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Issue 20 2012 rev 2.0

The World’s best Overclocking online magazine. always.

Computex

2012

We cover the most prestigious hardware event in our massive eight page feature!

Feature

Kingpin’s z77 LN2 guide Reviewed

asus maximus V extreme Reviewed

gigabyte’s z77 ud3 Worth rapping about?


Another issue, another pointless Ed’s note I was supposed to have written this Ed’s note eons ago, but I kept putting it off. I always have something I believe is worth expressing here, just after we finish an issue, but when it comes to writing the next one I’ve either forgotten or it just doesn’t seem that important anymore.

A

t least this month I have a valid excuse for not having anything useful to say here. My mind is preoccupied with “The Dark Knight Rises” so I’m not particularly attentive. However, usually I never have anything to write because any idea I seem to have is conjured up in anything but my best state of mind. With every issue I’m in awe of the editors who have been writing these notes for years on end on a monthly basis with something new to say. I rarely ever read these in any of the publications I buy, but that there are words on that page means they have something to say and I have an ever growing respect for that capacity. Regardless, we’re 20 issues in and we’re looking forward to the next milestone which is 30. By then I’ll hopefully have something meaningful to say here until then just have fun reading the magazine, I promise it’s significantly better than what the editor’s note would lead you to believe. On to the actual content then, if you’ve not seen the contents page, these are but some of the things we’ve covered in this issue. We have an interview with Hondacity, from Washington. We find out what he has to say about overclocking and about him in general. He also happens to share two out of my three favorite cars right now. Check it out and see what he’s been up to. Then as stated on our facebook page

3 The OverClocker Issue 20 | 2012

in the previous issue, K|NGP|N’s in the house with a helpful guide for those who are new to extreme overclocking. A great read even if you’re a professional, you never know what you might learn. On to the hardware reviews themselves you’ll notice that they are slightly different than before. I won’t go into the details here as you’ll see it for yourself in this issues featured hardware. There’s always so much to cover in the 2 odd months between each issue, it’s hard to collect and report on it. The highlight of this issue though is the Computex 2012 coverage. Besides being one of the best trade shows as far as hardware is concerned in the calendar year, it’s a great place to see some impressive overclockers and overclocking, in particular this time at the G.Skill booth where just about every vendor with a worthwhile motherboard was represented. It was truly magnificent showing from of the best in the overclocking community. Check out the feature to see what we got up to in the time spent in there. Other than that there’s not much else to say. I sincerely hope you enjoy this issue and will return in Issue 21 to see what we have to say.  [ Neo Sibeko ] Editor

The Overclocker is published by OCL-Media (cc) under license from Sproog Media (Pty) Ltd Editor Neo Sibeko neo@theoverclocker.com Art Director Chris Savides Contributors Dane Remendes Vincent Lucido Online contributor Jonathan Horne For advertising sales and marketing please contact: Email: neo@theoverclocker.com Tel: +27723592801


regulars 3 - Editor’s note

Features

pg.10

6 - Interview Q+A with Robert “Hondacity” Marique 30 - Computex 2012 Coverage

Reviews 10 - ASUS Maximus V Extreme 12 - Plextor M3 PRO 256GB SSD 14 - GIGABYTE Z77X-UD3H 16 - MSI R7970 Lightning 22 - ADATA XPG 2133MHZ 16GB Series Dual Channel Kit 24 - KINGSTON HyperX 3K 240GB SSD 26 - GIGABYTE GV-N670OC-2GB 28 – EVGA GTX 680 Classified

K|NGP|N’s Corner 18 - Z77 insulation prep guide

Lifestyle 38 - Game Review - Max Payne 3 44 - GIGABYTE Aivia Osmium & Krypton 46 - Corsair Vengeance 2000

pg.44

4 The OverClocker Issue 20 | 2012

pg.28


QA with Hondacity

Country Name and city:

you don’t’ own them already?

USA, Walla Walla - Washington.

A Lamborghini Aventador, McLaren MP4-12C and a Cadillac CTS-V.

What language(s) do you speak? English primarily and Filipino. On which forums do you spend most of your time on? XtremeSystems and Hwbot. How did you come up with your nick, if there a story behind it? I drove a Honda when I was younger. So I stuck to that. From your nick, you’re obviously a car enthusiast. If you could pick three cars to have in your dream garage, what would they be, if 6 The OverClocker Issue 20 | 2012

When did you start overclocking and what got you started? I started in college around 2000 With AMD Athlons as overclocking in the past really helped system performance. What is your single greatest or most memorable overclocking achievement? MOA Vegas by MSI. There I met the best overclockers in the USA from Team XS to Team OCA. The event showed how weak I was and it pushed me to go farther.

To date what has been your favourite Motherboard, GPU, PSU, VGA and CPU pot? Also, tell us what you use mostly for benching and what you are looking to buy? Asus motherboards are my favourite. The support that the Asus provides is just unrivalled. When Shammy was at EVGA, I was totally immersed with EVGA motherboards. For reliability and stability I stick with Gigabyte Motherboards. For GPUs I love the Lightning series from MSI but I love modding GPUs so any GPU with a decent power circuit is just worth overclocking. For power supplies, I’ve relied on Corsair’s AX1200. No OCP love for the hardcore overclocker. As for the Pots, I love the SF3D Inflection


CPU Pot. It is fast and heavy. For GPU pots I love Kingpin’s FatBoy with the black extension and anodized body. Which is your favourite benchmark if any and what is your least favourite and why? I love all the benchmarks 2D or 3D. I love 3D benching more because of the modding side of it. It just shows how dedicated one can be. I don’t like 2D benching because of the binning side of it. 2D benching does show how efficient you are though.

What’s your current platform of choice for overclocking? Ivy-Bridge is insanely fun. Intel really put out a great platform and awesome silicon. RAM clocking goodness and lots of overclocking room because of cold bug free conditions. How is Ivy-Bridge treating you so far and how many CPUs have you binned so far? I’ve tried one or two, unfortunately my luck has ran out. Both CPUs have cold bugs.

Do you bench NVIDIA or AMD graphics cards mainly or do you not care and bench the fastest one at any given time? I loved NVIDIA more than AMD before, but now AMD has really done a good job with their 7-series. It’s a tie for them right now. Who do you normally bench with and how often do you bench? I bench 95% solo. With the work I have I hardly have time to bench, but I do bench weekends when time permits. At times I visit my

Issue 20 | 2012 The OverClocker 7


nearest neighbours V2-V3 of North Idaho and Red_Max of South Idaho. Those two guys are awesome garage benchers.

How feasible is it for you to get access to LN2 where you live? Do all overclockers in your country have access to LN2 and how much is it?

Do you mainly bench for points competitively or do you just mainly do it for fun, selffulfilment if you will?

In my area it’s rather easy to get LN2. Most resellers don’t trust anybody till you show them that you do use a lot of it. Once they know you consume more than 100Liters per month they soften up and give you a good deal. I was paying 75Cents a litre.

Mainly learning the platform first and then pushing for top results. The points just follow once I’m satisfied with the platform. How do you feel about the current HWBOT Rev4 points system, do you think it’s the best so far or do you prefer some of the older revisions? I’ve wasted too much time with Hwbot to be honest, overclockers should just be overclocking. I think Massman has a good direction for overclockers in general.

8 The OverClocker Issue 20 | 2012

How do you feel about the current qualifying procedure for international live overclocking invites? I think its improving a lot, MSI is setting the benchmark for such. Hwbot is pushing manufacturers to delve into competitions. I would hope and love Asus to join in on the international competitions more openly.


What would like to say manufacturers as a whole who are reading this? I would thank them for pushing overclocking aspects in their awesome platforms. I would also thank their overclockers in reaching out to the OC communities. One success story that I’m aware of which other manufactures should follow is MSI and their international power user list. Others are doing this as well but it’s not as systematic as MSI’s Is there anything you would like to extend to the community and other readers? Good preparation like insulation and sleeping right is key to having a fun and productive overclock. Top overclockers know how to prepare for a good battle. Outside of overclocking, what else are you as passionate about and spent an equal amount of time if not more doing?

Currently I love lifting weights in my training. No pain no gain What do you do for a living and what does your typical day look like? I work in the medical field. It’s time consuming, 7am to 7pm and sometimes I cancel overclocking because of Saturday or Sunday overtime work. Do you play any games when not overclocking and if you do, on what platform do you play and what game? I love racing games. A little bit of pc racing games, but I prefer the racing games at the arcades. You feel the road and car bumps, tilts and great engine sounds. Do you have any final words? Emulate, (the best overclockers) participate (a test with the best) and congratulate (everybody).  [ The Overclocker ] Issue 20 | 2012 The OverClocker 9


Hardware Award

ASUS MAXIMUS V EXTREME RRP: $389.99 | Website: www.asus.com Test Machine • Intel Core i7 3770K Retail • Transcend AxeRam 2400MHZ CL9 • Kingston HyperX 3K SSD • EVGA GeForce GTX 680 Classified • ANTEC HCP 1200 • Windows XP SP3/Windows 7 64-Bit SP1

Y

ou’re probably familiar with the Maximus IV Formula at this juncture, sadly for us here at TheOverclocker, we never managed to get a sample to review, but we did receive arguably the better board, the Maximus V Extreme. It’s everything the Formula board is and more. We’ll save you the boring details as you can read about all such features and the like on the ASUS site. We are not here to tell you about any of that. What makes the Maximus V Extreme so interesting is that it’s pretty much the Rampage IV Extreme replicated for the 10 The OverClocker Issue 20 | 2012

