Report From The Trenches

Some folks gave verbal answers, so I tried to place them in the right category. When it looked like people were split between two choices, I just split the vote.

Question 1: Has the increased difficulty in unlocking the XP discouraged you from buying one yet?

a) Yes, I’m waiting for a foolproof, easy way to do so: 25%
b) Yes, now I’m expecting to only FSB overclock: 6%
c) No, I wouldn’t have bought one this soon, anyway: 38%
d) No, already have one or this doesn’t look too hard to me: 30%
Other: 1%

It’s really more a 50/50 split between those this bothers and those this doesn’t. As we’ll see, “bother” doesn’t necessarily mean prevent, but there’s some reluctance to do this if it can be avoided.

Question 2: Presume unlocking the processor doesn’t get any easier than what we described in the article above. Will this make it more or less likely you’ll buy an XP?

a) Already bought/don’t see what the big deal is: 54%
b) Will buy, but will only FSB overclock: 18%
c) Won’t buy one, I’ll stick with my TBird: 24%
Other: 4%

You can see that only about half are ready to damn the torpedoes, and about a quarter will duck the process altogether (something that can’t be great news to AMD). Not even that half are all that firm, either, as evidenced by the results of the next question:

Question 3: Presume somebody comes out with a foolproof, five minute way to unlock the processor, like trace tape, and it cost $20. Would you buy it?

a) Yes: 31%
b) No, period: 23%
c) No, wouldn’t pay more than $10 for it: 31%
d) No, wouldn’t pay more than $5 for it: 15%

I was really surprised at this one. Based on prior surveys, I would have guessed that 40% or more would have flat-out said “No,” but the results were only about half that.
I thought few would be willing to lay out $20 for a few strips of tape, but over 30% were.

A number of people pointed out an interesting reason for wanting tape. They figured that the evidence of tape would be a lot easier to remove than nail polish or glue in case the CPU ever blew up on them and they wanted a replacement. 🙂

Over 60% would be willing to lay out at least $10 for tape (though many wanted that $10 to include shipping). Some pointed out it would cost them almost $10 to buy defogger fluid anyway, so this was no great extravagance.

What I found quite interesting was that the people who already had an XP and done the deed liked the idea of tape even better than the general population. It was bemusing to see comments that basically said, “I’ll do whatever it takes, could that be tape, please?” 🙂 No knock, I kind of feel the same way.

We had and have no intention of making, marketing, or selling any such tape. However, if you might want to do that, it probably would be a good idea to keep the price down to $10, and offer it to CPU resellers to sell along with the processors.


This market has become broader and shallower. There’s more people interested in relatively cheap high performance, but a lower percentage of people willing to do just about anything to get it.

This is neither bad nor good. The situation is much different now than it was, say three years ago. The amount of money saved by overclocking is no longer anything like $500; it’s more like $100.

Doing this is a fairly time-consuming, tedious effort; it’s not like getting a pencil out or changing a setting. Nor is the effort yielding people one whole lot more performance; a few hundred MHz.

So I wouldn’t say we’ve been swamped by a tide of lamers. It’s more like deciding to see a StarTrek movie that the reviewers didn’t particularly like. The Trekkies will go come hell or highwater, but those less hardcore won’t.

I suspect once we see .l3 micron chips with a lot more potential gain available, people will be willing to put themselves out more.

Why Not Automate This?

A few people asked me this. The reason why I like the email polls is that people just don’t answer the questions, they make comments, and you get nuances and reasons why people do what they do that you just can’t get from “hit the button.”

Email Ed

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