Is this the Overclocking Golden Age?
As you know, I'm pretty new to the overclocking game so I'll offer up my somewhat limited perspective, and then you can shoot holes in it all you want:
My question is: Have we reached a new golden age of overclocking? To answer this, we must first decide what a golden age is- this is where the disagreement will lie. Some would say that the golden age is homologous to the dawn of overclocking- back when people were first discovering new ways to cool their computers to achieve higher performance and it was a somewhat exclusive hobby for an elite cohort of true enthusiasts-back before cases came already packed with watercooling gear, and before motherboards were designed for "xtreme overclocking". -the pioneer days when the best overclocking was done out in the shed in january :-). I would imagine that anyone who can actually say that they were a part of this beginning would be happy to nostalgically claim that it was the golden age, and thereby claim exclusive rights to it. I think they would be particularly likely to do so if they don't yet have a C2D and haven't yet had the pleasure of a 60-100% overclcock ;-)
Today, however, overclocking has higher rewards and is accessible to many more people: As a result it's practised by many more people. And while it is accessible, it is still somewhat of an art. A big part of what makes overclocking so accessible is the fact that the average joe with a C2D can simply figure out how to get into his bios, and crank up the FSB and get over 3GHz without any other adjustment and on stock cooling. The more enthused can acheive up to 100% overclock on the low end cpus with very little expense. Todays GPU's and memory can be tweaked like crazy as well.
That said, I personally feel that the true spirit of overclocking lies in the ability to spend less money, and achieve performance that would otherwise cost a fortune- The low-end core 2 duos are the absolute embodiment of this. On the other hand, I also find that once you become immersed in the hobby, it's difficult to resist the urge to direct a large portion of your extra (and not-so-extra) cash into it. This bling factor is a wider trend that I see around the web where you ain't nothin' without dual 8800gtx's. I also forsee a trend that may very well spell the end of overclocking as we know it. Newer utilities such as Link-Boost and EPP, while very immature, are the harbingers of near-future technologies that will automatically tune your hardware to peak levels. This may not bode well for overclocking, but for now, if you choose to define the golden age of overclocking as time time of unprecidented popularity, and unprecedented performance gains, then we are definitely in the midst of the Golden Age.
"That said, I personally feel that the true spirit of overclocking lies in the ability to spend less money."
I agree completely. When you can buy a $300 CPU and run it at the same specs of a $1000 CPU, it's a huge win all around.
"I also forsee a trend that may very well spell the end of overclocking as we know it. Newer utilities such as Link-Boost and EPP, while very immature, are the harbingers of near-future technologies that will automatically tune your hardware to peak levels."
Not so much immature, but useless for -actual- overclockers, especially EPP. All of these "preset" overclocks normally go up to 15%, not much higher. If you want a real overclock, you are going to need to do it yourself. But like you said, it's easy as pie nowadays. It wasn't so easy back in the day, when motherboards didn't support it out of the box.
"Not so much immature, but useless for -actual- overclockers, especially EPP. All of these "preset" overclocks normally go up to 15%, not much higher."
I didn't mean those technologies specifically- I meant the offspring of those and others like ati tool and ntune which will will inevitably tune and test and optimize your hardware entirely automatically. I know that these don't do it now, and that ntune doesn't work at all, but I think it's an inevitable next step.
Overclocking used to involve skill and alot of luck to get components that could take the abuse. Now, it is relatively easy to just spend the extra money and get parts that are almost guaranteed to get you within 5% of the top scores reported anywhere. Overclocking is in it's golden years if you ask me because it just doesn't take the skill it used to. Very very easy to buy top scores today.
There is some decent OC hardware out there right now, and it is certainly easy to get started, but I'd be more inclined to consider the "golden age" as being a thing of the past.
The "golden age" IMO was pre "locked multipliers" when people were first discovering that many lower end Procs were in reality re-branded higher end ones, or that the manufacturers were lowballing the true performance of their chips in order to meet a business imposed industry standard for QC.
It was almost as much about "sticking it to the man" as it was about discovering the true capabilities of the hardware.
It involved tech savvy folks figuring out that jumpering two points together would unlock features like higher multipliers which the manufacturers didn't really want you to know about. (The SLI mod on the nF4-Ultra chipset, or volt mods on graphics cards also come to mind).
IMO, once the manufacturers include a function like ATI's Overdrive it's become a "feature" rather than a "Hack" and is really more about Marketing than being about true performance possibilities.
That said.... there are still strong communities built up around modding hardware, and people are still out there learning how to get things out of their hardware far beyond what the original intent was.
There's a volt mod for the S754 Asrock 6100 chipset mobo that I'm just waiting for the next upgrade to try out........
After all..... there does need to be a certain amount of real danger to get the full enjoyment out of an OC........ :)
You make some good points , oh wisened one- I was just looking around and came across this history of overclocking article from ARS Technica- probably written in the late 90's?- it learned me a thing or two about the ol' days, although it would only be a refresher for you guys.
That's a pretty good quick and dirty description.
One of the things to keep in mind is that the early chips didn't have heatsinks let alone cooling fans, so when you made the big jump (going from 100 to 133 is a pretty big jump all in one step) the resulting temps were pretty high and probably seriously degraded the life of the chip.
My first hardware push was changing the format style on an old MFM hard drive.
We formatted a 10 meg MFM drive using using a newer RLL (or was it the other way around) controller and gained an extra 3 1/2 meg (big deal when it was $30/meg).
The only problem with that was that MFM media was lower quality than RLL media, so you had to do diskscans every week to catch errors before they became terminal and a diskscan took 12hrs+ to complete! :)
I think "overclocking" in general is now is at the best point it's ever been. While I don't claim to be able to see the future, I'd guess that ease-of-use and at least the absolute performance benefits from overclocking will mostly increase, as everything else involving computers tends to do given time.
IDK I think I am with ss the days of pin mods and pencil tricks, I still got a 2000xp unlocked in the other room. My first overclock was 100-133 lol
The first Athlons the AXP, and finally the mobiles, I loved that gen great chips and NF2 took overclocking "mainstream". With NF2 it enabled ppl with less "skill" ( i use this very loosely here ) to overclock right out of the box. Overclockers all seam to have a need to tweak their parts, nothing is ever good enough, technology might change to "optimize" our systems for us but the need to tweak will never die.
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