While I was occupied playing games and taking in the stormtroopers' sweet moves, competitors were busy assembling and tuning their rigs. To no one's surprise, the impressive collection of hardware provided to the teams by MSI and its partners included top-shelf MSI motherboards and graphics cards. Here's the full list of components available to the teams, which were allowed to bring their own coolers.
- Intel Core i7-980X Extreme Edition CPU
- MSI Big Bang-X Power motherboard
- MSI N480GTX Lightning graphics card
- Kingston KHX2250C9D3T1FK3/6GX memory kit
- Western Digital VelociRaptor 600GB hard drive
- Enermax ERV1050EWT 1050W power supply
- Enermax Acrylux KB009 keyboard
20 teams were present at the event, three of which hailed from the U.S. The others came from all corners of the globe, including several from Europe, Asia, South America, and even one team from the Middle East.
Apart from the Star Wars novelties, MSI's overclocking event played out much like others we've attended. Teams were given 2.5 hours to build up their systems and another 2.5 hours to overclock the CPUs. During this first phase, the Super PI 32M benchmark was used to gauge performance. After submitting final scores, teams were then given 3.5 hours to overclock their systems' graphics cards. To test performance in the graphics overclocking segment of the competition, 3DMark Vantage was used with the "performance" preset.
Hours of trial-and-error fiddling with BIOS options and overclocking software isn't the most exciting thing to watch as a spectator, so after spending some time peeking over shoulders, I turned my attention to the massive supply of liquid nitrogen that teams were using to chill their systems. This lifeblood of the extreme overclocking community was available to all the teams taking part in the event, and it made for some mighty frosty hardware.
As with all great things involving Red Bull and canisters of liquid nitrogen, the competition eventually drew to a close. The final standings were determined by performance in both phases of the competition, with CPU overclocking making up 40% of the final tally, and graphics overclocking taking the remaining 60%. "The Expandables" took the top prize: the entire system they used for the event in addition to $3,000.
Made up of Swedish overclockers Elmor and ME4ME, the winning team pulled off a Super Pi 32M time of 6 minutes and 35.8 seconds by clocking their Core i7-980X up to 5.32GHz. They also pushed their GeForce GTX 480 GPU to 1,425MHz, over twice its stock speed, for an overall 3DMark Vantage score of P37424. "Team XtremeLabs.org" from the Ukraine took second place, and "Team ASD crew" from Poland captured third.
You can check out the full scoreboard here at the official Master Overclocking Arena website.
All in all, it was a interesting day in Taipei. If you get enough caffeine, liquid nitrogen, and Stars Wars characters in one place, a good time is pretty much inevitable.