Issue 26 2013 rev 2.1
THE WORLD’S BEST OVERCLOCKING ONLINE MAGAZINE. FOREVER. Cover Feature
INTEL 4000 SERIES CPUS AN OC PERSPECTIVE
ASRock Z87 OC Formula Reviewed
CORSAIR VENGEANCE PRO 2666 C11 16GB Kit Reviewed
GIGABYTE Z87X-OC Lifestyle
GAMING: DON’T STARVE AT ITS CORE, A GAME OF DISCOVERY
SAY IT RIGHT! I
’ve been having a repeating conversation with some friends in the industry for a while. Some which work at various vendors and others which work as media. This has been an on-going discussion with specific individuals and I can’t say that we’ve made any progress in figuring out a way forward. All we’ve managed to do is look at it from every possible angle and invariably end up at the same conclusion. Why is it that we can’t as a collective find ourselves in a situation where we are able to be a little more honest with just about anything that’s related to hardware and overclocking? We all know the truth, yet what we say to each other on public forums is anything but the truth. In these spaces we don’t hide behind anonymity and are very vocal about what it is we choose to believe, but somehow that does not transpire in real life interactions. Perhaps it is the wish to not offend or cause any discomfort but I believe it’s more than that. It’s down to the truth not being worth its repercussions. After all, integrity does nothing for you in a material sense. There’s absolutely no benefit financial or otherwise to be had, by being honest. More times than not that same honesty will come across as aggression and perhaps even as antagonising to not only those that you call to question but others who believe they may eventually land in your crosshairs. Ask any one overclocker, present or previously competitive what is the best motherboard for any one platform. You’ll get two answers usually; the publicly acceptable retort and the one that they keep only to personal interactions. This is understandable and perhaps not even a big deal, however, it can be and has proved to be very damaging in the past. For instance virtually everyone reading this is aware of just how useless single sided Hynix MFR based memory kits are. There’s no performance to be had whatsoever and they are only useful for memory clock validations. There’s nothing wrong with that in itself, it’s part of overclocking. Perhaps even one of the pillars of what it is we call overclocking.
However, let us not kid end users by claiming that such memory has any other purpose as it doesn’t. Outside of chasing memoryoverclocking records, there’s certainly no reason to be buying such kits. More over if said kits are retailing for the ridiculous sums of money that they are. Yes, this is directed at those $2,000 USD + kits that we’ve seen online. How could one possibly justify buying 8GB of memory for prices higher than what a GTX TITAN sells for? Is it not odd that as overclockers and hardware enthusiasts we said the GTX TITAN pricing was ridiculous, but somehow make excuses for 8GB of RAM that costs twice as much? This isn’t isolated to that one particular vendor, but others as well who at the behest of overclockers are releasing such memory. Since most vendors have an artificial discourse with overclockers, this patent truth is hidden from them and all they receive is positive feedback. Thus the cycle continues. It’s unfortunate, but it’s reality. From a memory manufactures point of view, they must continue to sell components and that’s reasonable, that is the business. However, from an end users perspective, why would we encourage anyone to buy into this memory or any other dubious product? Repetitive memory overclocking “records” are precisely the kind of thing that keeps widening this chasm between overclockers and gamers. This is an important relationship, because it is from this group of individuals where the vast majority of overclockers have hailed and will continue to do so. Being disillusioned by said overclocking gear is one way to discourage growth. The refusal of many of us in the community to be a little more honest about products will only exacerbate the problem. With that said, please do enjoy this issue of TheOverclocker, all seriousness aside, this was a difficult but none the less fun issue to put together and we hope you enjoy it. GPU Wars are looming and we’ll hopefully have it all covered in Issue 27. [ Neo Sibeko - Editor ] Issue 26 | 2013 The OverClocker 3
REGULARS 3 - Editor’s note
FEATURES 6 – Q + A with Jonathan “Lucky_n00b” Alva 12 – MSI MOA 2013 18 – INTEL 4000 Series CPUs 40 – Soap Box
The Overclocker is published by OCL-Media (cc). Editor Neo Sibeko
REVIEWS 24 – EVGA X79 Dark
Art Director Chris Savides
26 – CORSAIR Vengeance PRO 2666 C11 16GB
Marketing Consultant Jayda Wu
28 – MSI GTX 780 Lightning 30 – ASRock Z87 OC Formula
Contributors Dane Remendes Pieter-Jan “Massman” Plaisier Jonathan Horne
32 – GIGABYTE GV-N770OC-2GD 34 – ASUSX 79-Deluxe 36 – EVGA GTX 780 Classified
For editorial and marketing please contact: firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com
38 – GIGABYTE Z87X-OC
LIFESTYLE 42 - Game Review – Don’t Starve 44 – Game Review – Metro: Last Light 46 – CORSAIR K95 Keyboard 47 – ADATA SX910 128GB SSD
47 4 The OverClocker Issue 26 | 2013
with Alva “Lucky_n00b” Jonathan Country Name and City: I live in Jakarta, the capital city of Indonesia. What language(s) do you speak? I speak Indonesian, a little bit of English and very little Japanese. Your nickname “Lucky_n00b”, how did that come about as you’re clearly not a n00b at overclocking? Haha, Interesting Question! The ‘n00b’ part was from when I was actively playing some games (Counter-strike) back in junior high. I sucked at those games and all my friend called me a n00b, but sometimes I did get lucky and win a competition - that was how I came up with the nickname ‘Lucky_n00b’. Even now, I still think that the ‘n00b’ part applies to me in overclocking as well as it encourages me to keep learning and pushing my limits, that’s why I still use it . (some people did ask me to change it though, LOL) 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 guess it was around the year 2006 to 2007, when live overclocking competitions in Indonesia started to grow as there are live competitions every 2, 3 months or so. So far, I’ve found competitive overclocking to be a lot of fun and rewarding. The scene in my country grew because of the overclocking competitions. In the end, I think it’s nice to have friends with the same passion to compete and compare results with. 6 The OverClocker Issue 26 | 2013
Which is your favourite benchmark if any and what is your least favourite and why? SuperPI 32M Even though I’ve never been in the top ranks of any super pi challenge (low clock challenge or full out). I still spend an absurd amount of time tweaking my system to get good SuperPI 32M Scores. I love this benchmark because it scales with even the smallest change in memory settings. I learned a great deal about memory tuning ever since I started benching Pi 32M. The one I don’t particularly like is PCMark05, because of the huge amount of tweaks needed to be applied, and sometimes it does not scale according to the clocks. What was it that got you started in overclocking? I started overclocking my hardware about 13 years ago, back in 2000
when multiplayer FPS games such as Counter-Strike, Unreal Tournament and Quake 3 Arena were booming in my country. Being a junior high student at the time, I couldn’t afford an expensive gaming PC. The only ones that met my budget were the entry-level CPUs and GPUs which happened to be a Celeron 300A and an S3 Savage 4. I overclocked my machine to get better frame rates at and along with it I learned about benchmarks like 3DMark 99 MAX and 3DMark2000. That’s where it’s all started. When you started overclocking which forums did you spend your time on mostly? Has that changed now many years into the extreme hobby? I joined the local Indonesian hardware forum in late 2005, which happen to be CHIP Indonesia
forum (forum.chip.co.id) and Overclockindo, one of the first OCoriented forums in Indonesia (www. ocindo.com - no longer exist now). But right now, I mostly spend my time on Hwbot. How feasible is it for you to get access to LN2 where you live and how much is it? Well, it’s quite far from my place, about 29 Kilometres or about 1 hour’s ride. Thankfully, the price is relatively cheap. It’s about 0.8 to 1 USD per Litre How often do you have overclocking sessions in a month? As an overclocker and reviewer on my website (www.JagatReview. com), I’m required to put up at least one or two extreme overclocking articles per month, so I do my extreme overclocking sessions in a weekly or biweekly basis.
What are you currently overclocking (at the time of writing) and how goes it? I’m still trying to find a decent 4770K to put up good scores with. I’ve been through 10 chips and they average about 6.3Ghz-ish on Pi 32M. I also started overclocking the MSI 780 Lightning as part of my MOA preparations, that beast was fun to bench, and it’s STRONG! Do you have any thoughts on IvyBridge-E so far? Really surprised with the IMCs capabilities, but I’m not expecting it to hit DDR3-3900Mhz mark as Dumo & Coolice put up in the IDF ’13 ASUS OC Main event. Any other hardware you’re looking forward to buy this year? Ivy Bridge-E either the i7-4960X or i7-4930K and a good X79 board to go with it to do some Multi-GPU Issue 26 | 2013 The OverClocker 7
780 sessions. Perhaps the EPOWER Classified VRM board (hard to find those) and maybe a couple new GPU pots. What is your favourite graphics card and platform to date? Definitely NOT the GTX Titan with the stock VRM. My favourite GPU right now is the GTX 780 with a custom design VRM. I’ve just tried MSI 780 Lightning so far, but I’m looking forward to trying the EVGA GTX 780 Classified and Galaxy GTX 780 HOF when they’re available. What is your single greatest or most memorable overclocking achievement? That’s when me and my buddy Ekky won the first MOA back in 2008. At the time, Ekky and I were still beginners in the competitive overclocking world. We never used LN2 before (we mainly used dry ice) and just tried to ‘guess’ the temperature sweet spot for the CPU and NB. An epic thing happened as we both forgot 8 The OverClocker Issue 26 | 2013
our NB pot mounting. As such, Ekky had to hold the NB Pot using a paintbrush for the whole competition. Fortunately, the LN2 on the NB meant it could run a high FSB and we got ourselves a nice CPU compared to the rest of the guys (a 6.2Ghz E8600 pi 1M, and 6 Ghz 3DMark2001SE if I remember correctly) which lead to the win. Luck was a big factor that day but it felt good to finally win something. Are you currently participating in the HWBOT Pro OC Cup and if so, how is it going for you and your team? Yeah, I’m participating in the Pro Cup for my website, JagatReview. com. In the first cup, it was very hard to find vendors who want to sponsor us and in the end I decided to enter without sponsors at all. The main challenge of doing the Pro Cup for me is finding the time to bench and often found myself benching at the last minutes of the competition. Nevertheless, I’ll do my best for the next round!
