Issue 25 2013 rev 2.1
THE WORLD’S BEST OVERCLOCKING ONLINE MAGAZINE. SERIOUSLY.
INTEL/HWBOT XTU Overclocking for the masses Reviewed
ASUS MAXIMUS VI EXTREME - Z87 done right! Reviewed
EVGA GTX 770 CLASSIFIED Lifestyle
GIGABYTE G1.Sniper 5 - The Ultimate Gaming motherboard
Issue 25 2013 rev 2.1
THE WORLD’S BEST OVERCLOCKING ONLINE MAGAZINE. SERIOUSLY.
COMPUTEX 2013 Cover Feature
LEGENDARY OVERCLOCKERS FACE OFF
00 words into the Editor’s note I decided to change it. What a waste of time I thought. Then I realized, well the previous note had nothing to do with anything. I wrote it as a spiritual successor to what I had in Issue 23, but this isn’t the place for it and besides. I just wasn’t inspired the same way as I was when I wrote that so many months ago. Therefore, I wrote this one, after a very peculiar time over the last 3 months. That’s right it’s actually been three months since the last issue. This isn’t because we just got lazy, but there are several reasons why we couldn’t come to you last month. Those reasons as tangible and lamentable as they are aren’t important to you. The fact that you’re reading this, means that we finally got issue 25 out and Issue 26, will follow much sooner than expected (It’s already in production right now). What then has the extra month allowed us to do with the magazine? Well we’ve observed some very interesting things ever since HASWELL came out. One of which is just how preposterous overclocking on the Z87 platform has become. At first memory overclocking was relatively impressive, but now it’s pointless. Meaningless when all it is, is validations and pitiful performance. I’m not saying there isn’t room for high-speed memory, there always will be and I continue to encourage vendors to make it, but let’s not kid anyone especially the power users/ gamers by saying it’s beneficial in anyway. It isn’t. Moreover with the impending adjustments in memory pricing and the already eye watering price of Hynix xFR chips, one would expect there to be some tangible gain from buying this high-speed single sided memory. Sadly, there just isn’t. It’s purely for validation purposes and
nothing else. Tis the equivalent of CedarMill overclocking, it’s fantastic to see, but unusable. On that note, in a related issue I’d like to say that as a community. Perhaps we should also reconsider our reliance on old benchmarks. There comes a time when we must let go and despite that 3DMark2001SE was once my favourite benchmark and remains so in many ways. It’s old. It’s 13 years old going on 14 years and we are still flogging it platform after platform. Fun for us, but boring and pointless for everyone else we rely on to keep this hobby going. In our efforts to recruit more overclockers into this wonderful enterprise, we must realize that hardly anyone will care, know or even have the capability to run 3DMark2001SE. If you start overclocking today that benchmark is as relevant as a Playstation (original 1994/1995 console) is to a 17-year-old today. We all love various benchmarks for different reasons but some just have to go and 2001SE is one of them. While we are at it, let’s look at 3DMark03, 05, Super Pi 1M, and perhaps PiFast as well. The self-gratification we have with arcane benchmarks is in some ways more harmful than it is beneficial. For the same reason that F1 appreciates and celebrates former greats from Fangio to Schumacher and all in between, there’s no sense in wanting to race all the old tracks and the old cars. That time has gone and it will be remembered fondly by those who were fortunate enough to be around when it was cutting edge. Anyway, these are just random thoughts as always; make of them what you will. Until next time, stay in good health and keep pushing it. We will see you in issue 26 in a little over one month. [ Neo Sibeko - Editor ] Issue 25 | 2013 The OverClocker 3
REGULARS 3 - Editor’s note The Overclocker is published by OCL-Media (cc).
Editor Neo Sibeko
6 – Q + A with Roman “der8auer” Hartung 12 – Computex 2013 – Legendary Overclockers Face off
Art Director Chris Savides
18 – A Brief History of Overclocking – II Contributors Dane Remendes Vincent “K|ngp|n” Lucido Pieter-Jan “Massman” Plaisier Jonathan Horne
26 – INTEL XTU
REVIEWS 30 – GIGABYTE GTX 780 OC
For editorial and marketing please contact:
32 – ASUS Maximus VI Extreme 34 – EVGA GTX 770 Classified
36 – GIGABYTE G1.Sniper 5 38 – ADATA XPG V2 DDR3 2800MHz 40 – MSI MPower Max
LIFESTYLE 42 - Game Review – Resident Evil Revelations 46 – Game Review - Monaco 50 – NZXT H630 51 – GIGABYTE Fly Headphones
5 The OverClocker Issue 25 | 2013
Tel: +8869 8869 8874 0949
with Roman “der8auer” Hartung Country Name and City: I’m from Langenbrettach which is a small village in the south of Germany near Stuttgart. What language(s) do you speak? German of course and English, but I also have a basic knowledge of French. Your nickname “der8auer”, how did that come about and how does one pronounce that? (Especially after the interesting way you were called at the CORSAIR/INTEL OC Main Event LOL!) Haha, yes that was a pretty hilarious moment. Well “der8auer” is actually pronounced “derBauer” which can be translated as the farmer or the builder. I have been using this nickname for over 10 years now. This goes back to the days when I was still an active online gamer. Some friends came up with this nickname saying I would be pretty bad at gaming and therefore they called me a farmer which doesn’t really make any sense in the English language though. Massman summed it up pretty well at the OC Main Event with a meme: Puts number in the nickname – has a hard time. When did you start overclocking seriously or rather competitively for points? Is overclocking solely for competitive purposes or do you take part in it for “fun” mainly? I basically started in late 2007 when I discovered the HWBot website. I spotted many different benchmarks and got infected by the points-virus. I’m one of the overclockers who has fun benching for points. Some people say this is the wrong approach but for me fun is closely linked to success. Competitive overclocking means that you usually spend most of the time 6 The OverClocker Issue 25 | 2013
with bug fixing the setup. Once the setup runs smooth and you achieve good scores overclocking becomes an awesome experience. Which is your favourite benchmark if any and what is your least favourite and why? Generally I’m more into 3D-Benchmarks than 2D. Just because I love the challenge of not only pushing the CPU but GPU as well especially when both are running sub-zero. 3DMark2001 and 3DMark2006 are my favourites but I also like wPrime when it comes to 2D. I really dislike PCMark2005 because it only depends on tweaks and the scores are disproportionate to the hardware used. What was it that got you started in overclocking? About 10 years ago I had my first gaming rig powered by an awesome
GeForce Ti 4200. Being a young schoolboy I didn’t have any money so I started to overclock my card to gain some more FPS. A few years later I upgraded my system and got two GeForce 7800 GTs which included a license of 3DMark2006. I ran the benchmark and tried to improve my score by overclocking my cards and eventually also the CPU. A few months after that I discovered HWBot and everything started. When you started overclocking which forums did you spend your time on mostly? Has that changed now many years into the extreme hobby? My main forum is the PC Games Hardware Extreme forum which is one of the biggest in Germany. That’s the place where I started with extreme overclocking and it’s still my favourite place to hang out. In addition, I also visit the HWBot forums several times a day. If you
didn’t know about it, you’re missing out. The HWBot-Memebase is in the off topic section, check it out. ;-) How feasible is it for you to get access to LN2 where you live and how much is it? It’s easy to get LN2 everywhere in Germany if you accept the excessive prices compared to some other countries. Linde or similar big companies often charge 3-5 euros per litre especially if you do not own a Dewar. That’s why I saved some money, bought an Apollo 150 litre Dewar and got a contract with AirLiquide. Now I only pay about 1, 50 euros which is good for Germany. How often do you have overclocking sessions in a month? That really depends on many different factors. First I am still a student aiming for a mechatronics bachelor degree. This implies that I have to study hard twice a year for the exams and I should show up at the Univeristy from time to time. Unlike a normal student I am contracted to a German power supplier so I have to work in the semester break therefor I get a monthly salary which leads me to the next point. We all know that overclocking is expensive. You have to buy expensive hardware, bin CPUs and pay for LN2 if you want to compete with the top overclockers. So to answer your question: I would spend a lot more time on extreme-OC if I could but in average it’s probably once every month or two. What are you currently overclocking (at the time of writing) and how goes it? Haswell was launched only few weeks ago, so I tried to get used to the new CPUs and especially all the new different boards and BIOS. At the same time, HWBot and Intel launched the XTU benchmark which is something completely new to me so I’m spending a lot on time on this. In addition I just prepared four SLIM GPU pots today because I am going to visit the Freeocen benchsession tomorrow in order to bench a 4-WayTitan setup with Dancop from team Hardwareluxx. Hope we can destroy some benchmarks and not the cards. Despite the questionable retail samples of 4770K CPUs out right now. Do you think eventually these will
replace all 3770K overclocking? Looking at the current rankings, you only find a few good retail Haswell CPUs at present. However thousands of 3770Ks have been binned over the last 13 months so it will be hard to beat them in some benchmarks. Haswell seems to be efficient especially for 3DMark2001, PiFast and SuperPi32m. On the other hand, I haven’t spotted any good result at SuperPi1M so far. It seems like you need a similar high clock to get close to the results of Ivy Bridge. Eventually we will also see some super highly binned Haswell CPUs but at present Haswell seems not able to replace it completely. Related to the last question; would you say you’re in any way excited by Haswell thus far or are you looking on to Ivy-Bridge-E instead? I love the memory overclocking on Haswell CPUs. Compared to Ivy Bridge it is much easier to reach very high clocks even above 4000 MHz. I also have to say that I am pretty impressed by all mainboard vendors. During the Computex in Taipei I had the chance to test all the high-end boards from MSI, ASUS, ASRock and GIGABYTE. For sure each board provides a different overclocking experience, but in general all socket 1150 boards have a solid performance. Haswell CPUs also have a coldbug, mostly at around -110 to -130°C, which
is more challenging than just benching with full pot. Any other hardware you’re looking forward to buy this year? Ivy-Bridge-E will probably be even more interesting than Haswell. Unlocked 6-core CPUs with the architecture of Ivy Bridge sounds like a strong weapon to destroy all the multithreaded benchmarks like 3DMark Vantage. Therefore, I’m looking forward to these processors even though they will be expensive. What is your single greatest or most memorable overclocking achievement? Early 2012, I got hold of two EVGA ePower boards. These little beasts can provide up to 400 ampere so I decided to use an older 8800 GTS G92 to replace the stock VRM. It took me some hours of reading to understand the basics of this external voltage module to get started. After one day of soldering and testing I got the card to work and ordered LN2. At this time mtech had the 3DMark2003 record at 70765 marks. After about six hours of benching I had about 69000 marks, but I really wanted to break this record. So I tried to push the clocks by finetuning the voltages and clocks. I added capacitors on the back of the PCB and tested the cold behaviour of the card from -80°C Issue 25 | 2013 The OverClocker 7
to -140°C in 5°C steps. Once I found a good voltage and temperature setting I had condensation issues, so I had to shut down and set everything up again several times. In the end, I spent 8 days of just benching 8800 GTS in 3DMark2003 but it paid off. I managed to push the GPU to 1206 MHz (650 MHz stock) which resulted in 71773 marks. The result itself is maybe not that impressive because it’s just an older Graphics card but after all the work and time I spent on it I was really happy. With the major changes made on HWBOT regarding the shutting down of the PRO OC League in favour of a CUP, do you anticipate even more activity in the overclocking community or less? In addition, are you amongst those who find this to be a necessary and positive change for the scene, are you against it or are you undecided? With revision 4 HWBot invented the Pro-OC, Overclocking and Enthusiast-Leagues. The idea was mainly to provide a fair playground for every type of overclocker – from manufacturers/sponsored to entrance users. The idea itself was great but we noticed that the ranking has just changed with the launch of a new CPU generation and then kept about the same for a couple of months. This is cool for the guys on top but can be frustrating for those at the bottom 8 The OverClocker Issue 25 | 2013
