Tuesday, 30 March 2010

Overclocking is the new hot-rodding

Back in the days when you could improve a car using a set of spanners and a trolly jack the craze for Hot rodding was all over the streets. These days the testosterone filled teens ( and other geeky enthusiasts) overclock their PCs instead. There are many similarities, both activities are all about getting the best performance from what starts as commodity equipment; both interests involve a combination of detailed information, home engineering, trial and error tuning, and of course those manly pursuits of bragging and racing.

The purchase of carefully selected bolt-on goodies from RipSpeed, Demon Tweeks has been replaced these days by Corsair and Zalman specialities. "Throwing a rod" has been replaced by a catastrophic meltdowns as the cost of getting it wrong. Unlike racing on the public road to compare performance, Lan parties and folding teams are where system performance are compared and debated.

My first overclock in 1992 was pushing a Mac IIsi from 20Mhz back to the 25Mhz the motherboard was designed for. A hardware hack described here. These days pushing cpu clocks from 2.8Ghz to over 5Ghz ( 5000Mhz) is not routine but possible.

The pattern for both hot rodding cars and overclocking PC follows the same levels, use stock parts, get the best replacement parts, swap out the weaker parts with reengineered parts, buy or build exotic replacement parts. Tweak tune and adjust at each level to get the best performance and discover the weakest link.

The common fascination of tweaking and tuning, pushing a set of carefully assembled kit up to and beyond the meltdown limit joins the hot rodder from previous generations to the PC overclocker of today.