MSI’s MOA is taking place in October and you’ve qualified once again, do you have any predictions for the event? I’m lucky to be in the MOA Finals this year, and I honestly didn’t expect it. It is also nice to see some new faces at this year’s MOA. I suspect Xtreme Addict and OC_windforce benched a lot with Haswell and 780s, and that will probably give them the advantage in the competition. I believe either one of them has a good chance of winning MOA. After all this time and having previously won the competition, do you think this competition is still valuable to the community and in growing overclocking? Certainly, it is nice to have online overclocking competitions, but sometimes it’s more interesting to have a live OC since many unexpected things can happen. It’s a good for community members to meet and socialize in real-life. Year after year, MSI has constantly provided overclockers with live
overclocking challenges and MOA itself has almost become a ‘tradition’ to look forward to. Whether it’s for new competitive overclockers, or for the experienced ones. I hope in the future, these kinds of live events will continue. How is the overclocking scene in Indonesia? Is it growing or pretty much the same as it has always been? Sad to say, the competitive OC scene in Indonesia has been stagnant for a while. The numbers of new overclockers entering the scene is small and there’s a big gap between the new overclockers and the experienced ones in terms of skill making the new ones more and more reluctant to enter because they think that they have no chance of catching up. 10 The OverClocker Issue 26 | 2013
To overcome this, since last year my website has been partnering up with some vendors (Intel, for example) to hold an overclocking competition ONLY for beginners, we called it AOCT (Amateur Overclocking Tournament) and now it is held annually at the national level. It is also held once every three months at a regional level. Surprisingly, at the last year’s competition we found ourselves with nearly 40 new Indonesian overclockers entering the competitive scene and the numbers are slowly growing. I hope that we can bring back Indonesian OC scene enthusiasm, just like it was 5 or 6 years ago. Outside of overclocking, what else are you as passionate about and spend an equal amount of
time if not more doing? When I’m not overclocking and have free time, I play musical instruments to relax my mind (I play drums and guitar btw), or collect cute anime figurines. (most of my friends found the last one quite disturbing hahah :D) Any other insights you would like to share with the community regarding overclocking, hardware or anything related? I whole-heartedly hope that the competitive overclocking scene in the world can grow a lot more, and attract more audience and PC Enthusiasts alike to follow and or join. Lastly, keep the scene clean, and let’s compete fair and square so we can enjoy it for the years to come. [ The Overclocker ]
MSI MOA 2013 I
t’s come again like clockwork. MSI’s MOA 2013 Finals were held in Taipei Taiwan for the sixth year in succession. As the only remaining international vendor sponsored event on the scene, it is something of a tradition now where all the competitive overclockers expect it and as we’ve heard from MSI, they expect to host it. With six championships under the belt, MSI did something a little different this year. From the qualifying rounds which were rather controversial (All overclocking competitions are it seems) to the actual event. Everything took place a little differently this year. For one, no longer was the event open to the public as it was a closed event where it was by invite only for media and other vendors. There were literarily no spectators at all. This had varying side effects, some good and some not so great. On the more positive side, it allowed the entrants to focus solely on the job at hand, overclocking without an
12 The OverClocker Issue 26 | 2013
announcer or some PR exercise harassing the competitors with announcements that had nothing to do with them or the competition. The environment was a lot calmer and far more relaxing which if anything allowed everyone involved to perform better, and definitely allowed them to diagnose problems easier. This was very important given that, this year it was single entries and not teams. So every competitors focus needed to be on the job at hand and the additional disturbance that comes from the awfully loud music and announcements was only ever going to make things worse. We have to say that in this regard, MSI did a great job and managed to keep the focus solely on the overclockers which is something that had been requested several times before. As far as live overclocking competitions go, MOA 2013 was one of the better ones, certainly a vast improvement over 2012. Where it didn’t necessarily work was how the event was
presented. Since there was not bling factor for the public, it tended to get boring for long stretches of time. Since the venue was small and it was not open to the public, almost everybody knew each other and there were missed opportunities for forging new relationships amongst enthusiasts and potential would be overclockers. Absent from the event as well were familiar faces from competing vendors who we had gotten used to seeing at these events. It was not their presence as representatives of the competition that was missed, but the actual individuals who are friends to many of the competitors. Thus, in the community spirit of it all, that part was sorely missed. We hope perhaps next year MOA can go back to a somewhat regulated public event. It may also help promote overclocking to those who may have in interest but have no way of gaining entry to the competition to see what it is about. Whatever solution MSI comes
to, weâ€™re confident that the best of both extremes can be accommodated. On to the hardware then, we found exactly what we expected. The GTX 780 Lightning paired up with the MSI MPower MAX, our personal favourite from MSIâ€™s entire line-up of Z87 boards. This is where the GTX 780 lightning and the MPower Max would prove to be robust pieces of hardware in a semi-public space. Fortunately for MSI and the competitors present, the hardware did just that. Over the two-day event some impressive scores were recorded and three world records were broken. We believe that, MSI is mainly concerned with the records more than they are the actual competition as there are real cash prize incentives for breaking these records. It is very possible that one individual may not make it into the top three on the actual competition day, but on the following day, break three records (specified prior to the competition) and end Issue 26 | 2013 The OverClocker 13
up wining as much money if not more than what was available as first prize. That didn’t happen this time, but MSI did manage to claim three world records in the freestyle event on the Saturday. If you hadn’t read it on the web already or heard about it, RBuass, did what he does best with 3D benchmarks and that is break records. With the GTX 780 Lightning in hand, he managed to record a mighty score of 4697.85 points in HWBOT’s Unigine Heaven – Xtreme Preset. Two other records were broken by VIVI and oc_windforce, one record in Cinebench 11.5 and another in INTEL’s XTU benchmark. On the actual day of the competition, it appeared as if Lucky_noob would emerge triumphant as he spent most of the day at the top, defending his position against would be victor Tolsty, and others. For the most part, there was no 14 The OverClocker Issue 26 | 2013
sense of urgency as the scores sometimes came fast and impressive, while at other times, long stretches would pass with no significant scores. As usual with these competitions, some hardware dies and other entrants have to stop for the day earlier than they would have liked. One such example was with Giorgio_Primo who had some misfortunate in the beginning, unable to submit a Super Pi 32M score, then going on to suffer two broken motherboards, spelling the end of his competition. Lucky_n00b, as stated earlier was in the driver’s seat for most of the competition, but was let down by a GTX 780 packing ELPIDA GDDR5 memory that was bottlenecking the system severely. By the time he switched out to the 780 with the Samsung memory, time was of the essence and only a limited number of runs could be managed. In fact,
in one of the most exciting final showdowns ever, the last 30 minutes of MOA 2013 proved to be nail biting stuff. It was literarily less than 0.5% that separated the top three results and at any point anyone could have taken the lead. In cinematic style, XtremeAddict had shot to the top with some incredible results and had displaced previous leader Lucky_n00b for 2nd place. Tolsty, had been quietly tuning his 3D result and when he started submitting them, the numbers were huge. With each submission, the numbers grew and he quickly ran away with it from everybody else. There simply was no way of catching him as he had the system dialled in and was making improvements at every turn. Ultimately, in a final run and push for the top Lucky_n00b managed to submit a competent run with his 2nd GTX 780 which also landed him just above XtremeAddict, where he would
go on to claim the 2nd overall prize for the day. Without a doubt MOA 2013 was a tough competition, featuring some of the world’s best overclockers ever including but not limited to SniperOZ, Gyrock, JJJC, Smoke and a whole heap of other top class overclockers. That every one of the competitors managed to make it there is a testament to this, especially since there were no partners involved this time around. As usual, the bestprepared, luckiest overclockers of the day triumphed. As stated earlier, this was one of the better run overclocking competitions thus far. We hope to be back next year, with a bigger, better and improved competition. Until then, we thank everyone involved in MOA 2013 for making our journey there possible. [ Neo Sibeko ]
“Without a doubt MOA 2013 was a tough competition, featuring some of the world’s best overclockers ever including but not limited to SniperOZ, Gyrock, JJJC, Smoke and a whole heap of other top class overclockers.“
Issue 26 | 2013 The OverClocker 15
Pop culture & lifestyle LIFESTYLE
STYLE GUIDE: INSIDE
THE WITCHER 3:
THE WILD HUNT
BALKAN BURGER: BEST BURGER EVER? IN THE CITY: JOZI ROCKS OUT
MOVIES THOR: THE
GTA V THE BUREAU: XCOM DECLASSIFIED RAYMAN LEGENDS
TECH ACER ICONIA A1
DARK WORLD KICK-ASS 2
SONY XPERIA Z1
All Hallows’ Eve. When the creatures of the night come out to play.
WIN! AMAZING PRIZES, SEE INSIDE FOR DETAILS!
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INTEL 4000 Series CPUs An OC Perspective
t’s been around half a year since INTEL released the 4th generation Core i7 CPUs for the Z87 chipset. More recently, INTEL gave us Ivy-Bridge-E, the successor to Sandy-Bridge-E which had been with us for what seemed to be eons. So why have we decided to delay our reviews on both these two platforms until now? Well, it’s simply because we wanted to find out just how they would be shaping the hardware landscape but more specifically what these two platforms meant for overclockers. It isn’t that we were not using either of them for our testing, and overclocking. It is rather we wanted to see how the OC community was reacting to them. Would Ivy-Bridge with its better CPU overclocking headroom continue to reign supreme? Fortunately it looks like everybody has moved on to Z87 and thus, Haswell CPUs have taken over. A good Ivy-Bridge CPU will still fetch a high price, but the binning game is thoroughly focused on Haswell CPUs, more specifically the 4770K. With Ivy-Bridge-E, the situation is straight forward, you simply must move on to Ivy-Bridge E unless you have a particularly good SNB-E CPU in which case you may want to keep it. By good, we would be referring to anything around 5.8GHz or higher, because, if it’s any less. An average 5.6GHz 4930K or 4960X will match your current
18 The OverClocker Issue 26 | 2013
CPU, but will have a much better IMC so it’ll end up being faster anyway. Worth mentioning is that Z87 motherboards are largely if not entirely better than their Z77 counterparts. That doesn’t imply overclocking is simpler per say, but it does mean the motherboard has less of an effect than before. In essence, the CPU overclocking is likely to be the same regardless of the motherboard you decide to use provided to stick to the top three boards. (ASUS Maximus VI Extreme and its derivatives, GIGABTE Z87X-OC and the ASROCK Z87-OC Formula) You may very well achieve similar clocks with other motherboards, but that statement is it’s meant to highlight that the difference between a $200 motherboard and one that is almost $400 in some instances will not be articulated in CPU-Z frequency validation records. Memory may be another issue entirely, but for the most part, we are finding that they are mostly the same. X79 on the other hand has proved to be another beast entirely. The initial batch of X79 boards in 2011, were anything but impressive. Most of them if not all of them left a lot to be desired and were plagued with issues. There was only a single vendor that maintained a workable set of boards throughout their entire line up and thus most
overclockers turned to that line of motherboards. Simply put, it was ASUS motherboards that ran away from the competition, while other vendors were incapable or rather seemingly not willing to put resources into producing competitive products. This time around, the situation is different. With two years invested, there are more options available and you’ll find that there are impressive overclocking results coming in from different motherboard makes. Not only does this result an interesting landscape, but it opens up many more options for purchasing decisions. The spin off effects of the Ivy-
Issue 26 | 2012 2013 The OverClocker 19
For those interested in how the 4770K is in comparison to the 3770K, we have included some benchmarks for you at 4.6GHz. There really isn’t much of a difference when configured similarly, from an overclocking perspective; the real difference is under LN2, and how far each one can be pushed. Still, for those who of you who are interested and in perhaps the improved GPU these are the numbers we recorded.