of the ranking. With the Pro-OC-Cup we see different benchmarks with different hardware every few months. Up to five overclockers can be a team and combine their hardware to be more competitive than a single user. So the Pro-OC-Cup makes overclocking a bit more interesting talking about the professional level. I think the change was necessary even though I wished that HWBot kept the Pro-OC-League as well and just added the Cup as an additional feature. How was competing at the CORSAIR/ INTEL Main Event at Computex for you, do you think this is a better setup in terms of competition structure or do you prefer the more traditional format where each benchmark has time limits and follows on sequentially? Benching at the Computex Main-OCEvent was an awesome experience. I’m glad that I had the chance to bench there to compete with some of the greatest overclockers like NickShih or Andre Yang. I like the concept that we could choose ourselves which benchmark we wanted to do and at which point of time. Unfortunately, only three out of eleven benchmarks had to be done with the provided hardware. For the rest, you could bring your own CPU so whoever had the most money or access to a huge amount of CPUs would win all of these stages. You can
clearly see this by looking at the result table of the event. So for the next event I hope everybody is only allowed to use the provided hardware. What was it that you believe helped or hurt you and Elmor in that competition? For sure the King of Sweden, that’s Elmor’s little mascot, helped us all the way through the competition. We spent a lot of time on SuperPi32m first because our CPU seemed to be good compared to the other lucky draw CPUs. We managed to run almost 6,4 GHz which resulted in 4m and 56s time. Only 8-Pack and zzolio beat us half an hour before the competition was over. So we changed the GPU to bench an ePowered GTX Titan on LN2 for 3DMark11. Unfortunately the thermocouple died during the benching and the thermometer just showed 1600°C pot temperature. It was impossible to keep the card at the needed temperature so in the end we had to give up. How was Computex 2013 for you, overall, considering that we had the biggest overclocker turn out in the history of the trade show, will you be attending again next year? Overall, it was a great experience and one of the best times of my life. It was my first time in Taiwan and I discovered a completely new culture,
met friends and got to know new technologies. Compared to CeBit in Germany, Computex is much more interesting. You could find extreme overclockers everywhere and the exhibition is much more focused on end users than just on business customers. I hope the vendors will keep supporting the extreme overclocking so that we will have the chance to bench there again next year. I will be back for sure! What was your favourite aspect/day about all of Computex? One of my favourite days must look like the most boring day to most of the people out there. I had the chance to bin memory ICs at the AVEXIR booth. So I was sitting there with this special memory module and was testing hundreds of ICs for hours. Fix eight Hynix MFR ICs in the module and test each module for about five minutes to check which IC is good an which is one is not running at the given settings of 3150 MHz CL12 at 1,65 Volt. Thanks to AVEXIR for this great opportunity! It’s no secret that, you build competitive and supremely remarkable overclocking pots and have been for some time. Why build your own and not go with the many that are on the market already? Thanks! At the age of 16 I had a part 10 The OverClocker Issue 25 | 2013
time job beside school as a cutting machine operator. I did a lot of work with all types of metals and therefore I had the experience and at the same time access to machines to produce my first set of pots. At the beginning I just wanted to save money so I bought a piece of copper to create my first LN2 container. In 2007 there were many new extreme overclockers in Germany and so I received many emails and messages asking if I could build pots for them as well. Two years and many pots later, I did an apprenticeship to become a mechatronics technician which improved my skills on a lathe and I created some advanced pots such as the Fusion revision 1 and the BEAST pot. Meanwhile I found a company which now manufactures my pots and in 2012 I registered der8auer ECC – Extreme Cooling Components as an official company and online store in Germany. If users are looking to buy pots from you, where can they contact you? The easiest way would be to order directly at my online store: www. der8auer.com or just send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org if you need any advice or have questions. Outside of overclocking, what else are you as passionate about and spend an equal amount of time if
not more doing? I stopped active online gaming when I started overclocking and started doing some sports instead. I love to go snowboarding in the winter in Austria which is only 5 hours away from my place. In addition I go to the gym several times a week and my girlfriend is an important part of my life. Any other insights you would like to share with the community regarding overclocking, hardware or anything related? I truly hope that competitive overclocking will keep improving and that we can get new people to try this way of pushing computers to their limits. During the past few years I met of lot of different people who were interested in this hobby but were afraid of all the “hassle”. Condensation, liquid nitrogen and volt modifications sound dangerous and complicated, but it’s actually pretty simple. Most of the extreme overclockers are fighting like bitter enemies when it goes to results but when we meet up at an overclocking event everybody realizes that we are all part of the same family. Meeting so many different people from different countries and sharing the overclocking experience is probably one of the best parts of this hobby. [ TheOverClocker]
COMPUTEX 2013 LEGENDARY OVERCLOCKERS FACE OFF O
riginally when I had envisioned writing this COMPUTEX editorial, I had thought to myself that I would approach it the same way as I did last year. Cover a few vendors, highlight some of the cool gear they had and move on to the next group, next day, and next press event. A few days after COMPUTEX had ended; it started to dawn on me that while I could go about re-telling the events of the week in some sensible and chronological order, I would perhaps and most likely miss what it is that made COMPUTEX worthwhile for us as a publication. For unlike any other media, ours is always a very personal journey in whatever event, product or show we attend. It is in light of this anything but profound (and some would say obvious) realization that I took a different approach. Over the following six or eight pages (I can’t tell right now as that will depend on my forever brilliant Art Director), I’ll be going through COMPUTEX in the most relevant way possible for those of you who could not be there, but had bothered to read this far into this piece. Stay with me, there’s a story here you just may be interested in!
12 The OverClocker Issue 25 | 2013
THE GENERAL STUFF Everyone and I mean everyone was present at this year’s show or at least those still relevant to the industry somehow. From ASUS to ZOTAC, they were all there in different capacities, all showing off their wears, some old and some new. Some vendors had fairly exciting products and shows and some were profoundly mediocre. It was all there and it was just a matter of getting to the right booth at the right time. You would be pleasantly surprised by the copious amounts of liquid nitrogen fumes after a record attempt that’s gone well or greeted by saddened faces as hardware refused to perform as expected. Either way, any and all vendors who bothered with an OC demonstration obviously warranted a visit in our books. We could spend the rest of this editorial naming all the various products that each vendor had, but that would be pointless. Instead we’ll tell you what it is we found interesting and it’s more than likely we’ll get it in the lab for some testing in the near future. Seeing as this was the first motherboard to make an impact at this year’s COMPUTEX, we
went and checked out the ASUS Maximus VI Extreme board. The successor to what is arguably the best motherboard ever built the Maximus V Extreme. As we had suspected, the ROG team had done it again, schooling everyone else on what it is to innovate, lead, and produce an unparalleled product. Bluntly put, the Z87 platform is boring in the most spectacular fashion. After you’ve seen one memory overclocking record fall, you’ve just about covered everything the platform is about. Yes there’ll be new SuperPi 32M records as a result and perhaps some wonderful Cinebench numbers, but that’s generally about it. We could go on about just how powerful it is in 3DMark2001se but that benchmark is going on 13 years in age. If it were a beloved mutt, it would be in its twilight years, it is perhaps one of the several benchmarks we as the overclocking community need to let go of. After all, if we aren’t bothered with it anymore, the subsequent records in the benchmark are even more meaningless. Alas, that is a topic for another issue. Going back to the Maximus board, this was truly what ASUS was about for us at the show. Issue 25 | 2013 The OverClocker 13
Yes we acknowledge the gaming peripherals, the graphics cards and the new TUF series motherboards, but what was undoubtedly the component at the helm of it all was the Maximus VI Extreme. Despite all the things ASUS may be, to us, they are first and foremost still a motherboard company and the quality of the board that they have created is a testament to this. You can click here to jump straight to the review in this issue. In general, all vendors had some pretty nifty boards and every worthwhile competitor had immensely improved on their Z77 offerings. One such company that comes to mind is GIGABYTE which has finally produced a UEFI BIOS that is useable and quite pleasing to the eye. No longer are we subject to the travesty that was the 3D BIOS; this one works, it looks great, and it’s a gigantic step forward for GIGABYTE. Not only were we impressed with this, but the Z87X-OC board is sure to be the board of choice for a vast number of overclockers and enthusiasts on a budget. It’s uncanny just how much has been packed into a standard ATX
14 The OverClocker Issue 25 | 2013
motherboard, moreover the $200 price tag means that it is one of the only two overclocking motherboards we’re ever going to need for this generation. As for the gaming boards, once again it was GIGABYTE at the forefront with the G1 Sniper 5. This is another board we have featured in this issue and you can read about it here. Suffice to say, this board should be to the gaming community what the Maximus VI Extreme is to the overclocking landscape. On to ASRock, Nick”PimpHand”Shih along with Splave and John LAM from HKEPC were having the time of their lives on the new Z87-OC Formula board. We’ve had no first-hand experience with it but suffice to say if it’s anything like the original Z77 from last year; it’s going to feature quite prominently on HWBOT rankings for the remainder of this generation. From Super Pi to memory speeds above 4,250MHz this board seemed capable. (We must state though that with the new Hynix memory chip, it’s harder to not reach those speeds on LN2 than it is to achieve them) MSI on the other hand was firing on all cylinders with a full Z87
lineup in their Classic, Gaming, and Overclocking range. It remains to be seen just how well the new boards will do, but it’s obvious that this isn’t the old MSI, as their overclocking capabilities have improved substantially. Looking at memory OC in isolation may lead you to disagree, but after seeing the MPower at the show and our time with it (Review also in this issue) we are impressed with MSI. There wasn’t much to see in regards to their graphics cards but there was a placeholder for a GTX780 Lightning. We can only imagine what can be achieved with this card, but in the meantime the GTX 770 Lightning looked great and is possibly one of the fastest if not the fastest GTX 770 on the market. Having visited all the vendors who make overclocking motherboards, we had decided to go check out the VGA and memory manufacturers. Even though graphics cards were not as big as they had been last year, memory was back on everyone’s radar as it’s blatantly obvious how easy it has become to make those single sided, high speed 2933MHz and 3000MHz kits. No longer are these limited to demo samples but they are in volume production courtesy of the new chips. With this comeback of high speed DRAM and the impending DRAM price hikes, memory vendors were all out at the show each showing kits as fast as 3,000MHz with plenty of 2,800MHz sets making their rounds. Great for us as we are sure to see some much needed competition with the likes of AVEXIR, G.SKILL, Team Group, ADATA and of course CORSAIR campaigning for enthusiasts attention. At the time of writing, the frequency records were all over the place alternating between G.SKILL and Team Group. By the time you read this there may be even higher speeds from another vendor but it’s obvious that these records are going to continue to fall. Graphics Card wise, things were very much one sided as expected. AMD exclusive vendors may as well have not shown up as there was simply nothing to warrant their presence at the show. With the three fastest graphics cards all from NVIDIA, there was a lot of GTX 780 and GTX 770 love. Understandably the GTX TITAN was not on display much as there’s simply nothing to show about it. Promoting it is in some ways promoting the Issue 25 | 2013 The OverClocker 15
competitors as well, because regardless of where you buy it, the product would be identical. Not so with the GTX 780 obviously and we saw some fantastic custom designs for his GPU. The vendors that certainly came to mind were MSI, EVGA, GALAXY, GIGABYTE and ZOTAC of course. It is unfortunate though that it was only GALAXY, EVGA and MSI perhaps that had any overclockers working on their new graphics cards. It would have been a spectacle to have been able to go to each respective graphics card company and see just how well their chosen GTX 780 overclocker was doing in comparison to the rest, perhaps next year this will be a reality. Nonetheless, we did appreciate the shows that were there this year, especially at the GALAXY booth there, Duck_San, LittleBoy and OCWindforce were there always with a smile.
