Gigabyte’s Open Overclocking Championship 2009

For enthusiasts, overclocking is generally a matter of cheaply exploiting the “free” clock speed headroom in otherwise inexpensive hardware. With a little luck, an aftermarket air cooler, and perhaps a smidgen of extra voltage, wringing higher clock speeds from today’s mid-range hardware is actually pretty easy. It’s not an expensive endeavor, either, especially when one considers the additional performance that can be unlocked with even modest clock cranking. There’s a certain smug satisfaction in knowing that you’re getting better performance than you’ve paid for, too.

While this sort of easy overclocking is popular, the best air and even water-cooling solutions aren’t going to break any performance records. To reach the sort of clock speeds necessary to compete with the highest scores in Super PI, 3DMark, and other popular benchmarks, one needs the sub-zero temperatures only possibly with truly extreme—and ultimately impractical—cooling solutions.

Of course, practicality matters little to the unique breed of overclockers that dominates the benchmark leaderboards. These are competitive overclockers, and they’re all about records and bragging rights.

At the moment, most of the overclocking and benchmark records are held by systems running on Asus motherboards. That’s no surprise considering that Asus has long been favored by overclockers and enthusiasts in general. However, in recent years, Gigabyte’s motherboards have generally been every bit as good as the Asus standard. In fact, in some cases we’ve found them to be even better.

Determined to get its motherboards in more record-setting systems, last year Gigabyte kicked off a series of extreme overclocking competitions dubbed the GOOC, or Gigabyte Open Overclocking Championship. The North American finals for this competition were held in Los Angeles last weekend, with the winner slated to compete in the world finals in Taipei, Taiwan during Computex this summer.

The requisite group shot

Gigabyte invited 13 overclockers to this North American final—a dozen from the US and one Canadian—and unleashed them on a collection of cutting-edge hardware, including Gigabyte GA-EX58-UD4P motherboards, GeForce GTX 260 graphics cards, and Core i7-965 Extreme processors, Kingston DDR3-2000 memory, X25-M solid-state drives, and Enermax Revolution85+ kilowatt PSUs.

One of two LN2 tanks on-hand for the event

Oh, and about a cubic assload of liquid nitrogen.

Fugger’s fearsome cascade rig

To keep things fair, each overclocker’s system components were assigned randomly. The competitors were allowed to bring their own cooling gear, though, and there was quite an array of approaches—and lucky charms—on display. XtremeSystems owner Fugger (Charles Wirth) and winner of last year’s freestyle finals was at the event with a beastly cascade cooling rig capable of maintaining much more stable temperature levels than the standard liquid nitrogen pots used by the rest of the field. Fugger wasn’t actually competing, though; he’ll still be at this year’s finals in Taipei.

Rather than simply challenging competitors to hit the highest clock speeds possible, Gigabyte scored the event based on a combination of Super PI and 3DMark06 performance. 3DMark counted for extra, with points awarded for both the overall and HDR/SM3.0 scores.

Titon (Vachira Khowdee) posted the high HDR/SM3.0 score with 10,385 points. Sno.Icn (Jeremy Clifton) scored slightly lower in the HDR test, but his overall 3DMark score was the highest at 24,869 3DMarks. Miahallen (Jeremiah Allen) took the Super PI contest with an 8M time of 30.969 seconds thanks to an impressive Core i7 clock speed of 5.12GHz on only 1.472V—not bad for just a couple of hours of setup and tweaking time.

Miahallen takes first overall

Miahallen posted a solid performance in 3DMark, allowing him to finish first overall. Sno.Icn finished second overall, with Maxi (Mark LeaMaster) sneaking into third place. For their trouble, the top three took home hardware from Gigabyte, Kingston, Enermax, and Intel. Miahallen also won a round-trip ticket to this year’s Taipei finals. And, in a nod to how luck always plays a role in overclocking, Intel offered up an X25-M SSD the two competitors with the lowest scores.

Although the competition officially ended on Saturday, Gigabyte kept the liquid nitrogen flowing on Sunday to allow competitors shoot for records of their choosing. No new performance standards were set, but perhaps we’ll see some records fall at the Taipei finals this summer.

Comments closed
    • blubje
    • 10 years ago

    “his overall 3DMark score was the highest at 24,869 3DMarks”
    the writing gives too much credit to the overclockers. Really, it should be “his system achieved”.

    • gerbilspy
    • 10 years ago

    Who is the chick?

      • Meadows
      • 10 years ago

      There was a chick?

    • dextrous
    • 10 years ago

    reply to #3
    And I hate geeks giving out fashion advice. 😉

      • Meadows
      • 10 years ago

      Reply button. You’re doing it wrong.

    • Dposcorp
    • 10 years ago

    Nice write up; please come ’em coming.

    Also cool to see Intel take care of the other guys.

      • dpaus
      • 10 years ago

      Downright cold, in fact; AMD wasn’t even there to defend themselves.

    • Meadows
    • 10 years ago

    If there’s one thing I hate, it’s geeks in flip-flops.

    • UberGerbil
    • 10 years ago

    I should’ve entered. I could’ve /[

      • Meadows
      • 10 years ago

      What would “AssiL” stand for?

        • eofpi
        • 10 years ago

        The base-2 counterpart to the standard base-10 assload, of course.

          • Meadows
          • 10 years ago

          I was expecting that, but it just doesn’t make sense. First off, it would be harder to add “binary” to “ass”, one way or another.

          Secondly, since when do you measure liquids or just about any material with binary prefixes?

            • eitje
            • 10 years ago

            Thirdly, …OMG, what is wrong with you! arguing about assloads and binary! new low, meadows!

            • Meadows
            • 10 years ago

            I didn’t start it.

            • SomeOtherGeek
            • 10 years ago

            No, but you ended it!

      • ssidbroadcast
      • 10 years ago

      /[

        • UberGerbil
        • 10 years ago

        Did you see what was required to win one of the two SSDs? (Last sentence, second-to-last para).

          • SomeOtherGeek
          • 10 years ago

          I’ll compete with you!! I still have my Atari lying around somewhere. I’ll womp ‘r ass!

            • UberGerbil
            • 10 years ago

            Careful: I still have my Apple ][+

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