Core i7 3770K @ 4.6GHz
Core i7 4770K @ 4.6GHz
3DMark Coud Gate
Unigine Valley -Basic
Unigine Heaven Xtreme
INTEL HD Graphics 4000
383 | 9.2fps
INTEL HD Graphics 4600
735 | 17.6fps
Bridge E CPUs has extended further than just the CPUs and motherboards themselves. It has also influenced the memory market or at least where overclockers are concerned. We now have valid reasons for seeking out high speed low latency quad channel kits. Previously it was pointless to look for memory past the 2,400MHz mark. Even then, not every CPU was capable of this frequency. However, we have found that such frequencies are all but possible on even the worst retail CPUs. With more of them hitting the 2,800MHz mark and higher, more often than not. The 3,900MHz that was achieved with the Rampage IV Extreme Black Edition may not be possible for many CPUs and motherboard combinations, but it does highlight the vast improvements INTEL has made with the CPUs. Looking at the two platforms side by side, we’ve noticed some frequency parity. Perhaps it is that
they are made on the same 22nm tri-gate process or something fundamentally similar, but it’s no co-incidence that in the same week. ViVi managed to secure a 6.3GHz 4770K that’s Cinbench capable, for a quad core OC record. Wizerty submitted a near identical 6.3GHz 4930K score also within the same benchmark to claim the six-core OC record. Therefore, the samples are not only getting better, but the efficiency of the new CPUs is coming into its own and replacing the old CPUs in almost every benchmark. For those that are still content with pushing Super Pi 1M, nothing that can beat the 3770K CPUs, but we have to say that there hasn’t been any movement there for over a year. Perhaps it really is time to rest that benchmark along with others that exhibit similar behaviour or are going that direction. The rest of the overclocking achievements prove further that
“From where we stood, we were impressed from a technological point of view, but were underwhelmed with the offerings regarding frequency.” 20 The OverClocker Issue 26 | 2013
these are the two platforms of choice, with everything from 3DMark 2001se to 3DMark Fire Strike Extreme records currently held by one of these two. There’s something to be said about both these CPU families several months after they were released. In the beginning it wasn’t very clear how things would turn out and we did hear many nicknames given to Haswell in particular, however months later it turns out these are still better CPUs than the ones they are replacing despite the much lower average clock speeds. From where we stood, we were impressed from a technological point of view, but were underwhelmed with the offerings regarding frequency. We had grown accustomed to the high clocks but found the new CPUs wanting not only in IPC advances but in scaling. The constant memory OC spamming that was happening with single sided MFR memory kits wasn’t helping. Around Computex time and soon after that we had well and truly been more than over exposed to memory overclocking records. Fortunately, as the CPU silicon kept improving, so did we start to see Haswell CPUs in other benchmarks and achievements. The same thing applies to Ivy-Bridge E CPUs as well although to a lesser extent. At no point did we expect massive gains in CPU performance as we had already seen what the transition from Sandy-Bridge to Ivy-Bridge had bought us. However, nobody could have prepared us for the other improvements made and new SKU which suddenly made this a very attractive platform
again. For the first time it looked like we had a SKU which wasn’t tied to multi-GPU overclocking only but could lend itself to some 2D overclocking. Sadly the 4820K missed the mark a little, but it’s still a worthwhile CPU if you can find a golden sample (That applies to any CPU actually) For the overclockers who are not as extreme and are confined to air and water-cooling solutions, these CPUs are perhaps not what you had hoped for. Sadly the average overclocks on both fronts are lower as the CPUs are warmer than before. INTEL stipulates the same or lower TDPs compared to last generations offerings but unfortunately, as many have found. The truth is that the CPUs are largely warmer and the average overclock is lower as a result. The reasons for both are not the same, but suffice to say you may consider holding on to your previous generation CPU if you really do need that 5GHZ overclock for your low clock challenges or 24/7 gaming systems. With either 4770K or the 4930K/4960X you’re not going to achieve those readily unless you get an extremely rare sample. In the case of the 4770K, perhaps go as far as to replace the thermal material between the core and IHS to improve temperatures and thus overclocking headroom. This is an unfortunate part of these two CPUs families especially for the X79 chipset, where we have a very cheap 4820K SKU which could have been a favourite for those on a budget, but who need quad channel and the PCIe lanes. It is especially disappointing for that Issue 26 | 2013 The OverClocker 21
C CPU in this context because it could have been the CPU to facilitate the h ttransition from 1150 to 2011 for many beginner level overclockers m as it’s slightly cheaper than a a 4770K. That CPU would have been 4 tthe perfect one to have overclock rreally well, where the clock speeds ccould mitigate the IPC deficit when ssquared off against the 4770K. An extra 100MHz on average above e tthat CPU would make it an obvious cchoice for any budget conscious or amateur overclocker. a Overall, we have made a turn rregarding the latest generation of CPUs from INTEL. We were, o as many in the overclocking a ccommunity, unmoved by what had been brought forward. At the h ttime, there wasn’t a real incentive to switch over other than the fact that, as overclockers we are always competing on the latest platform. With the time that has passed, a lot has transpired and we find ourselves looking at everything a little more objectively. The samples and all supporting components improved well enough to warrant a change in perspective and we are now rather fond of both platforms 22 The OverClocker Issue 26 | 2013
for different reasons. It is with this temperament that we decided to re-evaluate our stance and find in favour of both Haswell and Ivy Bridge-E CPUs, in particular the latter. If pushing the boundaries of what’s possible on desktop computing performance is what you’re after, then then you’ve little to no choice but to either buy a 4th generation Core CPU or a 3rd Generation Extreme Edition CPU. Whichever one you buy, there’s likely to be some good fun to be had there. [ The Overclocker ]
EVGA X79 DARK RRP: $399.99 | Website: www.evga.com
Test Machine • INTEL Core i7 4960X • CORSAIR Dominator Platinum 4x4GB DDR 2666MHZ C10 • EVGA GTX 780 Classified • Corsair LS 240GB SSD • Cooler Master Silent Pro M2 1500W • Windows 7 64-bit SP1 • BIOS v2.05
e hadn’t expected to be looking at X79 motherboards again, especially given how much we exhausted the subject back in 2011 all the way through 2012. Since the chipset’s inception, it’s been a single horse race and despite our adoration of the leading board at the time. There was simply nothing else to be said about X79. Fortunately, INTEL has given a second chance to board vendors by the way of Ivy-Bridge-E. The CPUs have arrived and have brought with them some interesting
24 The OverClocker Issue 26 | 2013
changes which have mandated at the very least, BIOS updates from all vendors. For EVGA in particular, it has made it possible to finally live up to the expectations set forth by the EVGA X79 Classified. That board never did deliver anything worth writing about in its entire lifetime. At best it was average, getting lost in the many offerings on the market. Keep in mind that as a whole, virtually all X79 motherboards were somewhat uninspiring apart from one or two and their variations. It is with this knowledge and previous experience that we tackled the EVGA X79 Dark with low expectations and if anything else, some unease. After all, EVGA’s recent history with motherboards hasn’t been great. Unlike their graphics cards which have continued to get better with every generation of NVIDIA GPU released. With that said our initial impressions of the board left us with positive impressions.
Where presentation is concerned, the Dark isn’t going to win any aesthetic awards. It’s the typical EVGA colour scheme, with virtually everything black and a heat sink with the embossed “E” in red. So do expect this board to wow you visually. That doesn’t mean however that there aren’t any neat features. To the contrary, you get a lot of what any enthusiast and especially competitive overclocker would need. This includes, a BIOS selection switch with three settings, your regular post code, power and reset button. You may also turn of PCI-E slots through a set of dip switches. What is peculiar though is the absence of Bclk or at least CPU multiplier buttons. There are no obvious voltage measuring points and no way to update the BIOS from within. It remains a matter of updating via DOS or Windows for now. These are perhaps a few features that could be added to the next generation of boards. Speaking of the BIOS, EVGA has one of the most intuitive UEFI interfaces on the market. In fact it’s a breeze to work with. It isn’t fancy by any
All results were obtained at 4625MHz 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. Note that we used a 125MHz BClk* because the BIOS at the time of writing did not have a 2666MHz divider.
EVGA X79 Dark
Super Pi 8M
Aida 64 Copy
Aida 64 Latency
14330 Physics: 16092
stretch of the imagination, but it is comprehensive, fast and logically laid out. Upon our first introduction, it worked well and with the last BIOS update we received it became even better. There’s simply no reason for EVGA to go back to the previous interface as this one is better in all respects. In addition, absent from this interface is our pet peeve, “the staccato motion pointer”a problem that plagues a particular vendor on all their boards. You’ll find none of that on the Dark. It’s all smooth sailing from the minute you press F2 (or F1 in some instances). All of the above however, isn’t as important as the overclocking capabilities and performance. That which makes this motherboard worth the $400 is just how fast it is. It is just as quick in the benchmarks as the RIVE and that says a lot considering that was the fastest board ever for this platform (Until the Black Edition at least). The EVGA X79 Dark joins the ranks and sits itself comfortably next to that offering. Given that it’s a new board from the ground up which doesn’t have two
years of BIOS updates and refinement to pull from. The X79 DARK is remarkable. The numbers you will extract from it are obviously dependant on your hardware, but be assured that whatever inefficiency that you may find in the performance, it is down to your tweaking capabilities and not the motherboard. It’s about as efficient a motherboard as you’re going to find. For instance, one would not think about memory overclocking on an EVGA product, but in this particular case we had no problem running memory with tight timings and high speeds. Even our very difficult sets of memory proved to go the distance when dialled in. A simple matter of selecting the right Bclk ratio and setting the VIO and VSA, allowed us speeds past 2800MHz. At the time of writing there were a few missing multipliers but the ones that were there worked perfectly. By the time you read this, there may be several more updates. There aren’t any boards on the market that can claim to be faster than this one. Clock for clock it will go the distance, be it you’re
on air cooling, water or LN2. What it may lack in features and utilities it makes up for in efficiency and ease of use. The X79 Dark is a good motherboard, a renaissance or sorts for EVGA. [ TheOverclocker ]
Summary EVGA has produced a board that can rightfully claim to be the equal of the legendary Rampage IVE Extreme. It’s taken a very long time, but it arrived just in time for the new Ivy-Bridge-E CPUs. If there was ever a reason to buy any EVGA motherboard in the last few years, the X79 Dark would be it. It may not be as refined, but it’s certainly a valid alternative.