Z77 platform, but it does come with some added features. One of which is the ability to pause a benchmark and resume it later. It sounds silly in text but it’s true and there’s a video showing this posted by resident ASUS everything extreme guru “Sahmino”. We’ll leave you to imagine all the possibilities that this allows while benching but suffice to say it’s a feature we’re likely to see from all high end ROG boards from ASUS going forward and it’s something that other vendors would do well to consider adding to their boards. Of specific interest to us about this board is its overclocking performance. Indeed we were not able to get this board under cold for various reasons; but we figure it’s safe to assume that it’s at least as good as the Maximus V Formula and for all intents and purposes should be the best out of the entire Maximus V family to date. So if you have one killer K SKU CPU

you may want to give this board serious consideration. More so if you’re into multi-GPU benching as this board support both four-way Crossfire and SLI, courtesy of the PLX switching chip we’ve seen on other boards. One thing to note about this board is that it’s the only retail board that generates its own +3.3V AUX power for the VGA cards and moreover it can be adjusted in the BIOS. We have no first-hand experience with how this feature affects overclocking but it is said that is can help enhance overclocking particularly when dealing with multi-GPU setups. Whether it makes a noticeable difference or not, that the feature is there cannot hurt especially seeing as it’s the most focused overclocking motherboard on the market right Now. A bold statement for sure given the more recent ROG entries from ASUS, however having spent a


Benchmarks All results were obtained at 5GHz on a normal install of Windows 7 64-bit and WinXP. These are our results, yours may vary so only use these as a guideline for a similarly configured system. Motherboard

3DMark2001se 3DMark03

3DMark11

Super Pi 8M

Aida 64 Copy

Aida 64 Latency

Asus Maximus V Extreme

112,343

136,311

10,944

1.21.391

29930

29.8

GIGABYTE Z77X-UD3H

112,789

136,564

10,926

1.21.109

29410

29.4

considerable amount of time with it, we are confident in making such a claim. Our own personal experience with the board was nothing short of exhilarating. Maybe a strong word to use for a motherboard, but much like we loved the Maximus V Gene, the Extreme is even easier to overclock and the tweaking features are mind boggling. There’s simply nothing you would think to adjust that you cannot on the board. Not that all the settings will be used by all the overclockers, but having the option is always better than not having it. In particular we appreciate the memory profiles as stated in the previous Maximus V Gene review in the last issue. It makes memory overclocking a breeze and it’s certainly appreciated by one a prolific overclocker we spoke to who has confirmed their experience with the board. As you can see from the various results and screen shot we have

here, while our runs are anything but efficient, compared to the UD3H we used, the Maximus V Extreme was delivering the goods. In 3DMark2001SE it delivered admirable results especially given that we are using a card that isn’t suited to this benchmark. During testing, we had run into some performance issues with CL7 memory or rather the tight 2x2GB PSC profile; however it turns out that the performance is right in line with TWL set at anything but 7. So the numbers we posted up on our facebook wall should be looked at in light of this information. Overall, we really can’t fault this motherboard; it’s brilliant in more ways than one. It may be steeply priced but then again there isn’t a motherboard that is this well featured on the market regardless of the platform.  [ The Overclocker ]

Summary The ASUS ROG team know how to make a good board. Sure enough getting anything out of them when you’re not a top overclocker is next to impossible, but the products speak for themselves and despite what we or others may say, there’s no denying the numbers. The Maximus V Extreme is an incredible motherboard, easily the best yet from ASUS.

Would you buy it? Yes of course there’s no reason too not own this board. If you have the funds all we can say is buy, you won’t be disappointed

The Score

8.5/10 Issue 20 | 2012 The OverClocker 11


Hardware Award

Plextor M3 PRO 256GB SSD RRP: $299.99 | Website: www.goplextor.com Test Machine • Intel Core i7 3770K • GIGABYTE Z77X-UD3H • SEAGATE 7200.12 500GB • ANTEC HCP 1200 • Windows 7 64-bit SPI

T

he M3 Pro drive as the name suggests is an even faster version of the M3 drive from Plextor. The changes in the drive electronics and firmware are what net the additional performance we see. On average the drive is about 10% faster. That may not seem like much but if you look at the write speed for instance, you can appreciate just how much faster 10% can be over an already fast drive. This was the only drive we’ve tested that’s managed to break the 400MB/s sequential write speed barrier. We were

12 The OverClocker Issue 20 | 2012

already impressed by the previous drive but the M3 PRO blew it out the water. The performance increase was maintained throughout the duration of the entire testing suit. Where we saw an anomaly was with the 4K write performance numbers as the PRO drive was a little slower. However given that it was a 3.71% difference in performance we are fairly confident that this could be standard testing variance and it’s nothing to worry about. At worst the M3 PRO should offer identical performance to the original M3 drive. Other than that, the performance scaled accordingly. In IOMETER’s IOPS test we were close to seeing 30K IOPS which is significant as it’s over 2,000 points higher than what the original drive delivered. The best part about this

drive is that right now it can be had for as little as $299.99 which is much lower than what the original M3 retailed for when it was new. Granted NAND prices have plummeted, it does however mean that we can enjoy higher performance SSDs for lower prices. So as it stands if you felt that the $339 of the previous drive was more than fair, then you should rejoice at the opportunity to own a refined version of the drive at an appreciably lower price. Taking a look at the internals of the drive, we see that there are some changes that Plextor has made which are obviously part of the reason why the performance has gone up. The M3 PRO drive comes outfitted with 2x256MB Nanya DDR3 DRAM chips for a total of 512MB. Identical in size to the cache on the regular


Benchmarks All results were obtained at 5GHz on a normal install of Windows 7 64-bit and WinXP. These are our results, yours may vary so only use these as a guideline for a similarly configured system. Drive

Average Read

Average Write

IO Meter IOPS

4K Write

Average IO Response

Max IO Response Time

Plextor M3 PRO 256GB SSD

533

436.9

29325.11

258.7

0.2726

7.8768

Plextor M3 256GB SSD

499.1

360.6

27060.1

266.6

0.2955

8.9941

Intel 520 240GB SSD

475.6

310.5

21603.1

258.2

0.3701

41.171

Corsair ForceGT 120GB

469.1

163.1

13993.4

159

0.5715

40.871

drive, but differing in that it’s not a single DDR2 chip. The NAND is courtesy of Toshiba 24nm, 2-bit Toggle-Mode chips while the controller remains unchanged. It’s only safe to assume then that the difference in performance is between the firmware used and the faster DDR3 memory employed on the drive. Plextor ships their familiar SSD Toolbox software which lets you update the drive’s firmware, check capacity, operating conditions and format the drive should you so choose. It’s a simple enough tool to use and worth installing. You can get almost all these features, from third party software but it’s easier to just use the included utility. What would have been great to see with the M3 PRO package is the inclusion of an external drive enclosure much like the one Kingston

includes with their Hyper X drives. Not only that, but it would be fair to expect it to be a USB3.0 capable enclosure. Given that this is a premium drive, these additional extras would go a long way into making this drive one of the more desirable SSDs on the market. A missed opportunity as far as we’re concerned especially given that the 3.5” bracket we could argue isn’t nearly as important to include. Overall, we are thoroughly impressed with the performance of the M3 Pro drive. Some may not think the additional $50 is worth it over the regular drive given the performance gains are on average about 10%, however we maintain that if you want premium performance then the $50 just may be worth it.  [ The Overclocker ]

Summary The M3 PRO is even quicker than the regular drive we reviewed in our last issue. The small form factor will make it suitable for use in Ultra books and the like. The real triumph of this drive is in the performance numbers where it cements itself thoroughly as the fastest drive we’ve ever tested here. This is a must buy.

Would you buy it? Yes this drive is certainly worth the purchase is only secondary to performance. It’s thoroughly quick.

The Score

9/10 Issue 20 | 2012 The OverClocker 13


’s editor c i cho e award

GIGABYTE Z77X-UD3H RRP: $149.99 | Website: www.gigabyte.com Test Machine • Intel Core i7 3770K Retail • Transcend AxeRam 2400MHZ CL9 • Kingston HyperX 3K SSD • EVGA GeForce GTX 680 Classified • ANTEC HCP 1200 • Windows XP SP3/Windows 7 64-Bit SP1

B

udget boards are usually something we try and stay away from here at TheOverclocker. Understandably so because most of the time they just don’t have all the features that we consider pivotal to any self respecting overclocking motherboard. Most of the time it’s not that they have a BIOS that makes it impossible to overclock, but it’s that overclocking is made unnecessarily difficult by appalling oversights and general short sightedness. There are many vendors 14 The OverClocker Issue 20 | 2012

with boards like these, but fortunately GIGABYTE isn’t one of them. We’d actually go as far as to say this is how budget boards should be from here on in. At a mere $150 USD it’s rather impressive what GIGABYTE has managed to outfit on this board. It’s no Maximus IV Gene, but then again it need not be as at $150 we’re lucky that it has any overclocking features at all let alone so many. Physically as you can see it isn’t too different from the UD5H which we were thoroughly impressed by. After numerous hours spent with this board both under regular air cooling and more exotic methods like LN2, it’s clear that the UD3H may actually be a better overclocking motherboard than the UD5H. For gamers you should still go with the UD5H, but for our purposes this board here is more than enough and might we add, a lot more consistent.

