What is overclocking

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The practice of modifying a computer (esp with a cooling system) to allow its processors to run at greater speeds than the manufacturer intended. It's a hobby involving thousands of people around the world who enjoy competing and sharing knowledge on the subject of pushing PC hardware to the most extreme levels of performance possible.

Definition

From thefreedictionary.com: http://www.thefreedictionary.com/Overclocking

Overclocking n. (ˌəʊvəˈklɒkɪŋ)

The practice of modifying a computer (esp with a cooling system) to allow its processors to run at greater speeds than the manufacturer intended.

an overˈclocker n. to overˈclock vb.

origin: over - above or higher than something else. clock - a device for measuring time or speed.


Why Do People Overclock?

People overclock their computers for a variety of reasons. Here are a three of the main ones;

Performance

The practical need for improved hardware performance. This includes video editors who want to render videos projects faster to increase general productivity, as well as PC gamers who want to have more frames-per-second (FPS) and smoother game play. You need better performance? Then learn to overclock. Curiousity Many users simply want to get the most out of their hardware, even if there is no practical need to do so. If you have invested in high-end PC hardware, it’s worth knowing that you are actually getting the most out of it. Most high-end PC in the world are not overclocked, but they very easily could be. Is your system running optimally?

A Competitive Urge

Many overclockers are simply interested in having the bragging rights. It’s about knowing that the system I have built and configured is perhaps a) fastest in the country, or b) the fastest in my league, or perhaps even c) the fastest in the world overall. It’s about pride, pure and simple.


Why Do People Enjoy Overclocking?

For whatever reason you begin overclocking, it is highly likely that you will enjoy it and will want to do it again. Here are a few reasons why:

Science

If you have an inclination towards science and scientific reasoning, you may well find overclocking to be a worthwhile hobby. When it comes to pushing PC hardware beyond the limits set by the manufacturer, the challenges become very much rooted in everyday scientific theory. Topics such as power delivery, thermal dissipation and even water-proofing are all scientific areas familiar to all overclockers of note.

Raising the clock of a CPU (i.e. literally configuring it to go faster) will most likely require more energy, i.e. volts of electricity. Increasing the voltage however will almost certainly raise the core temperature. Improving your processor’s cooling will therefore allow you to raise the voltage and the clock speed, resulting in increased performance.

Overclockers excel in the application of scientific thought and reasoning. Do you?

Technology

We live in the most dynamic technological age that has ever happened. Arguably, overclockers get closer and more intimate with computer technology than anybody else. Overclockers revel in the fact that they understand the inner workings of the latest 10 core CPU, or know how to configure its memory controller to set the system’s DDR4 at 2000 MHz. Overclockers know what temperature range is best for specific processors. They even know which factory batches perform best.

If you think you know computer technology, think again. Nobody knows computer technology like an overclocker knows computer technology. Fact.

Problem Solving

The same urge that prompts someone to do crossword, a game of sudoku or any puzzle, lie often at the heart of overclocking. Technology doesn’t always work as it should, and as such, unexpected challenges are the daily bread and butter of any overclocker’s intellect.

Overclocking often means having to retreat back a number of steps, then employing objective reasoning and a strict process of elimination to discover the answer to something as simple as… why your system suddenly will not boot.

Seasoned overclockers feel a true Eureka[!] moment at least once a week. When did you last have one?

Competitive Fun

In recent years we have had an explosion of competitive overclocking, with more contest being held that cater for more overclockers of more levels and abilities than ever before. This is because overclocking, even basic entry-level overclocking can be fun, and it can be even more when you try and outperform your peers.

At HWBOT and OC-ESPORTS you can discover an expansive league system where people compete from Rookie to Elite. It showcases the highest levels of the game. OC-ESPORTS is all about an Overclocking Season where a number of contests cater for all levels of overclocking and each year champions are born.

There are also live overclocking contests, arguably the pinnacle of the competitive game. Live overclocking usually involves several overclockers competing side by side with a given time limit. Recent contests have involved 1v1 contests where the best on the day compete live on stage for cash prizes.

It’s not just about being No1. It’s about being the best you can be.

Solo and Social

The majority of overclocking that happens in the world happens in solo mode - most overclockers will typically have a den or a workshop where all the action takes place. While many of the Pros get to do it at work, for most overclockers it’s a solitary experience and a hobby that happens mostly at home.

Overclockers, as with any hobbyist community, do enjoy the opportunity to mix and interact with like minded people. It’s also common for small groups of two or three people to regularly hang out and overclock together, often with the more experienced overclocker sharing knowledge and ideas with less someone experienced.