Would you buy it? Yes, for sure
Issue 26 | 2013 The OverClocker 25
CORSAIR VENGEANCE PRO 2666 C11 16GB Kit
OC HERO AWARD
RRP: TBA | Website: www.corsair.com
Test Machine • Intel Core i7 4770K • ASUS Maximus VI Extreme (0035) • CORSAIR FORCE LS 240GB • CoolerMaster Silent Pro M2 1500W • Windows 7 64-bit SP1
hen we initially received this kit, we had it in our collective minds that this must be another Hynix MFR based set as this is seemingly all you can get of late. These chips are sensible for vendors, but ultimately a sad situation for us the end users. Fortunately though, the use of such chips still isn’t as pervasive as one may think. This is especially true of the lower end or rather the nonstratospherically priced kits. Here in the middle is where you’ll find the most interesting memory and this set here is no different. In fact this just may be one of the better sets we’ve 26 The OverClocker Issue 26 | 2013
tested in a long time. Before we get into performance or rather overclocking, it’s important for us to mention that from where we stand. There simply isn’t anything to be gained by yet more frequency records. We understand where the motivation is for these kits and overclocking endeavours, but ultimately if it’s not useable in the any of the benchmarks then the entire exercise becomes pointless. Frequency validation isn’t something that can be appreciated by everyone, even though we all know what it means. Performance and efficiency however is a different story. It is in this aspect where the CORSAIR Vengeance Pro kit so happens to be very strong. Of course this is assuming you’re on the Z87 chipset. You may be able to do the same with Z77, but you are relying on luck there, significantly more so than you are on Z87. Fortunately we were able to test this kit on three motherboards (two of which
are reviewed in this issue) and we found that the performance and overclocking headroom amongst them is pretty consistent. This spoke well for the RAM and solidified our experience and opinion on it. This is important because the variations in motherboards may give mixed results, particularly when it comes to such high frequencies. To that end, we started our performance analysis from a modest 2400MHz in an attempt to see just how tight we could pull in the primary timings. Unfortunately 9-1110-28 was the best we could do. Good performance at those timings but as you can see, it’s nothing compared to what the Dominator 2,666 C10 kit could achieve at the same speed, which was 8-10-10-21. So immediately we gave up on that endeavour. The performance, while appreciated, was actually worse than operating the RAM at its specified frequencies. It is thus we quickly moved on to 2,600MHz and further,
All results were obtained at 4600MHz s on a normal install of Windows 7 64-bit or Windows XP SP3. These are our results, yours may vary so only use these as a guideline for a similarly configured system.
AIDA 64 Read
AIDA 64 Write
AIDA 64 Copy
AIDA 64 Latency
CORSAIR DOMINATOR PLATINUM 2666C10
CORSAIR VENGEANCE PRO 2666 C11 2x8GB
loosening the timings a little while trying to stay ahead of the specification. We did this all the way through to 2,66MHz where we settled at 10-12-12-31. Great timings for sure and easily achievable at the reference 1.65V which was puzzling given what CORSAIR specifies. These are the same timings that were on the CORSAIR DOMINATOR kit which we so feverishly admire. Being able to match those with no voltage adjustments boded well for this set. We continued on this path until we reached 3,000MHz which is about as useful a speed as we could muster. That does not mean in any way that we were not able to surpass that frequency. To the contrary, we were able to reach as high as 3,200MHz in Dual Channel mode at 12-15-15-35 at 1.7V. This was only for a validation though, we would have needed to loosen the timings (primary, secondary and tertiary) a lot more which would then put you in the same situation as many MFR kits and validation exercises. Thus we stopped at 3,000 at fairly sensible 12-14-14-35 settings, at a higher 1.68V however. At that frequency, we
certainly saw some impressive numbers, especially with Super Pi efficiency going up as well. Coming down to 2,933 then 2,800 and then all the way to 2,666 again at the previously mentioned settings gave a good idea of where the sweet spot for this memory was. Not surprising, we settled then at the given 2,666MHz but with some secondary timings tweaked and pulled in for maximum performance. You can see that read performance shot through the ceiling at an incredible 40,036MB/s with theses settings. What made this configuration the best was not only the numbers in synthetic tests, but Super Pi improved as well. As such results were much better than what we could have ever expected. Matching the motherboard, IMC and memory sweet spot is always going to be pivotal and that’s exactly what we believe we managed to do. In closing, if it isn’t obvious by now, this is mighty fine set of memory. Depending on the price, which we didn’t have at the time of writing, this could be a real winner. Do not expect it to be cheap as all RAM has started getting pricey. However, you
will unlikely pay those $1,000 USD prices or more for memory that won’t deliver any of the performance, but exists solely to play with CPU-Z. The CORSAIR Vengeance Pro kit is viewed very favourably here and we are converts. Price allowing, do give this set some serious consideration, you’ll certainly be impressed with what it can offer. [ TheOverclocker ]
Summary This kit not only offers performance, but some serious overclocking headroom as well. It won’t do much in the way of tight timings, but it will go the distance with frequency. It has the performance where it counts. Great job by CORSAIR, easily one of the most impressive sets we’ve ever tested.
Would you buy it? Yes of course, stunning little kit this.
Issue 26 | 2013 The OverClocker 27
MSI N780 Lightning RRP: $549.99 | Website: www.msi.com
Test Machine • INTEL Core i7 4960X • EVGA X79 Dark (v2.05) • CORSAIR Dominator Platinum 4x4GB DDR 2666MHZ C10 • CORSAIR LS 240GB SSD • Cooler Master Silent Pro M2 1500W • Windows 7 64-bit SP1 (FW 331.40)
hat does the most expensive air cooled GTX 780 on the market offer? Well that’s a question for MSI, for which they hope the lightning is the answer. For a cool $550, MSI has built the best graphics card they have to date. This is talking electrically of course, as the performance advantage over their other products is a given. From the ground up, the Lightning has been designed for enthusiasts and more specifically overclockers in mind. We can’t fault MSI when it comes to their proficiency in designing graphics cards 28 The OverClocker Issue 26 | 2013
that have often been the best money could buy. In that regard the 780 is no different from what we saw with the 680 apart from the new cooler and even better power regulation circuitry. A 19-phase VRM is always going to be impressive and we won’t pretend that the 780 doesn’t need as much power as it can get for those 1800MHz+ clocks. How MSI have gone about ensuring that this card meets the demands of competitive overclockers is by offering V-check points which are standard affair once again for MSI. In addition, there’s the usual dual BIOS system, with a normal and LN2 BIOS. For the competitive overclocker out there, be advised that despite the setting reading LN2. You’ll need another BIOS that is available on the net to truly unleash the 780 Lightning. The shipping LN2 BIOS was no different on our sample from the normal BIOS. The infamous GPU Reactor is present once again and with that the claims of it improving
overclocking by filtering the GPU voltage. In our testing it has never made a difference and the situation is the same with the 780 lighting. Still, if you have the choice of using it or not, you may as well keep it installed. Before we get to what’s good about the 780 Lightning, we have to address the memory issue. Some cards are said to come with Samsung GDDR5 while others are outfitted with the ELPIDA variant. This is something you can’t readily know until you’ve committed to a purchase. This won’t make much of a difference for normal users but for those who are remotely interested in overclocking, which is what this card is for. This could prove to be a little troublesome. As many of you already know, the Samsung GDDR5 can reach speeds as high as 1950MHz on air sometimes. With the ELPIDA memory, it’s more of a hit or miss affair. Some cards will overclock memory much higher while others will fail miserably. In our case we were only able to reach
All results were obtained at 4625MHz 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)
MSI N780 Lightning OC
MSI N780 Lightning
MSI NGTX680 Lightning
400MHz (200MHz SDR) over the default memory clock for 1700MHz. We could finish all the benchmarks at this frequency. For regular use you may need to lower the clock to 1650MHz to ensure there aren’t any crashes in during long gaming sessions. Now if you compare this with the regular 1800MHz+ clocks you get from cards with SAMSUNG memory, you’ll be at a distinct disadvantage against such competition. Having said that, since the memory clock drops on the 780 when the GPU clock is increased significantly (on the Samsung cards) and memory OC improves a little on the ELPIDA cards, the deficit diminishes a bit. Still, for those planning on overclocking on air, you may be a little disappointed with the memory overclocking headroom. Despite the memory, the GPU core fared much better and it was in line with what we have observed from other competing cards. The best we could master here was 1306MHz. However, as usual we were only able to do with a private version of Afterburner.
So we would assume that with the regular version your results may be potentially lower, as the maximum GPU VID you can use there is much lower. For reference sake, we needed 1.252V for that frequency. At the overclocked frequencies you can obviously appreciate the performance and it is to be expected that it ends up faster than a reference GTX TITAN for the most part. That however you expected and thus the true measure of this card is how much better using an overclock it offers over and above the competition. This is where it gets a little dicey. Under LN2 you’ll go far with this graphics card and in that context it’s one of the more obvious purchases. For the regular user or those of air cooling, you’d probably want to stick to the MSI N780 TF OC card as you’re likely to hit exactly the same clocks as with this one, but you’ll pay $30 less. Overall, the 780 Lightning is a well-built card catering almost exclusively to competitive overclockers. These are the people who will find its design
and features not only attractive but a necessity to compete at the highest levels. For everyone else, do consider the N780 TF gaming card from MSI as you’re going to get the same overclocking headroom as you would with this card. [ TheOverclocker ]
Summary MSI has once again produced an admirable product in the 780 lightning. There isn’t much we can fault it on technically. The price may be very high but for what you get it’s fair for the most part. The only thing that we would like to see is all cards coming with Samsung memory instead of Elpida chips.