Take for example the results we recorded. We tweaked nothing in the BIOS as we merely applied the XMP profile on our AxeRAM testing kit, adjusted voltages accordingly for our environment and off we went. If you look at the results it’s tied with the Maximus V Extreme which is more than twice the price. This is an impressive showing for the UD3H. These days motherboard performance differences are so small it’s near impossible to separate them using low clocks, however we see that even at a moderate 5GHz, the UD3H is capable. What is worth noting on the UD3H or at least with the particular BIOS we used is that the memory sub timings are fairly tight. That means you’ll have a lot of work too do if you want to get those really high memory clock speeds, they are not impossible to achieve, but if your sole aim in a session is to clock memory as high as


Benchmarks All results were obtained at 5GHz on a normal install of Windows 7 64-bit and WinXP. These are our results, yours may vary so only use these as a guideline for a similarly configured system. Drive

Average Read

Average Write

IO Meter IOPS

4K Write

Average IO Response

Max IO Response Time

Plextor M3 PRO 256GB SSD

533

436.9

29325.11

258.7

0.2726

7.8768

Plextor M3 256GB SSD

499.1

360.6

27060.1

266.6

0.2955

8.9941

Intel 520 240GB SSD

475.6

310.5

21603.1

258.2

0.3701

41.171

Corsair ForceGT 120GB

469.1

163.1

13993.4

159

0.5715

40.871

So compelling was this motherboard that is started a rap competition. If you didn't see the entries check them out here

possible you may have to look at other boards. With specifically our sample and CPU our IMC was not capable of anything higher than 2,700MHz when using air cooling and we used numerous equally proficient boards to verify this. So memory frequency was always going to be a dead end as something we can’t really test; however what we did notice is that on this board we could easily produce some impressive CL6 results. The best we could achieve with a fairly temperamental CPU was 1,284MHz 6-10-6-24 1T. Best of all these settings were fairly stable so it wasn’t only for verification purposes but settings you could actually use for benchmarks. Sadly however, CL7 was a no go at least with TWL at 7 as well. This was disappointing a little but we suspect this has everything to do with the AxeRam kit we used more than the board. Back to the board layout, as mentioned earlier we really can’t fault GIGABYTE on this. It’s well spaced out, has all the clear CMOS, Power and Reset

buttons in the right place and best of all has better placing of the POST LED than the UD5H. Since this board will not do three-way multi-GPU graphics, the odds of you using the very last PCIe slot for a full length graphics card are slim so you’re likely to always have full view of the POST LED. In contrast to the UD5H where it’s located on the bottom right corner, where the PSU ATX cable may sometimes obscure the display from view. To the UD3H’s arsenal, GIGABYTE has added a BIOS switch to the mix where you can have separate profiles to seal the deal as the cheapest but most feature packed board we’ve tested thus far. Even if you’re not a fan of GIGABYTE boards for some reason, for the asking price this board deserves a chance and odds are you’re unlikely to be disappointed as there just isn’t anything on the market that will match the UD3H at this price. This one isn’t perfect, but it gets two thumbs up from us.  [ The Overclocker ]

Summary The least amongst the GIGABYTE Z77 range is our favourite by some margin. Great layout, features and BIOS options so there isn’t much not to like about the UD3H. It’s very affordable and proves as equally capable as the more expensive boards. If multi-GPU overclocking is your thing you’ll have to look somewhere else of course, but if single GPU overclocking is all you care for much like us here, this is the board to buy. We’d wager that there isn’t a more efficient board out there right now at anything close to this price.

Would you buy it? Most certainly and just so we can have one always ready for LN2, we’d buy two boards.

The Score

9/10 Issue 20 | 2012 The OverClocker 15


MSI R7970 Lightning RRP: $519.99 | Website: www.msi.com Test Machine • Intel Core i7 3770K • Asus MAXIMUS V Extreme • Transcend AxeRAM 2400MHZ CL9 • Antec HCP 1200 PSU • Windows7 64-Bit

O

ver the years MSI’s lighting range has proved itself to be the standard when it comes to graphics cards. Other vendors make valiant attempts to cater to the overclocker, but stop short of where they should, MSI goes all the way and leaves nothing to the reserves. From the original and still respected GTX 275 Lightning to the GTX 680 Lightning, MSI has been improving over the years on their range. The Radeon R7970 Lightning has been with us for some time, but even then it remains the graphics card of choice for most overclockers. Understandably so, given

16 The OverClocker Issue 20 | 2012

that not only does it employ the highest manufacturing standards, but the components used on the PCB are impressive to say the least. Superior power delivery, and a beefy cooler, the R7970 Lightning is purpose built graphics card and to date there hasn’t been another 7970 that has produced such impressive results with such consistency. The best part about this card is that all you need to reach those very high GPU clocks is included with the retail package. We’ll not mince words and tell you that the regular version of AfterBurner will do the trick, however it’ll get you further than any other 7970 will with any other software. For competitive overclocking there’s really no reason to consider another 7970 other than this one because the others are not any better than the standard card

’s editor choice award

from AMD. For the gamers out there who were thinking of the GHz edition of the Radeon 7970, we’d recommend you give that a miss and consider the Lightning instead. It may not have a BIOS that can engage Turbo mode, but that’s not necessary as the clock speed out the box is already above that of the GHz edition in turbo mode. So there’s absolutely no incentive to go that direction. Gaming performance as you may know with the 12.7 WHQL drivers is phenomenal and that combined with the factory overclock makes the R7970 Lightning one of the fastest graphics cards money can buy. You’ll be hard pressed to find a better performing combination right now. If you’re not satisfied with the factory overclock though, you could extract further performance from the Lightning by simply using


Benchmarks All results were obtained at 5GHz on a normal install of Windows 7 64-bit and WinXP. These are our results, yours may vary so only use these as a guideline for a similarly configured system. Clocks

3DMark03

3DMark06

3DMark Vantage

3DMark11

UniGine Heaven Xtreme

MSI R7970 Lightning

1.07/5.6GHz

137822

34457

36051 GPU: 37071

9330 Graphics: 9012

2027.796

MSI R7970 Lightning OC

1.28G/7.2GHz

39979 GPU: 42956

11144 Graphics: 11037

AfterBurner which netted us an additional 100MHz, bringing our clock to a nice and comfortable 1,270MHz. It may not seem like much, but consider that we also had the memory at a scorching 1800MHz (7.2GHz Effective) and these were game stable settings. For a single 3DMark Vantage run we could do 1,290MHz but that was hardly stable and the increase in vGPU required for that was not worth it in the end. Great for those overclocking sessions and this is what this card is essentially built for. Try as we might we couldn’t find anything to fault about the Lightning. We are aware that despite the binned GPUs that are used for the Lightning range, further binning may be required by overclockers as we’ve heard stories of some cards being unstable at anything lower than -20’C.Those are far and few in-between and we’d think that the odds of coming across a sample like that with the reference cards is significantly higher than it is for the Lightning. So we’d not be deterred too much about

such reports. During our testing we noticed something peculiar though and that is our GPUReactor module didn’t help at all. Be it installed or not the maximum clock speeds were identical. This doesn’t’ mean it’s not a worthwhile attachment as we’ve seen some other samples show gains with it installed. We aren’t entirely sure what was happening with our sample or if the limitation was somewhere else, but once again, at worst it can’t hurt your overclocks so you may as well use it. MSI once again has managed to make its graphics card stand out from the countless number of Radeon 7970s on the market. Most customised 7970s are special by virtue of a factory overclock and a cooler; however MSI’s card is different from purpose right through to execution. There’s no need to buy a card in the hopes that the mods for it are online as you essentially don’t’ need any and if you do they are simple enough to follow that virtually any competent overclocker can perform them.

40.871

There isn’t anything to dislike about the R7970 Lightning. It’s in every way what we hoped it would be and more. If you’re in the market for a purpose built overclocking graphics card with minimum fuss, this is the one to buy. [ The Overclocker ]

Summary MSI has yet produced another worthwhile graphics card for the Lightning family. It’s simply the best Radeon 7970 money can buy right now. If you’re serious about overclocking and wringing out the best from the Radeon 7970 look no further than the R7970 Lightning.

Would you buy it? Most definitely, this is the 7970 to own over and above all others.

The Score

9/10 Issue 20 | 2012 The OverClocker 17


HOW TO guide:

Z77 LN2 PreparationGuide G

ood motherboard and GPU preparation can sometimes be the difference between having a solid extreme overclocking session and complete failure. Fortunately it doesn't have to be difficult or overly complicated; it can be done just right. Some overclockers do too little, some do too much. There’s always one such person in almost every OC crew. Said individual will waste a whole day preparing a system totally going overboard with dry eraser, conformal spray, grease, foam, paper towels or what have you. When it’s time to overclock, as soon as the container pulls down the temperatures all hell breaks loose. They spend most of the time in bios or worse yet - just trying to get the system to POST. Then there are those that take shortcuts or plainly put, just lazy as they don’t do enough to prepare their hardware for sub-zero LN2

18 The OverClocker Issue 20 | 2012

overclocking. Usually end up killing something or everything. One shot one kill eh? :) The truth is there is no one method of preparation that is “The one”. I'm sure there are lots of successful overclockers that will swear their hardware prep is the best way and for them that is what works. Extreme overclocking is what I do every day, be it testing containers or some new piece of hardware for EVGA, I've learned what works well and what doesn't at all. With the recent launch of Ivy-bridge CPUs and Z77 motherboards, running a full pot of liquid nitrogen with temperatures in excess of -190c is a reality again, making motherboard preparation more important than ever before. In this guide I will cover motherboard preparation for Liquid nitrogen overclocking and also go over some tips to help keep you running session after session with the same gear for successful

extreme overclocking. Item’s you’ll need for this are as follows: petroleum jelly(Vaseline is good), some flat sheet foam about half inch thick, foam tape, paper towels("shop towels" are best as they are particularly absorbent and wick up water nicely) and a small brush for applying the grease. In addition you’ll also need a hair dryer or heat gun, some scissors to cut out all your socket gaskets and some rubber bands. (Caution: Don't buy your Vaseline in the middle of the night from the 24hr convenience store with one of your buds or be prepared to get some glib stares and complete misinterpretation.)

Step a

Remove the PWM heat-sink from the socket area before applying the grease. I always use grease instead of dry eraser to protect


Things you’ll need.

1

the motherboard and GPUs from condensation because I have found that the dry eraser tends to not insulate the surrounding surface mounted components from the cold. On GPUs this can especially cause problems on long bench sessions. Use the brush and apply the grease all around the socket (areas marked green) so that the board is coated adequately. If you are overclocking memory using sub-zero cooling, then insulate this area as well, getting all around the DIMM slots. On the back side of the motherboard, apply the grease with the brush covering up pretty much whole top half of the motherboard. For this guide, I will just cover CPU and memory preparation for LN2 overclocking. The next instalment will be covering GPU preparation for single and four way multi-GPU overclocking at which point I will detail what to do with bottom half of board near PCIe slots.

After the grease has been applied, take the hair dryer and heat up the board around the DIMM slots and CPU socket to make the grease more viscous so it flows in between the DIMM slots, around the CPU socket and PWM area leaving no critical motherboard surfaces free from grease. I don’t recommend putting grease directly in the CPU socket or DIMM slots as this can lead to hardware detection issues later on. After you have greased the board entirely, clean off the top of the PWM mosfets and replace the motherboard PWM heat-sink.