ALL THAT SMOKE For us, COMPUTEX is very much identifiable by the G.Skill stand. If you’re an overclocker, past, present, or aspiring, this is where you’d have to pass by every day. Much like last year there was simply no other place where one could have met as many overclockers and people in the community form all over the world. This entire paragraph could be exhausted by just naming the people who showed up at the stand at one time or another, by reading the threads on HWBOT; you’d know who made an appearance. Plenty of overclockers were around, even the community’s own perplexing Marc Beir made a personal appearance in his full glory. With his blessings it was an epic show on almost all the days no matter whom it was tasked with manning the stage. On a side note, we noticed that despite the very harsh words community members exchange with each other on forums and social media sites, in person they are quite civil and we have to wonder where the tendency to be a keyboard Rambo comes from when we are all brought together by a common appreciation for everything high speed related to computers. Resident overclockers at the G.Skill booth, Pro and Hiwa along with Christian Ney were always in an upbeat mood. With the hours spent on stage, day after day we were very impressed with their composure and their ability to produce results 16 The OverClocker Issue 25 | 2013
and put on a show whenever it was required. We could chalk it up to excessive amounts of whatever their chosen drinks are or perhaps at this point it’s become second nature to them. Either way, we salute them and all the overclockers that were at the G.Skill booth doing what we all love. We would also extend our thanks to G.Skill for making this happen as this was where we all went if we didn’t know what to do with ourselves. After all the halls had been walked and all the cases and PSU’s have been seen, to see other fellow overclockers beaten and tired, balancing their peculiar frames on tanks of LN2 was somewhat relaxing. In a way it said, you are home. We sincerely hope that G.Skill does this again next year and even more overclockers turn up, the more the merrier. A worthwhile event worth mentioning, took place prior to the official beginning of COMPUTEX. The CORSAIR/INTEL OC Main Event was to be the highlight OC show of COMPUTEX, be that it ended up
happening or not is debatable but the competition itself was excellent. Held at Marquee right across from Taipei 101, the hosts spared no cost, providing a classy location, lots of beverages and all kinds of edibles and gifts for spectators and competitors. For the first time ever, in a single room there were four of the world’s top overclockers in the old league. Not only were the “elite” present but other overclocking heavy weights as well including the forever imposing but always nice, 8-Pack, Elmor, De8aur, Hazzan, Nick Shih, Splave, HiCookie, Dinos22, Alva, Andre Yang and so many other prolific overclockers. With a $20,000 USD prize, it wasn’t surprising but something tells us that many of the competitors here didn’t come for the money, but for a chance to meet and catch up with friends doing what they like doing best. As for who ended up winning the competition, if you didn’t know, it was Andre Yang and TL, who walked away with nine out of the possible eleven cash prizes. The
Super Pi 32M prize went to 8-Pack and Zzolio while the memory overclocking prize was given to HiCookie and Dinos22. Overall a nice event and one that is sure to be remembered by all who attended. As far as we are concerned, that was COMPUTEX for us here at TheOverclocker. Sure enough there were many more things that happened, so many vendors with headphones, gaming peripherals, all in one CPU coolers and all kinds of things, but for us, the overclocking and all things related to that was where it was at and the above is just about everything that there was to see. We shall return next year for even more overclocking and more coverage of all things related. Until then, we will catch you on the next issue of the magazine. We had a blast and weâ€™d do it all over again despite being sleep deprived for most of the show. COMPUTEX 2013 rocked! â€“ TheOverclocker Issue 25 | 2013 The OverClocker 17
A Brief History of OVERCLOCKING PART II A Multiplier-Unlocked Look at the Next 15 Years of Overclocking In the previous issue of TheOverclocker we looked at the first half of the history of overclocking, covering the period between 1983 and 1998. The next 15 years proved to be even more action packed, with manufacturers actively supporting overclocking and even getting involved themselves.
THE INTRODUCTION OF A CARTRIDGE-BASED PACKAGE
In the May of 1997, INTEL introduced the Pentium II 233 (S-Spec SL264), which was based on the P6 architecture used for the Pentium Pro. The micro-architecture was known as Klamath, and was manufactured using a 0.35 Îźm process. The Pentium II moved away from the Socket 7 package used by the original Pentium, moving instead to the Slot 1 cartridge system. Due to the production process, the L2 cache and processor dies had to be bonded early in the socketbased CPUs - before testing of either component could be done. This meant that the cache had a very quick access time, but it came at a price. If either the processor or cache proved to be unreliable, both would have to be discarded. This wastage was not economically viable, and made the slot-based CPU a necessity. Using the Slot 1 assembly, INTEL could place the processor and cache dies on a small printed 18 The OverClocker Issue 25 | 2013
circuit board called a SECC (Single Edge Connector Cartridge). Both dies could be tested before final assembly, and either could be discarded and replaced with a functional unit before the soldering tool place. The move to the SECC package resulted in two advantages. The first advantage was the ability to test the dies late in the assembly process leading to higher yields, which in turn led to lower prices. The second was that it did not have pins which could be easily damaged, but instead exposed tracks along the bottom edge of the circuit board. In January 1998 INTEL revised the Pentium II, moving from the 0.35 μm process of the Klamath to a 0.25 μm process. This new microarchitecture, known as Deschutes, used a lower voltage of 2.0 V as opposed to 2.8 V used in Klamath. This resulted in the TDP dropping by about 50% at any given speed and in turn, a cooler running CPU. Pentium II processors clocked at 350MHz introduced the 100MHz FSB which resulted in better performance, but limited overclocking as the chipset or RAM could often only manage 112MHz
before becoming unstable. By the second half of 1998, Deschutes was capable of running at 500MHz within INTEL's thermal specification and was in production. However, as INTEL was already finalising the Pentium III, they were never marketed or sold. Instead of destroying the CPUs, INTEL dropped their FSB to 66MHz and they were sold as a Pentium II 333. Overclockers soon caught wind of this, as the processor was essentially guaranteed to run at a minimum of 500MHz and could often hit speeds far higher than the Pentium II 450 being sold at the time. The high price of the Pentium II 333 was the only thing stopping it from making it the overclocker’s CPU of choice. The Pentium II offered brilliant performance, but it came at a high cost. INTEL saw a need for cheaper CPUs and in the April of 1998 the Celeron 266 was released based on the 0.25 μm Covington microarchitecture. The Pentium 233 was launched at US $626, while the Celeron debuted at a much lower US $155. This put the Celeron in direct competition with the AMD K6 and Cyrix 6x86 if the time.
The Celeron sold well at first due to the INTEL branding, but completely removed the secondary cache which essentially made it a severely castrated Pentium II. This resulted in comparatively lackadaisical performance which quickly led to the Celeron having a bad reputation. One area in which the Celeron gained popularity was amongst overclockers. The lower price meant that overclocking the Celeron resulted in a significantly lower risk, opening the market to enthusiasts. The lack of cache resulted in a much lower TDP than that of the Pentium II – (less than 17 W for the Celeron 266 as opposed to 43 W for the Pentium II 233) The lower TDP meant that temperatures could be controlled better and the Celeron 266 could easily be overclocked to speeds of 400MHz. These two factors combined meant that performance near that of the Pentium II could be achieved for a quarter of the price.
INTEL TURBOCHARGES THE CELERON
As the Celeron offered such severely limited performance, it became a market failure in all but the ultra-entry-level and enthusiast markets. INTEL quickly revised the Celeron with the Mendocino microarchitecture released in August 1998. Mendocino added 128KB of L2 cache to the Celeron, a quarter that of the Pentium II. However, unlike the Pentium II which had cache running at half the speed of the processor, Mendocino had cache running at the full speed of the processor. This resulted in a near 100% performance increase over the older Celeron. This new Celeron debuted at 300MHz, to avoid confusion with the Covington-based Celeron 300, it was sold as the Celeron 300A (S-Spec SL2WM). The TDP was near that of the Pentium II, which meant that the Celeron 300A had just as much overclocking potential. The combination of low price, high overclockability and near Pentium II performance made the Celeron 300A an overclocker's dream. This cemented its position as the processor to bring overclocking to the masses.
Issue 25 | 2013 The OverClocker 19
OPEN SEASON FOR MULTIPLIERS
From the Pentium II onwards, all processors had come with a locked multiplier which meant that overclocking had to be done via the FSB only. Older AMD processors could have the multiplier restrictions removed by either an aftermarket "Gold Finger Device" or by pencilling in the gaps between two rows of bridges. AMD put an end to that with the introduction of the Athlon 64 in September of 2003. Both INTEL and AMD noticed the amount of time and money being spent on chasing records, and in late 2003 released processors with a completely unlocked multiplier known as the Pentium Extreme Edition and Athlon 64 FX respectively. This was the first time that either company had actively acknowledged the enthusiast community, but it came at a hefty price - about three times that of similarly performing processors with a locked multiplier. While the extreme crowd played with Athlon 64 FX and Pentium Extreme Edition processors, the more budget-conscious enthusiasts
kept their eyes on the stepping being used to set records. By using standard, multiplier-locked Athlon 64 and Pentium 4 processors with the same stepping, the mainstream overclocker was able to either greatly increase their daily performance or come close to competing with the extreme overclockers using sub-zero cooling.
AMD GAINS ENTHUSIASTS' ATTENTION
After being largely dominated by INTEL in the market, AMD finally caught overclockers' attention with their 0.25 μm "Argon" Athlon K7 Slot A processors, released in June 1999. As mentioned earlier, although the processors had a locked multiplier, early 2000 saw the introduction of GFDs, or Gold Finger Devices. Much like the gold "fingers," or pins, which ran along the bottom of the processor, there were twenty fingers along the top edge of the processor's PCB. The GFD interfaced with these pins and using DIP switches which were able to change the voltage, multiplier, and in some instances, FSB of the
processor. This completely bypassed the multiplier lock imposed by AMD. Clock-for-clock, the Athlon was faster than INTEL's Pentium III of the time, and the GFD often allowed overclocks in excess of 66%. This made the Athlon an overclockers dream at the turn of the millennium. AMD soon dropped the cartridge processor to move to a new socketstyle interface known as Socket A or Socket 462. The Athlon was migrated to the new socket in the form of the 0.18 μm "Thunderbird" Athlon, which was not only faster but also cheaper. The Athlon 1000 had a stepping named AXIA which became the next legend amongst overclockers, often hitting a stable 1.4GHz simply by increasing the FSB. AMD's Athlon XP, released in October 2001, marked the return of performance ratings whereby the model number approximated the clockspeed required by an INTEL processor to match the performance. The first series of Athlon XP processors, based on the 0.18 μm Palomino micro-architecture, were rather poor overclockers. These were soon replaced by the 0.13-μm Thoroughbred B cores in mid-2002. (Apparently the addition of a copper layer somewhere on the CPU die helped). Thoroughbred B processors had large overclocking potential, and filling in the gaps between two rows of bridges using any conductive material was all that was required to unlock the multiplier. One of the most sought-after processors of the time was the 1466MHz Athlon XP 1700+ JUIHB stepping, which could often run well in excess of 2GHz at stock core voltage. The 0.13 μm Thorton microarchitecture was essentially a crippled version of the Barton, offering 256KB L2 cache instead of the full 512KB with the rest disabled at a hardware level. These processors also proved to be popular as not only could the multiplier be unlocked but, by performing the same modification on another set of bridges, the disabled cache could be re-enabled.