Would you buy it? Yes
Issue 26 | 2013 The OverClocker 29
OC HERO AWARD
ASRock Z87 OC Formula RRP: $264.99 | Website: www.asrock.com
Test Machine • INTEL Core i7 4770K • CORSAIR Dominmator Platinum DDR 3 2666MHz C10 • CORSAIR LS 240GB SSD • Cooler Master Silent Pro M2 1500W • Windows 7 64-bit SP1 • (Bios v1.80)
t seems only a few months ago that the ASRock Z77 OC Formula board set the OC world alight by providing a board that for all intents and purposes could claim to be a real threat to the Maximus V Extreme and perhaps an equal in some ways. This time, we were presented with the successor in the form of the somewhat uninspired but expected Z87 OC Formula. ASRock could have merely made the same motherboard over again with a different chipset and the applicable BIOS options. Instead, a further step was taken to make some minor and not so minor updates to the board.
30 The OverClocker Issue 26 | 2013
There are a host of features that could exhaust this entire review in just listing them. They are not as plenty as those on the M6E, but they are numerous enough to leave many amateurs struggling to get a grasp on all of them. Suffice to say the BIOS is not too different from what we had before, just several more options that are better explained and relevant to this family of CPUs. Going through the options there’s a hint of M6E influence, especially with the latest official BIOS. One could look at this as a copy and paste job, or rather acknowledging what works and mimicking and improving it where possible. Both perspectives are valid, but what matters at the end of it all is what it allows you to do with your hardware. In that regard, the OC Formula is a potent and very formidable board. There’s no denying that your chosen CPU and memory are going to be the limiting factor here and not the motherboard (as we’ve said many times with other
boards). By the time you read this, there may possibly be even more “records” achieved with the Formula. It’s not so much that they are not possible on competitor products, but it is the ease in which they can be achieved or rather, the difficulty of the endeavour. Much like the previous products, this Z87 incarnation is very affordable in the context of overclocking boards. Not only is it selling for a very attractive $265, the features it brings fourth with it are unmatched. The only board that is a possible equal, for even less of a financial outlay is the Z87X-OC board (also reviewed in this issue). Barring that offering, there really isn’t anything that can claim to match the OC Formula point for point. As far as overclocking goes. Things went both as expected and were also a little surprising. We couldn’t get some of the memory profiles to work despite using memory with the same chips, but that didn’t stop us from achieving very high clock
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
ASRock Z87 OC Fomula
14063 Physics: 12626
14024 Physics: 12948
speeds both from the Bclk and the memory oc. Single sided MFR overclocking is of zero relevance or interest to us here, so we didn’t bother with it. Suffice to say we’ve already seen plenty of validations north side of 4GHz courtesy of several overclockers so there’s no questioning the abilities of this board and such kits. Ours however is in the real performance that can be garnered from this motherboard, at the more meaningful speeds applicable for 3D benchmarks and such. This is where we believe a board is made or broken. Fortunately for the OC Formula, it did everything as well as any other board. That is to say, be it you buy the OC Formula, the M6E or the OC for that matter. There is going to be little to no performance difference. Once again any disparity between the competitors will come down to the simplicity of achieving said clock speeds and maintaining them throughout your overclocking session. Speaking of which, we must
commend ASRock for being the first vendor who has taken heed of the overclocker’s requests and used conformal coating on the board to protect from condensation or any such mishaps which may happen while using extreme cooling. This coating also serves to protect from general mishaps and stupidity such as knocked over beverages and the like. It doesn’t mean that sealing is no longer a necessity, but it does provide an extra layer of protection which is always appreciated. If anything; for binning purposes where there can be any number of CPUs to test, it could speed up the process significantly. Something that we think all vendors should consider, especially given that it can’t be that expensive. It’s on a $265 dollar board that’s in mass production. In closing, this is an evolution of the previous outing. It’s improved in many ways and despite the initial limitations that seemed to plague this platform. The Z87 OC Formula is capable of extracting the best from just about all the
hardware that’s available today. It’s rather difficult to not like this motherboard as it does do exactly what it claims to at an astonishing price. This one is worth having in your arsenal for sure. Be it your main Z87 overclocking board or a backup, you can’t go wrong with the Z87 OC Formula, it’s very impressive indeed. [ The OverClocker ]
Summary The Z87 OC Formula builds on last year’s board and provides plenty of improvements in almost all departments. This one goes on to be ASRock’s best effort yet, as it really is a magnificent motherboard.
Would you buy it? Yes. Definitely
Issue 26 | 2013 The OverClocker 31
GAMING GEAR AWARD
GIGABYTE GV-N770OC-2GD RRP: $334.99 | Website: www.gigabyte.com
Test Machine • INTEL Core i7 4770K • GIGABYTE Z87X-OC (X04) • CORSAIR Vengeance 2x8GB DDR 2666MHZ C11 • Patriot WildFire 120GB SSD • Cooler Master Silent Pro M2 1500W • Windows 7 64-bit SP1 (FW 331.40)
ardly any competitive overclocker is looking to push GTX 770s on HWBOT or any ranking database for that matter. The GK104’s run as a possible competitive card for top scores is gone. This is pretty much the same thing has happened to the competing GPU from AMD. In their hey days, AMD had the edge for several reasons courtesy of the Tessellation issue, which is more than likely to be repeated again ow that R9 290X is here. However, much like the G92 GPU of years gone, there’s still plenty of life left in this piece of silicon and NVIDIA knew 32 The OverClocker Issue 26 | 2013
exactly how to update it to make it relevant in today’s market. Relevant enough to have it commanding prices in excess of $600 in some instances for the SKUs with water blocks pre-installed. That doesn’t in anyway suggest that, this is a reasonable amount of money to pay for a GTX 770 when a 780 can be had for less. However, it does speak in some ways about the prevalence and somewhat performance of this GPU. As with the other GTX 770 cards we’ve reviewed before, we were continuously impressed with just how well these solutions hold up against the 7970GE and in fact they manage to come out ahead in virtually all the tests. Granted, when it comes to competitive overclocking, the HD7970 will go much further than any GTX 770 for the most part, but having said that. As it stands, the GTX770 is more of a gamer’s card than it is for competitive overclocking. It is within this context and perspective that we examined
the GIGABYTE offering. With a base clock of 1137MHz, it is amongst the higher clocked GTX 770s out on the market. Pair that, together with a truly well spec’d PCB and highly efficient cooler. You have all the right components to make for a truly wonderful graphics card that is a steal at the given price. There are others that have higher base clocks (and subsequently boost clocks), by more than 50MHz, but none of them sell at this price. Add to which, because of the cooling on this card, we constantly recorded a very high boost clock of 1220MHz. much higher than what GIGABYTE claim this card will do. We didn’t’ modify the BIOS in anyway and tested it exactly as we received it. When we began overclocking it, reaching 1.3GHz was very easy, especially with the Boost function disabled as we didn’t do much in the way of VDDC adjustments. Something worth considering if you’re going to be employing these
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)
GIGABYTE GV-N770OC2GD OC
MSI NGTX680 Lightning
overclocked frequencies for your gaming needs. At the higher speed, the card was even more impressive delivering scores that were right in between those of the MSI GTX680 Lightning and a reference GTX 780. Higher frequencies were possible, but we had a fairly low limit with the board power and in the interest of keeping it all fair in evaluating all 770s. We decided against employing third party software or mods to increase the board power TDP. For those who truly want to gain more from this card, there’s plenty more overclocking here and the tools on the internet to get there are only a GOOGLE search away. The memory didn’t impress us much, but that’s understandable as it is already at 7GHz out the box. 600MHz was the maximum error free frequency we could add for a mighty respectable 7.6GHz. (We would have loved to see the results at 8GHz though). So much like how we felt about the GTX680, the GTX 770 is a brilliant gaming card. It’ll do well in an overclocking context, but it’s achievements at this time will be overshadowed by the GTX 780 and 290X which are claiming records hard and fast. In preparation for Battlefield 4 and other such titles though,
you can’t go wrong with this GPU especially at this price. If you’re feeling like you want to spend a good bit of money more but are not enticed by the 290X or the 780, perhaps then you can consider an SLI solution which will cost you less than some 780 cards on the market and certainly less than any GTX TITAN around. In SLI the performance is superior to both those solutions as you can imagine. Add overclocking to the mix and you have one potent setup that will go through everything you can throw at it pretty easily. We mention this, because as we said earlier. In the context of gaming, this is where this card shines. In fact we would go so far as to recommend this over any other GPU at least for your gaming needs. Should you need more power, consider adding a second one if you believe that $500 for the 780 is excessive along with the Titan. Both of which would be slower than two of these cards in tandem anyway. GIGABYTE has a 4GB version of this model which is identical save for double the frame buffer size. Looking at the Battlefield 4 recommended system specs, that model may very well be worth a consideration especially if you’re
hopping on the 4K bandwagon. Overall, we are more than impressed with the GV-N770OC2GD. It’s the usual GIGABYTE affair which is a good thing because their graphics cards tend to be better than most. If you’ve decided on a GTX 770 for your next upgrade, we’d advise you start your search here with the GV-N770OC. [ TheOverclocker ]
Summary The era of GTX680s is over but that doesn’t mean the GK104 GPU is done. The GIGABYTE offering proves this by being one of the highest clocked GTX 770 on the market but selling for a lower price than most. It’s got a fantastic cooler and the game performance is stunning. This makes for an obvious purchase for gamers looking for an upgrade.
Would you buy it? Sure thing, you’re getting top notch performance for an exceptional price.