Step b

Now take the foam tape and cut out pieces so they fit neatly around the CPU socket and DIMM area as show in pictures 4 and 5. Make sure there are no gaps or cracks where air can easily get in (example

circled in green) and cause moisture/ice. Usually I will double layer the tape first before I start cutting the pieces out so each piece is just the right thickness. On the backside of the motherboard, cut some flat pieces of tape to cover the underside of the socket area and the DIMM slots as shown in picture 6. When applying the foam, tape or pre-cut the socket area pieces to the board, peel the backing off and spread grease all along the sticky side of the cut pieces before you stick them on the board. This is of paramount importance as it forms a nice air tight seal under the tape to keep moisture out. Install the CPU and slide in the CPU mounting hardware/rods. Once you’ve done that, put all the pre-cut pieces around the CPU socket and DIMM slots so we are ready for next step.

Issue 20 | 2012 The OverClocker 19


2

3

4

5

Step c

Now take the paper towel and make some double or triple layer gaskets to go around the socket and DIMM area. This will act as a wick and catch any moisture or water that hits it while u are overclocking, keeping it off of the motherboard.

Step d

It’s time to make the foam gaskets from half inch flat foam stock. Make the CPU gasket so that the CPU is accessible for mounting the pot in the centre and that it fills up the entire socket area insulating it nicely. Another key point is to have good compression between this bottom flat foam CPU gasket and the foam insulation on the container. As such, make sure the round foam insulation used on the container is left long enough (9) so when the unit is placed on the board for mounting

20 The OverClocker Issue 20 | 2012

and the holdown is tightened; it compresses both the round foam sleeve on the container and foam socket gasket. This will keep air and moisture out as much as possible. Also in the centre of the socket gasket, make the square centre opening large enough only for base of the pot where it makes contact with the CPU. Make yourself a paper towel wrap to catch moisture coming from the hold-down and the top of the container during overclocking and warm-up. Secure it to the container assembly with rubber bands

Step e

If you’re planning to cool memory to sub-zero temperatures, the following should apply as well. For the DIMM area, cut some strips of paper towel the length of the DIMMs and use a

small tool to push them down in between all DIMM slots. Cut out some foam flat pieces to fit around the memory sticks before you place the pot on to help isolate and contain ice and moisture. When the overclocking session is over I usually remove the memory pot and pull out the memory sticks while their still a little frosty. I do this before they are totally warmed up to keep water from running down into the DIMM slots. Last but not least, a good tip is to always have good air circulation around the board to blow away falling nitrogen gas coming down on to the board from the pot. When running a full pot this easily causes snow and ice to build up everywhere around socket area unnecessarily. Usually a fan with a decent CFM rating positioned as in pic 13 will do a great job.


6

7

8

9

Step f

This complete process should only take about an hour for one board, but will yield endless hours of benching while keeping your hardware safe. Socket foam and towel gaskets can be used over and over again almost indefinitely. When it’s time to retire your board, removing grease is easy. Use the hair dryer or heat gun and heat the board up so it all drips off leaving only a little residue to wipe off to finish the job. With Z77 extreme overclockers are pleased that we can now push the limits again with regards to cooling, clocks, and voltage because in the end pushing the limits is really what it’s all about for us right? Good luck with your overclocking and most importantly, HAVE FUN! Check back in next issue of THE OVERCLOCKER for a complete single and 4 way GPU preparation guide.  [ K|NGP|N ]

10

11

12

13

Issue 20 | 2012 The OverClocker 21


ADATA XPG Gaming

Series 16GB 2133MHz Kit RRP: $175 | Website: www.adata.com Test Machine • Intel Core i7 3770K • ASUS Maximus V Extreme • Kingston HyperX 3K 240GB • ANTEC HCP 1200 • Windows 7 64-bit SPI

A

DATA amongst many other memory suppliers have found themselves having to diversify their product ranges to include USB drives, SSDs flash cards and the like. After all, with so many competitors in the DRAM market, being a one trick pony is a sure way to vanish from the component landscape sooner rather than later. That however does not mean ADATA is not still in the memory business, unlike some others who seems to be steering themselves in slightly different directions, ADATA seem dedicated to the DRAM business and they have a wider range than before. The XPG Gaming series grade memory

22 The OverClocker Issue 20 | 2012

kit is what they sent to us. Now we have to admit that there essentially isn’t a difference between gaming memory and enthusiast memory really. What ultimately determines the grading in reality are the chips used on the DRAM, the PCB and if you will the heat spreaders. So then with gaming memory you can be sure of one thing and that is there isn’t stringent, time consuming and extensive sorting process that takes place with the RAM but rather, it’s a more conservative process which yields memory that isn’t that exciting per se, but nonetheless may prove valuable for the vast majority of users. Not everyone will be able to appreciate DDR3 2,666MHz RAM and in fact the same may actually hold true for 2,400MHz RAM. The benefit to the power user of high speed RAM with tight timings is near nonexistent even though we as overclockers

would trip over ourselves for such kits. So while there isn’t as such a component difference between overclocking and gaming memory, there does need to be a distinction of utility for ADATA and by extension for the gamers who make up the bulk of the buying power. With this particular kit, given the rated speed and timings, we weren’t quite sure if they even warranted a review. After all, there’s not much one can say about such passable timings and frequencies. We do appreciate high density modules, but we’d go on the record to say that the average gamer and even the power gamer would gain no meaningful advantage by using a 16GB kit over an 8GB kit. As it turns out there’s an identical ADATA 8GB kit which happens to in part nullify this particular 16GB set as you’ll see later on..


Benchmarks All results were obtained at 4600MHz s on a normal install of Windows 7 64-bit. These are our results, yours may vary so only use these as a guideline for a similarly configured system ADATA XPG DDR3 2133MHz 2x8GB

AIDA 64 Read

AIDA 64 Write

AIDA 64 Copy

AIDA 64 Latency

Maxxmem

SuperPi 8M

Frequency

Timings

22192

23507

25646

33

1638.4

1.29.482

2200

9-11-11-28-1N

23083

23333

26478

32.5

1659.4

1.29.045

2400

10-12-12-28-1N

23881

23543

27237

31.8

1725.4

1.29.637

2600

11-13-13-28-1N

24945

24345

28420

30.4

1914.4

1.29.398

2667

11-13-13-30-1N

You can see from the performance, courtesy of the Maximus V Extreme and its memory profiles we were able to hit 2,600MHz which is mighty impressive given that we hadn’t adjusted the operating voltage much and in fact reached this speed and timings with 1.67V. Good enough for everyday use. The 2,667MHz setting was uncharacteristically delivering great numbers which is great for overclockers who are willing to operate their RAM at 1.7V or more for overclocking sessions. However, given that this RAM is specifically geared towards gamers, we felt the 2,600MHz setting is more attainable and in a way safer, because as mentioned earlier, the adjustment in operating voltage is small enough to not be damaging to the memory. With the 2,400MHz setting, we didn’t even need to adjust voltage but merely loosen the timings to reach the desired frequency. This is where we think ADATA missed an opportunity. Indeed it’s true that CL9 will always look more attractive than CL10 but we’ve established already that timings mean nothing to the target market at all. We’d wager

that you can sell frequencies better than you can timings and as such selling this set as a 2400MHz CL10 kit would go a long way into making the price a little easier to swallow. If not 2,400MHz at least 2,200MHz especially because the X.M.P profile is actually for 2,200MHz with the exact same given timings for 2133MHz. Ultimately the biggest challenge facing this kit is not other vendors with similar sets but it’s from within ADATA’s own range, namely the cheaper 8GB kit. It’s for all intents and purposes an identical kit and we’d be surprised if it didn’t reach the same speeds as this set if not a little higher. At $60 for 2x4GB sticks that’s actually the kit that is most attractive from the range. Two such kits result in the same memory capacity but with the added advantage of not only being $55 cheaper but useable with your X79 platform as well. It’s a no brainer really. Still if you must have high density modules and four sticks are not an option, you may give the ADATA kit a chance. It’s not cheap but then again no 16GB dual channel kit is.  [ The Overclocker ]

Summary The ADATA XPG 16GB set isn’t the worst on the market, not by a long shot. In fact if you have to have 16GB via two sticks only you should take a look. With less than a minute of tweaking you can easily run this set at 2,400MHz all day without any issues. If you are able to use four sticks of memory though, consider then identical 8GB kit, it’s less than half the price and should perform just as well.

Would you buy it? In a gaming context sure thing, for overclockers we’d have to look at ADATA’s other memory modules.

The Score

7/10 Issue 20 | 2012 The OverClocker 23


Value Award

Kingston HyperX 3K 240GB SSD RRP: $249.99 | Website: www.kingston.com Test Machine • • • • •

Intel Core i7 3770K GIGABYTE Z77X-UD3H SEAGATE 7200.12 500GB ANTEC HCP 1200 Windows 7 64-bit SPI

T

here’s but no reason today that any gamer, enthusiast or overclocker should not be using an SSD of some sort. These were expensive many moons ago circa 2008 when INTEL introduced the X-25M but things have changed drastically since then. NAND prices have plummeted and there are many more players in the market. Even MSI is joining in on the SSD market. All the advances, competition and wide spread use of SSDs have accelerated the price reduction of SSDs and now you can have 240GB (unformatted) for a mere $249.99. That’s a little over $1.04 a gigabyte. Amazing considering that this 24 The OverClocker Issue 20 | 2012

time last year, some drives commanded twice the price per gigabyte. What we have here then is an evolution of Kingston’s original HyperX drives. At the time of their initial outing were impressed with the drives. Especially when put up against their SSD V100 line of drives which were cost effective but ultimately poor in performance. As it stands right now, there’s no reason why you should not skip over that line and focus squarely on the 3K series. The differences in performance as you can see in the numbers between the original HyperX and the 3K series isn’t pronounced. You’re basically looking at a tweaked HyperX drive, but one where the gains are sizeable enough for you to take notice of. Had, it not been for the Plextor drives, the HyperX 3K would have easily been amongst the fastest drives ever tested here

at TheOverclocker magazine. However given the keen pricing of the HyperX 3K we are justified in regarding this as one of the most attractive drives on the market right now. In comparison to the Intel 520 drive, it’s more direct competitor, it has a shorter warranty and it just isn’t as fast in some situations, but that drive is $20 more and it does not come with all the nifty little extras this drive is packaged with, namely the magnetic screwdriver kit, the USB2.0 enclosure and our favourite when it comes to drive cloning software. So you may be making some small sacrifices when it comes to the warranty but overall you’re actually getting much better value with this drive hence the Value award. For sheer speed we’d look to the Plextor drives, but those cost even more and once again just do not have the bundle that the Kingston drive comes with. You’d actually be hard pressed to find a better bundle than this