FUTUREMARK KICKSTARTS GRAPHICS CARD OVERCLOCKING In October 1998, Finnish start-up Futuremark (soon to be changed to MadOnion.com before changing to 20 The OverClocker Issue 25 | 2013
Futuremark Corporation five years later) released the benchmarking application 3DMark99. Until now, computer benchmarking was normally done with the likes of SiSoft Sandra for the CPU, memory and storage subsystems; Quake II time-demos were used to test the 3D graphics capabilities. The idea behind 3DMark was to have one set of tests which everyone would run at the same resolution and detail settings, making scores directly comparable. 3Dmark can be credited with the initial mainstream popularity of graphics card overclocking as people vied for first place. In 2001 the Online Result Browser (abbreviated to ORB) was launched, allowing people across the world to validate and compare their scores at a central location. Overclocking had become the buzzword all over the internet and the rise of discussion boards further advanced its popularity. As graphics card bechmarks gained popularity, several changes were taking place in the graphics card-overclocking world as well.
One of the many pivotal points in overclocking history was when ATI released the Radeon 9700 Pro in August of 2002, wrestling the performance crown away from NVIDIA's GeForce Ti 4600. The Radeon's R300 architecture was blazingly quick with anti-aliasing and anisotropic filtering enabled, ultimately leading to the widespread adoption of the two technologies in gaming. Unfortunately for gamers, the card carried a premium price of US $399 at launch - approximately $520 in today's money. There was, however, a solution to this in the form of one of the most famous hacks of all time. The Radeon 9500 was similar to the Radeon 9700 Pro, being based on the same R300 GPU. The main differences between the two were the lower clock speeds, pipelinecount on the Radeon 9500, and a significantly lower launch price of US $179 (about $230 today). The card could easily be overclocked to the same clock speed as the Radeon 9700 Pro, but lagged behind due to the disabled pipelines. In some cases the pipelines were
damaged, meaning the card could not be sold as a Radeon 9700 Pro and therefore became a Radeon 9500. Often enough however, the pipelines were fully functional, and people soon discovered that they could be unlocked via a softmod - so called due to it being carried out in software alone. The high overclockability of the Radeon 9500 along with the chance to unlock the extra silicon made the card a hit amongst overclockers and gamers alike. (Several graphics cards all the way up until the HD Radeon 6000 series remained susceptible to soft mods, however that series was the last of modern day graphics cards to offer this â€œhackâ€?)
In early 2003, the now-defunct Winbond released their BH-5, BH-6, CH-5 and CH-6 memory ICs. These quickly gained popularity amongst overclockers for their ability to run at high frequencies while maintaining very tight timings, although they needed a high voltage to do so. Issue 25 | 2013 The OverClocker 21
The need for a high memory voltage to run this Winbond RAM led to physical volt-mods, known as vDIMM mods, which allowed the user to drive more voltage through the memory. ABIT and DFI soon released motherboards designed with overclocking in mind which allowed for these high voltages without the need for physical modifications. The following year, Samsung released the TCCD memory ICs which allowed for even greater frequencies at a much lower voltage. The timings had to be relaxed quite severely in order to achieve these speeds. As these required a lower voltage, the speeds could be accomplished using motherboards that did not support the higher memory voltages. Enthusiasts began purchasing memory according to the ICs they wanted, and discussion boards across the internet started filling up with IC databases. The same trends followed DDR2 and DDR3 as well, with enthusiasts identifying the best memory ICs for overclocking and purchasing RAM accordingly. (Hynix MFR anyone? â€“ Ed!)
5,000,000,000 CYCLES PER SECOND
On December 2003, Toms Hardware took a Pentium 4 to 5.25GHz by employing liquid nitrogen cooling, making them the first to cross the magical 5GHz barrier. The news quickly spread across internet discussion boards, bringing mass attention to both the high frequencies INTEL processors could reach and liquid nitrogen. Toms did not reveal exactly which processor they used, but the information shown would suggest a Northwood Pentium 4 3.4GHz. Although 5GHz was "only" a 50% overclock, the high clock-speed was attention grabbing and greatly increased the popularity of the Pentium 4 amongst enthusiasts. The biggest hurdle standing in the way of liquid nitrogen gaining popularity was the evaporator pot, or lack thereof. Anyone wishing to put a processor under extreme cooling would have to fabricate their own copper pot which requires access to expensive equipment, raw materials and metal work know-how.
22 The OverClocker Issue 25 | 2013
A BOT IS BORN
Other than Futuremark's Online Result Browser, there was no central location for comparing benchmark scores across the internet. In 2005, a Madshrimps reviewer known as "Richba5tard" began development of a Java application called MBot. It monitored certain threads on discussion boards around the world, adding results to the database as it crawled the web. MBot gained popularity at an incredible rate, tripling in popularity every six months. It soon evolved into HWbot.org and became the number one go-to place for overclocking results on the internet. HWbot would go through many revisions over the next six years, but the general concept was to stay the same. Thereâ€™s no way to measure just how pivotal HWBOT has been and continues to be in structuring
overclocking in some way, where members, teams, achievements and milestones can be ranked.
LIQUID NITROGEN GOES VIRAL
By 2006, Vince "k|ngp|n" Lucido had begun making large waves in the overclocking world. NVIDIA took this gentleman aboard to promote the release of the GeForce 8800 GTX with a video of him overclocking the card using liquid nitrogen cooling. With NVIDIA's marketing behind him, k|ngp|n quickly became a popular name. He designed, manufactured and used his own liquid nitrogen evaporator pots, which were soon made available for sale to the public. Commercial evaporator pots helped bring liquid nitrogen cooling to enthusiasts, and soon, dozens of new names were
cropping up and setting records. To this day Liquid Nitrogen remains the bread and butter cooling solution of virtually all competitive overclockers. If thereâ€™s a world record involved, you can be almost guaranteed that it was achieved with Liquid Nitrogen.
ASUS, GIGABYTE AND MSI OVERCLOCKING COMPETITIONS
ASUS pioneered the first international live overclocking completion mid 2008 in Hong Kong (AOCC) and subsequently GIGABYTE followed in the manufacturersponsored competitions. GIGABYTE Open Overclocking Championship, or GOOC, saw 48 competitors from 23 countries gathering in Taipei to vie it out for the title and prize money. These kinds of competitions levelled the playing field to some degree. The first was pre-binning the processors to make sure they were all similar in terms of how far they could overclock. Secondly, all overclockers had the same hardware to use. These events were important, as it was the first time that manufacturers had organised events of such scale. After GOOC, MSI's Lords of Overclocking qualifier and Master Overclocking Arena, or MOA, in November of the same year followed.
Interestingly enough MOA is the only live overclocking competition that remains today and will be held once again in 2013.
ARREST THESE MEN, OFFICER (CHEATING IN COMPETITIONS)
Competitive overclocking does come with a downside - the possibility of fame and prize money lead many to cheat. Unfortunately, this is exactly what happened in 2010's MSI Lords of Overclocking, the qualifier for MOA 2010. Futuremark's 3DMark06 was used as the benchmark, with the two highest scorers from The Americas, Europe/Africa and Asia being sent to MOA. Five overclockers were involved in what would be one of the biggest overclocking scandals of all time. By comparing the product keys and hardware IDs used for submitted scores, Futuremark determined that some world famous overclockers had been submitting scores for four other competitors. This resulted in all five being thrown out of the competition, and a one-year ban from HWbot. Cheating however was not isolated to this incident, there were other high profile individuals caught for photo shopping in benchmnarks like Aquamark3 and others who were hacking the system timer. If anything
Issue 25 | 2013 The OverClocker 23
this proved just how competitive overclocking had become and how it had turned into such a serious business. As it stands, nearly all the top motherboard vendors employ a former world number one overclocker or at least an individual who had gained some fame in the overclocking community. Overclocking is currently going through a kind of renaissance, but when that is done it just may likely be one of the most important things to ever happen in desktop computing. 24 The OverClocker Issue 25 | 2013
Over the last 15 years, the goal and method of overclocking has stayed the same with only the process changing. We have gone from benchmarking Quake II to benchmarking 3DMark, from unlocking multipliers to purchasing unlocked processors. The cost of competitive overclocking at the top of the leader-board may have gone up exponentially with the introduction of multiple graphics cards and
processors, but Joe Average can still squeeze a few extra FPS out of his aging system. It is easier now in fact than any other time before because virtually all motherboards support some kind of overclocking. What the overclocking community has done for desktops cannot be measured in numbers. Suffice to say that we as a publication wouldnâ€™t exist as well had it not been for overclocking. To the future of overclocking and all that it may bring with it! [ Jonathan Horne ]
HWBOT Integrates INTEL XTU – T he freshly released fourth generation Intel Core processor, codenamed Haswell, was officially announced on June 4, 2013 at Computex Taipei 2013. Next to the usual marketing features – w-lpower consumption, higher clocks, and better performance - this CPUs launch will be particularly interesting for overclockers. In cooperation with HWBOT, Intel has developed a new version of the Extreme Tuning Utility ("XTU"). The new version includes an in depth integration with the HWBOT website presenting itself as a new opportunity for the community to promote, explain, and celebrate that one thing we are all so passionate about: overclocking!
HOW IT ALL BEGAN... The project kicked off in January 2012 with with an e-mail exchange between Intel and HWBOT. Over the next couple of months, the conversation would bring us from a simple “Can we cooperate in 2012?” to detailing the possibilities with XTU and the HWBOT site. Intel needed a platform through which they can enable consumers to start overclocking and HWBOT is always looking to increase support for the overclocking community. Integrating overclocking software into HWBOT which enabled sharing of overclocking information sounded like a great idea. From July 2012 until October 2012 – almost nine months 26 The OverClocker Issue 25 | 2013
ago – the integration of the XTU application took shape. The application had to be re-written to support and secure the new benchmark and XTU profiles needed to be secured as well. File transfer protocols also had to be put in place to allow XTU communicate with HWBOT. It required a lot of software development. At the end of 2012, the XTU application was ready but put on hold to see it released together with the new Haswell microarchitecture.
INTEL XTU, OVERCLOCKING SOFTWARE APPLICATION Primarily, the Intel Extreme Tuning Utility is overclocking software giving overclockers a bunch of knobs and sliders to tune the system real-time in the operating system. In the ideal situation, the software and BIOS would synchronize automatically and any change in the operating system would translate into a BIOS change. This means you can fully tweak your configuration from a simple software tool. Through XTU, you can change variables such as BCLK frequency, CPU Ratio, Ring Bus Ratio, Memory multipliers, and the appropriate voltages. Most of the settings are adjustable on the fly, but some obviously require a reboot. The latest version of XTU, v4.1, supports CPU architectures from Sandy Bridge and up, and has full integration support for HWBOT.