Issue 26 | 2013 The OverClocker 33
ASUS X79-DELUXE RRP: $349.99 | Website: www.asus.com
Test Machine • INTEL Core i7 4960X • CORSAIR Dominator Platinum 4x4GB DDR 2666MHZ C10 • EVGA GTX 780 Classified • Corsair LS 240GB SSD • Cooler Master Silent Pro M2 1500W • Windows 7 64-bit SP1 • BIOS 0403
e’ve said it before and we’ll keep saying it again. Since 2011 up until now, there has not been a better X79 motherboard than the Rampage IV Extreme, despite what some overclockers and vendors may claim. The result submissions on HWBOT speak for themselves. The numbers are in favour of the RIVE and that’s to be expected. From the minute this motherboard was previewed to when it was available at retail outlets; it’s been pretty much peerless in just about every respect. 34 The OverClocker Issue 26 | 2013
This however, isn’t a Rampage IV Extreme review; we’ve been there and showered it with all appropriate accolades. It is astounding though that two years later and perhaps going into the third year, there still isn’t a thoroughly better alternative. The recently announced black edition comes to mind, but perhaps that is a more refined and updated version of the RIVE rather than a true successor. After all, it’s no Rampage V. Far from that motherboard are most people though, who think $430 is a bit much to justify, no matter how good it is. As such, other boards from ASUS become appealing. One such alternative is the recently announced X79-Deluxe which we have here. As with all Deluxe products from ASUS, it’s packed with a host of features, from Wi-fi to Bluetooth. Both of which have been upgraded from the previous high end model, the P9X79 Deluxe. If you will, think of this as the successor to that model. Bluetooth has been
upgraded to v4.0 and the Wi-Fi supports the newer ac standard for up to 867Mbit/s (via a 5GHz Antenna). With that you’ll get an upgraded SSD caching scheme, a better BIOS, USB 3.0 implementation, and of course native support for the newer 4000 Core i7 CPUs. The board has been re-designed as well where power is concerned. No longer do we have the older 16+4+2+2 PWM, instead we now have a simpler* 8+2+2+2 PWM. Sounds like a downgrade but it’s not; in fact it actually is a better system. Things like multi-GPU support remain unchanged but you will get the added benefit of better PCIe 3.0 compatibility if only because the 4000 series CPUs have better adherence to the standard. The rest is as you’d expect with more SATA connectivity options for a total of 12 drives up from the previous 8. Of interest to us though are the overclocking options. The previous UEFI from ASUS was great, but the new one,
All results were obtained at 4625MHz on an un-optimized Windows 7 64-bit. These are our figures, yours may vary so only use these as a guideline for a similarly configured system. Note that we used a 125MHz BClk* to keep the numbers consistent with other X79 motherboards in the issue.
Super Pi 8M
Aida 64 Copy
Aida 64 Latency
EVGA X79 Dark
14442 Physics: 16841
similar to what we have on the Maxmimus VI Extreme and perhaps sparse at times, is as appreciated. It’s logically laid out, has most of the features and options you’ll need for successful overclocking endeavours and of course, it’s blisteringly quick to navigate. Something that is not to be taken for granted when you’re trying to maximize performance under sub-zero conditions. Outside of the BIOS, one feature that we found pretty useful and are glad to have on a more regular board is the DirectKey (which will take you directly to the BIOS without having to spam the “Del” key) and the MemOK! Button (present on the previous board). These two buttons save time when trying out new settings either for a 24/7 gaming machine or for overclocking. Everything with this board was butter smooth as we’d expected except for a single issue with memory as indicated by AIDA 64 and the 3DMark11 CPU Score. For some reason we were getting very low (i.e. less than half the performance) memory performance, even though the DRAM latency was better than expected. We combed through
several DRAM options in the BIOS to try and find the root cause but were unsuccessful. We’ve witnessed this before on another ASUS board and it’s definitely a bug that can be ironed out in the BIOS. If it was an issue present only in AIDA 64 we would ignore it entirely, but it also contributed to an 800 point deficit in 3DMark11’s Physics score. The total score wasn’t affected as much (somewhere in the region of 100 points) but it is something to be aware of. As stated before, this is something that will most certainly get ironed out in successive UEFI updates (which come out rather often). The X79-Deluxe doesn’t move us in the way that ROG products do, but then again at almost $100 cheaper, you’re getting a motherboard that can push your chosen hardware to its limits. The Gold heat sinks are not going to be to everyone’s liking and we find the colour scheme rather peculiar, but not enough to deter us from considering a purchase. The ASUS X79-Deluxe at this price makes for a board worth some deliberation. There does exist the Rampage IV Gene, but it will not offer you 3-way SLI
and the micro-ATX form factor may not be to everyone’s liking. As such we would encourage you to give this board a look before deciding on your next purchase, it may very well be what you need. [ TheOverclocker ]
Summary Given the dominance with which the Rampage IV Extreme owned the X79 Chipset, it’s very hard for any motherboard to live up to it. The X79-Deluxe isn’t going to wow you in features or tweaking capabilities, but it does a lot more than the vast majority of X79 on the market. Don’t be fooled by the price, this is great vale for such an offering.
Would you buy it? If we specifically didn’t want’ the Rampage IV, sure thing.
Issue 26 | 2013 The OverClocker 35
EDITOR’S CHOICE AWARD
EVGA GTX 780 Classified RRP: $579.99 | Website: www.evga.com
Test Machine • INTEL Core i7 4960X • EVGA X79 Dark (V2.05) • CORSAIR Dominator Platinum 4x4GB DDR 2666MHZ C10 • ADATA SX910 128GB SSD • Cooler Master Silent Pro M2 1500W • Windows 7 64-bit SP1 (FW 331.40)
t’d be hard to look at an EVGA high end graphics card without making reference to the numerous world records that are held by the brand. Needless to say that these are cherry picked samples (they will tell you otherwise though) to say the least or rather are not what you’ll find at retail stores. Having said that, the changes that are performed on these cards are mostly* what can be achieved at home as well by any determined overclocker who knows their way with a soldering iron and a few basic mods. If you
36 The OverClocker Issue 26 | 2013
glanced over at the Editor’s choice award then you’d want to know why it receives our highest honours. Well the answer is simple really. No other GTX 780 we have tested to date produces such consistent results between samples. Moreover we have yet to find one that is as complete as this one out the box. (It is not without its shortcomings which we will highlight shortly). The electronics are immaculate as they have always been with the EVGA cards for several years. This isn’t just theory as it is quite possible to take this card to at least 1500MHz without needing anything more than an LN2 container and some LN2 obviously. With a freely available third party tool, you can not only control PEX voltage, but DRAM and VGPU voltage as well. You may click here to find the tool. Armed with this tool and nothing else, but your cooler, you can have a whole heap of fun. More so than you can with many other cards on the market. It is worth noting however, that you’ll need a higher Board limit for such
high clock speeds, but once again this is easily doable with the many BIOS files on the net or if you can, just modify your own BIOS. (This won’t always work however, so rather get one that has already been proven) If you need a little more juice or control. You may use Precision X for setting the clock speeds, then invest in the EVGA EVBOT. This isn’t a new device and many of you are familiar with it. You can essentially mod the card to achieve everything this little device can, but besides completely voiding the warranty (which EVBOT will do anyway), you stand a much higher chance of ruining the card than when using EVBOT. So if you are fortunate enough to own one of these, then you’ll have even more fun with the Classified. As an illustration of this, not only was overclocking the card much easier with the EVBOT. It was a pain free experience. You just set the voltages, the clocks and then you hit run benchmark. That’s all there is to it. No need to worry about
All results were obtained at 4625MHz 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 780 Classified SLI
15610 Graphics: 19283
20958 Hardware: 20949
22687 Graphics: 27798
EVGA GTX 780 Classified OC
11089 Graphics: 12268
13976 Hardware: 13982
15824 Graphics: 16249
EVGA GTX 780 Classified
9591 Graphics: 10451
12203 Hardware: 12188
14167 Graphics: 14160
GeForce GTX TITAN
8960 Graphics: 9952
13483 Hardware: 13060
13729 Graphics: 14474
getting the card into 3D mode, then setting the voltage via software. Overclocking this way on air netted us as much as 1411MHz for a single run of 3DMark Fire-Strike. This was obviously not stable to run through our entire suit, but the fact that we managed this using the default ACX cooler is nothing short of impressive. If you look back at the GTX 770 Classified review, you’ll also find that this was the exact same frequency we reached with that GPU. Coincidence, limitation of the PCB or GPU process or something else, we can’t know. Suffice to say this is the highest OC we have achieved on any GTX 780 graphics card using air cooling. A more sensible clock speed however, one that can be used daily, we found to be 1,228MHz. This is without adjusting the GPU voltage at all but simply setting the slider to the desired frequency and using Precision X to disable the Turbo function. We can’t say that we didn’t expect this, especially given just how much of a song and dance EVGA had made about this graphics card and their subsequent
overclocking achievements. It is still very impressive though and this one is very easy to recommend. Pricing wise, it’s more than fair because it only costs $50 over the reference model, but offers so much more. If you can find it we’d recommend the EVBOT as well which used to be available for $100 USD. This may make the entire purchase $679 USD, which is no joke but consider how much more you’d have to spend and risk doing it yourself or buying any other competing card. The only downside to this graphics card if there were to be any, is that you aren’t’ guaranteed to be getting one with SAMSUNG memory. You could very well end up with memory from a different vendor which will limit your overclocks. Right now it will depend on what is available at your retail outlet. Suffice to say, the odds of you coming across a card with the better memory at this time are much higher than when the card was initially launched. Whichever batch you find, you’re sure not to regret the purchase. The GTX 780 Classified
really does stand out in an already crowded market. It is perhaps the reason why it has claimed so many overclocking records. Cherry picked or not, the 780 has proved itself several times. As such this one is a definite card to start with if you’re considering a purchase. [ TheOverclocker ]
Summary This is once again a rinse and repeat process for EVGA for the most part. It’s similar to the PCB we saw on the GTX 680 Classified and the 770 subsequently. It was fantastic then, it remains so now. We have yet to find a more consistent GTX 780 and at this price EVGA pretty much has the jump on the competition.
Would you buy it? Most definitely, it’s the best one yet.
