got chills from looking at a water cooling rig.

I really feel that some of the first truly consumer level water cooled PC’s will enter the market to solve the problem of keeping a PC quiet. What innovations do I think will need to take place? For one, the radiator/reservoir needs to be built into the case – not attached, built-in. Small tubing pathways somehow attached, machined, or epoxied to the inside of a fancy aluminum case with “artistic” looking shallow heatsink fins on the outside. Too industrial looking? Not really, look at the G5. Maybe someone has done this and to you I say let me see it!

I would like to end with a challenge to everyone.

Instead of just buying that kit you saw and installing it, make one improvement to it before installation – even if its just getting out a micro-sized torque wrench and finding the specific torque on that new mounting bracket that results in the lowest temps.

Keep in mind a vision and run with it the best you can. Ask whoever you need to. Don’t get cornered into thinking you’re wrong by someone who whips out a scientific definition. Most of the people that came up with that stuff didn’t do it by saying the world was flat…

Rob Staph

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