ANALYZE AND DOWNLOAD OC PROFILES THROUGH HWBOT INTEGRATION
The most important aspect of the cooperation between Intel and HWBOT is the so-called Analyze functionality. This functionality allows K-SKU users to check the performance of their (overclocked) system and compare it with users of the HWBOT community. Based on a short benchmark and the overclock information from the XTU profile, your Analyzed XTU Profile will be put on a chart indicating how well yours is compared to everyone else. Furthermore, you can download any profile from the HWBOT database, import in into your XTU application, apply the settings, and increase the performance of your system. The Analyze functionality is something new. The great benefit of this concept is that it will unify the basic overclocking experience across the board (pun intended). The main objective is to lower the entry barrier for new Intel K-SKU users to make proper use of their purchase and not just have it sit without being overclocked. Via a simple benchmark and comparison feature, new overclockers can easily get access to a database filled with profiles and information. You can compare profiles online and then decide which you would like to try out. The systematic overclocking process remains the same. You will still have to go up slowly. At least you have a helping hand
â€“ Growth for the OC Community! This is the welcome screen of Intel Extreme Tuning Utility. It gives you a wide range of system information. The engine uses this information to link your HWBOT submissions to hardware items. Under Manual Tuning, you can find all the options to overclock. Under Benchmarking you can find the HWBOT benchmark.
guiding you through the process with useful examples.
DETECT SYSTEM INFORMATION AND HWBOT INTEGRATION. Another interesting level of integration allows us to use the XTU overclocking profiles to detect system information. We can extract the hardware components used in a specific profile and link them automatically to the HWBOT benchmark submission. XTU allows you to link the right hardware to your benchmark
submissions instead of the manual labor it requires today. In addition, the XTU profile will also provide extra information on the settings used to achieve a certain result. You can share frequencies, multipliers, and voltage settings with the rest of the community!
BENCHMARK INTEGRATION Obviously, with the new Intel XTU having a benchmark included, we will also host rankings based on this standard. The benchmark is a straightforward click and run type of benchmark
based on the popular processor stress tool Prime95. Initial testing revealed the benchmark scales with core quantity, core frequency as well as memory frequency. Of course, the diehard overclockers will figure out the exact scaling capabilities over the next couple of weeks. The benchmark time is variable depending on the system performance. Under normal circumstances, it should not take more than ninety seconds! Stay tuned for competitions with XTU and the XTU benchmark! Issue 25 | 2013 The OverClocker 27
COMMUNITY OPPORTUNITY – OC WORKSHOPS This particular project has been very interesting for HWBOT. Not only did we get the opportunity to work together with Intel - rare enough to begin with – but we have also been able to study up on the complex structure of the CPU and BIOS interaction. We learned that setting a CPU core multiplier is not that simple, but is actually involves complex logic with many variables. Add in the fact that XTU relies on the bios implementation of 3rd party ODM and OEM companies and you will understand this project has not been very easy. However, the most interesting aspect of the XTU project is not the technical side of it. It is the new opportunities for hardcore community members to explain overclocking in a new and hopefully more down to earth manner. The Analyze functionality is perfect for this. Not only does it give you a unified and very visual overclocking experience, it also provides a clearer path into the world of overclocking at HWBOT. It allows you to make a connection between simple overclocking and the world of the die-hards, without forcing you to participate or even compare with them. You can learn how to overclock at your own pace and tempo, slowly working your way up to higher performance configuration. Overclocking workshops are very popular nowadays. It seems that many people are interested in and want to learn. Workshop activities are organized all around the world, from Brazil to Australia, from Northern Europe to South Africa. It is our hope that with XTU and the HWBOT integration, workshops can break the trend of the low followthrough of the participants. At HWBOT, you can find guides on how to use XTU for your workshop!
TECHNICAL LIMITATIONS AND RESTRICTIONS A major problem with XTU and the level of integration it is promoting are the technical limitations. After all, it is already difficult for vendors to come up 28 The OverClocker Issue 25 | 2013
with their own fully functional software. What XTU offers is a unified solution - one that works on all boards. That means mainboard developers have to stick closely to the BIOS Writer's Guide and official Intel guidelines. However, as you know each vendor has their own way of implementing their own features, going from the way they program the CPU core ratio to voltages and even memory timings. Some motherboards BIOSes do not support certain options or vendors may have locked down parts for security purposes. For example, a motherboard vendor might opt to limit the voltage range for lower-end products. It’s been a challenge for Intel, main board vendors, and HWBOT to come up with a unified solution. It takes hours to test and re-test new BIOS features and their implementations. As a reward for going through the rigorous process of readying the motherboards for XTU, the products that do pass tests will receive official Intel XTU certification. This way, everyone in the community will know which boards are guaranteed to work with XTU.
IN CLOSING Overall, one could say the XTU Intel/HWBOT collaboration
These are the three main options for XTU. You can show you configuration via Share, be competitive in the XTU rankings or competitions via Compete, and improve your overclock via the Analyze function. You can also use XTU for other purposes such as prepopulating the hardware fields of your benchmark submissions.
is an ambitious project. We believe in this project and the positive things it can bring to the community and overclocking in general. If Intel sells more K-SKU CPUs, that is great for them. If those buyers also start to participate in overclocking events and workshops, that is great for the community. In addition, it is good for the top dogs, as more people will look at their results and will think “wow”! In the end, HWBOT is all about strengthening the overclocking community. Whether it is by addressing issues at the HWBOT website such as hardware sharing or trying out new ways to make the competitive structure more attractive, it all falls together with the care for the OC community. We have seen a significant drop in active lower-level overclockers. Those individuals will play with their system a bit on air-cooling, but have not joined any long-term competitive overclocking. l. They are the ones that celebrate overclocking records, but have seemingly lost the passion. With the new XTU application, we hope to recapture that crowd and with the help of the existing overclockers, we want to continue to expand the overclocking community! [ Pieter-Jan Plaisier ]
EDITOR’S CHOICE AWARD
GIGABYTE GV-N780OC RRP: $679.99 | Website: www.gigabyte.com
Test Machine • INTEL Core i7 4770K • GIGABYTE G1 Sniper 5 • CORSAIR Dominator Platinum 2x4GB DDR 2666MHZ CL10 • OCZ Vertex 450 256GB SSD • Cooler Master Silent Pro M2 1500W • Windows 7 64-bit SP1 (FW 320.18)
o it finally showed up. The TITAN LE as it was called revealed itself to be the GTX780. On paper this graphics card was a good deal slower than the GTX TITAN and given just how close the HD 7970 GE was sometimes, we had to wonder if this card would have a place at all in the market. Fortunately for us the end users, at around $650 it is a good deal cheaper than the TITAN, but isn’t that far off in performance. In fact many review sites have found that with the GTX 780 sometimes 30 The OverClocker Issue 25 | 2013
comes so close to the TITAN, performance difference are virtually none existent. In some more extreme cases, the GTX 780 is faster if only because it is often clocked a bit higher much like this OC card from GIGABYTE. Before we mention anything about this particular offering, we have to state that our findings with the TITAN and GTX 780 were a little different. See what had happened with our original TITAN testing was that, we used what could only be called the unlocked extreme overclocking BIOS. With some limitations disabled in this BIOS we were able to record higher performance out of the TITAN than we could with the reference BIOS. So when comparing this card or any other GTX 780 for example to our GTX TITAN numbers, you’ll find that the TITAN is always faster regardless of the benchmark or the settings. However since not everyone will have access to
this BIOS, it is safe to say that a retail GTX 780 and a normal GTX TITAN with its shipping BIOS will offer very similar performance mainstream media has found. One could look at the GTX 780 in two ways. As a cut down GTX TITAN or the way we prefer to see it, the successor to the GTX 680. Since we are dealing with familiar silicon many may seem somewhat disappointed as not seeing “anything new”. However the GTX 780 represents quite a sizeable jump in performance against the fastest GTX 680 money can buy. Stripped down TITAN or not, in its current guise this GPU does indeed deserve its 780 GTX name as it out shines the 680 by some margin. Currently we’ve not seen anything worth speaking about as far as world records are concerned. At the time of writing there were under70 submissions with the card. Price may have everything to do with it, but we do suspect that, the GPU is still too new
All results were obtained at 4600MHz on an un-optimized Windows7 64-bit. These are our results, yours may vary so only use these as a guideline for a similarly configured system.
3DMark Fire Strike
HWBOT Unigine Heaven Xtreme
Hitman:Absolution (Ultra 4xAA)
GeForce GTX TITAN
MSI NGTX680 Lightning
and by the time you read this there should be at least some LN2 cooled scores floating about. The card that we received from GIGABYTE features their new 450W GPU heat sink, which not only works to keep high temperatures at bay, but it goes a long way into keep the card operating at its maximum boost clock. If you’re not aware of it, the reference cooler, while visually appealing to some, actually isn’t great at keeping the GPU temperatures in check. The card will not malfunction, but what does tend to happen is that because of temperature, the boost clock is compromised which in turn limits performance. With the latest Windforce 3X cooler, temperatures are kept low enough to allow clock speeds as high as 1,200MHz which is rather impressive given that the reference card throttles the clock speed back long before even 1,100MHz is realized. As the first GTX 780 we’ve looked at here at TheOverclocker, we can’t help but be impressed with the card. On paper and when the rumours were making their
rounds, it really didn’t seem that exciting. Given that we were slightly underwhelmed by the GTX TITAN (this is due to pricing more than anything else really) we didn’t expect much from the 780. To our surprise this is a fantastic piece of kit and probably a better investment than the GTX TITAN. With the OC card delivering such solid performance numbers, we can’t help but get very excited at the prospect of a Super Overclock version which is bound to not only offer higher clock speeds out the box, but hopefully make it unnecessary to use exotic VRM designs as offered by the E-Power for example. It is true that many competitive overclockers are adept with basic mods and trimmers on VGA cards. Having to use the E-Power or other equally complex power circuitry is daunting and quite frankly a challenge not many are willing to take on. So we will be keeping an eye out for any special editions of the GTX 780 that may come. Until then, the GIGABYTE GTX 780OC card remains a solid choice for both gamers
and enthusiasts alike. For an odd $20 or so more than the reference card, you are getting a much better product. As such, the OC card is an obvious choice for us. [ TheOverclocker ]
Summary The GTX TITAN may have polarized many people in both overclocking and gaming communities, However the GTX 780 has fixed that somewhat. The price may still be too high for the vast majority of people, but it is more palatable. As the first card out of the 700 family, the GTX 780 is a mighty impressive GPU.