Issue 26 | 2013 The OverClocker 37
EDITOR’S CHOICE AWARD
GIGABYTE Z87X-OC RRP: $199.99 | Website: www.gigabyte.com
Test Machine • INTEL Core i7 4770K • CORSAIR Dominator Platinum 2x4GB DDR 2666MHZ C10 • ADATA SX910 SSD • Cooler Master Silent Pro M2 1500W • Windows 7 64-bit SP1 • Bios Version X04
t’s very rare that you come across incredible hardware these days at prices virtually anyone remotely interested in overclocking can afford. After all, overclocking can be very costly and one could argue that by the time you’re at a competitive level, it’s even more so. Consider the LN2, the pots, the insulation, the time and the potential of bricking your hardware. It’s a daunting task even for the most experienced overclockers. That aside, what makes it even more problematic is sorting through numerous motherboards to find the one
38 The OverClocker Issue 26 | 2013
that you are most comfortable with, but one that won’t be the limit of your overclocking capabilities or hardware. To that end, more times than not. We find that we tend to go with the tried and tested motherboards as you’d rather buy once, for increased odds of success than be left wondering if perhaps you’ve gone astray in your purchasing decision. Despite the fact that most motherboards in this day from the major vendors are great, we want more than that for our investment. We seek excellence. To that end, we find ourselves faced with perhaps, GIGABYTE’s best effort to date. In fact, we are willing to put money on it as far the best motherboard to ever come from the minds at GIGABYTE. As usual the features list is on the website, so we’ll not run through them here. What we will tell you though is that feature for feature, there aren’t any boards that we are aware of that offer much more than what you have here. Whatever you may need for your LN2 session,
you’ll find. So be it getting the most efficient runs possible or shooting for those validations, you’ll be hard pressed to not achieve any milestone as a result of the Z87X-OC. As with most Z87 boards save for the MAXIMUS VI EXTREME. The OC didn’t hit the ground running, however - right now it’s impeccable and it’s been so for quite a while. We are impressed by the new UEFI but still find ourselves reverting to the older BIOS menu which is familiar and quick to navigate. Tuning in the BIOS is simple and straight forward. Not much info is given in the description box about how any of the settings affect your OC (something that such a motherboard rightfully deserves), but you’ll eventually figure it out. Be it you’re overclocking using an air cooler or LN2, this board is equally adapt. For the novice overclocker, it’s best you read some of the tutorials on the net. Be sure to not miss Sin0822’s excellent overclocking guide on this board, which can be found
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
14063 Physics: 12626
at Overclock.net A worthwhile point to address is the absence of 3 or 4-Way SLI support. Granted this is available on competing boards, but objectively. Z87 isn’t the platform for that kind of overclocking. Add to which, how many competitive overclockers are actually running this kind of configuration, let alone on the Z87 chipset. It’s a great feature to have on paper, but ultimately proves to be of very little use to the vast majority of us. So we did not mark down the OC board for this. It is a purist board, and for those still concerned with 3DMark2001SE, traditional SLI is all you’re ever going to need anyway which is supported here. The only kink in this board’s otherwise pristine armour is something that shouldn’t even be an issue. It’s the anything but smooth mouse cursor within both the UEFI and traditional BIOS menus. It’s unsettling and we can’t figure out why after so many years, this is still an issue for GIGABYTE. Everything else on this board is perfect and if
not - it’s at least as close as it’s ever going to be. Yet, whoever is responsible for this part of the BIOS isn’t coming to the party. It’s not a big deal as most of us will only ever user the keyboard for input, but it is something that needlessly takes away from an otherwise spotless product. As mentioned before, this is hardly an issue, but just a peculiar challenge that is obviously proving difficult to address. Overall this is an incredible board. Mechanically and otherwise we can find no fault in it and quite frankly we don’t expect there to be any shortcoming there. This may have been worth detailing years ago, but it’s safe to assume that virtually all vendors that are worth their salt have pretty much figured out how to make more than sufficient power regulation circuitry. An 8 phase VRM design is more than enough and you’re not going to need better (or more) to achieve any kind of overclocking, regardless of how far you’re
pushing your CPU. At $200 it’s truly remarkable and it’s certainly a must have board. Even as a backup for any other Z87 mainboard you may own, this one more than justifies it’s price in every way imaginable. A truly excellent showing by GIGABYTE and one that rightfully deserves all its praises. GIGABYTE has yet to produce a more compelling board. This one is immaculate. [ TheOverclocker ]
Summary This is one thoroughly featured and refined product. It also happens to be the cheapest full ATX overclocking board ever made. There’s no really no reason not to own one, at the very least as a backup board.
Would you buy it? Most certainly, get yours today.
Issue 26 | 2013 The OverClocker 39
n i t i d i a s I ! r e k c o l c r e v O The
ed. I really d or publish ad will have te n ri p is th ve you re dared to ha u that what !) so that it isn’t yo e is m ro p did. I can ully so –Ed down (rightf vertheless, been toned s lost its meaning. Ne oes not d ha as sharp or this is my opinion and it er. I say to h t s a li th b u u p yo r o ll I te zine of the maga is writing. reflect that ight take offence to th agazine. t the m who m any person oaning at me and not a last issue and this m in r t u n Direct yo what usly abse |N mysterio at space for With K|NGP pportunity to use up th t me in trouble, o ge one, it is my t some things that will to agree with s li n l ot wa t I like. I wil Some may n ave always thought . th u tr e th when but it is y of us h uch like how p down man me, but dee but never said them. M one thing then go ay s, these thing ublicly, overclockers s something. Here p d n e o to interview else. So hold g in th e m o s on to do t goes my lis NEST! ARE DISHO do not match S E R O C S They VIEW 1. MOST RE t then look at the award. th. If you really u x tr te e e Read th s hide th at the s and score w and look rds at all. Award roduct, read the revie wa a t ap are abou care about Only manufacturers c ood scores given .G s. benchmark f this they are useless ot cool! o .N e s s u w a e c vi r re and be re or paid fo a w rd a h e e to fr ETIC! ory. h this mem FR IS PATH 2. HYNIX M claim a world record wit based record. R n Anybody ca cturer has a Hynix MF It’s playing CPU-Z . fa s u g n a in m m ti ry s Eve to be diculou ri t a s n is nowhere w o ti ce a n d a li va rm t o s rf u J pe vie emory. The int) every re only with m ing back to the first po o found, yet (g
40 The OverClocker Issue 26 | 2013
awards high scores to memory based on these chips. I thought as overclockers and enthusiast, we paid top dollar for performance. We ran our components out of specification to gain performance. So what is the point of single sided MFR memory then? It’s expensive and doesn’t perform at all
C COPIED THE E
A AND D
Super Pi 32M to evaluate a graphics card. The only PSU reviews worth trusting are from Johnny Guru and Techpowerup.
That’s right. (Careful –Ed!) You know I’m telling it just like you see it. Fatal1ty from Abit, Formula from ASUS, now Killer from GIGABYTE. Really? Is there not an ounce of shame? The boards are great, maybe even brilliant, but then why copy the names when there are so many out there?
8. GOLD DOES NOT BELONG ON A MOTHERBOARD!
9. THERE ARE TOO MANY WORLD RECORDS!
A ADVERTS ARE APPALLING!
These are awful and outright sexist most of the time. Sure enough h has ha one where a woman gives birth to a motherboard. board Tha That one is beyond redemption ede p and disgusting, but we expect better out off . Just in case the names are omitted, you know exactly what I’m talking about. We’ve all seen their adverts, including the one with Batman playing an FPS with a steering wheel.
5. THE ENTIRE ALL IN ONE LIQUID COOLING MARKET IS THE SAME! Come on, how many of these units are made by Asetek? How different could they be? For the most part they are the same and I’ve suspected many reviews to be falsified to show differences that are not there. Either that or genuinely sloppy testing methods. Whatever the case, these coolers are the same for any one CPU. I would like to see one such cooler that allows a higher OC than another one on any CPU.
HAS H ANNOYING BIOS MOUSE LAG!
Yeah we all know who this is. Good boards, stupid BIOS mouse lag. Come on people if, Jetway can do it. There’s no reason you can’t. No need for fancy graphics, just a mouse cursor that doesn’t move like Velcro on David HasselHoff’s chest!
7. MOST PSU REVIEWS ARE OF NO USE! There’s no need to say much about this. Without the testing equipment needed you are not testing anything. Plugging a multi meter into a 4-pin connector on the PSU while 3DMark runs won’t do. It’s like running
Seriously, when did this become a great idea? It looked sad when first done by and a it looks even more so when n do d it. Stop with the gold already, it’s immature and looks ridiculous.
Really? How can there be so many world records? Not too long ago I saw two press releases on a website for the same record. From two different vendors! One claiming the record was theirs because their graphics card was used. The other claiming the world record because their motherboard was used. How can they both be responsible for the record at the same time? Why are there so many records? Every CPU, memory module, PSU, GPU and whatever else has a record. Let’s wait until keyboards and mice start having records. It’s only a matter of time
10. THE OVERCLOCKING COMMUNITY NEEDS NEW BLOOD! It’s been the same people year after year. With each GPU and CPU family. The same people repeatedly. Overclocking has started to get boring for most people and not attractive. That’s why this happened. The Golden days that we speak off are gone; we must move forward and encourage people to overclock. That means asking gamers and the like to join. At some point most of us were gamers, so why do we distance ourselves so much from them? Lots can be done and I know I have people who agree within this magazine about getting rid of old benchmarks. I would say even more need to go. If I could, I would keep Cinebench, Wprime, 3DMark 11 and 13 and that’s it. Maybe Catzilla, but it seems those guys can’t get organized. (If you didn’t know V1.0 is out already – Ed!). Maybe even XTU if I could see something instead of just waiting, watching a black XTU screen. So there you have it. This is what, I - Iron-Synapse would like to share this issue. Depending on if I am fired or not I’ll be back next issue. (That remains to be seen –Ed!)
Issue 26 | 2013 The OverClocker 41
Don’t Starve RRP: $14.99 (PC) | Website: www.dontstarvegame.com Genre: Action adventure | Developer: Klei Entertainment
on’t Starve is, at its core, a game of discovery. At the outset, you are Wilbur – a gentleman scientist transported to a strange, randomly generated landscape full of danger and opportunity. You’re told nothing, other than the fact that night will soon fall. What this means for your continued existence won’t be clear at first. Your first game of Don’t Starve will likely be incredibly short for this very reason. But it’ll enable you to discover the first keys to surviving your first few days in this harsh world. It won’t be long before you learn that nightfall brings a variety of 42 The OverClocker Issue 26 | 2013
fiends, shadowy figures and other things that go bump in the night, and so you must scramble to gather the resources necessary to build a fire that’ll stave off the clawing darkness. Trees must be chopped down. Saplings must be plucked from the ground. Grass must be shorn and safely stored in your inventory for later, along with all the other goodies you’ll find. Soon enough, you’ll grow hungry, and the game’s titular directive pops into play: don’t starve. Pick berries. Steal carrots from furry rabbits. Use that same carrot to trap the tasty rabbit from which you stole it. Do what you must to survive.