Benchmarks All results were obtained at 5GHz on a normal install of Windows 7 64-bit and WinXP. These are our results, yours may vary so only use these as a guideline for a similarly configured system. Drive

Average Read

Average Write

IO Meter IOPS

4K Write

Average IO Response

Max IO Response Time

Kingston HyperX 3K 240GB

506.4

328.5

19540.7

270.8

0.4092

29.8356

Plextor M3 256GB SSD

499.1

360.6

27060.1

266.6

0.2955

8.9941

Intel 520 240GB SSD

475.6

310.5

21603.1

258.2

0.3701

41.171

Kingston HyperX 240GB

504.1

303.6

18325.6

205.2

0.4363

41.9811

Corsair ForceGT 120GB

469.1

163.1

13993.4

159

0.5715

40.871

one so keep that in mind should you be swayed by some other similarly priced alternatives. What stood out in our own testing and not represented here were the OS boot times. We loaded up two overclocking partitions of Windows 7 and Windows XP on this drive and without question we had the fastest boot up times we’ve seen to date. The numbers would suggest otherwise, but so phenomenal were the boot times that at first glance you’d think that the system had restart upon attempting to load the operating system, only to realize that the entire OS loading operation had finished. So while we are swayed entirely by numbers, this is one case where the experience differed a little from the tests performed. We may in future test OS boot times because of this and add them to the results. The drive internals themselves are what you’ve grown to be very familiar with of late. It’s the standard SandForce 2281 controller paired with Toggle NAND and as per usual with SandForce driven SSDs there

is no dedicated cache, so it has all the pitfalls and boons associated with many other drives which use a similar configuration. So there’s very little remarkable in the drive electronics and we can only attribute the enhanced performance to the tweaking firmware side. That doesn’t mean we don’t appreciate the performance gains though. In closing, when we consider the performance, price and bundle, we can’t help but be compelled to recommend the HyperX 3K 240GB SSD. It isn’t the fastest we’ve tested but it’s amongst them and as far as price versus performance is concerned it is second to none. As such this one gets our vote of confidence and our stamp of approval. As stated in the beginning, there’s no reason why anyone person whom this magazine is targeted at should not be using an SSD. IF you’re in such a position, we would strongly recommend you take a look at the Kingsont HyperX 3K 240GB SSD as you’ll not be disappointed.  [ The Overclocker ]

Summary Kingston has been refining their SSDs in a steady and predictable manner. The 3K range is their finest product line to date and the performance proves this. The drive’s performance along with the most compelling bundle of consumer level SSDs on the market make this a hard one to pass on. If you’re serious about your SSD performance but don’t want to break the bank, The Kingston HyperX 3K is the obvious choice.

Would you buy it? Yes indeed, there’s no reason not to own this drive.

The Score

8.5/10 Issue 20 | 2012 The OverClocker 25


GIGABYTE GV-N670OC-2GD RRP: $399.99 | Website: www.gigabyte.com Test Machine • Intel Core i7 3770K • GIGABYTE Z77X-UD5H • Transcend AxeRAM 2400MHZ CL9 • Antec HCP 1200 PSU • Windows7 64-Bit

T

his may be the wrong place to address this, however seeing as we are looking at an NVIDIA GPU powered graphics card, this place is as good as any. More than that, the point we are about to make has a direct impact on the score but more importantly what you should take away from this review. As many of you know how, NVIDIA has taken a somewhat puzzling stance on overclocking. Not that they discourage it, but the outfit has essentially barred its partners from shipping overclocking software that allows extended voltage

26 The OverClocker Issue 20 | 2012

ranges which includes any and all such BIOS ROMs as well. So given that the GK104 GPU isn’t a power hungry ASIC or at least not like the GF110, the benefits of a beefed up PWM and such are of limited benefit. Not that they don’t’ help but almost all self-respecting vendors customize their offerings by offering beefier power circuitry in addition to factory overclocks and better coolers NVIDIA’s move or at least the change in policy effectively negates such customizations and as such, puts us in a position where virtually all GTX 670 and 680 graphics cards are by and large the same. They are not so because of their similarities electronically, but in that the overclocking headroom and performance is just about fixed with very little the vendors can do to set them apart.

Effectively the only avenue that was there for differentiation has been slammed shut by this policy and as such we are reduced to reviewing the cards from a purely gaming context. In a way GIGABYTE has done itself a favour by producing a card that doesn’t vary much if at all from GTX 680 reference design. It features the tried and tested Winforce OC cooler and the familiar blue PCB. It spots a five-phase PWM instead of four and it actually shares the exact same PCB as the 680OC we reviewed in a previous issue. The card has a built in overclock of 980MHz which isn’t much but you may as well have it especially since it costs you nothing but gains you that little bit more performance. What is more important to us though is the overclock we were able to achieve with the card.


Benchmarks All results were obtained at 4600MHz s on a normal install of Windows 7 64-bit. These are our results, yours may vary so only use these as a guideline for a similarly configured system. Clocks

3DMark03

3DMark06

3DMark Vantage

3DMark11

UniGine Heaven Xtreme

GIGABYTE GV-N67OC

980MHz/1.5GHz

106759

34186

37018 34652

9647 Graphics: 9366

1922.52

GIGABYTE GV-N67OC OC

1.09/1.65GHz

109388

34159

38031 GPU: 35801

9836 Graphics: 9560

2026.011

Reference GTX 680

1GHz/6GHz

108937

34290

37689 GPU: 35428

10101 Graphics: 9863

1961.453

With no voltage or fan speed adjustments at all, we were able to reach a comfortable 1098MHz on the core and 1.65GHz on the memory. The memory was a little disappointing given that it’s at 1.5GHz by default so we had expected something around 1.7GHz. Nonetheless we were satisfied with the overclock and the great thing about the overclock is that it allowed the card to match a reference GTX680 in performance. Not bad considering that a GTX680 would cost you at least $100 more than this card. With such performance the value of the 670OC is increased sizeably and provided you are willing to apply this overclock on system start up, you’ve essentially bagged yourself a GTX 680 without having to dig as deep. We are satisfied with the GIGABYTE GV-N670OC and in light of the changes to NVIDIA’s policies this card by virtue of being $399 USD is seen in a more positive light. Sure enough, GIGABYTE could have gone for better components all around and an even beefier cooler than they have, a special BIOS and the like. It it would have been

for naught because as per our attempts with the EVGA GTX 680 Classified, without the banned unlocked BIOS versions and software, the card has virtually identical limitations to significantly cheaper, less complex cards. So GIGABYTE has in a way cut costs for them and for us with this card. Had it been a few months earlier, this card would have been less impressive because it really isn’t anything amazing component and cooling wise, but now we have to appreciate it in a more general user context as NVIDIA with the six series put itself out of favour as far as extreme overclocking is concerned or at least has made AMD’s job substantially easier in attracting the extreme or competitive overclocker. If you want an efficient, quiet and fairly easy to overclock graphics card, you could do a lot worse than the GIGABYTE offering. At $399 it’ll deliver GTX 680 performance with just a few pushes of a couple of sliders. Consider this card if gaming is your primary concern as you’re unlikely to be disappointed at all.  [ The Overclocker ]

Summary GIGAYTE has kept it simple enough while making their card significantly different enough from reference GTX 670 cards to make it worth the investment. The relatively low price for a non- reference card is a boon if only because it ensures your overclocks are a little more stable. This is particularity true when you’re shooting for those GTX 680 performance matching clocks. We aren’t’ sure if there’ll be an SOC version of this card, but if so we’d be interested to see how much further it will allow the cut down 670 to scale above the standard 680.

Would you buy it? Sure, it’s a great gaming card. We just wouldn’t bother with it for competitive overclocking.

The Score

8/10 Issue 20 | 2012 The OverClocker 27


EVGA GTX680 CLASSIFIED RRP: $659.99 | Website: www.evga.com Test Machine • Intel Core i7 3770K • Asus MAXIMUS V Extreme • Transcend AxeRAM 2400MHZ CL9 • Antec HCP 1200 PSU • Windows7 64-Bit

W

e’ll get right into this and spare you the humdrum. We’ve previously reviewed a GTX 680 here and despite the slight overclock on this card you’re looking at an identical product. At least this is true where gaming is concerned. Sure enough this is the highest clocked GTX 680 we’ve ever tested with a base clock of 1,111MHz however, don’t be fooled into thinking the overclock will make previously unplayable settings on a reference 680 a thing of the past. It doesn’t work that way. What you’re likely going to find is that in the most strenuous circumstances this GTX 680 fares no better than a reference card. 24fps

