Dell OC Woes

SUMMARY: Has Overclocking jumped the shark?

This interesting bit of news caught my eye – Dell was selling and overclocked, water cooled PC for US$5,939, the Dell XPS 720 H2C. The CPU was Intel’s QX6800 Extreme Edition CPU overclocked to 3.73 GHz vs 2.93 GHz stock speed, 27% over stock. They ran out of good overclocking chips and had to suspend deliveries on this beast.

According to Dell’s Blog “…we found that only a small fraction of our QX6800 processors could go to Bin+3 and remain stable through our rigorous testing process…our engineering team is doing everything they can to get more Bin+3s out of our original supply but this is expected to be a slow process.”

So get this picture: There’s a whole bunch of Dell techies combing through Intel CPUs, overclocking them to find the good ones – does this sound familiar?

What strikes me is how far we’ve come in the overclocking world – from the caveman days when the hardy pioneers were desoldering chips to run a few MHz faster, to the ground-breaking Celeron 300 that ran 450 no sweat, to buying heatsinks with fans that screamed, and now to a world where overclocking is so prevalent that Mom can do it and Dell, an industry leader, blatantly sells and overclocked PC with a wink from Intel:

Intel spokesman George Alfs. “We’re certainly proud of the headroom of the Core architecture…”

I remember when Intel was less than friendly about overclocking, and now this. I remember when overclocking was all about saving money – spending $5,939 on a PC was not on our radar – quite the opposite – it was all about “bang for the buck”. I remember when water cooling was about as esoteric as reading Sanskrit.

So dear readers, seems to me when what was once an underground movement among the hardware cognoscenti goes mainstream, we have to ask:

Has Overclocking jumped the shark?

I received a number of good responses, but I think Jeff’s response sums it up nicely:


I realize that OC has become extremely easy especially with Conroe. Dell selling overpriced OC PCs still doesn’t change what I got into it for, though. I joined the ranks back in the beloved Northwood days – I went AMD through the Prescott and D days, but now I am back with the evil empire (nearly brought tears to my eyes to rip my old socket 939 out of my case).

I still look at it this way…I have a “mid grade” CPU, mobo, and RAM (e6600, Asus Commando and DDR2 800 Corsair Dominator) – no P35 chipset with an extreme processor and DDR3 here (just upgraded recently no less). A nooby overclocker like me was able to get an extremely stable 475 X 7 Overclock 1:1 with the DDR2 800 running 950. I was shocked to be able to run this thing at 1900 MHz FSB. Incredible performance and my system sure as hell didn’t cost $5700.

If I can get a screaming fast system out of what can be considered “mid grade” parts, that is why I value overclocking. I nearly forgot how much I loved it (my AMD processors never clocked well), but I remembered when I hit 42,289 in 3DMark03 for the 3730 highest score out of more than 3.5 million systems. Pure joy!

I have to agree – there are still those of us who still get a kick out of building a new system and getting a kick when it first boots. If you pay for it, there’s no thrill unless you love to shell out $5,700.

Email Joe

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