Would you buy it? Yes
Issue 25 | 2013 The OverClocker 31
EDITOR’S CHOICE AWARD
ASUS MAXIMUS VI EXTREME RRP: $$399.99 | Website: www.asus.com
Test Machine • INTEL Core i7 4770K • CORSAIR Dominator Platinum 2x4GB DDR 2666MHZ C10 • Patriot Wildfire 120GB SSD • Cooler Master Silent Pro M2 1500W • Windows 7 64-bit SP1
o here we are again, faced with a new generation of CPUs and the corresponding motherboards. With the rampant success of the Maximus V boards, we had great expectations of the successor. Given just how impressed we were with the M5E, we couldn’t have imagined what more the minds over at ROG would thing of next. Well, it turns out that making improvement on an already pristine product is very possible. All those improvements have yielded what we have here in the form of the MAXIMUS VI Extreme. We first came across 32 The OverClocker Issue 25 | 2013
this board at the CORSAIR/ INTEL OC Main Event and watched it walk away with ten out of the possible eleven benchmarks that were on show on the day. If this was not a testament to the overclocking prowess of the board, then nothing else would be. Sure one could argue CPU samples and all kinds of things, but at the end of the day this board stood out amongst them all. That was actually when we suspected this just me the defining board for Haswell generation much like the Maximus V Extreme was for Ivy-bridge. There’s no point in running through the features list of the M6E, there are just too many. There’s no board on the market and read that carefully, from any vendor with as many options. Be it a combination of hardware options or BIOS options, nothing has an exhaustive a list as this motherboard. It’s just madness what ASUS has done and to think that this was the sentiment we had about the Maximus V
Extreme when that was released. How the ROG team continue to push the boundaries of motherboard design is perplexing especially considering just how tough the competition has been over the last couple of years. Where high end motherboards are concerned for this platform, this is the reference. Boards either do better than this one (none so far) or they are close enough to warrant praise. It’s not in the features where the M6E shines, it’s rather in how it’s all presented. Take for instance the guides which ASUS has available to the public that are nothing short of phenomenal. Be it you’re a veteran overclocker or starting your overclocking journey, if it begins here with ASUS, it is likely to end here. Oddly enough, working with this board in some ways actually makes you better prepared to work with others. There is actual information imparted to the user while going through the BIOS options. The succinct
All results were obtained at 4600MHz on an un-optimized Windows7 64-bit. These are our figures, yours may vary so only use these as a guideline for a similarly configured system.
Super Pi 8M
Aida 64 Copy
Aida 64 Latency
ASUS Maximus VI Extreme
13258 Physics: 12476
and precise description of options in how they affect the system is something we’ve always lauded and it’s even better now on the M6E. Keep in mind that when you first use this motherboard, there’ll be a learning curve, a steeper one perhaps than there would be with other boards. This is purely because of the sheer vast array of options that are made available to you. To jump right in and attempt any kind of overclocking, without some basic run through of the options would only lead to less than stellar results. Out the box the it’s fast, but that’s a given. What makes this one special is just how much faster it can be when tuned correctly. We tested with the latest available BIOS and we simply had no issue regardless of what it was we were doing. Memory overclocking for example is probably the most impressive aspect of Haswell. The Maximus board comes to the table with a full arsenal of memory tweaking options and explanations. Needless to say that out of all the Z87 boards we have tested thus far, this one not only performs better than them all but out clocks them by some margin as well. Perhaps it’s not the frequency as such which one
should consider impressive but the ease with which it is reached. If you’re not making the memory speed on the Maximus, you’re unlikely to be able to achieve it on another board. One may think that memory overclocking is as much determined by the CPU as it is by the memory ICs and motherboard, but the fact is with HASWELL, pretty much all CPUs have good IMCs. So it then comes down to the memory and the motherboard. With the right combination just about any motherboard, CPU and memory can claim a world record. That isn’t really meaningful. The true measure of a motherboard’s proficiency is in just how easy it is for virtually all CPUs and memory combinations to reach very high speeds. This is what makes the Maximus 6 Extreme special as it allows you to extract the best out of the particular set of components you have. As stated before, there’s just too much to run through with this board in this limited space we have here. Suffice to say, this is our choice motherboard for the Z87 platform. There may be better boards in the future from any number of vendors or even ASUS themselves, but we’d think that
the odds of that happening are next to zero. There’s just too much that the Maximus does right to realistically imagine a better implantation of the Z87 chipset. As such this board receives our highest praise. It’s near flawless. [ TheOverclocker ]
Summary The ASUS ROG team has done it again. Produced one of the finest motherboards we have ever seen. If there was ever a motherboard made purely for overclocking, this would have to be the one. Whatever motherboard you may have you eye on is probably great, but we’d bet our bottom dollar that for overclocking, it isn’t better than the Maximus 6 Extreme. This is simply because this board is the standard itself.
Would you buy it? Without a moment’s hesitation.
Issue 25 | 2013 The OverClocker 33
GAMING G GEAR ARD AWARD
EVGA GTX 770 Classified RRP: $519.99 | Website: www.evga.com
Test Machine • INTEL Core i7 4770K • ASUS Maximus VI Extreme • CORSAIR Dominator Platinum •4x4GB DDR 2666MHZ C10 • Patriot Wildefire 120GB SSD • Cooler Master Silent Pro M2 1500W • Windows 7 64-bit SP1
es, here’s yet another GTX 770 amongst the many others we are likely to see. NVIDIA has thus far provided no new silicon for us with their 700 series. It is all re-hashes of the familiar. Should we lament this, express disappointment and state just how gutted we are? After all, It’s the GK104 core yet again and NVIDIA reminds us of just how tenacious their GPUs can be (G92 anyone?). No, we’ll do no such thing, simply because the GTX 770 is actually a mighty impressive graphics card. Even the reference model is exciting and that’s saying a 34 The OverClocker Issue 25 | 2013
lot for what is a re-hash. See, ours is not to look for new silicon, to warrant new silicon there must be something that can be fundamentally improved upon, a feature or advancement that necessitates an entirely new core. As it is however, nothing in our current landscape would justify this. Not the games, not the benchmarks, absolutely nothing. What we can do with is though is graphics cards without limits and this is exactly what the GTX 770 Classified is about. You may be thinking to yourself that we’ve seen the GTX 680 classified before, so why would we bother with the 770 version which is essentially the same card? Well, the reason is twofold. First and foremost, if you recall our GTX 680 Classified review, you’ll remember that we lamented the restrictions NVIDIA placed on board partners and thus EVGA. These restrictions rendered
the extreme overclocking aspect useless. Other than K|NGP|N there were few who bothered with extreme overclocking of the 680. The hoops required to get anywhere near useful clock speeds were enough to push most of us towards the HD 7970 GE (Not counting the Tessellation issue which is a story I’m sure we are all very familiar with). While some limitations still exist, the changes introduced with GPU Boost 2.0 have for all intents and purposes unlocked the GK104 core, or at least made those very high clock speeds easier to attain. Does that necessarily mean we’ll see some new attempts at World Records with this card? Unlikely we’d say, because with the GTX TITAN and GTX 780 around, no GPU on the market has a chance. For the more casual overclocker though who still enjoys pushing their graphics card to the max, perhaps even for hardware points. This is
All results were obtained at 4600MHz on an un-optimized Windows7 64-bit.. These are our figures, yours may vary so only use these as a guideline for a similarly configured system.
3DMark Fire Strike
HWBOT Unigine Heaven Xtreme
Hitman:Absolution (Ultra 4xAA)
EVGA GTX 770 Classified OC
EVGA GTX 770 Classified
MSI NGTX680 Lightning
the best iteration of the GK104 there is. The second reason why this is a worthwhile card over and above the 680 Classified, is the fact that it is not only clocked higher out the box where the core is concerned, but the memory will go the distance as well. So for gamers and enthusiasts you’ll receive much better performance for your dollars. Best of all, the card is cheaper than the GTX 680, has a better cooler and looks better. So in every possible way it’s a better graphics card. NVIDIA has done a great job with the GTX 770, EVGA has simply made it better, maybe even the best it can possibly be. We’ve not seen the likes of the GTX 770 Lightning or the GTX 770 Super Overclock (if it ever becomes a reality), however as it stands - this is the best 770 you can buy at present. Make no mistake about it; this is still very much an extreme overclocking orientated card. Everything that was on the 680 Classified and more is present here including three setting BIOS switch. So that is normal, OC and LN2 mode. For those
Graphics : 8335
who have previously invested in the EVBOT, you will get to use it on this card as well as it’s supported. For those who don’t have the EVBOT however, you can still use software to effectively bypass the software limits of most tuning applications like EVGA’s Precision tool. There is a little program by an EVGA forum member which allows GPU voltages in excess of 1.3V. Significantly higher than what any other software will allow you to reach. Naturally this software works on Classified cards only (as far as we know at least) so it is obviously tied to the voltage controller that EVGA uses. This should make overclocking a little simpler especially when using the LN2 mode on the card. Keep in mind however that this is not an officially supported tool so you use it at your own risk. If you are willing to be brave and give it a go, you’ll find that you can reach even higher clock speeds, be it you’re using the new ACX cooler or something a little more exotic. All these things make the GTX 770 Classified significantly more fun than the 680 it replaces. The GTX 770 Classified
then, is easily the best GTX 770 we’ve come across and it’ll probably remain the best there is for this GPU’s lifetime. [ TheOverclocker ]
Summary A familiar GPU, rereleased without any of the previous 600 series irritations. This is one to watch out for. As far as this GPU is concerned you’re unlikely to find a more robust and wellrounded graphics card. There’s not much this card does wrong, and it’s a near perfect rendition of the GK104 GPU.
Would you buy it? Of course, so should you.
Issue 25 | 2013 The OverClocker 35
GAMING GEAR AWARD
GIGABYTE G1.Sniper 5 RRP: $409.99 | Website: www.gigabyte.com
Test Machine • INTEL Core i7 4770K • CORSAIR Dominator Platinum 2x4GB DDR 2666MHZ C10 • Patriot Wildfire 120GB SSD • Cooler Master Silent Pro M2 1500W • Windows 7 64-bit SP1
t’s Z87 time for GIGABYTElike many others.. This was the chipset that was on show at Computex and as you can imagine, this chipset will be powering the vast majority of motherboard reviews we will be doing from here on in. As the first official Z87 motherboard we’ve written editorial for in the magazine, expectations from this board were very high. Not because Haswell CPUs are incredible performers, but simply because this board was and is a new opportunity for GIGABYTE to really make a
36 The OverClocker Issue 25 | 2013
name for its gaming series of motherboards. Previously, the boards were average to good, lacking a little here and there that prevented them from being truly stand out boards. Fortunately this seems to have all changed and even in presentation, the G1 Sniper 5 is significantly more refined than its predecessors. Electronically, as always with GIGABYTE, the board is hard to fault, but the BIOS is where it often became unstuck especially with the 3D BIOS which was anything but inspiring. More often than not, it remained unused as not only was it clunky, it was unintuitive and annoying to navigate. Fortunately, it has been rehauled into something that is not only useable but rather interesting as well. We won’t bore you with the details, but suffice to say it’s a significant step in the right direction and a definite improvement. This new BIOS may negate the need for the more traditional menu for
many users. This is especially true given the demographic this board is targeting. As the flagship gaming product for the Z87 line, GIGABYTE has left nothing in reserve and outfitted this board with the best on-board audio solution money can buy. Audio is a big thing of late for all board vendors, but GIGABYTE has pipped the competition with their inclusion of not only the latest Creative Sound Core 3D audio processor, but matched that up with some of the finest audio components you’re ever going to find on an onboard solution. Furthermore, GIGABYTE has pioneered a first with this board, bringing us an OP-AMP socket where one is able to fit any desired amp for their particular listening tastes. It may seem gimmicky at first, but it’s a notable feature given just how solid the audio solution on this board is. We can’t as usual go into all the details involving the audio circuitry here, but we would bet our bottom dollar that you’re
All results were obtained at 4600MHz on an un-optimized Windows7 64-bit. These are our figures, yours may vary so only use these as a guideline for a similarly configured system.