28 The OverClocker Issue 20 | 2012

performance will no doubt improve by 13% in some cases but that puts you at just under 27fps which still isn’t playable. If you’re a gamer and are really looking for that additional performance that will let you break the 30fps mark then you just may be interested in the graphics card. It’s not the factory overclock as we stated earlier, but it’s in how far it will allow you to go over and above that. Once your base clock is around the 1,190MHz that’s when things will start getting interesting and the difference between a standard GTX 680 and this beastly card become pronounced and dare we say worth the additional investment. As true as that is though, there are still cheaper ways to go about achieving this performance especially because EVGA does have other GTX 680 cards that will happily reach these speeds. So then what’s the point of

the classified card? Well, much like any “Classified” product from EVGA, the point is to produce the best overclocking experience possible. Given that the standard GTX 680 has shown itself to be a nuisance in as far as reaching those stratospheric frequencies which we so dearly desire, EVGA would have us believe they have come to our aid, borrowing nothing from the reference card save for the actual GK104 GPU. The card has been purposely built from the ground up to need nothing but a GPU POT (preferably those by K|NGP|N one would assume) to make a decent stab at breaking records; personal or otherwise. It is in this single minded design where EVGA hopes you’ll find justification for this $659.99 piece of kit. The classified makes this price a little easier to swallow by offering twice the memory at 4GB, however very few


gamers actually run into frame buffer limitations with a 2GB graphics card, but for those who have, well rejoice as EVGA just may have the solution to your problems. More than the memory, EVGA offers three different BIOS configurations for this card, dubbed appropriately “normal”, “OC” and “LN2”. The last one is the one we were mostly interested in as it is said that with this selection, clock speeds north side of 1900MHz should be a reality without need for any ownership of a soldering iron and the skills to use it. Just cool, the graphics card, flip the switch and watch as you ascend as easily as it’s ever going to get into overclocking nirvana. Mind you, as always nothing is ever that straight forward. See, for this to become a real possibility you will need EVGA’s notorious EVBOT. This is nifty little tuning tool with an LCD display that allows you to configure several key voltages which are otherwise not adjustable. That tool will set you back anything between $80 and $100 USD. Then and only then are you ready to unleash the true potential of the GTX 680

Classified. A pricey graphics card indeed when considering all of this, but then you have to ask yourself if you were willing to do all the modifications to the standard GTX 680 PCB yourself. Even if you did, there would be no guarantee they would work or net you the results anywhere near what has been showed by this graphics card under the capable hands of EVGA’s resident overclocking gurus. So while it is indeed true that the price tag is anything but friendly, those in I the know how will attest to just how much easier it is to just buy a card that is somehow prepared already rather than have to do it yourself, despite the monetary savings of the later route. The only kink in this cards amour is the MSI GTX680 Lightning; it’s much cheaper and has yet showed itself to be as equally capable. We were not able to put these head to head to find out which is truly the easier to overclock, but we’ll look at both in the next issue and let you know decisively. Until then, the EVGA GTX 680 Classified stands unchallenged and unmatched as the best GTX 680 on the market.  [ The Overclocker ]

Summary It’s huge, it’s expensive, but it’s also somewhat impressive. We doubt there are any GTX 680 cards on the market right now that could claim to be as thorough as the “Classified”. It isn’t a perfect product, but given NVIDIA’s policies we have to commend EVGA on its efforts to not breach them while not limiting the fun. Those serious about competitive overclocking should consider this

Would you buy it? If we were absolutely dedicated to top scores worthy of bragging about, there’s no doubt this would be the GTX 680 to consider. Pricing however is very unfriendly.

The Score

gaming gear award

Issue 20 | 2012 The OverClocker 29


O e v h er T c

s

r e vis k c it lo

C

omputex next to CES is likely the enthusiasts or at least an overclockers most favourite trade show. There are varying reasons for this but a prevalent one is that, it’s the one place where you can see your favourite toys under one roof. (It’s actually more but hey, that’s how the expression goes) Virtually all vendors showed up in 2012, and those who didn’t have stands or booths resorted to Hotel suites. So some navigation was necessary on our side to get to all the relevant vendors or at least the ones we had an interest in. Worth noting this year was that there were several case and PSU companies that we had never heard of before. They all had various wares they were presenting each hoping to distinguish themselves in an already crowded market. Some were interesting and others simply passable, either way, competition is good provided it leads to innovation. In the few days we spent in Taipei covering the event, we have to say that the component 30 The OverClocker Issue 20 | 2012


Issue 20 | 2012 The OverClocker 31


manufactures had by far the most interesting booths. Before you conclude that this sentiment is expressed by way of only appreciating the booth babes, know that it would still hold true even if all the eye candy was absent. This is simply because despite our appreciation for all things aesthetically pleasing (as made evident with Issue 19’s front cover) when it comes to the hardware we are all about the functionality and performance. To that end we were actually pleased by what we saw on most stands. We didn’t get to cover each and every square meter of the showroom floor but are but a few of the places where we spent some time and this is what we observed.

Asrock Asrock showed off several of their motherboards at the show as you’d expect but we’d say that the biggest attraction of the booth were celebrated overclockers Nick-Shih and Suicide Phoenix showing what the OC-Formula board could deliver under the right hands. Needless to say we were impressed with the numerous records they broke with the board and if it doesn’t say anything about the quality of the board. It does say that it’s as capable as any other overclocking board out there, so that’s one to watch out for in future. Dual post LEDs and direct clock adjustments look to be the order of the day. If it’s not Asrock’s best board yet, it is at least their best looking motherboard. As for the appeal of OC-Formula board, we aren’t sure how many will sell based on a signature alone, we do think Nick-“Pimp Hand” Shih would sell a little more.  ASUS ASUS showed up in a massive way, with what seemed to be an entire booth dedicated solely to their impressive ROG products. All their champion products were present form their DirectCUII parts to their latest ROG motherboards and more. There was no overclocking at any of the booths themselves but nobody doubts ASUS when it comes to manufacturing anything component wise. Their acclaimed and celebrated Xonar cards were present as well, along with newer entries such as the ROG Xonar Phoebus, sporting some nifty technologies for the dedicated gamers. We didn’t get to spend too much time with it, but suffice to say it’s looking mighty impressive. The ASUS ZEUS made a showing as well, featuring on board dual GPU graphics centered around the X79 platform. Be it, it ends up coming into production or not, the fact that it actually exists is impressive. It’s one of those products that do more to show engineering ability and prowess more than anything else. Even behind the glass it looked like serious 32 The OverClocker Issue 20 | 2012

ASUS

bitfenix


business. The MATRIX cards were there in their full splendour as well, along with the Maximus V boards (check out the review in this issue) presenting some of, if not the finest overclocking motherboards ever manufactured to date. ASUS also had a powerful showing of their Ultrabooks and tablets, which are still amongst the most attractive computing devices we’ve seen in a long time, only challenged aesthetically by the Samsung devices.

BitFenix BitFenix was there showing off their latest cases including the impressive Prodigy which should be a hit with many seeing as it’s one of very few chassis in existence of that size that take full size graphics cards. The rest of the line-up included show cases of the Shinobi XL, Ghost and Raider cases. A full line-up indeed and we’ll be looking at some of these cases in future issues in greater detail.

asrock ECS

ECS ECS was pimped out in GOLD, in line with their golden boards which are clearly ECS’s pride and joy. With elaborate performances and presentations, what we took away from the ECS booth was that the outfit is making somewhat of a more focused effort in their products or at least in the marketing of their products. While we were there we managed a glimpse at their yet to be released overclocked “Golden” GTX 680. We’ll be looking forward to seeing how this card will stack up to the numerous others trying to differentiate themselves from the multitudes of GTX 680 cards on the market right now. AIO PCs are obviously a big thing for ECS and oddly enough this may have been the most impressive aspect of the entire booth as these really look good and are very responsive, easily the most responsive touch screen PC we’ve seen. Enermax There may not have been much at the Enermax stand to make us stand up and say wow, but their entry into the closed system cooling units looked very interesting. Enermax presented their ELC120 liquid CPU cooler showing markedly superior performance in comparison to some other well-known coolers. We hope to get this cooler under the microscope soon, but from the numbers we observed, this could be the one to own. Where the PSU’s are concerned we got our first glimpse at an incredible modular 1.7Kw 90Plus certified PSU. Needless to say this was impressive; we suspect quad GPU users will take particular interest in such a unit. Issue 20 | 2012 The OverClocker 33


G.SKILL The G.Skill booth was easily the liveliest booth of the entire show. As some of you may know, G.Skill organized to have some of the world’s premier overclockers showing what they could do when armed with G.Skill memory and their respective hardware of choice. G.Skill wasn’t showing of a specific memory kit, but they did manage to promote all G.Skill memory modules as the kits to have if you’re serious about overclocking. Different overclockers were present on each day along with their resident overclockers Hiwa and PRO. We managed to see, prolific and well respected individuals in the community such as, HiCookie, Shamino, K|NGP|N, Elmor, Duck, Fred Yama and Dino. Every day there was a crowd around the booth and needless to say all records broken during the duration of Computex were broken using G.Skill memory. A strong showing for the memory vendor and one that is likely to further cement them as the number one provider of overclocking memory. Not to miss out on any of the ceremonies, the number one Tom Cruise look alike, Massman was present at the booth doing various things, but mostly spending his time impersonating the actor. With such a reception to their booth we suspect G.Skill will return again in 2013 in a similar fashion and we do indeed look forward to it. GeIL GeIL was present in one of the most visually striking stands of the show. They were not showing overclocking memory, but their brands such as Thortech had their upcoming PSUs on show. We aren’t sure of the quality of the units, but we’ve no reason to expect anything but superb electronics from them if the brief time we spent with their designer is anything to go by. Their EPICGEAR brand, mainly concerned with gaming peripherals was also on show. Several mice, keyboards and mouse mats were in order as you’d expect. We know very little about this product line, but we can say that despite it being a tough market, the products look good so we’ll have to see how well they do. GIGABYTE GIGABYTE was to our knowledge the single most widespread outfit at the show with showrooms and booths everywhere. We weren’t surprised though, because there was seemingly a lot to show in very department. From their VGA cards, motherboards, gaming peripherals and just about anything else that is housed under the GIGABYTE brands. Sadly we didn’t’ get a chance to see the 34 The OverClocker Issue 20 | 2012

enermax

gskill

gskill


gigabyte geil

final version of yet unreleased UP7 Z77 motherboard, however from what we did see it’s looking like the true successor to the X58A-OC. An unprecedented 32-phase VRM design, and full 4-way graphics support, direct base clock and CPU multiplier buttons we are eagerly anticipating this board. In the next issue we’ll look at the Z77X-UP5TH to see exactly what this means to the end user and specifically the overclockers. Of particular interest to us and changes which seem to be the underpinnings of the new Ultra Durable 5 range are the new IR3550 PowlRstage and Power-PAK MOSFETS. What this does exactly is not known to us yet, but it’s safe to assume all boards going forward will feature Ultra Durable 5 technology. Including new X79 boards which will go a long way into improving the X79 boards from GIGABYTE. On the VGA front, the Super Overclock cards were present in their gigantic proportions. We’ll have to see how well these monstrosities perform before we cast judgement. What we can say is that they are likely to be the coolest VGA card cards to date that don’t use liquid cooling. Peripheral side, we saw the gaming series keyboards and mice and we were properly impressed. Check out the review of the Osmium in this issue to get the low down on some of the products that were shown. There was a lot more that GIGABYTE showed off and we obviously didn’t cover all of it here, but true to the outfits history, innovation and diversification was a prominent feature in their products and we’ll have to see what they come up with next year.