Your resources can be combined to enable more complex creations. Tools like axes, shovels and more can be crafted. Eventually you’ll carve out a sustainable niche in your hostile environment, with a permanent campsite to call home at the end of each day when the dark comes knocking. Eventually you’ll build a Science Machine, granting access to new crafting recipes, new ways to stay alive and keep yourself fed. The world will gradually reveal its secrets to you, keeping your curiosity brimming with a variety of intriguing points of interest dotting the environment. In between all of this, you’ll be
“It won’t be long before you learn that nightfall brings a variety of fiends, shadowy figures and s other things that go bump in the night...”
balancing your sanity levels. Being out in the lonely wilderness at night gradually eats at your psyche. As your sanity dwindles, it’s visually represented by your top-down view on the world warping and bending ominously. Shadowy forms appear all around you, and will eventually even attack you if your sanity drops low enough. The already dangerous world becomes even more deadly, and you’ll have to find ways to sustain your resolve or face the consequences. As with everything in Don’t Starve, however, toying with the sanity mechanic can lead to new discoveries and ways to bend the world to your will. Everything you’ve read above is
slowly learnt over multiple plays of Don’t Starve. Each time you start a new game, you’ll manage to survive a few more days. You’ll learn something new. Unfortunately, once you discover how to create a sustainable existence, the game does start to show weakness in the longevity of its appeal, and you’ll no doubt start to realise how thin the game’s mechanics actually are. Certain of the crafting mechanisms also make very little sense in terms of materials and how they’re gathered. Nevertheless, Don’t Starve is a wonderfully unique experience. As you play and progress ever further within each new world you randomly generate, you’ll unlock new characters to play as with their own unique attributes, strengths and failings to put to the test. Klei Entertainment is also busily applying regular updates to the game, packed with new content. I love the Burton-inspired visuals and
their endearing creepiness, and I love the feeling of infinite discovery that pervades so much of the game. It’s like being handed a mysterious toy box. On the one hand, it’s filled with countless magical toys to enjoy. On the other, your new toy box will happily grow a toothy mouth and bite off your hand if you get too greedy in your playfulness. [ Dane Remendes ]
Would you buy it? Yes. There’s loads of fun to be had here, although it does inevitably hit a glass ceiling.
8/10 Issue 26 | 2013 The OverClocker 43
Metro: Last Light RRP: $49.99 (PC) | Website: www.enterthemetro.com Genre: First Person Shooter | Developer: 4A Games
ou’re in the metro system’s tunnels somewhere in Moscow. The world above has been destroyed by nuclear war, leaving most of humanity dead. Other than a few factions of survivors’ underground, there are hideously mutated creatures crawling on the surface. You’re sitting around a fire with three fellow Rangers guarding the underground and then... They attack! You open fire on the mutants and they fall one by one. A mutant gets close and personal and as you stab it in the neck with your knife, it morphs back into one of your fellow Rangers. You have been tricked and as you watch his blood drip from your hands, you notice The Dark One standing in front of you. Everything fades to white, than you wake up from your nightmare. Metro: Last Light has you returning
44 The OverClocker Issue 26 | 2013
as the protagonist Artyom. Although the storyline can be followed without playing the original Metro: 2033, the game assumes that you have done so and chose to destroy The Dark Ones. Metro: Last Light is a post-apocalyptic survival horror game and your mission is to seek out and destroy the last remaining Dark One, a creature thought to be immensely strong and unnaturally evil. Darkness plays a vital role underground, as unlit rooms may contain ammunition or innocent victims held captive by rival factions. On the flip side, they may also contain mutants hell-bent on ending your life. One particular mutant takes the form of an overgrown tarantula and its only real weakness is light. Shining your torch causes them to scuttle away into a corner and eventually flip over, allowing you to shoot the vulnerable
belly. Several of them in one room will have you dancing around, trying to corner one while at the same time avoiding the others. Although the weapons at your disposal look and sound powerful, they are about as effective as a water-pistol when facing the hellish creatures scattered across the surface and occasionally down in the metro. The game follows a Japanese horror theme, playing endless mind games on the player. The cut scenes are presented in a firstperson format, keeping the personal connection with Artyom. At times, the game can be so immersing that one forgets it is just a game and emotions can and will take over. Fear isn’t the only emotion evoked in the game, as many of your actions have consequences that you have to deal with. Artyom has a strong
connection with The Dark Ones, often making him question whether they are really an enemy or a misunderstood but powerful ally. On one of the later levels, Artyom looks down into a room filled with corpses before dropping down. While disconcerting at the best of times, it is the corpse of a little boy that really throws you; leaving you filled with anger, resentment, and despair. The primary currency used for upgrading weapons in the metro is hard-to-come-by military grade ammunition, but this isn’t the only problem you face. Standard ammunition is also scarce, especially on the harder difficulties. The majority of the surface is highly radioactive, requiring you to wear a gas mask with a disposable oxygen filter. Filters can be found scattered across the environment, but you will often find yourself torn between searching for more filters at the expense of the one in use or quickly making your way back to safety. The mutant creatures on the surface are not the only enemy and you may find that humans pose as a bigger threat as betrayal runs rampant amongst humans seeking to further their own selfish needs. Stealth can be a vital element in these situations,
allowing you to save your precious ammunition for the unavoidable mutated creatures. Sticking to the shadows, unscrewing light bulbs, and using silenced weapons are some tactics at your disposal. Should things go awry you could always resort to an all-out fire-fight, and this is one place where the AI falls apart. Enemies are often incapable of finding you in the slightest of shadows, or get stuck behind a wall. Fortunately, the impressive visuals and gripping game play means that these slip-ups go mostly unnoticed. As with Metro: 2033, Last Light is very heavy on system resources and will require quite a beastly computer to play with all eye candy turned up. However, the incredible atmosphere and immersion mean that you can still fully enjoy the game at a lower graphical setting. The setting of Metro: Last Light may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but if you have any interest in a post-apocalyptic world, the supernatural or the Russian metro system it is definitely worth purchasing. [ Jonathan Horne ]
Would you buy it? If you’re interested in sci-fi, the apocalypse or the super natural this is a must buy.
9/10 Issue 26 | 2013 The OverClocker 45
GAMING GEAR AWARD
CORSAIR Vengeance K95 RRP: $129.99 | Website: www.corsair.com
ORSAIR’s initial attempt with gaming keyboards several years ago was plausible to say the least. The K90 that we reviewed was a worthwhile keyboard to invest in, but unfortunately, it wasn’t the model we would consider first when looking for a gaming keyboard. The K95 though could just be what Corsair needs to move it up our list of must have peripherals. In many ways, it’s not only a refined version of the K90 but completely new as well. Aesthetically, we do prefer the all black colour scheme as it lends itself well against the individually lit keys. Not only that but the uniform colour makes for a more serious if not classier keyboard. Where the K90 screamed hardcore gamer at us, the K95 speaks quality and purpose. Almost all our problems with the K90 have been addressed and we do say almost because we are still missing audio pass through capability. This is still a sore point for us, because as stated with the K90. If you’re a gamer or enthusiast willing to spend $130 on a keyboard, the probability of you owning a high end sound card is high. Thus,
46 The OverClocker Issue 26 | 2013
being able to connect your headset directly to the keyboard instead of having to reach around back would be hugely appreciated. In addition, we find that having a single USB port is a missed opportunity. As it stands you can only connect a single device into the keyboard and that’s it. A second port much like you have on other competing units would make the additional USB head at the end of the keyboard cable more useful. Short of those two oversights, everything else on the K95 is top notch. From the low actuation force Cherry MX-Red keys to the very comfortable wrist rest. It’s not only well thought out, but well executed. Unlike the K90, where only some of the keys were mechanical, on the K95 all the keys use the Cherry MX-Red switches. This obviously contributes to the higher price, but it does make for a better keyboard. In addition to this, all keys are individually lit. Therefor the lighting pattern can be customized in many ways. We aren’t sure how useful this will be in a gaming environment as one hardly if ever looks at the keys while playing, but it does make for an interesting visual effect.
The build quality of the keyboard has not suffered, despite it being lighter than the K90. Where the K90 was cumbersome and needlessly heavy, the K95 feels just as robust, but without the unnecessary weight. Having said that, the K95 is no light weight as it’s made out of aluminium and a little heavier than it looks. It will however tolerate some serious abuse and should survive for years on end. One thing that Corsair does very well, where others should consider copying is with the media keys. They feel just right and the volume scroll wheel is precisely the kind of volume control that one expects on such a high end keyboard. Not only is it more intuitive to use, but it feels better than pushing keys for volume.. Now if one could use the same wheel to mute the audio by clicking it, things would be even better. Still we don’t mind the separate button. Comparing the K90 and the K95, there’s absolutely no reason to buy the K90. This model is better in all possible ways. The Corsair K95 is one of the best gaming keyboards on the market. [ The Overclcoker ]
ADATA SX910 128GB SSD RRP: $129.99 Website: www.adata-group.com
f you’re wondering why we have an SSD review in the Lifestyle section of the magazine, well wonder no more. This is simply because what we have here is yet another SF-2281 SSD. We’ve seen so many of these SSDs over the last two years that not only are you familiar with all that this controller can offer, but SSDs are found in just about every portable computing device as well as desktops, so pure performance isn’t the only relevant measure of an SSD anymore. In this day and age it’s hard to find any gamer or power user still using a traditional magnetic drive for their primary storage. Worth noting as well is that, we’ve finally saturated the SATA 6GBps throughput rate. Drives these days are performing similarly in sequential read and write tests and because of this it’s becoming harder to justify the really expensive drives. To that end, we found ourselves tasked with evaluating one of the more affordable drives in this saturated market. At $130, the ADATA SX910 isn’t expensive but certainly not the cheapest. You can get the same or similar capacity drives for as little as $99. Furthermore, the SX910 finds itself priced higher than the much faster Plextor M5 Xtreme Pro 128GB drive. The difference may be less than $10 but that’s not a great position to find yourself in given that the M5 is amongst the fastest SSD’s money can buy. In our testing we found the SX910 to deliver performance that is comparable to that of the Vertex 3.20 in many regards. The Read IOPS was acceptable at 23166.93 IOPS while the Write IOPS performance matched that of the INTEL 335 and beat that of the Vertex 3.20. So you know the performance is there should you need it. For overclocking endeavors that are
storage based, you may want to look at ADATA’s other products, but for everyday computing and gaming; this drive does produce the numbers. All that aside, one isn’t looking at SSDs in this price range for performance, but rather convenience and value added features. Perhaps this is where there is some value to be had with the SX910 drive as it does come with Acronis True Image HD, Norton internet Security (We aren’t’ sure if anybody still uses this) but most of all a 5-year warranty. Not many vendors offer a warranty of this length especially on drives at this price. That alone may be worth paying the extra bit of money, in an attempt to secure your purchase should anything go wrong in future.
Of further interest on this drive is that ADATA has somehow allowed you to use up to 7% more storage than you would on a similarly configured 128GB drive. This isn’t a massive amount of space and in reality will be a few gigabytes of storage at best. It is though, something that ADATA can claim they have which other vendors do not. In such a tightly contested market, any differentiator is welcome and it just may be this in addition to the other benefits mentioned above that sway your decision. Where drives go, you could do a lot worse than the SX910. As far as we’re concerned ADATA has a solid offering with the SX910. Do consider it if you’re looking for an affordable 128GB SSD. [ The Overclcoker ] Issue 26 | 2013 The OverClocker 47
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