GIGABYTE Z77X-UP5TH (F13a)
Super Pi 8M
Aida 64 Copy
Aida 64 Latency
GIGABYTE G1.Sniper 5
13088 Physics: 12674
12793 Physics: 12724
not going to find better audio on any competing motherboard regardless of price. To make the $410 price tag more palatable, GIGABYTE has included all sorts of extras, such as a high speed Wi-Fi/ Bluetooth adapter (pretty much standard stuff these days for mid to high end boards), a Killer NIC and for the sake of completion and, 4-way SLI support via the familiar PLX switching chip. This obviously has a performance hit as we’ve seen on just about every platform that uses this chip. However in a gaming context you’re unlikely to notice any performance drop because of this. For competitive overclocking where every frame counts, it may be a different story but as far as we’re concerned the performance hit is negligible especially at the high resolutions. Besides all the grand features the Sniper 5 has, we were more interested in how well it could overclock memory. After all, it was GIGABYTE’s own in house team that won the only memory overclocking segment at CORSAIR and INTEL’s Main Event at Computex 2013. We were curious to see if this memory overclocking
wizardry was isolated to the OC board or was something GIGABYTE has actually been tweaking. Fortunately it looks as if low memory overclocking headroom is a thing of the past as we were easily able to hit 3000MHz using any one of the several BIOS profiles. We were easily able to take our Samsung IC chips north side of 3000MHz as well using air cooling which bodes well for overclockers and gamers alike. As it stands, separating Z87 boards at this time is much harder than it was with Z77. For some reason just about every vendor has come to the show with a somewhat decent product in almost all cases, the boards are better than their predecessors. This makes it seem as if all the boards on the market are equal, or at least lack distinctive features. This isn’t the case with the Sniper 5 in particular as what you’re essentially looking at here is the best gaming board you can buy for the platform. There isn’t much that any vendor could add that isn’t on this board already. Thunderbolt and perhaps M-SATA come to mind, but just looking at the board we had to wonder where these would be placed as it’s literally full. These are small sacrifices we’d certainly be
willing to live with. Overall the G1 Sniper 5 is a sound gaming motherboard. Exceptional build quality, features and an amazing audio solution make this the gaming board to beat. This one comes highly recommended over all other gaming orientated motherboards. [ TheOverclocker ]
Summary For a high end gaming machine there are few if any boards we have heard off or seen thus far that can put together such a compelling package. The Sniper 5 is in many ways what the G1 line of motherboards always tried to be. With this motherboard GIGABYTE has executed flawlessly.
Would you buy it? Most certainly
Issue 25 | 2013 The OverClocker 37
ADATA XPG V2 2800MHz Dual Channel 8GB Kit RRP: $364.99 99 | Website: www www.adata-group.com adata-group com
Test Machine • • • •
INTEL Core i7 4770K GIGABYTE Z87X-OC (F5) Patriot Wildfire 120GB SSD Cooler Master Silent Pro M2 1500W • Windows 7 64-bit SP1
ome publications may shy away from it. However, here at TheOverclocker we know better and that’s purely because you – our fellow readers – would call us on it and rightly so. So we’ll say it and move on with the rest of this review. Hynix MFR based, single sided memory is slow. Much like all single sided DDR3 memory in fact. We aren’t singling out ADATA in particular (or any other vendor for that matter), but this applies to all other sets of memory that use a similar configuration. What we have here for your $365 isn’t a set that’s going to in an way impress you with performance, but it will
38 The OverClocker Issue 25 | 2013
hopefully make up for that with some amazing overclocking frequencies. Something that is vital for those validations that we’ve been seeing since June. It’s worth mentioning that in a way, we aren’t in agreement with the context in which ADATA may claim this set is useful. They suggest overall performance benefits, but we say frequency records. That distinction is what will ultimately validate or doom the existence of this kit and any others of this type. It’s a little too early right now to tell. For the gamers, it is worth noting that for you to be able to run such frequencies, you’re likely going to need a Z87 platform. Sure enough you may be able to run this memory on your Ivy-bridge based system, but 2800MHz is a tall order for many IvyBridge CPUs and even those that have such an impressive IMC. The motherboard that you have to match it to may not be up to dealing with such performance kits, in
which case you’ll have wasted money. It’s a hit and miss affair. Given the cost we aren’t sure you’d want to risk it. If however, you’re already using 4th generation Core CPU, then you’ll find that this memory works smoothly with just about every meaningful motherboard on the planet. Mainly all the gaming and overclocking orientated boards will have no problem with this memory. It’ll be a simple matter of loading the XMP profile and rebooting the system. Once you’ve done that you’ll have to contend with the single sided memory performance issue as we mentioned earlier. In some synthetic tests, you’ll notice that even at 2800MHz, the performance is lower than that you’d expect from a 2133MHz C9 set. This isn’t in every single benchmark but you should be aware that it may happen none the less. Does this have a tangible effect on your gaming? – No! Not in the least and at worst
the general users who are moved by the high numbers. 2800MHz memory has never been cheap, Hynix MFR chips are expensive and memory pricing is on the rise. All these things come together to make it rather difficult to buy a high speed memory kit these days. Despite all this, ADATA has managed to make a somewhat pleasing set for the overclockers who just aren’t willing to pay the $500 or more that some competing kits cost. It is in light of this that we have to commend ADATA for this effort. ADATA has taken a challenging situation and produced the best it can. The XPG V2 set sits well with us and it just may be a set worth checking out if you’re looking to get into the frequency validation game. [ TheOverclocker ]
you’ll not suffer a performance penalty for it, much like you’d not receive a performance advantage using any other kind of memory, 2400Mhz all the way to 3100Mhz regardless of configuration. For competitive overclockers, well things are a little more interesting. All Hynix MFR based modules are expensive and this one is no exception. The only difference here is that you’re starting from a very high speed of 2800MHz. So hitting 2933, 3000, 3100 and beyond is rather simple. Provided once again you have the motherboard for it. On the GIGABYTE board we didn’t have much trouble going to 3,200MHz. It may seem like a small overclock of just 400MHz, but keep in mind that we did not use LN2 to cool the memory. Had that been the case, we’re pretty sure the memory would have gone the distance and touched the 4GHz mark. This was all done on air cooling, so this memory is just
as capable as any other MFR based set. The heat sink, as attractive as we find it, may be a problem though so you’ll have to remove it for those cold sessions as no cold plate or pot will sit comfortably otherwise. Earlier you may have quickly glanced at this review and wondered where the benchmarks were; well those are kind of pointless given what kind of memory we are dealing with here. As we stated earlier, single sided memory is not to be used for trying to set performance records. The purpose of this memory and value in this set for us is in just how easily you can reach very high speeds with it. It’s a one trick pony and a trick that many people apparently like at present. It remains to be seen just how much more we can squeeze out of memory frequency records. Right now they seem to be still going the distance with vendors and creating some kind of impression with
Summary This is a lot of money to pay for 8GB of memory, but then again it’s justified by the speed as 2800MHz memory has never been cheap and is unlikely to ever be for DDR3. You’ll need such a set if memory frequency is what you’re after on the Z87 platform. ADATA has produced a worthy set for the price.
Would you buy it? For those scores yes!
Issue 25 | 2013 The OverClocker 39
MSI MPOWER MAX
RRP: $259.99 | Website: www.msi.com
Test Machine • INTEL Core i7 4770K • GIGABYTE GV-N780OC-3GD • CORSAIR Dominator Platinum 2x4GB DDR 2666MHZ C10 • Patriot Wildfire 120GB SSD • Cooler Master Silent Pro M2 1500W • Windows 7 64-bit SP1
All results were obtained at 4600MHz on an un-optimized Windows7 64-bit. These are our figures, yours may vary so only use these as a guideline for a similarly configured system.
Super Pi 8M
Aida 64 Copy
Aida 64 Latency
MSI Mpower Max
e’ve been saying this since the Z77 boards, but MSI really has been steadily improving their boards. Still largely overlooked by competitive overclockers, we find that this has everything to do with history rather than the quality of the boards at present. A classic example is how we heard several overclockers last year talking poorly about this board’s predecessor. The odd thing about that is said individuals had not tried the motherboard but based on previous outings with MSI motherboards expected it to
40 The OverClocker Issue 25 | 2013
be a poor product. With the MPower Max we would urge you to re-evaluate everything you thought you knew or believed about MSI motherboards. We’ve said this before, but it warrants repeating, these boards have some of the best BIOS interface screens we’ve ever see. Click BIOS 4, despite the simplicity it’s a marvel to work with. Mind you many vendors have upped their game with the Z87
motherboards and in this day and age there’s really no reason for a poor UEFI BIOS. That doesn’t mean however, don’t’ appreciate the design of the MSI Click 4 BIOS. A BIOS however is only as good as what it allows you to do with your hardware. With Z87 unfortunately it’s all about memory overclocking. There are a few validations of 7GHz and higher on the platform, we even have some mighty Super Pi 32M times but
“With the MPower Max we would urge you to re-evaluate everything you thought you knew or believed about MSI motherboards.” ultimately it’s about memory overclocking. (Especially with the vast majority of retail 4770K’s not delivering at present) This is where the MPower Max can get unstuck a little. Depending on the set of memory you have, it will go the distance and allow you speeds as high as 3,000MHz but reaching those frequencies can prove a little more challenging than expected. The memory tuning options presented are plentiful, but they are not explained at all. So it’s familiarity that will determine just how quickly you get up to speed. This is a lost opportunity as there’s plenty of space in the BIOS for all this. Add to which, we have grown accustomed to BIOS profiles for memory overclocking; these are nowhere to be found on the board (at least at the time of writing). Even a few of these would help cut down on the time it takes to tune this board for what is the only Z87 game around. If you are willing to put in the work however, you’ll find that the performance is impeccable, matching many of the competing boards on the market. Overall we do believe this is one solid board from MSI and it’d be untrue to suggest that there has ever been a better motherboard from MSI. With a going price of $260 USD it’s hard to argue the value that this board provides. The only chink in
its armour would be the likes of the GIGABYTE Z87OC which is an incredible $200 USD. It’s cheaper and has significantly more overclocking related features. If this board did not exist the MPOWER Max would have a relatively easy time as one of the better mid-range boards for Z87. Regardless, the MPower MAX perhaps even though geared for overclocking, does strike a better balance between a gaming board and an overclocking one. [ TheOverclocker ]
Summary For just under $260 this isn’t a bad motherboard at all. MSI has really upped their game with Z87 and we’d wager that this is the most refined MSI board ever. We’d urge all overclockers to go on and give the board a try, it’s better than you could imagine.
Would you buy it? Yes
Issue 25 | 2013 The OverClocker 41
Resident Evil: Revelations RRP: $49.99 (PC) | Website: http://www.residentevil.com/revelations
hile Resident Evil 6 was off annoying longtime Resident Evil fans with its heavy emphasis on action and its insistence on forgetting its survival-horror roots, 3DS owners were treated to a delicious helping of more traditional Resi gameplay with handheld title Revelations. Following the hugely positive reception garnered by the 3DS version, Revelations has now been given an HD upgrade, ported to the PC and the home consoles with sharper, high-res textures, better character models and more to make its jump from the small to the big screen easier on the eye. Importantly, this port means more people will be able to enjoy this excellent entry in this beloved series, and experience the watery horrors contained within.