MSI Besides being the only manufacturer with a real life NVIDIA Dawn mascot, MSI had impressive stuff to show off, not limited to their motherboards, but their graphics cards. All their famed products were there including the GTX 680 Lightning which component wise is nothing short of incredible. The booth had all kinds of MSI products and oddly enough there was always someone there to explain what it is exactly you were looking at and why it’s better than the rest. So far as motherboards were concerned we did get a peek at the Z77 MPower. We know very little about it right now other than that it’s the premier Z77 board from MSI, with a 16-phase PWM, 3-way graphics support, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and a host of other features. We suspect there’ll be a lot more of this board at MOA later this year, at which point we’ll get a lot more information on it. The MPower branding was all over the products and we hope to have a look at the boards, in future issues of the magazine. Not only component side was it a great Issue 20 | 2012 The OverClocker 35


msi

msi

lepa 36 The OverClocker Issue 20 | 2012


booth, but where the AIO PCs go they presented updated units based on newer platforms including Thunderbolt based external graphics units. We didn’t get to read up much on this but it should make notebook gaming ver y interesting, more so than when ASUS attempted a similar device a few years ago without the aid of Thunderbolt. Overall, it was a truly amazing stand from MSI.

SAMSUNG Consumer focused than hardware related and certainly worthy of mention were SAMSUNG putting on a really fantastic showing. At ever y turn we were attracted by their stand and all the various devices and gadgets they had on show especially when it came to displays. Of course the fastest selling phone of all time the Galaxy S3 was there in full force with its beautiful cur ves, quad core processing power and vivid display. (We’ll be reviewing this phone in the next issue) LEPA A new player in the market was LEPA which introduced of some wonderful fan designs that move vast amounts of air, but managed to be quieter than most. The company also managed to give u a sneak peak at their upcoming HDB 120 cold plate CPU cooler which they claim is not only more effective than comparatively priced closed liquid cooling systems, but is also more reliable. We’ll have to see how true these claims are, but it is a real alternative to the numerous liquid cooling systems on the market

samsung

In closing There were plenty more vendors on the floors and as stated in the beginning it was virtually impossible to get to all of them in the time we had there. There were so many things that we experienced while we were there. For us here specifically at TheOverclocker it was a great chance to catch up with so many people we call friends and vendors who give us the nod and continue to support us in our passion for technology and hardware. It truly was a wonderful experience and we will certainly do our utmost to return in 2013 to see what has changed, the new components and new players in the market. Despite the heat and humidity we had a wonderful time in the odd week we spent at one of the best trade shows of the year. [ The Overclocker ] Issue 20 | 2012 The OverClocker 37


Max Payne 3 RRP: $59.99 (PC) | Developer: Rockstar Studios Publisher: Rockstar Games | Genre: Third-person shooter

I

t’s been nine long real-world years (well, almost) since we last saw eponymous anti-hero Max Payne in slow-motion action. Things have changed since then. Max has changed. Gaming has changed. Shooters dominate the floating gaming marketplace in the sky far more than they did back in 2003. As such, differentiating your beloved New Shooter X from Every Other Shooter can be tough, risky business. More often than not, separating your shooter from the pack is the primary reason for failure in the first place, as even the greatest, most inventively rebellious non-military shooters out there (see: Bulletstorm) get

38 The OverClocker Issue 20 2012

swallowed up by the corporate money-making malarkey that is today’s mainstream game industry. So how’s Max Payne 3 hope to weather the tactical military-filled storm then? Step one involves a thick layer of Rockstar flair, polish and substance. Step two is boasting action that’d feel comfortable in a John Woo movie. Step three: give it one of the grittiest (and most disturbingly feasible) stories ever told by a third-person shooter. The yarn begins spinning like this: Max is now working private security for one of the most prominent and wealthy families of São Paulo, Brazil. He’s a mess, an alcoholic, painkiller-addicted shadow of his


Issue 20 | 2012 The OverClocker 39


former self. It’s naturally odd to see a video game character so realistically affected by a past we as gamers played a pivotal interactive role in and witnessed so closely, especially when it provided so much action-packed enjoyment. It makes me feel guilty seeing this Max I helped create, and guilt is a strange emotion for a video game to evoke. Unless you’re addicted to World of Warcraft and are neglecting your family – in which case I’m sure there’s plenty of room for guilt there in different ways. Anyway, back to Max, who gets caught up in a tangled web of deceit and villainy (and slow-motion bullets) when his boss’s wife is kidnapped. This means action, and it’s a game that boasts plenty of it. It’s delectably stylish about it too, thanks to series staples like bullet time and shoot-dodging turning every action sequence into a selfcontained Hollywood blockbuster. Hit a key and time slows to a crawl, allowing you to carefully pick your shots and aim true for easy, stylised kills. Hit another key plus a direction and Max shoot-dodges (i.e. dives) bravely into walls and

40 The OverClocker Issue 20 2012

furniture and sharp corners with reckless abandon; but along the way to your painful landing, you’re able to once again aim and pick targets in slow motion (obviously) while simultaneously becoming a tougher target for those on the other side of the reticule. It feels like Max Payne, and it’s sure to have other long-time fans as giddily joyful playing it as it has me. Painkillers still restore Max’s health: which leads to more of the aforementioned guilt, for obvious reasons. Murdering the final enemy in a room formerly filled with them still prompts a viciously satisfying bullet-cam. Modern shooter evolutions worm their way into the experience as well, like a cover system that actually works really well here. The arsenal of weapons on offer is varied enough, and each of them is potently pleasing to use when cleansing areas of villainous scum. The level design is tight enough to provide every skirmish its own violent personality – from the snow-covered rooftops of flashbacks in Hoboken, New York, to the claustrophobic slums of São Paulo, every encounter proves


“Max is now working private security for one of the most prominent and wealthy families of São Paulo, Brazil. He’s a mess, an alcoholic, painkiller-addicted shadow of his former self.” satisfyingly varied. It’s presented brilliantly as well. The voice acting is top notch, delivered with masterful intensity and maturity by all the actors involved. The interface is slick, and the game world itself, though grimy and gritty, is beautiful to move through and filled with loads of careful details that you can then tear apart with thunderous volleys of angry bullets. It’s easily one of the best-looking games available right now, and once or twice while paused during the in-engine cut-scenes passers by who quickly glanced at my screen assumed I was actually watching a movie. That’s about as powerful a commendation I can give for the visuals of a game that’s so obviously inspired by action-thriller films as Max Payne 3 is. When you’re done with the single player and can proudly say that São Paulo’s streets will be a little safer (maybe a little less covered in blood,

at least) in the future thanks to your deeds, there’s a suite of multiplayer options into which to delve. It’s got all the obligatory persistent stats and equipment-unlock doohickies that seem to be expected of multiplayer offerings these days. You earn XP and cash as you play: XP for unlocking new things to buy, and money with which to do so. Modes on offer range from standard deathmatch and team deathmatch (as well as larger variants of the two, upping the player limit from eight to sixteen, as well as “hardcore” variants) to the game’s more exotic Gang Wars and Payne Killer modes. In Gang Wars, rival gangs (i.e. teams) pulled from the single player face off across a series of objectivebased match ups, with objectives like bombsite defending/attacking, point capturing and more keeping things interesting. Payne Killer is like Mutant, in that two players Issue 20 | 2012 The OverClocker 41


take on the roles of Max Payne and sidekick Raul Passos, fending off every other player on the server with improved survivability. Kill either one of them, and you become them. It’s probably the most maniacally fun of all the modes on offer, purely because who doesn’t want to fight off an army of human-controlled opponents as Max Payne himself? The multiplayer is actually quite compelling, packed with options and customisability and things to unlock and play with. Mechanics like bullet time and shoot-dodging also make their way into the multiplayer (only players you’re aiming at when it’s activated will join you in your slow-mo extravaganza). They need “adrenaline” to trigger

“The multiplayer is actually quite compelling, packed with options and customisability and things to unlock and play with.”

42 The OverClocker Issue 20 2012


(as do Bursts, the game’s version of killstreak rewards – things like time-limited armour piercing bullets for your weapon), slowly accrued by killing foes, completing objectives, looting bodies and the like. It’s all as stylised and fiercely presented as the single-player side of the game, providing ample reason to keep loading it up once the solo narrative is over. If you’d rather not deal with other people, however, there are score attackstyle arcade modes that let you replay the game’s single-player segments, complete with online leaderboards. Considering the inherent replayability of the action sequences, it’s a sensible addition. Even with action and gameplay this excellently smooth, and multiplayer that is surprisingly fulfilling and just unique enough to make sinking a hefty chunk of time into it worthwhile, the most successful aspect of Max Payne 3’s overall delivery (which I’m sure you can tell I’m very pleased with) is its narrative. Fans expecting

more of the dream sequences and Norse mythology weirdness of its forebears might be disappointed, but its gritty realism and shocking plausibility make it substantial in other ways that not many games can boast. I felt very real sorrow for Max and his pain-fuelled vices, and total disgust at the situation through which we accompany him. There’s a good chance you’ll feel similarly affected by its brilliant narrative. Go buy Max Payne 3. Come for the action. Stay for the story. [ Dane Remendes ]

Would you buy it? It’s unquestionably Max Payne, so of course I’d buy it. And so should you.

