Don Bowden

Extreme Overclocking, This isn’t Your Daddy’s Core i7

On Tuesday evening I had the opportunity to attend the Over Clocking Main Event sponsored by ASUS, Corsair Memory and Intel. Some of the best overclocking enthusiasts on the planet came together to try and set new world benchmark records using 3DMark 11, Cinebench and CPU-Z benchmarking tools.

For those of you that may not be familiar with Overclocking let me give a brief explanation: Overclocking is the process of making a computer CPU operate faster than the clock frequency specified by the manufacturer, hence the term “overclocking”.

And why would one want to overclock their computer? Many people overclock their computer to improve its performance. This is done more by computer enthusiasts than professional users, and it is typically done on desktop computers.

For this event the processor being overclocked is Intel’s just released Core i7 4960X Extreme Edition processor mounted on a soon to be released ASUS Rampage 4 Black Edition motherboard with Corsair Dominator Platinum 2666 MHz memory.  Intel’s Core i7 4960X is the latest in a series of Extreme Edition processors from Intel that started in 2003 with the Pentium 4 Extreme Edition. And here’s a bit of trivia for you, that Pentium 4 was a single core processor with 1.7 million transistors, the new 4960X has 6 cores with 1.86 billion transistors… Moore’s law is alive and well…

But let’s get back to overclocking. In order to reach the clock frequency required to set benchmark records the specs on the CPU (Core i7 4960X) are adjusted to increase the clock frequency from a 3.6GHz base clock frequency up to 5.85GHz. Having the CPU overclocked to 5.86GHz generates heat and a hot CPU is an unstable CPU so in order to maintain this high frequency you need to keep the CPU cool, -190°c cool, and to do that a little liquid nitrogen is required.

The CPU/motherboard is fitted with a special housing over the CPU and the liquid nitrogen is poured into the housing, check out the pictures below, you can see the liquid Nitrogen bubbling and fogging, just click on the picture to enlarge.

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As you can see from the pictures these computers look nothing like what you or I would have in our home or office, everything has been assembled outside of a case.

To capture system information used in measuring system performance you need to benchmark using common benchmarking tools, for example 3DMark 11 will test GPU (graphics processing) and CPU performance which results in a “score” based on the systems overall performance. Cinebench also measures GPU and CPU performance while CPU-Z is used to measure system and memory performance.

So, were any world records set at the event? You bet!

A new record for 3DMark 11 Performance was set with a score of 38227

Cinebench set a new record score of 17.65

And a new record was set for overclocking memory as well, 16 GB of Corsairs Vengeance Xtreme memory was overclocked to a new world record of 3900MHz as measured by CPU-Z.

This was a really fun event seeing the extremes these overclocking enthusiasts go to in order to get the maximum performance out of their computers; I mean really, how many of us get to play with liquid nitrogen on a regular basis!

If any of you are interested in overclocking your processor there is a ton of “how to” information on the web, just do a search on overclocking. One thing to remember, overclocking can damage your CPU so be sure to have the proper cooling for your CPU to avoid any problems.

Don Bowden

About Don Bowden

Don is a Sr. Technical Marketing Engineer in Intel’s Corporate Demos Group supporting various Intel events from executive keynotes to trades shows. His latest gig is with the Intel Extreme Masters Gaming Series where he provides general technical support. Don’s an avid gamer, mostly first person shooters, his real passion is on-line racing with which is the closest thing to driving a real race car as you’re going get. Don is also a skier, photographer and avid motorcyclist, making two cross country trips and a trek to the Arctic Circle and back from his home in San Jose, CA.

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