Overclocking gatherings are also more common than ever before and most importantly, they’re happening in all corners of the globe. The chance to meet with someone in person rather than online is something special, as is the chance to bond, share ideas and socialize.

Craft and hone your skills at home, then find a meetup where you can enjoy doing it in a social context.

The Overclocker Personality

Overclocking is an Esport and a hobby for thousands of people around the world. These people come from all walks of life, live in all countries around the world, and enjoy overclocking for their own reasons and motivations. This level of diversity means it’s hard to really identify the personality traits of the typical overclocker.

However, it seems that overclockers everywhere agree that the most important thing is to enjoy the fun of doing it. If enjoy doing it and have the right levels of passion and dedication, you will find it to be one of the most rewarding activities you can do.

We interviewed several of the world’s top overclocking talent to find out more about their background, their motives to get started in overclocking and also their opinions about the future. Here are a few of our favorites from the Overclocker in Focus series:


What is Benchmarking?

Dictionary definition: From thefreedictionary.com: http://www.thefreedictionary.com/benchmark

a benchmark n.sing. (bĕnch′märk′)

A standard by which something can be measured or judged.

A computer application designed to objectively assess performance

a benchmark (computing) n.sing. (bĕnch′märk′)

In computing, a benchmark is the act of running a computer program, a set of programs, or other operations, in order to assess the relative performance ….

to benchmark vb. benchmarking n.

to bench vb. colloq.

Alternative Definition: The act of running a computer application to assess and then compare relative performance of specific components such as the CPU, GPU or Storage medium.


Why Do People Benchmark Their Computer?

Overclocking involves the process of improving a computer or PC’s performance. Overclockers run benchmarks in order to know exactly how well their PC is performing.

When running a benchmark application, for example Intel XTU (Extreme Tuning Utility), after the benchmark has completed running its test, the application will produce a score (usually a number) representative of the PC’s performance. Most benchmarks are designed to assess a specific component in the system - in the case of XTU the performance of the system’s CPU is tested.

The great thing about benchmarking your PC is that you can have clearer idea of how well your system is performing compared to other systems. Competitive overclocking involves comparing benchmark scores to find which overclocker has the best score and therefore, the best performance.

HWBOT.org has a database of thousands of benchmark submissons dating back more than a decade. HWBOT members can compare their own benchmark scores with other members to see how well they are doing with a specific hardware component.

Example: Most Intel Core i7 6700K processors are capable of achieving an XTU score of around 1,100 marks (or points) at stock settings. However the current world record for the same CPU running XTU is a score of 2,245 marks. This score was submitted by Dancop, one the world’s most respected overclockers, who used extreme, subzero cooling to push the CPU clock by +62.25%.

Benchmarking your PC and submitting your score to HWBOT allows you to instantly see how fast your computer is compared to thousands of other overclockers all around the world who are using the same hardware.

Realising that your PC’s CPU is in fact the 2,686th fastest in the world can be a real motivation to improve performance.


Are There Different Types of Overclocking?

Generally speaking there several types of overclocking. However for most purposes there are four main categories. These are Ambient, Extreme, 2D and 3D:

Ambient - Air or Water Cooled

Ambient overclocking involves pushing the parameters of a processor’s performance while being restricted to ambient temperatures, typically using either air or water-based cooling technology. Examples include regular heatsink/fan combos or coolers, All-in-One water coolers and custom implemented water cooling systems.

Extreme - Subzero Cooled

Extreme Overclocking involves the art of increasing a system’s potential performance by vastly affecting its thermal limitations. The most common form of Extreme Overclocking involves using liquid nitrogen (or LN2) to reduce the surface temperature of a processor to low as −195.79 °C (−320 °F), this allows an overclocker to push the processor far beyond stock settings. Other methods of sub-zero cooling include single phase change systems, dry ice and (in rare cases) liquid helium.

2D Benchmarking - CPU Bound

Traditionally overclocking has always involved pushing the performance of a system’s CPU or Central Processing Unit, the main processor or ‘brain’ of the computer. Increasing the ‘clock’ speed. The faster the CPU can perform specific mathematical tasks, the higher the score. The vast majority of overclockers begin overclocking by pushing a CPU in a simple 2D benchmark like the popular Intel XTU benchmark.

3D Benchmarking - Multiple GPUs

As well as pushing your system’s CPU, you can also learn how to push your system’s GPU or Graphics Processor. GPUs were developed specifically to handle the task of 3D graphical rendering, the most essential aspect of running any 3D game. Most high-end PCs can support up a maximum of four graphics cards, each usually containing one GPU. 3D benchmarking involves the specifics of cooling up to four GPUs to reach the best scores in 3D benchmark applications. 3D benchmarking is considered to be more challenging, and more expensive to do than 2D benchmarking.