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Set between the events of Resident Evil 4 and 5 , Revelations is primarily set in the middle of the ocean on a luxur y cruise liner: the Queen Zenobia . With Jill Valentine as the predominant playable character, youâ€™ll explore the confines of the ship, piecing together the disturbing events that led to the Queen Zenobia becoming abandoned at sea and crawling with angr y, scar y monsters. These segments as Jill are, for the most part, classic Resident Evil . This is a game that rewards careful, methodical exploration, and the Genesis device (a scanner that lets you reveal hidden objects and analyse your surroundings) further enforces this. Light puzzle elements are also thrown into the mix to break up the flow of things, although youâ€™ll
encounter ver y few puzzles along the way. As you slowly unlock new areas of the ship, scrounging for ammo and healing herbs ever y step of the way, you’ll be reminded why you love this series and its sur vival horror elements. The BOWs (Bio Organic Weapons, i.e. all the things that are eager to eat your face) you’ll encounter are as creepy as you’d expect, with some mightily horrific enemy design on display. You’ll also have run-ins with a few terrifyingly memorable bosses. Problems begin to creep into the experience here, however. There’s a distinct lack of enemy variety in the game, more prevalently so in specific areas of the game. It
Issue 25 | 2013 The OverClocker 43
“With Jill Valentine as the predominant playable character, you’ll explore the confines of the ship, piecing together the disturbing events that led to the Queen Zenobia becoming abandoned at sea and crawling with angry, scary monsters. “ 44 The OverClocker Issue 25 | 2012 2013
may be a result of Revelations betraying its origins as a portable title, but it would’ve been nice to have a few more enemy types to run away from, screaming. The game feels like a handheld title in other ways as well. Loading screens appear far too frequently, and while the game is generally pretty enough, the environments are sparsely detailed and feel quite empty compared to other titles developed specifically for more powerful platforms. Beyond that, Revelations is a
solid experience. There are a few meaningless, action-heav y sequences (in which you’ll take control of other characters central to the game’s narrative) peppered throughout the game, and these actually detract from the overall package contained within the solo campaign. Once you’re done with the singleplayer narrative, you’ll find the cooperative Raid Mode. In it, you and a friend (you’re also able to play it solo if you’d like) can revisit cherr y-picked sections of the game, working your way through each one to earn a variety of rewards depending on your performance within each section. Enemies in Raid Mode are made more unique by various buffs. They might be able to move faster, for example, or absorb more damage. Raid Mode stages get progressively more difficult and you’ll have to buy new weapons and customise
them with a range of upgrades if you hope to match the increase in difficulty. Raid Mode is a fantastic addition to the game and well worth having a look at if you’re keen for more once the main campaign is over. [ Dane Remendes ]
Would you buy it? I think so. If you’re okay with the fact that Revelations sometimes feels like it’s better suited as a handheld game, it’ll definitely provide many hours of solid enjoyment.
7.5/10 Issue 25 | 2013 The OverClocker 45
Monaco: What’s Yours is Mine RRP: $14.99 (PC) | Website: http://www.pocketwatchgames.com/Monaco/
magine any heist movie you’ve ever watched. Ocean’s Eleven, Snatch, Generic Diamond Grab, whatever springs to mind first really. Now, with that image firmly implanted in your mind, place yourself in the role of daring criminal mastermind, add in fourplayer co-op and the potential for an endless comedy of blunders, give your brain-concoction a French accent and you’ve got Monaco: What’s Yours is Mine in a nutshell. In it, you control a character selected from a crew of eight daring thieves, each with their own unique abilities, specialties and ways to approach the heist at hand. And it’s simply brilliant. The core of the game sees you sneaking around a variety of meticulously designed levels in search of whatever objective the 48 The OverClocker Issue 25 | 2013
game’s narrative decides you should be chasing. You’ll visit hospitals, lavish manor homes, museums and more, all viewed from a top-down perspective. Line of sight is vital, because you’re only able to see what your character can actually see. Similarly important is the need to avoid the line of sight of various types of guards and security doodads (like alarm-tripping cameras and lasers) scattered throughout each mission. Sections of the level that you’ve already discovered but don’t presently have eyes on will fade to a static blueprint of your surroundings – which is not only a cool effect, but useful for keeping your bearings. The eight characters from which you can choose are uniquely valuable. The Locksmith, for example, can pick locks on doors,
“The core of the game sees you sneaking around a variety of meticulously designed levels in search of whatever objective the game’s narrative decides you should be chasing.”
safes and the like faster than any other character. The Lookout can see any enemy in the level while she’s sneaking. The Cleaner can knock enemies unconscious. The Mole can smash through walls to create new paths through levels. Evading patrolling enemies, guard dogs and even noisy cats that alert foes becomes a bit like Pac-Man with cunning thievery – it starts off fairly simple, with lazy security guards armed with nothing but flashlights slowly patrolling the earlier levels, who can be easily outrun if they spot you. Later, however, things like enemies armed with machine guns, helicopters that highlight your position for pursuing foes and sentry turrets that pop up when alarms are tripped make your job increasingly difficult – especially if you obsess over grabbing all the Issue 25 | 2013 The OverClocker 49
“Numerous items can be collected within levels that give you extra capabilities: you’ll find guns, which do exactly what you’d expect them to do...”
50 The OverClocker Issue 25 | 2013
“Monaco is an excellently designed indie pleasure. It oozes charm and charisma with its snappy writing, eye-grabbing aesthetic and overall delivery.”
completionist-taunting coins that randomly litter the levels. Naturally, there are online leaderboards that have players competing for top scores by finishing levels as quickly as possible and grabbing maximum coins along the way. Numerous items can be collected within levels that give you extra capabilities: you’ll find guns, which do exactly what you’d expect them to do, or you might find an EMP that knocks out electrical security when used, or you could become your team’s healer if you pick up some bandages and get to work fixing their boo-boos. And that brings me to the game’s finest point: the cooperative multiplayer. Playable by up to four people locally or via Internet magic, Monaco is at its shiniest when played with friends, using the unique abilities of each player’s character to make the
team’s job easier. It’s great fun, and you’ll have loads of laughs when your best laid plans inevitably go awry as your team sets off a chain reaction of hilariously unfortunate events and everyone dies horribly. But sometimes, everything will come together perfectly, and you’ll feel every bit the George Clooney of video games. Monaco is an excellently designed indie pleasure. It oozes charm and charisma with its snappy writing, eye-grabbing aesthetic (screenshots don’t really do it justice; this is a good-looking game) and overall delivery. Most importantly, the game’s mechanics are excellently designed and implemented, and for your $14.99 you’ll find hours of amusement – particularly if you can rope in friends to join you for a bit of cooperative virtual larceny.
Would you buy it? Considering the amount of enjoyment you’ll get in exchange for Monaco’s $14.99 price tag, I’d say it’d be a crime not to buy it.
[ Dane Remendes ] Issue 25 | 2013 The OverClocker 51
NZXT H630 RRP: $149.99 | Website: www.nzxt.com
ith so many chassis vendors on the market, it is hard these days to buy a substandard case. Sure, you could go with the “gamer” orientated cases from lesser brands with over the top designs and plastic molds, but I’d like to believe most of us have moved on from those days. NZXT, since I first came across the brand has always produced some of, if not the most beautiful cases I have ever seen. What NZXT lacked however was the build quality that was synonymous with the high end Cooler Master or ANTEC cases to name but a few. Slowly with each new product, as if a deliberate effort I have noticed that their cases not only improved in features but in the material quality and finishing. As it is, the H630 represents some of the finest work I’ve seen from NZXT. This isn’t their most high end case, but in many ways it exudes better quality, if only because it’s supposed to be a silent chassis and that, at the very least demands some kind of superior build quality. The noise dampening material used is unfamiliar to me but it seems to do the job or at least would have had it not been for the loud fans. As with other products from the outfit, fan noise is not their strong point and when dealing with a silent chassis this does hurt what is otherwise a sound product. The case comes with two fans by default, a large 20cm intake fan in front and an exhaust fan at the rear. Even though it is just two fans, these are audible even with the case closed. The user manual speaks of a fan controller, but there is no such thing featured on the H630, rather what is there is a 10-channel fan hub much like
50 The OverClocker Issue 25 | 2013
the NZXT GRID. Useful for sorting out fan cables and the like, but ultimately does not do anything at all for the acoustics. Fortunately, NZXT does sell fan controllers and one particularly good one is the SENTRY Mix 2 that is a perfect fit for the H630. Granted this requires that you spend even more money on this case to achieve what it is supposed to do inherently.. However, keep in mind that the only qualm I have about this case is fan noise. Everything else about it is very exceptional. Once I had the Sentry installed, the H630 became one of the best cases I have ever used. Over the testing period, its looks even grew on me and as it is, I am convinced this is one of the best-looking cases on the market. The white may be instantly more
appealing, but the matt black version I tested is as pleasing to the eye on top of not attracting as much dust. This is a case you are either going to love or loath, there really isn’t an in between here. Personally, I find it very appealing and as stated earlier, it remains one of the best cases I’ve ever used. [ Neo Sibeko ]
GIGABYTE Fly Headset RRP: $49.99 | Website: www.gigabyte.com
he assault on the headphone or audio market rather by hardware vendors has truly begun. I cannot tell you just how many vendors were showing off headsets at Computex 2013. Understandable though as the recent success and newfound fame of headphones in pop culture has inspired some to diversify into this market. Not one to be left behind, GIGABYTE amongst the many have taken on this challenge with their first FLY headset. One would have imagined GIGABYTE to start with a gaming unit like many others, but for some reason the vendor has chosen to go for regular headphones. This is a double-edged sword indeed, because the FLYs instantly find themselves competing with betterknown brands but for the same reason have the potential to sell to a lot more people than those who play computer games. So what then has GIGABYTE produced? Well that is an interesting question I think and for the most part, I’d like to say they have a competent if not slightly above average headset with the FLY. Here is what is wrong with the unit first. The headband used feels rather cheap. Upon closer inspection, you do find that it is rugged and can take some abuse, but it appears cheap. This is not good for something that you are going to be wearing in public. A different color or some rubber material around it would have gone a long way to making it look sturdier and a little classy. The ear cups are finished in a silver paint job that is not particularly impressive, it will peel after a while and I cannot help but think GIGABTE should have rather gone for a different finish or perhaps even black, as that would not be so obvious even after some wear and tear. At this point, you may think I hate this headset, but you could not be further from the truth if you tried. Those are just two issues which
happen to be the only issues I have with the FLYs. The ear cups are comfortable, noise isolation is great and the bass heavy sound is well appreciated especially if you’ll be travelling on the subway or in other relatively noisy environments. These headphones work well for those kick drum heavy music genres, from Hip-Hop to Dance music, these headphones will deliver the goods. They will not match the average $100 headset, but the sound production is about as good as you are going to get for $50. So as far as sound production is concerned I’m more than satisfied and actually rather surprised that on their first outing GIGABYTE has been able to produce such a solid sounding set. Something worth repeating again is that, this is one rugged headset. I have been testing these
for moths, subjecting them to harsh conditions and they just keep going. Other headsets that have cost the same and some a little more have since broken down, but the FLYs just keep going with no sound quality degradation or cable wear. Therefore, between the bass friendly audio and the durability I have to say I am impressed with the headphones. These ones get a thumb up from me. [ Neo Sibeko ]
Issue 25 | 2013 The OverClocker 51
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