The Score

9/10 Issue 20 | 2012 The OverClocker 43


GIGABYTE OSMIUM & Aivia Krypton Gaming Mouse ERP: $129.99 (Osmium Keyboard) | $64.99 (Krypton Mouse) | $34.99 (Krypton Mat) Website: www.gigabyte.com

2

012 has to be a record year as far as gaming peripherals are concerned or at least gaming keyboards and mice. There isn’t a single vendor out there that does not have a mechanical keyboard of some sort and gaming mouse it seems. Add to that, mechanical keys are all the rage and any keyboard that wants some credibility has to feature CHERRY-MX switches. On the mouse front, laser mice with adjustable sampling rates are a dime a dozen. Add macro keys to the mix and you’ve pretty much defined the modern gaming mouse. GIGABYTE has thrown its entry into this increasingly crowded market and I have to admit that this second wave of products from the Aivia range is remarkable. In an older issue of TheOverclocker there was a brief review of the K8100 keyboard. It wasn’t the worst attempt by a component vendor at the gaming market but certainly not special. It’s in light of this that the Osmium keyboard is truly impressive. GIGABYTE has moved from being a passable manufacture of gaming devices to offering game changing peripherals that should concern specialists such as Razor, Roccat and Logitech. I’ve used several gaming keyboards in the past, but with the Aivia Osmium I think I’ve found my keyboard of choice for the foreseeable future. It’s not perfect not by any means of the imagination, I personally prefer an even stronger mechanical switch, but this is purely personal preference and has nothing to do with the

10

8

9 11 qualitative aspects of the Osmium. Compared to the K8100, GIGABYTE has moved up to the upper echelons of the gaming arena. Aesthetically the K8100, especially in black is still a more appealing keyboard one might argue but in regards to build quality, features and functionality the Osmium is years ahead. Initially I was going to review this mouse with the Force M9 Ice, but realized that the Krypton was the better mouse and moreover since I’m left handed it’s perfect as it’s truly ambidextrous . Once again as if taking notes from the Osmium keyboard the Krypton mouse exudes quality. From the packaging right down to the interchangeable chassis and weight distribution, it’s superior to the M8600 which was impressive by GIGABYTE standards at the time. Not only does the Krypton have better sensitivity than the M8600, it feels significantly more accurate. It isn’t a matter of speed but precision and as a result the sensitivity need

not be set to its highest to achieve smooth and quick responses with the in game crosshair. The Teflon is the one I prefer as it glides smoothly over the Krypton Mat which is another peripheral that GIGABYTE has introduced. I’ll not go into details here as it’s a mouse mat, but suffice to say it’s the best mouse met I’ve ever used. Pair these three together and you’re unlikely to ever complain about not having the best input devices money can buy for your gaming endeavors. Check out some of the highlight features of both the keyboard and the mouse. These are not sold as a set, but I’d strongly suggest anyone looking seriously into high end gaming gear consider getting these as a pair.

1

CHERRY MX Red mechanical key switches are the order of the day offering some weighty feedback for every key stroke. GIGABYTE claims that these are quiet, but as we all


5

7

6

4

3 2

1

gaming gear award

know, there’s no mechanical keyboard that’s quiet and this one is not an exception. Better leave this keyboard in your gaming room.

2

A feature that all serious gaming keyboards should have, USB 3.0 port on the side. This comes in handy for those drives where you have your steam backups and the like. Given that most cases only feature two ports, the Osmium gives you a 3rd port that is most convenient with its own dedicated connection plug at the end so you can plug it to any one of the many USB3.0 ports of your motherboard

3

There’s an additional USB2.0 extension port on the north side of the Keyboard, this is where we plugged in our Krypton Gaming mouse.

4

GIGABYTE claims that their anti-ghosting technology allows an impressive 64 simultaneous key presses at once. We think anything more than ten is enough really, given the digits most humans have, but more couldn’t hurt right?

9

Hot swappable chassis is a neat feature and one many should grow to appreciate as not all surfaces work well with all mice.

10

5

Store five gaming profiles, each color coded and switch between them without opening the Aivia Ghost Macro engine software.

With the Krypton, the weights don’t just make the mouse heavier but allow specific weight distribution and a customizable center of gravity. Your mouse need not be center biases, but can be orientated precisely to your gaming habits.

6

11

Even the Macro hotkeys are mechanical, much like the K8100 GIGABYTE gives you five of these.

7 8

Adjustable backlight intensity and volume control

Four levels of sensitivity which can be customized using the Ghost software.

You can switch between five different gaming profiles on the mouse itself. A neat feature but not vital as you’re never switching between so many games at the same time. Then again something must occupy the 32KB memory on the mouse so it may as well   be the gaming profiles.  [ The Overclocker ]


Corsair Vengeance 2000 Wireless 7.1 Gaming Headset ERP: $149.99 | Website: http://www.corsair.com

T

he first thing you’ll notice about Corsair’s Vengeance 2000 wireless headset is its excellent build quality. There’s a lot to like about these particular wireless noisebringers, but their robust design is the most immediately remarkable. If you’re the type of gamer who likes to drag your PC off to LANs, their sturdy quality will ensure they survive the adventure. They look good as well, with sophisticated, minimalistic styling. Comfort has obviously been at the forefront of its design document as well. Microfiber covers both its padded headband and the large ear cups, and both are lined with pleasantly spongy memory foam. The ear cups (the left of which is where you’ll find the volume dial and power button) swivel to match the shape of your head, and the headband is also adjustable. Given that they’re wireless (they’ve a wireless range of up to 12 metres, or 40 feet), we expected the 2000s to be quite heavy, as that’s normally the case. We were pleasantly surprised to find that they’re actually quite light as far as wireless headsets go. Using them is as easy as connecting the USB transceiver and hitting the power button. When the battery runs out of juice, there’s a bundled USB cable with which to charge the set, and you can still use them while they’re charging. There’s also the noise-cancelling microphone, which can be tucked away when not in use and is on a boom that’s adjustable to your liking. It works as expected, allowing you to communicate with friends during intense teamwork-centric gaming sessions (also: smacktalk) while simultaneously drowning out any rude background noise. Hit the power button and you’re

sure to be more than happy with the set’s sonic qualities – especially when playing games. They’re not the best all-round set we’ve ever tested, but it’s perfectly tuned for gaming, and the surround sound does an excellent job of helping to pinpoint the action in games. For movies, they’re also pleasingly crisp and clear. Listening to music, however, highlights a few niggles: at higher volumes, for example, the set suffers from some distortion; particularly the lower frequencies, resulting in bass that will eventually become annoying, especially in music tracks that really push the low end. It’s odd, because the bass in games and movies is satisfyingly potent and clear, never skipping a beat. Meanwhile, in terms of volume, there’s more than enough of it here so that you’ll never struggle to hear the lines of actors in your games or movies, or to drown out the sound of your dad mowing the lawn outside or your mom vacuuming the

passageway. This is an excellent headset, one of the best we’ve ever tested, across both wired and wireless offerings. The only real consideration then is the price – which at $149.99 is difficult to stomach, its price rivalling that of some of the best wired gaming headsets out there. But you’re getting what you pay for: superior build quality, pleasant comfort and outstanding audio performance. All of that, plus the awesome convenience of wireless, makes Corsair’s Vengeance 2000 a winner in our eyes.  [ The Overclocker ]

The Score

8/10 Issue 20 | 2012 The OverClocker 46


June 2011 | Issue 15 December 2010 | Issue 12 rev 2.0

rev 2.0

The World’s besT overclocking online magazine. period.

The World’s besT overclocking online magazine. Probably.

PRO

gOOC

OVERCLOCKING:

2010 GiGabyte Open OverclOckinG champiOnship

DO YOU HAVE WHAT IT TAKES TO BE A PRIZE FIGHTER? Reviewed

asUs maximUs iv exTreme

all The neWs and resulTs

from This years gooc!

abytE pg.28 gIg oc

pg.30

asushair cross 580 engTx

Reviewed

Msung pg.40 sa s

gigabyTe gTx580 sUPer overclock

y galax

-s gTx460

PORtaL 2

+ MORE!

We Think WiTh PorTals in oUr in-dePTh revieW!

Issue 16 2011

February 2011 | Issue 13 rev 2.0

rev 2.0

The World’s besT overclocking online magazine. mosTly.

THE WORLD’S BEST OVERCLOCKING ONLINE MAGAZINE. PERIOD.

New Generation

i7

SANDY BRIDGE UNVEILED

NZXT Phantom

ELEGENT, STYLISH AND DESIRABLE

SAPPHIRE PURE BLACK X58

pg.26

A Glimpse into a possible future

INTEL COREI7 2600K

Reviewed

Reviewed

Feature

msi lighTning gTX 580

evga z68 FTW

ailing relaTions massman speaks!

ASUS EAH6970

pg.16

pg.18

TOC DESIGN AWARD


rev 2.0 The World’s best Overclocking online magazine. seriously.

Issue 17 2011

April 2011 | Issue 14

rev 2.0

rev 2.0

The World’s besT overclocking online magazine. period.

THE WoRlD’S bEST ovERclocKING oNlINE MAGAzINE. USUAlly.

X58A-OC

INTEL

X79

The second coming!

the KING IS HERE! Reviewed

ASUS MARS II

Game Review

Feature

AMD FX 8150

We check ouT bulleTsTorm.

Lifestyle

WARHAMMER: SpAcE MARINE 40,000 REvIEW!

pg.22

pg.18

pg.28

asus crosshair iv exTreme

Transcend axeram pc3-19200 dual channel kiT

gigabYTe geForce gTx560 Ti super overclock

Lifestyle

SAMSUNG GAlAXy TAb 10.1 WiFi 16 Gb REvIEW!

Issue 19 2012

Issue 18 2012

rev 2.0

rev 2.0

THe WOrld’s BesT OverClOCking Online magazine. seriOusly.

THE WORLD’S BEST OVERCLOCKING ONLINE MAGAZINE. FOR REAL.

The

X79

board to silence them all?

Feature

HWBOT COunTry Cup Reviewed

amd Hd7970 Lifestyle

THe elder sCrOlls v: skyrim

FIND US ON

Intel 3rd Gen i7 Power, Performance, Perfection.

Feature

INTEL Z77 MOTHERBOARD BATTLE ROYAL Reviewed

GIGABYTE GV-N68OC-2GD Interview

BRAZIL’S FINEST “RBUASS” SPEAKS Lifestyle

KINGDOMS OF AMALUR: RECKONING



TheOverclocker Issue 20